Thursday, December 23, 2010
Today thousands of military members are deployed around the world and not with family and friends. To those special and giving people we say a silent prayer and hope for your continued safety.
To those who will always have an empty chair at your Holiday Table I will have one as well. I will never feel your pain but I can try to stand behind you in support. My heart is with you.. always.
We in the Patriot Guard stand with 200,000 brothers and sisters around this country ensuring that ever family who experiences loss feels a presence of Honor, Dignity, and Respect. That we must do this is sad but it is the human cost of freedom. It never has been, and never will be, free. It is our honor to do this.
As we celebrate these holidays it is important that we look to the ones we love and treasure them. To not value these special days is a loss of time you will never get back. Tell those you love that you do. Hold all children with special hugs because to often they don't get them. For these days remember why our family and friends keep us real and genuine.
Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Warning to All Veterans
Veterans Affairs Services is not the same as the VA, don't be fooled!
WARNING TO VETERANS
Forwarded by Kevin Secor, VSO Liaison, Office of the Secretary of the
Department of Veterans Affairs.
An organization called Veterans Affairs Services (VAS) is providing benefit
and general information on VA and gathering personal information on veterans.
This organization is not affiliated with VA in any way.
VAS may be gaining access to military personnel through their close
resemblance to the VA name and seal. Our Legal Counsel has requested that we
coordinate with DoD to inform military installations, particularly
mobilization sites, of this group and their lack of affiliation or
endorsement by VA to provide any services.
In addition, GC requests that if you have any examples of VAS acts that
violate chapter 59 of Title 38 United States Code, such as VAS employees
assisting veterans in the preparation and presentation of claims for
benefits, please pass any additional information to Mr.Daugherty at the
Michael G. Daugherty
Department of Veterans Affairs
Office of General Counsel (022G2)
810 Vermont Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20420
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
It has been too long since we posted up all the activities of the year. Time does slip away from us when keeping our lives moving forward and volunteering our time as we do.
A few key items to update you on for the year….
1. Missions and Events Year To Date
This year through September we have listed 453 Missions and Events. That number is an increase of 61 (16%) over last year and almost all of that growth is Honor and Vets Missions. We listed 29 more days of KIA/Active Duty Missions and 28 more Vets missions in 2010.
As a Leadership team we are reviewing our mission scope to make sure we aren’t spreading ourselves to thin with the other types of mission or events. Attending Honor and Vets missions is our core focus and 40% of our calendar is things other than that. We want to make sure we always keep the most important activities in front of us.
In December we will finalize this project and report the final results to you. It won’t be a huge sweeping change but think about it this way…. If our flag line is the background to anything we will step away from doing it. We need to ensure that the flag line, which is what we do, is not used for decoration.
You will see a change in how the calendar is updated as well going into next year. We are going to be putting any MN Patriot Guard Mission or Event all to be listed on one calendar. Things that are of a military support nature but not run by the MNPG will be on a separate calendar. We want to make it easier for you to sort out what you might want to attend.
2. 2010 Patriot Ride
It was a huge success this year!!! We are estimating 2,500 motorcycles and upwards of 4,000 involved as either riding or attending. The move to the Ham Lake City Park worked out better than we could have hoped as far as accommodations and hospitality.
We had an outstanding program highlighted by LtGen Wissler who is the Marine Corps deputy commandant for programs and resources. LtGen Wissler grew up in Brooklyn Park and was amazed by the show of support of the military here in Minnesota!
The money raised was almost exactly what the year before was. Just under $100,000 was raised and split between the MN Patriot Guard and the MMAF. Thank you to our friends at Dennis Kirk and all the volunteers who put so much time into running this.
Next years Patriot Ride is Saturday June 18, 2011 in Ham Lake again. It will be a two day event in which Friday night we will be celebrating the 5th Anniversary of the MN Patriot Guard!
3. Year to Date Financials
We are exactly on our plan for the year of having donated almost every dollar we raised. Our revenue to far this year is $87,288 and our planned expenses are $88,696. Of our total expenses $5,450 goes toward running the MN Patriot Guard which includes accounting fees, liability insurance, and mission expenses such as plaques. That means $83,246 goes to supporting our core causes which is amazing! Thank you to all of you who help make that happen!
Our HOTH Program (Vets Homes/Hospitals, WIA grants, Gold Star family support) is $29,196 this year so far and straight donations will be $54,050 for the year.
Our asset balance at the end of the quarter was $139,315 which includes our store inventory of $16,341.
Our goal is to always have one years worth of funds in place in the event that our ability to raise money goes away. The programs we support in many cases would have no where to go without us so we are careful to ensure we can support them for an additional year so they can find other sources of funding if ours goes away.
4. MN Patriot Guard Store
Last year Dennis Kirk stepped up and volunteered its time to help run our store. Any order placed before 8PM ships the same day and the response time has been great for our customers… YOU! Through the generosity of Dennis Kirk we have a really customer service focused store. We pay for the materials and still own the inventory so there is no conflict of interest.
We will have some new items coming out that are really exciting. Our new long sleeve T Shirt will be powerful in addition to travel coffee mugs, car magnets, and water bottle holders. Keep your eyes out for the new products hitting the store just in time for the Holidays!
