Patriot Guard Riders

by CountrySunshine

The Patriot Guard Riders is a 100% volunteer organization that honors our military heroes, provides military escorts, and comforts the family at the time of their loss.

My husband volunteered to serve in the U.S. Army at the age of 17. He served two tours of duty in the Vietnam War, and then returned home to a changed nation. Along with a damaged retina from a flash burn, he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, in addition to a number of ailments related to his Agent Orange exposure.

Upon landing at the airport in Dallas, Texas he was greeted not only by his family & friends, but also the war protesters. Shouts of “baby killer” were thrown, and he was spit upon. Although he had earned medals proving he was a hero in the line of duty, he felt he let down not only his combat buddies, but America.

Over the next 38 years, my husband struggled with his role in Vietnam and his treatment by America. He rarely spoke of his service to anyone who had not “been there”, and got rid of his medals.

Our military men and women deserve so much more respect than they receive. Many of them have volunteered to serve our country, yet when they give their lives, their families may be met by protesters at the funerals.

Patriot Guard Riders
Patriot Guard Riders

Who Are The Patriot Guard Riders?

The Patriot Guard Riders (PGR) are every day citizens who volunteer their time to honor the fallen heroes of the United States.  Some are rich, some are poor; some are Veterans, others are housewives; some ride motorcycles, others drive sedans.  They came in all colors, shapes, and sizes.  In other words, they are the people you see in the grocery store, at the office, or in your neighborhood. 

They have no political agenda; instead, some are “hawks” (pro-war) and others are “doves” (anti-war).  The common element of the PGR is that they respect those who risk their lives for our freedom and safety.

Honor Guard Ceremony & Patriot Guard Reception
Honor Guard Ceremony & Patriot Guard ...
Patriot Guard welcoming USCGC Gallatin
Patriot Guard welcoming USCGC Gallatin

What Is the Mission of the Patriot Guard Riders Organization?

The main objective, or mission of the PGR is to “stand for those who stood for us“, meaning they honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of our country, and to comfort the family members left behind.  They do this in a number of ways:

  • They attend every U.S. military funeral as invited guests of the family
  • They provide motorcycle escorts for the caskets of our fallen heroes
  • Keep unwanted guests or protestors from the service through non-violent means

Other missions by the PGR include welcoming troops when they return from deployment, and escorting them to their military base; provide support for those who were injured, and protecting family members from the media.

 

Honoring My Husband

When my husband passed away from Agent Orange-related cancer, my sister urged me to contact the Patriot Guard Riders.  I did so immediately, but because of a scheduling conflict, they were unavailable to escort his casket to his burial at DFW National Cemetery.  However, they said they would be honored to attend his memorial service.   

I did not know what to expect from this group.  I had heard they were motorcycle riders, so I assumed a gang of Harley riders would be in attendance.   The day before the service, the Captain of the local Patriot Guard Rider group contacted me for directions to the church.  He told me they would arrive a bit early to set up, and wanted permission to set up U.S. flags.  I told him this would not be a problem.

Patriot Guard Riders at my husband's memorial service
Patriot Guard Riders at my husband's ...
Country Sunshine
Speaking with the Captain of the PGR
Speaking with the Captain of the PGR
Country Sunshine

Upon arriving at the church, I found a small group of men & women, most wearing black vests with the Patriot Guard logo on the back.  All had arrived on motorcycles, except for one who brought a pickup truck. 

They had set up U.S. flags in front of the church, and were standing in front of them.  I took the time to thank each one for coming, and they replied “we are honored to do so”.

I cannot express how touched - and honored - I was by this display.  I only wish my husband knew that he was finally recognized for his service and sacrifice.

They were truly a diverse group of people, but all had one thing in common.  They believed in their mission, which is to honor and respect the fallen, and provide support for the family left behind.  I felt humbled in their presence, knowing that they volunteered their time to honor my husband.  It was indeed a comfort not only to me, but everyone in attendance.

Help the PGR

The Patriot Guard Riders are a 100% volunteer non-profit organization registered with the Federal government.  Although there are more than 28,000 volunteers, there are only 5 paid members on their staff.  If you’d like to make a donation to support this group, please send your check to:  

Patriot Guard Riders, Inc.
c/o Tatum & Associates, Inc.
6641 E. 85th Street North
Owasso, Ok 74055

 A Paypal donation may also be made on their website.

Updated: 06/03/2015, CountrySunshine
 
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CruiseReady on 05/23/2015

I can't type much of a message, because your article left me misty eyed. I'd never heard of these folks before, but I'm so glad the group exists.

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