Thursday, August 6, 2009

July State Captain Report

Fellow members of the MN Patriot Guard…

It has been a few months since I posted a State Captains report. I apologize for the gap. Time is indeed scarce and I want to make communications a priority. I will work to make sure that every month we get this out to you.

We recently completed our hardest period since we became a group here in MN. We lost six military members in Iraq and Afghanistan in the span of two weeks. Each loss is blow to all of us and to have so many so quick really hurts in your heart.

My pride in you can not be written down and adequately say it. Each one of those missions that stretched over several days saw a sea of red, white and blue. From meeting the aircraft bringing them home, the escorts, the visitations, and services, and the further travel to their final resting place for two, saw you turn out in force. The presence and love you bring to these catches my breath.

I was honored in a couple cases to be on the escorts driving between the lines of flags as we moved. Each time I silently thanked the makers of dark sun glasses because it really does mist you up. The bag pipers playing Amazing Grace, the precision of the honor squads, the rifle salutes, taps, and the final good byes of the families to their fallen hero is a memory that will always be etched in my mind no matter where I am and what I do.

You and I are no different. Doing what we do does change you and no matter how hard your heart is this show of love and support is seen and felt by many.

My pride extends to the leadership team here in this state. We saw members of leadership share burdens, volunteer to help, spend countless hours planning missions, and at the final moment step back and let the members actions speak for them. At no time did I ever feel a mission was compromised by the spread out geography as I knew the leadership team served with no boundaries just as you do. I am not naming names as there are many but each one has my appreciation and respect.

I will close this part by going back to Heroes United in 2008. One Gold Star parent sent this to me and I believe each one of our recent fallen families would say the same thing to you….

“Thank you for all you do for our Fallen's families. I imagine that when each of you arrives in heaven, you will be greeted with a Patriot Guard's Guard: our Fallen lining the corridor to heaven, cheering and welcoming you home.”

My friends you have earned that.

God Bless the families of;
SGT Wayne Hosford
SPC Daniel Drevnick
SPC James Wertish
SPC Carlos Wilcox IV
Capt. Thomas Gramith
CPL Ben Kopp

In June we presented the 2009 Patriot Ride sponsored by Dennis Kirk. They ran out of wrist bands after 2,500 were given out. The level of support we received from the community of motorcyclists was wonderful and we had over 500 active duty personnel ride with us as well that day. Even in these tough times we managed to exceed last years sale counts in raffle tickets. Both the MN Patriot Guard and the MMAF will be able to continue our causes with the money that was raised that day. After the ride over 100 of the Gold Star families from Minnesota gathered for a special dinner for just them. Our goal has always been that some day they own this event and I think we got one step closer to it this year. The family of SGT Nicholas Turcotte led the way in planning and knowing Betsy Turcotte next year is already in motion!

We have also been attending at every step of the way the Remember the Fallen Tributes organized by the Military Salute Project. Since May all over this state our teams have helped smooth the logistics of the core team visit these cemetery sites of our fallen since 9-11. I didn’t attend as many as I would have liked because of the mission loads but each day I rode with this mission was a day that made me better. It helped me keep my promise of “Never forgetting.” When the last weekend is complete we will write up a special mission report for this effort along with web site links to the pictures. There will be many a special “Thank You” to be given…

So many special days.. the interment of a Korean War KIA brought home.. the monument dedication of a Canadian Vietnam War KIA in Canada, the Meet and Greets, the HOTH events, I realized why we need to do this monthly. To compact so much into one posting doesn’t do any of them justice.

I will close by complimenting the dedication of all of you. Being an active member of this group isn’t easy. It isn’t something that takes up a few days per year or once in a while. This is 52 weeks a year answering the request of a family of the military. In some cases it is multiple missions in a single day.

And you show up. Holding a flag when needed. And going home when you are done. No fancy balls or recognition dinners. No press releases. Just good people doing good things.

Thank you.