5. Leadership changes
When we have Ride Captains and other positions change out it is very often sad. These people became our friends and our voice to the larger organization. Change though is often positive.
A good example is our Fort Snelling National Cemetery team. 8 members have volunteered to help run missions there. They aren’t Ride Captains but people who have time to help out and they have lifted a tremendous burden off the Southeast Metro from having to run missions there. I don’t have an exact number but around 75% of our veteran missions are there. Change is good….
We do have a few open Ride Captain positions open that need to be filled. Southeast Metro and Mankato are open and if you have an interest in either of these positions please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for everything you have done this year. Each year our mission load grows and you respond to it. In 2011 we will see another large Deployment from the MN National Guard and we will need your time and flags once more. As you see the weekly emails come out with the mission and events listed please remember that we are of service to the military members and families. Many of them aren’t “fun” events.. but we have to remember.. “Mission First.”
If I don’t see you personally before the year end I hope the Holiday Season and New Years is awesome for you. Our country has been experiencing some real challenges these last few years and I hope that prosperity finds each and every one of you.
MN Patriot Guard
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
This last weekend we did our mission proud in support of MSgt Fedder in Pine City, MN. On Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday each day over 100 people turned out to stand in support of this hero and show his family and community we recognize his service and sacrifice. The flag lines stretching across the parking lots and streets on those cloudy days brightened up the faces of those attending.
Sadly, one person who claimed to be a member of the MN Patriot Guard risked all the good that was done those days. Some person called the Pine City City Hall and demanded that a flag on private property be lowered to half staff and then attempted illegally to do it themselves when they weren't satisfied with the response.
A. The only flags that had to be lowered by proclamation that day are those of government offices and facilities. This is directly from the Governors proclamation; "all U.S. flags and Minnesota flags be flown at half-staff at all state and federal buildings in the State of Minnesota, from sunrise until sunset on Tuesday, September 7, 2010."
B. The flag being flown at full height was done so because flying at half staff would have endangered people with the flag touching electrical lines.
C. It is not the duty or right of anyone claiming to be a MN Patriot Guard member to try to force a personal belief on any private business or individual. This organization does not do that.
D. This alleged member committed an illegal act by touching the flag pole on private property. This person could have been arrested for this.
There is no question that the flag, if it could have been safely done, been flown at half staff out of respect for MSgt Fedder sacrifice. I think it is sad that the flag isn't revered as it used to be. That people are allowed to do everything from flying it upside down to making fun of it publicly is a disgrace to the men and women who died defending it.
That doesn't give any private citizen the right to do anything illegally about it though and especially doing it on the behalf of the MN Patriot Guard. One person, in one act, possibly undid all the good that was done by hundreds of other people in Pine City. This person, whoever they may be, should be ashamed of themselves for their selfish behavior.
To the residents of Pine City, MN, and the property owner involved, we apologize on behalf of our organization and please know this is nothing that we condone. Whoever this person was did not do this on our behalf. We believe in the freedoms and laws our heroes have fought and died for and would never support an illegal act such as this. Our hearts continue to be with the family of MSgt Fedder and the community of Pine City.
Monday, July 26, 2010
Monday, June 14, 2010
As many of you know I grew up in Wisconsin. This story (from Wikipedia) makes me proud!!
Working as a grade school teacher in Waubeka, Wisconsin, in 1885, Bernard J. Cigrand held the first recognized formal observance of Flag Day at the Stony Hill School. The school has been restored, and a bust of Cigrand also honors him at the National Flag Day Americanism Center in Waubeka.
From the late 1880s on, Cigrand spoke around the country promoting patriotism, respect for the flag, and the need for the annual observance of a flag day on June 14, the day in 1777 that the Continental Congress adopted the Stars and Stripes.
He moved to Chicago to attend dental school and, in June 1886, first publicly proposed an annual observance of the birth of the United States flag in an article titled "The Fourteenth of June," published in the Chicago Argus newspaper. In June 1888, Cigrand advocated establishing the holiday in a speech before the "Sons of America," a Chicago group. The organization founded a magazine, American Standard, in order to promote reverence for American emblems. Cigrand was appointed editor-in-chief and wrote articles in the magazine as well as in other magazines and newspapers to promote the holiday.
On the third Saturday in June 1894, a public school children’s celebration of Flag Day took place in Chicago at Douglas, Garfield, Humboldt, Lincoln, and Washington Parks. More than 300,000 children participated, and the celebration was repeated the next year.
Cigrand became president of the American Flag Day Association and later of the National Flag Day Society, which allowed him to promote his cause with organizational backing. Cigrand once noted he had given 2,188 speeches on patriotism and the flag.
Cigrand lived in Batavia, Illinois, from 1913–1932.
Cigrand generally is credited with being the "Father of Flag Day," with the Chicago Tribune noting that he "almost singlehandedly" established the holiday.
Sunday, June 6, 2010
Today is the anniversary of our greatest generation stepping off the boats, under withering fire, and crawling their way to the French beaches.
