Archive for December, 2008

Today the NY 1179th Transportation Company was scheduled to come home to Fort Totten in Queens, NY. A reception was scheduled for 3:30pm at the Ernie Pyle U.S. Army Reserve Center.  (For more information on Ernie Pyle click here.)

The Ernie Pyle Reserve Center, Ft. Totten, Queens, NY

The Ernie Pyle Reserve Center, Ft. Totten, Queens, NY

The Patriot Guard Riders of Regions 8 & 9 were invited to man a flag line at the entrance to the reserve center when the troops arrived. Unfortunately the weather had other ideas!

Shortly before we arrived the decision had been made to call off the reception because the planes carrying the troops had been diverted or delayed

As we walked up to the building we observed trays of food being carried out in the other direction. After some inquiries we were told of the cancellation. We still managed to thank at least two soldiers who had come in on earlier flights and who hadn’t left for home yet.

Jim and myself of NY PGR Region 9 were accompanied by my nephew, Greg, of NY PGR Region 1.

As we were loading the flags back into the truck, Major Tom Sullivan arrived. Tom is a friend of mine and was the commanding officer of the 1179th during its last Iraq deployment. We had the sad duty to inform him of the cancellation and had some good laughs about the fate of the 1179th to always return home in stormy weather! The last homecoming took place in what can only be described as a monsoon in 2007.

Here’s a flashback to what that was like for us outside waiting for the buses to arrive!

Welcoming the 1179th in April 2007

Welcoming the 1179th in April 2007

On a very positive note, the unit is returning from this deployment with zero casualties! A testimonial to the improved security conditions in Iraq!

A few more pictures of todays mission are here.

It was a beautiful crisp clear day at the National Cemetery in Farmingdale, NY. A stiff breeze kept the flags flapping and everyone’s cheeks rosy!

National Cemetery, Farmingdale, NY,  Wreaths laid on Veterans Graves

National Cemetery, Farmingdale, NY, Wreaths laid on Veterans Graves

Harry Rathsam and the scouts of Troop 604 did an outstanding job of preparing the grounds for the Wreath ceremony. Starting about 9:30 am they placed over 2,000 wreaths on veterans’ graves throughout the cemetery.

At the appointed time Patriot Guard Riders formed a flag line along Flagstaff Drive, the road leading to the flagpole from the Administration Building. The Boy Scouts marched up flagstaff drive with veterans and Gold Star family members. As they passed, the PGR flag line fell in behind them and followed them in to Flagstaff Circle.

Harry Rathsam was a fabulous Master of Ceremonies and led the group through the Pledge of Allegiance, the setting of wreaths for each branch of the armed forces and POW/MIAs.

What was nicest was that it was a gathering of Americans, veterans and civilians alike, for one purpose. To honor those who served and laid down their lives in defense of our nation and our liberty. The were no speechs by politicians with flowery rhetoric, only folks who really cared about our troops past and present.

It was an honor to take part in this event and I look forward to doing it again next year.

Here is a map of the cemetery. The location of the ceremony was at the circle in the middle of Flagstaff Drive in the lower right of the image.


A few pictures are here, and more pictures as well as some short video clips which will be edited into a single clip are here.

The excellent final video.

Other reports from NY State:

Chemung County, Woodlawn National Cemetery 2

Chenango County, Guilford Center Cemetery 2(Video)

Tioga County Veterans Memorial 2 3

Saratoga County, G. Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery

Steuben County, Bath National Cemetery 2

Suffolk County, Calverton National Cemetery 2

Westchester County, Kemper Memorial Park

For reports from other locations around the nation continue reading

Continue Reading »

This Saturday, December 13th, is Wreaths Across America Day.
All wreath ceremonies nationwide will take place at 12:00 Noon.

On this day thousands of wreaths are laid on the graves of veterans at cemeteries across the entire United States. This tradition was started by the Worcester Wreath Company of Harrington, Maine, whose owner, Morrill Worcester, in 1992 began sending a tractor trailer full of wreaths to be laid at the graves of our heroes in Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, DC..

Since that first trip the project has grown so that this year wreaths will be laid at more than 200 national cemeteries and veterans memorials throughout the United States. The Patriot Guard Riders provide an escort for the shipment all the way from Maine to Arlington. The Patriot Guard Riders also provide support at many of the local cemeteries across the nation.

Eleven of those cemeteries are in New York State.
Here are the locations in County order with the links to each location’s webpage on the Wreaths Across America website.
Use the contact information on these pages to volunteer to lay wreaths.

Chautauqua, Jamestown, NY – Lakeview Cemetery
Chemung, Elmira, NY – Woodlawn National Cemetery
Erie, W. Seneca, NY – Veterans Plaza St. Matthew’s Cemetery
Kings, Brooklyn, NY – Cypress Hills National Cemetery
Rockland, Hempstead, NY – Ferederick Loescher Veterans Memorial Cemetery
Rockland, Viola, NY – Gary Onderdonk Veterans Memorial Cemetery
Saratoga, Schuylerville, NY – G. Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery
Steuben, Bath, NY – Bath National Cemetery
Suffolk, Farmingdale, NY – Long Island National Cemetery
Suffolk, Calverton, NY – Calverton National Cemetery
Westchester, Somers, NY – Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Lasdon Park

Visit the Wreaths Across America website for more on this worthy cause.

