Posts Tagged ‘Unknown Soldier’

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 »

It’s been a long time.  Welcome Home!

Civil War Unknown

Yesterday,  Thursday, September 17th, 2009, One Hundred and forty seven years after his death, an unknown soldier from New York was returned to his home state after lying undiscovered in a grave on the Antietam Battlefield.

The Patriot Guard Riders and the New York National Guard undertook the multi-state mission of escorting the young soldier home to be buried with honors at the Saratoga National Cemetery.  But not before the Maryland National Guard gave him a moving sendoff.

That afternoon the motorcade passed through Poughkeepsie, NY, where the Gathering of Eagles paid their respects:

The Pentagon Channel has more background:

Another video of the transfer ceremony at Antietam is here:

Patriot Guard Rider Bill Schaaf when talking about the emotions involved in such an escort said:

“For those who couldn’t be there no explanation is possible – for those of
us that were there no explanation is necessary”

The Herald-Mail has a good story from Maryland!

A series of excellent photos in this forum, scroll down for more.

A photo of the escort passing through Hyde Park:

Civil War Soldier - Hyde Park

The Poughkeepsie Journal has a photo gallery here.

News Channel 13 has video of the motorcade passing through Rennsselaer.

News10 has good coverage of the return at Saratoga here.  

A photo gallery from the Daily Gazette is here.

News10 has an even better video report here.

The Albany Times Union has a story with pictures hereThe Saratogian has another here.

CBS6 has good coverage with video here.

The Antietam Battlefield Ranger who made the Going Home video has a blog.  Here is his entry for the day our soldier left.

One of the Patriot Guard Riders is a photographer, his gallery is here.

For a history of the Battle of Antietam. More here.

And a final video:

Last year we had the honor to  report “A Duty Fulfilled” on a Civil War Marine hero in Queens, NY.

Thank you to each and every one of you who helped bring this young man home to New York with dignity and honor!