I have been to the Omaha beach area and the Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville sur Mer, France. That those brave, and scared, men could get off those boats, see the raging fires on the hill sides, hear the bullets whistle over their heads, see their buddies die, and still come home to help build our country is inspiring.
We salute the veterans of Operation Overlord today.
Monday, May 31, 2010
By: Jeff Seeber
Written just after Memorial Day in 2006 when I heard "Have a HAPPY Memorial Day" one too many times
I hope I live long enough to be able to get through the month of May just once without some moron sending me a Happy Memorial Day e-mail or hearing some idiot wishing people a Happy Memorial Day.
It’s bad enough I’m reminded every May and every November that very few Americans know the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day, but expecting me to remain silent about the growing trend to turn Memorial Day into some sort of celebration is asking too much. I usually chagrin and bear it, but I’m getting too old to care who I piss off from one day to the next, so if you’re one of those fools who sends me a Happy Memorial Day e-mail or wishes people a Happy Memorial Day, listen up!
There is nothing Happy about Memorial Day. That’s why it’s called M-e-m-o-r-i-a-l Day! Memorial Day is to be commemorated, not celebrated. Memorial Day is supposed to be a day of quiet reflection, remembrance, tribute and rendering honors to those who have given their lives ensuring you nitwits can have the freedom to be able to take full advantage of the rights their deaths secured for you, one of which is the freedom to make ignorant statements like Happy Memorial Day.
Believe it or not, Memorial Day was not placed on calendars to remind you that summer has officially begun. Memorial Day is not the first day of Get Drunk While Pretending To Be An Outdoorsman At Your Cabin season. Memorial Day was not created by General Motors so their dealerships could have a Three-Day Used Car Clearance Blowout. Memorial Day is not intended to be the first day of National Burn That Burger Month.
Memorial Day is supposed to be commemorated on May 30th ... not May 28th, May 29th or May 31st. It makes no difference what day of the week the 30th falls, that’s when Memorial Day is supposed to be observed. However, the United States Congress changed the date in 1971 to the last Monday in May to give Americans yet another 3-day weekend. After all, what’s more important ... one-hundred-plus years of American tradition or giving Americans one more 3-day weekend to have a few brewskis while driving to see Yellowstone with the wife and kids?
The National Moment of Remembrance was started to encourage all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation. Of course, it’s been a dismal failure. I mean, c’mon, you expect Americans to pause for an ENTIRE MINUTE to remember those who died serving the people who are too busy to pause for ONE ENTIRE MINUTE? Are you nuts?
It’s bad enough American Civics is no longer taught in American schools. It’s bad enough most Americans ignore Armed Forces Day. It’s bad enough that very few civilians know that May is National Military Family Appreciation Month. It’s bad enough few Americans understand that Veterans Day is now intended to honor all those who have worn a uniform serving in this nation’s Military, especially those still living. But it’s pitiful that most Americans can’t seem to comprehend that Memorial Day is the one day a year when we are asked to remember those who gave their lives for this country.
Let me repeat that ... they gave their LIVES. Most of them were teenagers or in their twenties. Many of them left behind a spouse after being married for a very short period of time. Some of them left behind infant children who grew up never knowing one of the two people who brought them into this world with the good fortune of being born a free person. All of them had plans for a full and long life, but they interrupted those plans because they knew that serving their country, and the risks that commitment entails, was more important than life itself.
Their dreams and their expectations ended suddenly on a battlefield in some foreign land, or in a training accident at home or abroad, or during a secret mission to ensure this country is not attacked without warning. Some of them are buried in unmarked graves on foreign soil or rest forever in the sea. Some became missing in the fog of war and will never be accounted for.
Is it too much to ask that Americans pause for one day every year to recognize those who gave the last full measure of devotion? Are we as a nation so selfish, so lazy, so ignorant of the reality of the price of freedom, that we can’t set aside even one day to acknowledge the sacrifice of each and every one of our honorable dead? Apparently it is too much to ask. Apparently expecting Americans to relinquish even one day of basking in the sun while swilling beer is too much of an imposition. Let’s face it, most Americans prefer a Happy Memorial Day.
For those of us who served, and for the families and friends of those who gave their lives, Memorial Day will always be the one day a year when we publicly honor our buddies, our brothers, our sisters, our sons, our daughters, our fathers, our mothers, our nieces and nephews, our cousins ... all those who perished, their young lives cut short, while serving America ... while fighting next to us ... while protecting you. The rest of the year, we remember them in private. We remember them daily. We will never forget them.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
We have debated for a long time the issue of flags being flown while motorcycles are moving. There is no question how beautiful they are as escorts come in with the flags mounted and waving in the wind.
That said… too often people have had to dodge them as they break off and our US Flag hits the ground and bikes run over it. I was on one run last year that as we pulled in I realized the passenger on the bike in front of me had been holding the flag pole the entire ride. We have the rubber band effect of group rides where the back bikes are running 50 mph or more trying to catch the group in front of them with flags poles looking like an ultralight fishing pole bent over.
We know that many members have some really well built mounting systems and we know that some are really suspect. We aren’t engineers or qualified to inspect these systems to say which are Ok and which aren’t. Even a good mounting system with a pole that has been subjected to miles of highway speed is a risky proposition.