UpdateFor a report on Farmingdale NY wreath ceremony and reports from all around the country go here.

The morning of December 7, 1941 the United States was attacked without warning by the Imperial Japanese Empire. Over 2,400 Americans were killed. Until September 11, 2001, this was the largest attack on U.S. soil. Remember those brave servicemen who had their tomorrows ripped from them on that bright Sunday morning.


Never Forget.

The Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 126, who are the guardians of the New York City Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the force behind the Growing NYC Veterans Day Parade, invited the Gathering of Eagles to their Christmas Party on Friday night.

The entire second floor of the Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Coast Guard and Airmans Club was reserved for the festivities.

It was a great crowd, lots of food and spirits and several ways to support our troops and wounded warriors. We came prepared with boxes of Christmas cards already prepared for the troops, and eagerly took part in signing the large sign to be presented to the wounded warriors at Walter Reed.

Joe Graham, the president of Chapter 126, was a gracious and jovial host, and it was good to see many old friends and acquaintances again.

Some pictures are here.

More pictures here.

Tonight I sat down and began writing Christmas Cards to send to the Troops this year.  The Soldiers and Sailors Club offered to include our cards in the care packages they will be sending to the troops next week, so I figured we should take them up on their offer.

Here’s some photos of what I did.

The message is the important thing.  A simple card and a simple wish for a Merry Christmas is more than sufficient.

Christmas Cards for the Troops
Its time again to get some Christmas Cards written to thank our troops for their service and sacrifice overseas.
The Soldiers and Sailors Club has offered to include our cards in the care packages they ship in the second week of December.
Grab a box of cards somewhere and write your heartfelt Thank You’s and wishes for a Merry Christmas and Happy Safe and Victorious New Year!
Address them to “Dear Soldier” and DO NOT SEAL the envelopes.
If you will be attending either of the Christmas Parties being held at the Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Coast Guard and Airmens Club in Manhattan you can bring them to the party and leave them at the front desk in an envelope or box addressed to Connnie Morinello, Troop Outreach Coordinator.

If you want to mail them to the club, place them in an envelope or box addressed to:

Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Coast Guard and Airmens Club
Att:  Connie Morinello
283 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10016

If you’d like to send more than just cards, money is always a good alternative, take a look at this page of suggested items for care packages for the troops:

Christmas Parties in Manhattan
Several Great Groups will be holding Christmas Parties over the next few weeks.
The soonest in order are:

Friday, December 5 (many eagles will be attending this party)
Who: Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 126
Where: Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Coast Guard and Airmen’s Club, 283 Lexington Avenue at E. 36th Street
When: Friday, December 5, 7:00 pm
Admission: $15 Donation at door
RSVP: Joe Graham 212-925-9630  or
Karaoke, Music, Great Food, Dancing, Raffles.

Thursday, December 11
Who: Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Coast Guard and Airmen’s Club, Junior Committee
Where: Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Coast Guard and Airmen’s Club, 283 Lexington Avenue at E. 36th Street
When: Thursday, December 11, 6:00-10:00 pm
Admission: $75 Full Ticket, $35 Junior Ticket
RSVP: Connie Morinello at
Open Bar and Hors d’oeuvres.

The Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Coast Guard and Airmens Club has joined forces with NewYork.Com to put together two outstanding events on Sunday, December 14th, to pay tribute to our troops.  Both will take place at or near the military island at Times Square.  The outdoor event is free and open to the public.

For full information visit the Torch of Freedom web pages here.

We have reported on the Gregory J. Harris Military Courtesy Room at Syracuse Airport before.  Today we have a report from Thanksgiving when they were swamped with military travelers:

Also, the Military Courtesy room at Syracuse Airport was overwhelmed on Thanksgiving with many stranded military personnel – including a Marine Full-colonel who I understand was very impressed with what the Emerald City Detachment has done with only a few members.  They served a full home-cooked turkey dinner  to vets stranded at the airport.  They did it at the last minute, but yet everyone got a home cooked Thanksgiving dinner.  Those guys are good!  My hat goes off to Loren Davies Commandant of Emerald City and his devoted members who staff that room 24 x 7 !!!  You can probably guess where I am going with this . . . Christmas is not far off and once again military folks will be on the move for the holidays.  Depending on the weather, they could be faced with a similar situation.  So if you know anyone who wants to donate , cookies, pies, baked goods or any food to the courtesy room, I can assure you it will not go to waste.  Let me know and we can meet up and load a vehicle with food and bring it to the airport.  They are expecting to be overwhelmed with traveling military folks during the Christmas season.

Those folks up there are doing a hell of a job!

If you are looking for a worthy cause to donate a few dollars to this year here is their link.