Posts Tagged ‘pgr’

On a crisp cold February morning the Patriot Guard Riders joined family, friends, dignitaries and well wishers to see the 455th Engineers off to their deployment in Afghanistan.

It was pretty chilly outdoors with 17 degree weather and a stiff breeze!

This photo was just after we moved indoors.

More and more people kept arriving until the room was literally packed wall to wall.

Here’s a video which shows much of the crowd and then the Girl Scouts singing the National Anthem.

The PGR adopted the unit with an offer to look after the families of the men while they are overseas and gave them a flag which everyone signed:

Alice of the PGR took loads of great photos which are here.

I had the honor to meet two American Heroes at the ceremony.

Matt Russotti of Lynbrook who was going overseas.

And Lt. Col. Steve Labate who came to the ceremony to see the unit off!

Many of you will become more acquainted with Steve this election when he will be running against the incumbent Steve Israel for the 2nd Congressional District seat.

Our Gold Star Families returned tonight from Snowball Express 2009!

And the Patriot Guard Riders were there to greet them!

More Photos Here!

Here’s the Texas PGR entering Dallas Cowboys Stadium!

Here are some behind the scenes photos of the PGR at the StadiumThanks, Mike!

Here’s a video of families arriving in Dallas

And a video of the Mesquite Rodeo!

More of the Cowboys Stadium!

It was a crisp, bright morning, a perfect day to lay wreaths in memory of our fallen heros.

And dozens turned out to do exactly that!

Families brought their children to take part, a hopeful sign for the future!

And with so many hands, both large and small, the wreaths were quickly laid!

Then it was on to the ceremony.

Harry Rathsam and the Bot Scouts of Troop 604 once again did an outstanding job of presenting the Wreath ceremony.

More pictures here!

UPI filed a video report:

To view our 2008 report click here.

Andrea Shea King, The Radio Patriot, has an outstanding report from Arlington National Cemetery.

The Wreaths Across America convoy from Maine to Arlington Cemetery crossed New York State Thursday.

Alice files this report:

The morning was a very chilly one. We were invited by the Darien, CT, VFW Post 6933 to gather there.  Along with a warm place to wait they provided us with hot beverages and breakfast. They were very gracious hosts.

After the group had finished eating we went outside to begin the first leg of our trip.  There were many cages [cars] and a few brave souls rode their motorcycles.

We proceeded out of the parking lot escorted by LEO [police] who took both front and rear positions.  The tractor trailers carrying the donated wreaths joined in along the way.

Here is a video from Darien:

Our first  stop was at Darien High School.  The ceremony began with the raising of the flag and a rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. The band played God Bless America. Members of “Support Our Soldiers”, or SOS as they refer to themselves, read letters written by middle and high school students to those deployed.  Speeches were given by the members of the student body and faculty as well.  A Gold Star Mom let everyone know how much it means to them that their cherished children who paid the ultimate price haven’t been forgotten. She said that is a Gold Star Parent’s biggest fear. The Worcester Wreath Company presented them with one of their wreaths. One teacher, complete with kilt and all, ended the ceremony by playing Amazing Grace on his bagpipe.

We got back on the road with NY PGR taking the lead just behind the LEO.  They managed traffic very well. The most impressive sight was on the George Washington bridge.  All lanes were blocked so that the escort were the only vehicles crossing it. Continue Reading »

While New York slept the Patriot Guard Riders were out in cold driving rain on a mission to escort Gold Star Families from our area to JFK Airport for the Snowball Express excursion to Texas!

The mission started with a 4:00 am arrival at the airport hotel where many of the families were staying.

As the families began coming downstairs we had a chance to fraternize while we loaded their luggage into the bus.

It was wonderful for all involved to be able to spend a few minutes talking with these who have sacrificed so much for our nation.

Here is the video of the meetup, escort and arrival at the airport:

American Airline and the Snowball Express folks did a fabulous job of making the families welcome and easing their way through the normal airport mayhem!  The Marines, Santa and a Snowman even turned out to assist!

Here’s video from the breakfast:

And the Familes Board the Aircraft!

More Pictures Here and Here and Here!

Report on Snowball Express from the Dallas Business Journal!

Ride Captain Jim McElroy did a flawless job!  Special thanks to Alice for the link to her pictures!

Lurch was a hit handing out the PGR pins to the kids…  One Question though… Were those TEXAS PGR Pins!?!?!

Here’s a video for the Snowball Express:

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The Patriot Guard Riders of Long Island’s Region 9 were proud to participate in the annual Veteran’s Day parade in Baldwin.

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Carlos captured many of the most poignant moments of the day!

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See the whole collection of outstanding photos here.

USMC Sgt Arechaga Place Sign

A number of groups participated today in honoring a fallen hero.

Sgt, Julian M. Arechaga, USMC, 1st Batt., 6th Marines, Charlie Company, 2nd Marine Division, was killed in action in Al Anbar province, Iraq, on October 9, 2006.

A large crowd gathering in Baldwin, Long Island, to pay tribute to his memory and rename the street where he grew up in his honor.


Sgt Arechaga was a hero.  He volunteered to serve a third deployment to Iraq because he was worried about the inexperience of the Marines that were replacing his unit.  His experience and bravery under fire is credited with saving scores of Marines and Iraq civilians during engagements in Ramadhi and across Al Anbar province.


Members of his family gave tearful remembrances of Julian, particularly his niece, whose recollections of her uncle Julian brought tears even to the eyes of hard bitten veterans.

It was an honor to stand a flag line for this Marine, whose service and sacrifice was remembered by so many.






Among the many groups present were:  Baldwin and South Hempstead Fire Departments, American Legion, Boy Scouts, Patriot Guard Riders, Gathering of Eagles, Nassau Tea Party, Local Politicians and clergy.