Knowing how passionate people are about having flags flying we asked a group of Senior Ride Captains, Ride Captains, representatives of the Board of Directors, and specialists like insurance agents, attorneys, and safety instructors weigh on what our official policy should be. What was the most important factor is what we all believe to be a safe practice that still allows flying flags.
The below is our policy effective immediately. The policy really is nothing more than formalizing what our guidelines had been.
It is the policy of the MN Patriot Guard that flags larger than a 20" X 20" flag may not be flown from any vehicle (motorcycle, car, etc.) traveling at speeds of 35 miles per hour or more during any part of a mission including an organized ride to or from a mission. Anyone flying a flag from their vehicle at speeds less than 35 miles per hour is responsible to ensure that all flags, poles, mounts, and any other associated equipment are safe and securely attached to their vehicle. The ride leader is responsible to lead the ride in such a way that no vehicle following will exceed 35 miles per hour when flags have been allowed to fly. Any person asked not to fly a flag from their vehicle by the Ride Captain in Charge of a mission or event, or their designee, shall comply with the request or not participate in the mission or event.
This puts the burden of safe flag flying on the person who chooses to mount them on their motorcycle. There is no requirement to do so and we really do not encourage it. It is a personal choice each person makes to put them on his or her motorcycle. As long as the policy is followed any injuries or damage that result from something bad happening is not likely to be the liability of the Ride Captain In Charge or the Minnesota Patriot Guard. The liability will likely rest entirely with the rider who had a flag or mount come off in front of the following riders.
We can not declare any system safe because we aren’t trained to do so. We will inspect for those we don’t think are safe and might ask you to put away your flag if there is reason to believe there is an issue. We ask that you comply with that request and ask your understanding if you are asked to not participate in the mission should you refuse to put the flag away.
You might ask why create a policy when we had a guideline in place. Creating a formal policy helps creates some liability protection for our Ride Captains that didn’t exist before assuming they adhere to the policy put in place. They put in so much of their personal time and money that we felt it wasn’t fair they were exposed to as much liability as they were before.
I realize that any type of restriction may not sit well with some people. I hope that most of those who choose to fly flags understand that we haven’t restricted flying flags but put in some safety boundaries that help protect all of us.
Thanks for everything you do!
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
We have a number of things to announce!!
Board of Directors
We recently elected two members to the Board of Directors that will be effective May 10, 2010.
Elected by Leadership Advisory Committee, and ratified by the Board of Directors, are Cheryl Berg Wineman and Greg “Springer” Yung to serve two year terms.
Cheryl is an active member who we at missions most often see wearing a pink vest! Cheryl has served as a business manager in the medical field and has significant understanding of financial management and audit compliance.
Greg is a returning Board member agreeing to help out for two more years. A Navy veteran of 6 years in Vietnam Greg has a long history of success in business serving at one point as a Vice President in a large medical device company.
Both Cheryl and Greg have tremendous passion for the Patriot Guard and are just the kind of people we need helping us out.
Leaving the Board is Jerry Teeson. Jerry was instrumental and key helping us form how the Board should be structured and how it can work. He belongs to numerous professional organizations and was one of two real estate agents nationwide to receive a Distinguished Service award from the National Association of Realtors in 2009. Jerry also serves on the Board for Trout Unlimited here in Minnesota. Thank you Jerry for your service to our country in the Army and for being so key in helping the Minnesota Patriot Guard move forward.
Assistant State Captin
George Winslow has accepted the role of High Plains Regional Captain with the Patriot Guard Riders. As a National leader George stepped down from his role as Minnesota Assistant State Captain and member of the Board. I can not ever thank George enough for his dedication and energy while being in his role as Mankato Sector Ride Captain and Assistant State Captain. He has been rock solid and steady in helping us go from a bunch of rag tag motorcyclists to one of the best Patriot Guards in the country. I will miss George’s guidance as Assistant Sate Captain but will still lean on him as a friend. Best of luck George!!
Replacing George as Assistant Sate Captain is Tim Leonhardt. Many of you know Tim as the guy always hustling and helping at missions around the state with his floppy High Plans Drifter hat on! Tim is currently serving as Northwest Metro Ride Captain, Web Master, and Ride Captain Representative to the Board of Directors. Tim is the kind of person who when I asked others what they thought of my naming him as this said ”good call… the best choice!” With Tim assuming this role he will relinquish his role as ride Captain Representative on the Board and we will soon launch another election to replace his position as that.
Both Tim and George’s changes are effective immediately.
Sometimes when we have leadership changes people begin to get nervous. I am a firm believer that in an organization like ours change is great! We get new ideas, new energy, new ways of looking at things, and we can forward faster. If we get stale or stagnant as leaders we begin to get bored and end up in the same routines. Change helps avoid that possible problem.
This is also a volunteer organization and none of our jobs should be full time. We all have family and jobs to tend to and after a few years it is time to go back and make sure we are taking care of them. The amount of time a Ride Captain and other leaders invest is large. Each mission takes hours to plan and all that time is being taken away from something else. Next time you see your Ride Captain please let him or her know that you appreciate what they do. None of them do it for the recognition or glory.. but a pat on the back goes a long way to filling up their emotional gas tanks!
