Bohemian Biker Blog

Experiences with the Patriot Guard Riders

by on Feb.22, 2012, under Thoughts

Back a few years, I made a new friend as we were gathered at our local H-D dealer for a benefit ride.  Actually, I made friends with this fellow and his wife.  They intrigued me – not only had they traveled out west on a bike trip, but they were also active with the Patriot Guard Riders… In fact, he is a PGR Ride Captain.

As of my first Miles For Minutes ride a few years ago, I’ve been hooked on rides that support Our Troops.  There was even a thank you “Fly-By” over Hooter’s Bike Night that week…complete with a crew member waving at us from the lowered cargo bay ramp (tethered-off of course)!  The ride and that fly-by both brought me to the verge of tears…

So that was the beginning of my dedication along these lines…then along came Jann, with the same dedication.  Together we make it a point to ride in support of Law Enforcement and Firefighters, as well as our Military.  That’s on top of participating in rides that support other important causes we hold dear.  Somewhere along the way, I had heard about Patriot Guard Riders (PGR) running interference on troublemakers at military funerals, and this had me even more interested in participating (especially considering our proximity Dover Air Force Base, where the bodies of many Fallen Heroes arrive back here in the states).

Jann & I went on the PGR website and signed up.  I received periodic emails concerning planned “missions,” and mostly I thought to myself, “I’d like to participate, but I’m not quite sure what is expected of me…”  Then one day came an email from the PGR State Captain.  Basically, he was hoping to rally increased participation.  I responded with an email explaining that I wanted to participate, but was a little apprehensive about not knowing exactly what was expected, and that I would appreciate buddying-up with a member that would be willing to show me the ropes.  He assigned a PGR Road Captain to that role. Him and I hit it off from the start, and that laid the groundwork for the beginning of my participation in PGR Missions.

My first mission was near the end of December, weather-wise a pretty ugly day.  The PGR Road Captain and I were in close communication, and agreed to “cage-it.”  Our main function was to establish a Flag Line.  So, the lack of Iron Horses would not much matter.  We assembled at the agreed upon McDonald’s, and I was guided through the process each step of the way (including the lending of a Flag).  This mission was carried out at the Veteran’s Cemetery – Delaware, near Summit Bridge.  The family and friends of the Honored, although solemn, were clearly appreciative of our presence.  It was a very moving experience to be present to honor this veteran’s service, and once again – I was hooked.

That my own father, Raymond Bowers, is buried in this very cemetery, and fellow HOG Chapter member buried his father directly adjacent to mine, made this first mission with the Patriot Guard Riders be all the more meaningful to me.

Weeks later came a call from the PGR Road Captain concerning a mission that would take us to Arlington Cemetery.  On this mission I would meet and ride with PGR State Captain.  We met early for breakfast on the morning of the mission, and had a chance to get further acquainted.  Men of similar age with a mission and riding in common, we hit it off from the start.

I’m sure the two of them wondered, “How is this guy going to do riding in formation with us?”  Being no stranger to riding in staggered formation, I did fine – kept tight enough to keep cage drivers from attempting to “shoe horn” their way in between us, stayed alert, and in my position.

Arriving early, we had an opportunity to meet the other PGR members present (mostly men, but a few ladies – all friendly and devoted to this mission).  The Mission Captain covered our assignment, including details of the procedure for entering and traveling through the military base and cemetery.  We established a Flag Line in front of the chapel, and followed the queues of the military personnel.  Both PGR members themselves, the husband of the deceased military woman asked that we file in right behind the hearse as the procession made its way into Arlington and to the grave site.  Graveside, we stood in a line honoring the deceased veteran.  Upon the completion of the graveside service, the thoughtful husband shook the hand and thanked each and every one of us.

Truth is, I am not a veteran.  Sometimes I wish I too had served Our Country.  As things went, when I was coming up on those years my Dad made it extremely clear what was expected of me.  There would be no enlisting; I would go to college.  My Dad had grave fears of me going to Vietnam, which was understandable.  Although I did register, the draft was pretty much over by the time I turned eighteen.  Nonetheless, patriotism and honoring those that have served Our Country is of key importance to me.  I would attribute this mostly to my years in Scouting, and becoming an Eagle Scout.  Being a patriotic citizen is one of the things that have remained with me throughout my life.  I can’t help but feel somewhat lacking in the company of those that served.  It’s not the result of anything they do or say.  It’s just the way it is.

My third mission was a much happier occasion – welcoming the 126th back home to Delaware.  There were quite a few of us when we established a Flag Line along the driveway.  It was a cold nasty morning, but we endured.  Once everyone was inside, we assembled a Flag Line in a hallway through which the members of the would enter.  After Senators Chris Coons and former Governor Tom Carper came though, the 126th was led in by the Delaware State Police Pipe and Drum Team.  It was pretty exciting experience to be there!

Recently, one of the PGR mission notifications included the following quote across the bottom:

“Lest I keep my complacent way I must remember somewhere out there a person died for me today.  As long as there must be war, I ask and I must answer, was I worth dying for?”

– Eleanor Roosevelt

This quote currently seems especially appropriate.  Taking the opportunity to honor Fallen Heroes and those that have served Our Country is such an important thing to be done, yet takes but a small amount of our time and effort relative to what they have contributed.

I asked about keeping a log of missions, and was told something that stuck in my head – “the most important mission is the one we’re doing right now.”  Once said , it dawned on me that each Fallen Hero and every one that served, deserves for the mission honoring them to be the most important one.

A few notes – PGR is not a club – We are volunteers invited by the family of the deceased.  There are 400+ members in Delaware, and over 450,000 members nationally.

Please take a look at the PGR website:  www.patriotguard.org  …and join US in assembling to Honor those that have Served Our Country – if you are so inclined!

As always, in addition to your comments here… your comments (and questions) are welcome via email to:  bohemianbiker@bohemianbiker.com

:, , , ,

Leave a Reply

Looking for something?

Use the form below to search the site:

Still not finding what you're looking for? Drop a comment on a post or contact us so we can take care of it!