More pictures here, and here.

It’s been a long torturous road for this hero of WWII.


Airman 1st Class Arthur Carl Miller was killed in action on the island of Peleliu on September 13, 1944, two days before the invasion of the island by the 1st Marine Division.  He was filling in as a gunner on a TBM Avenger flying from the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise.  The mission, to bomb the japanese held Peleliu airfield, came to a disastrous end as the aircraft was hit by murderous anti-aircraft fire, exploded and crashed north of the airfield.  More details here.

Remains, identified as another crewman, Wesley Stuart, were returned to his family in California.  Mrs. Stuart refused to believe they were the remains of her son, but she vowed to take care of some other mother’s son and so the remains were interred in their family mausoleum in San Joaquin.

In 2008, Mary Ellen Roberts, sister of Wesley Stuart, had the remains disinterred and flown to Hawaii for DNA testing to resolve the long standing family issue.  Her mother’s intuition was proven correct, the boy kept so long in their keeping was not Wesley Stuart, and a search would find that he was Carl Miller of Poughkeepsie, NY.  More here.

Dennis reports:

On Saturday morning, Nov 7. 2009 a full military ceremony (Navy) was held for Radioman First Class at Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery. It was a beautiful autumn day with bright sunshine and mild to crisp temperatures.


Radioman First Class Miller was a crew member (Radio and gunner) of a Grumman Avenger that was shot down in 1944. He was officially listed as MIA until several months ago when his remains were identified and his closest next of kin (his son, who was born 6 months after his father’s death) was notified. His son requested a military funeral at the family plot in Poughkeepsie. His son also asked around in search of veteran participation in what would be a modest ceremony.


Gathering of Eagles, Rolling Thunder, Patriot Guard Riders, and the American Legion all participated. RFC Miller’s remains were escorted to the cemetery by Rolling Thunder and PGR. encircling the Navy pall bearers, rifle team was a flag line of about 75 members of the groups in attendance holding American flags with a few Navy, Navy Jack, POW/MIA, and 1 Gadsden flags. Also conspicuously present was a homemade sign saying “Welcome Home Sailor” It was truly an honor to be invited to pay our respects to a true American hero. The family was very moved as were we all.

Airman Miller’s son, Arthur Miller, Jr. and family:


The sign says it all:


More of Steve’s pictures here.

Background on Airman Miller’s service written by his son.

Special thanks to PacificWrecks.Org for their background material and some photos on this story.

Also attending the service were members of The Bent Prop Project.

For more background on the Battle of Peleliu.

History Channel Video Series “Lost Evidence”

I was in Sag Harbor on Saturday and paid a special visit.


The low overcast and light rain were a reminder of the November day the Patriot Guard Riders  helped commemorate the naming of the LCpl Jordan C. Haerter Bridge.  When the rain let up I took the opportunity to walk to the memorial marker.


In February, LCpl Haerter was awarded the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism, and that award has been duly noted.

It was a quiet moment, without the crowds and ceremony that attended the bridge renaming.  It offered a chance to reflect on the strength of character, love of country, fortitude, and, yes, bravery, that LCpl Haerter and all our fighting men and women display every day on our behalf and for our protection.

Those characteristics abound in the America of old and the America of today.  As I walked back from my visit I passed another memorial, this time to the men of Sag Harbor who fought in the Civil War.


The similarity of purpose, fighting for freedom, of both causes, makes all of these men members of a great fraternity.  A brotherhood of those who suffer so that others may live their lives without chains, both literal and ideological, binding them.

God Bless You LCpl Haerter, and God Bless the nation that gives us men and women like you.

The Return of Our Native Son


From September 15th through the 17th The New York Patriot Guard Riders were intimately involved in a historic mission to return the remains of an unknown New York Soldier, who sacrificed his life at the Civil War battle of Antietam, to a final resting place at Saratoga National Cemetery.

Bill Schaaf, who worked tirelessly on this mission, now tells the story of how this history was made:

It’s has now been two weeks since the Patriot Guard participated in what was one of the most impactful Missions that we shall ever see. Over three days the PGR was there to escort home to New York a Union Soldier who lost his life on the Antietam battlefield on September 17, 1862 – A Soldier Known But To God.

These last 14 days I’ve had my regular job to do as well as being a part of three other PGR missions but I didn’t want another day to go by without remarking on this wonderful experience.

The Background:

This mission actually started some 5 months ago when I learned that Saratoga National Cemetery would most likely have a Civil War soldier to bury sometime this year.  I thought to myself – if ever there was a Patriot Guard Riders mission to be a part of, this would be it.  I broke a cardinal rule of the PGR – we don’t “mission shop” – we don’t request of others Patriot Guard Rider involvement in a funeral, we must be asked.

Ed. Note:  In Bill’s defense, since the soldier was ‘unknown’ with no family to contact, Bill, in effect, ‘adopted’ this soldier into the PGR family.  Therefore, the PGR family stood in for this soldier’s natural family whoever and wherever they may be.  In the end I think they would be proud of his efforts.

I started to make inquires to learn more about the Civil War soldier slated to come home to New York.  I met with Mike Aikey, the Director of the Saratoga Military Museum who in turn directed me to Don Roy, Director of the Military Services Honor Guard.  I introduced myself and explained who we were (PGR) and asked if they would consider having the PGR provide an escort from Antietam.

It wasn’t as much of a long shot as I had thought – Don Roy was in charge of bringing the soldier home to New York and I saw a picture of his Harley behind the desk.  I was honored that he invited me to be a part of the planning for this ceremony.

We waited a long time for the Smithsonian and/or the Antietam Battlefield Park professionals to tell us something about whether we were ever going to get this soldier home.

Late in August we got word to come and get our soldier. Continue Reading »