Minnesota Patriot Guard
President, Board of Directors
Friday, April 30, 2010
Colonel Salzman of the Contingency Operating Base in Basrah, Iraq, awarded Spc. Sarah O’Loughlin with the Army Achievement Medal for her efforts in organizing an Irish Scamper for military personnel.
O'Loughlin honored for International Irish Scamper
by Theresa Andrus
This year's Irish Scamper during Maple Lake's St. Patrick's Day Festival made history when a sister race was held in Iraq. And now its organizer has been honored for her efforts.
Spc. Sarah O'Loughlin, daughter of Mike and Ginger O'Loughlin of Maple Lake, was awarded with the Army Achievement Medal earlier this month at a ceremony at her base in Basrah, Iraq.
O'Loughlin had been a past participant in the Irish Scamper and organized an Iraq event that drew 236 service men and women to participate in the 5K race. O'Loughlin actually had 288 people sign up for the race she organized, but some were unable to particpate due to missions or other duties.
O'Loughlin's parents conducted fundraising in Maple Lake to provide race t-shirts for the first 200 runners to sign up, with the Maple Lake Lions donating money to ship the shirts to Iraq.
It was the first time that O'Loughlin had coordinated a big event and she thanked her family, the support she received from Maple Lake, and help she received from other soldiers in Iraq.
"I am very happy to have been recognized for all the work put into the run, mostly because I feel like it helps recognize all the people back home who helped me with it," she said. "A lot of work went into making the whole thing happen, and I am so grateful for everyone who helped me."
O'Loughlin will return stateside from her tour of duty in Iraq in late June or early July.
Monday, April 19, 2010
Our organization is completely non-political. We are neither pro-war or anti-war. We are not Republican, Democrat, Independent, or any other party political party. We take no position of any type that is debated or discussed in either our State or National Capital.
We are 150% for our individual military members making sacrifices around the world every day.
That said of late I am starting to hear complaints from people at missions who are over hearing comments about political decisions, political leaders, agendas of certain groups, or even questioning our stance on being non-political. It is important to our organization that we stay away from these types of conversations at missions. I can assure you that someone standing close by, and over hearing you, doesn't agree with your opinions.
Unless you are a personal friend you don't, and won't, know my views. I keep those discussions for times when I am in private and not acting in any way associated with the PGR. I don't want my views to be confused with possibly representing those of the PGR or you.
It is also why we ask you to not wear your vest or PGR gear to political meetings or events. It can create the illusion that we support or represent the views of the meeting you are at.
As citizens it is imperative to our future that we have these opinions and act on them responsibly. Most important is your exercising your right and duty to vote in each election. We do these vitally important things as private citizens, representing ourselves, and not the PGR.
Thank you for investing the time and heart to make this the best PGR in the country!
Sunday, April 11, 2010
On Saturday 200 members showed up in Rochester to show the world we hold LCpl Curtis Swenson in the highest regard for his sacrifice. 100 of those continued on further as he was laid down in his finally resting place. Many of those making that ride didn't get home until well after dark.
At the same time 50 MN Patriot Guard members greeted SGT Kurt Kruize as he was brought home from Iraq on his last journey.
This letter was received from someone attending the funeral for LCpl Swenson
I live in Wisconson and today I went to the funeral of LCPL Curtis Micheal Swenson, in Rochester, MN. As we came to the church we beheld a sight that almost took my breath away.
The Patriot Guard Riders were lined on both sides of the street with flags flying. It was extremely moving.
They stood tall and still. They held their flag and looked so solemn. The tears started before I was even out of the vehicle.
When I talked with the family they found it difficult to put in words their appreciation. What you have done has given them a memory to hold in the dark times. The PGR helps those in the most heart wrenching times.
You are a wonderful group. I salute you.
Thank You and God Bless..
This is a clip of the mission report for SGT Kurt Kruize
Today we escorted SGT Kurt Kruize from the St Cloud Airport to the Williams Funeral home. We had 48 MN PGR members stand the flag line at the St Cloud Airport. The flight landed at 9:07 AM.
SGT Kruize was received by US Army Reserve Color Guard, this was a very emotional moment, there was not a dry eye on the
Billie Jo, Kurt's wife paused at the hearse and said "I Love You Sweetheart".
Let us never forget our heroes. Let us always support their families. Let us always answer the invitation with Honor, Dignity, and Respect.
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Thank you to all of you for being part of this great cause...
By way of introduction, My name is XXX XXXX. I recently requested Patriot Guard support at my brother XXXXX XXX's funeral at Ft. Snelling on XXX XX, 2010. I was so moved and honored by the involvement of the MN Patriot Guard that I decided to join you. Personally there was a lot of healing for me that day both regarding the loss of my brother, and my own past experiences.
I served in the US Navy Submarine Service in the Tonkin Gulf from 1966 to 1969 on 2 different Diesel-Electric Subs. I was honorably discharged from active duty as an MM2SS (E5) in January 1969. My welcome back home to the States was to an anti Viet Nam War protest at the Greyhound Bus Depot in San Francisco. Through the years, I decided to put that behind me and go on with life. What I experienced on February 19, 2010 did a lot to finally complete the healing process, and I really want to be part of bringing that feeling to others like me. I am very pleased with the way our attitude towards the present military has become and how the Patriot Guard supports them.
Tomorrow I plan to be part of the Mission in Bemidji to honor William Lawrence. Two of my close friends are Patriot Guard Riders from this area, and are helping to 'teach me the ropes', and get me started. I am looking forward to this opportunity.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Jen lost her first husband, SGT Nicholas Turcotte, on Dec 4, 2006, in Iraq. His mission was the first one I was the Ride Captain for so the family has maintained a very special place in my heart and we have maintained close ties.
Jen still, to this day, loves Nick with all her heart. She has celebrated his life in many different ways including becoming a TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors) mentor and working with other families who are in the grief process after losing a hero while serving our country. Her family last year hosted our state gathering of Gold Star families. Jen works with other women in same situation and has made friends across the country.
As time has gone by Jen told me that she had dated but the circumstances never went past a few dates. Last year I started seeing pictures of Adam in internet shared albums so I knew she had a special guy in her life. I was genuinely happy for her and was delighted to meet Adam and begin to get to know him. I would admit I held back a bit with Adam. Knowing how much Jen still loves Nick I was expecting at some point a parting of their ways based on Adam needing to accept that.
So last fall I found out that a February wedding was being planned and I started joking with Jen about my invitation and was tickled to see it actually come in the mail.
Watching her happiness via Facebook was fun and I could follow wedding plans. I saw Adam and Jen at Wreaths Across America where Jen always leaves a big kiss with lipstick on Nick’s headstone at Fort Snelling National Cemetery.
So wedding day approached and I am wondering just how the day was going to play out with Nick’s memory and if it was going to be a cloud or simply ignored.
Entering the Semple Mansion where the wedding was to be held I went up to greet the family in the front. On a table with candles burning were pictures of Jen and Nick together, happy, and in love. The picture on the front of the table was a picture of Jen and Adam with the same look of love. That was the first sign that this day was going to be special.
Taking my seat I read the program. On the back of it was a letter from Jen and Adam thanking everyone for being there and part of their lives.
Underneath that was a beautiful letter from Jen to Nick. I started crying reading it because it outlined a woman’s love for her fallen hero, her new husband, and letting both know that she will love them forever.
“In Loving Memory of Nicholas Turcotte”
To my dear love Nick,
I can remember the first day we met, the first time we kissed. I remember our senior prom and graduating from high school with you. I remember when you proposed. I will never forget the day I married you! We have made so many wonderful memories together over the years. I will never let them go. Nick you are my first love, my amazing hero, and I will love you forever and carry your memory with me always.
Today I know you are watching over me. I know you have looked after me over the last few years. I know this is the man you would have wanted me to marry, and I know he is not trying to replace your love but continue where you left off and give me the same love you had for me.
Today as I marry Adam, I will take you with me. I will take you with me when I have our first child, my first grandchild, and as I grow old. I will take you with me always! Your memory is forever in my heart and I will share your story and life with everyone I meet. Not a day will go by that I will not take you, your love, or your memory with me.
I hope I have made you proud of the way I’ve faced the future and carried on without you until we meet again. Goodnight my love.
Forever yours, Jennifer.
There was a special mention from the minster that Jen’s first husband lost his life serving our country and that there would be a candle lighting ceremony with Jen and Adam to honor Nick’s memory. As the day went on there were special items of Nick’s there and the picture montages would occasionally flash pictured of Jen and Nick together.
Jen’s sister Katie who served as Maid of Honor gave a moving tribute to Nick and how much he was loved and missed to this day.
“Hi I’m Katie Jen's sister
Of course today is all about love and celebrating the great love that these two people share and who loves love more than Jen?
Jen has had passion for loving ever since she was little, she once had a cat that she loved so much that she would hold it in her arms and squeeze it until it clawed its way out of her smothering hug and since then we all knew that Jen had more love in her heart than the average little girl
13 years later Jen met a wonderful man that she fell deeply in love with they were so lovey dovey that I could barely stand it! She loved him so much that she knew that she had to let him follow his dream, his calling and she loved him so much that when her man turned into a hero she knew she had to let him go.
Well that was easier said, or rather tattooed, than done.
The tough times were tough and happy times a bit tougher but with all the heartache Jen never turned her back on love even though it seemed like love turned it’s back on her.
She kept on smiling through the pain and bravely moving forward.
One and a half years later Jen found Adam, the piece she didn’t even know she was missing. Adam was her saving grace. Her strong shoulder to cry on, her happiness on a bad day. He wasn’t there to help Jen forget her hero or replace the man she loved but to help her hold on to the memories and join in love.
It takes a strong woman to move forward and love again and an even stronger man to love a woman whose heart he has to share.
And so Jen knew that with Nick in her heart , Adam by her side, and her family behind her she was home.
You may think that this story ends with a happily ever after but this story is far from over
And so I would like to make a toast to Jen and Adam and their never ending story.”
What Jen reinforced to me was that Adam insisted on integrating Nick to the wedding. His heart, and trust in Jen, was deep enough to be secure in her love for him. Jen said she called and apologized to Adam after their first date because all she did was talk about Nick. He told her to let it out because it was part of who she is.
I asked if they were Ok with me writing about my amazing experiences and they not only approved it but encouraged it. They wanted the message to get out that this was possible in a healthy way. I was honored to be there as a friend and witness this marriage.
This relationship and wedding are a great example of what is possible when someone, after tragedy strikes, moves forward. I intentionally don’t use the words “moving on” because that in many ways implies forgetting. Moving forward allows Jen to bring her love of Nick with her, never forget him, and still love Adam with her whole heart. Someone less secure than Adam might ask her to push that backwards and leave Nick's memory behind.
One other reflection I had is that we tend to put the fallen hero and their families on pedestals that reach the sky. What I don’t know if I do well is recognize that they may not want to stay on the pedestal or want to change it over time. In Jen’s case she brought Adam up to the pedestal and made it larger to also hold his love for her. I have to remind myself that we can not constrain or typecast the hero’s family based on what we think is how they should act or what we think is appropriate.
It was a beautiful day spent with two people who are very much in love. Their inner strength is 10x what I thought it was and I am proud to be their friends. Jennifer had every reason in the world to shut her heart down and she didn’t. She and Adam will have a wonderful life!
Congratulations Mr. and Mrs. L'Herault!!!
Monday, February 8, 2010
Our budget for this program has been used so we are standing down from this program now. If you know of a military member who awarded a Purple Heart in OEF/OIF please make sure they have applied to the MMAF for their additional grant for being awarded a Purple Heart.
The MMAF makes a $2,000 grant for being awarded a Purple Heart and if there is a permanent disability they may grant more.
In the future the MN Patriot Guard will support the MMAF with additional donations to help them continue their program of supporting our brave heroes.
Friday, January 29, 2010
I want to take a few moments of your time to give you the Minnesota Patriot Guard annual report of missions, activities, and donations for 2009.
It was a year of highs that ranged from the 2009 Patriot Ride with over 2,000 participants and Flag Line 09 with over 1,200 to the lows of 6 Fallen Heroes in the span of two weeks.
Our state membership ended the year at over 5,500 people receiving information weekly on the different missions and news and notes. As we don’t log those who attend we estimate that between 30% to 50% attend at least one activity and help show support to the military.
Our leadership team had some changes with my replacing Monica Mead as State Captain and Yvonne Zappa replacing Brian Jones as State HOTH Coordinators. A number of Ride Captains also saw change; Albert Lea, Brainerd, Hibbing, International Falls, Mankato, NW Metro, SE Metro, and St Cloud.
Having new leaders ready to step up and assume new roles is key to our being able to keep the moving our mission forward. If you want to volunteer to help please let your Ride Captain know.
My thanks go to those who took their turn helping out and stepping up by volunteering in delivering our mission.
Our mission report for the year was the largest ever. Anyone who attended even one of these events deserves thanks as helping one of the largest differences in Minnesota in supporting our military:
KIA/Active Duty/Special Circumstances Missions - 2009
CWO Philip E. Windorski, Jr – Feb 09
SPC Kevin Sobrech – March 09
SFC Leslie Mark Johnson – March 09 (MN Native)
Sr. Airman Daniel Addabbo – June
MAJ (CH) Henry T. Vakoc, Retired – July 09 (Injured in Combat 2004)
SGT Kimberly Blaisdell – July 09
SGT C.Wayne Hosford – July 2009
SPC Carlos E. Wilcox IV – July 09
SPC Daniel Drevnick – July 09
SPC. James D. Wertish – July 09
CPL. Benjamin S. Kopp – July 09
Capt Thomas J Gramith – Aug 09
SFC John H Holman POW-MIA/Korea – July 09
SGT Jonathon A Manea – Aug 09
Richard R. Crittenden – Sept 09 (Law Enforcement lost in the Line of Duty)
SSG Todd W. Selge Sept 09
MAJ Tad T. Hervas – Oct 09
SPC George Cauley – Oct 09
SSgt Aaron Taylor – Oct 09
MAJ George L. Glass II – Oct 09
PFC Kham Xiong – Nov 09
SSgt Rory R. Gavic – Nov 09
Cpl Ryan Pape – Dec 09
Our first mission here in Minnesota was for CPL Andrew J. Kemple, Anoka, MN -- 23 Feb 06. That day marked a turning point in Minnesota for its citizens having the opportunity to stand up and do the right thing. We mourn all of Fallen Heroes and vow to never forget.
I’d like to say a few words about our mission scope and who we are. Our mission scope is:
Our primary mission is to attend the funeral services of fallen American heroes as invited guests of the family. We do this to accomplish the following:
1. Show respect and honor to our fallen heroes, and support their families and their communities.
2. Ensure an atmosphere of dignity and respect for those in mourning.
Other missions undertaken by Minnesota Patriot Guard include:
• Honor Missions for veterans as requested by families
• Visits to VA Medical Centers and Minnesota State Veterans Homes
• Welcome Home and Deployment Sendoff Missions
There are many other good activities that support our military but that doesn’t mean they are MN Patriot Guard missions or events. Reading the above mission report for 2009 I think you can see we are very busy around the state. When you run across opportunities that don’t fall into our scope I encourage you to attend them as private volunteers if you want. There are never enough volunteers.
In 2010 we need to focus on doing more missions and events in our scope and fewer of those that fall outside of them. We are planning to really step up our efforts in HOTH missions such as vets homes visits and supporting hunts for the disabled or deployed military members. We do so much.. and yet there are so many more things we can do within our scope.
Our continued growth in raising funds for donations has resulted in our largest year ever of supporting many great causes, military members, and Wounded In Action Warriors who were awarded Purple Hearts. The below list is being provided as information and we have the accounting firm of Carlson Advisors, LLC preparing our annual tax return for the third year in accordance with the new IRS rules governing 501(c)3s. If there are any material changes I will post them as the taxes are filed.
Donation Summary – 2009 (Sorry for the formatting. This site doesn't make it easy!)
WIA Grants $34,000
Wreaths Across America $806
Gold Star Event/Heroes United $3,502
850th Cannon Run $250
HOTH - Total MN Veterans Homes $6,292
Vets Hunt Support $1,537
Gold Star Family Events $1,000
Total Support of Vets & Families/HOTH $47,386
34th Division Chaplains' Fund $2,500
Dear American Hero $500
Disabled Vets Rest Camp $6,200
Flags for MN Fallen Miliitary $2,500
Military Heroes Foundation $2,500
Patriot Guard Riders, Inc. $2,500
Project Backpack $6,500
TTTT Scholarship Fund $10,000
Viet Nam Vets Welcome Home $5,000
Serve Our Troops $1,000
Total Grants Made $53,206
Total Support Dollars For Our Military $100,593
I am so proud of you and the help you provide in making this possible. It is so unique to be in an organization “NOT” focused on fund raising but being able to do this at the level we do.
Our budget for expenses and donations will be smaller in 2010 as we will be ending the WIA grant initiative. We will be increasing our HOTH budget for Vets Homes and Hunts as we can touch many vets and military members in this way.
2009 Special Comments
Losing 6 Fallen Heroes in two weeks
At the end of July we were asked to provide our love and support to the families of 6 fallen heroes in 3 weeks. I am so proud of how our state, and neighboring states, stood tall in showing honor, dignity, and respect to these heroes and their families. These 6 missions had multiple components from the Honor Transfers at Holman field, escorts, visitations,
Remember the Fallen Tributes
Organized by the Military Salute Project, the MN Patriot Guard participated across the state by visiting the final resting spot for our fallen and special heroes since 9-11-01. Travelling across the state (and country for some) the visitations included a brief ceremony, presentation of flowers, and pictures that were taken and posted on the Military Salute Project website. A total of 94 gravesites in 10 states were visited during the Remember The Fallen Tribute.
2009 Patriot Ride
On June 20, 2009, the Patriot Ride was held in East Bethel, MN. Sponsored by our great friends at Dennis Kirk, the MN Patriot Guard presented this event. The 2009 Patriot Ride had over 2,000 participants in the ride and event. The highlight of the riding portion was the spectacular fly over and then hovering show of two Blackhawk helicopters.
The special Honor Ceremony was unique in that military honors were finally rendered to SFC Lyle Mackedanz who was lost in Vietnam but never recognized with the flag presentation, rifle salute, and Taps. His daughter and grand children were present to receive the flag.
The total net funds raised were just under $100, 000 which is divided evenly with the Minnesotans’ Military Appreciation fund.
The Patriot Ride for 2010 will be held June 19, 2010, in Ham Lake, MN, so please keep the date open! Raffle Tickets for the 2010 Harley-Davidson are also available now. Details in how to get them will be sent out soon.
Northern Sector Meet and Greet
In conjunction with the 2009 Camp Ripley Open house, the Northern Sectors hosted both a ride and Regional Meet and Greet. The capper for the event was named Flag Line 09, the world record setting flag line of 1,344 flags counted.
Hundreds of bikes (+400) were on the ride from Pillager to Camp Ripley and all the funds raised were given to Camp Ripley to help pay for improvements to the Camp Museum.
MN Patriot Guard Store Operations
Our store grew to the point that we needed to find a better way to support its customers with the best possible service. Our friends at Dennis Kirk offered to store and ship our inventory at no charge!!! We thank Dennis Kirk for their continued support and assistance and John Redfield for his continued hard work at developing new and unique products to offer to you!
There is no organization like this where vets and non-vets gather together to show respect, provide comfort, celebrate and mourn, help heal, and show the men and women who keep our freedom alive that someone cares. I am so proud of what we have done in the last 4 years moving from a small movement of a few people on motorcycles to a large state wide system of support.
All of us are volunteers who receive no compensation of any type for our services. We do get paid back ten fold for the time we put in by seeing the faces and signs of gratitude of those we serve.
In 2010 we are Welcoming Home over 3,000 Minnesotan’s from deployments in Iraq. These are the best days to see them come home safe. Most likely we will be asked to deliver our mission on the worst day in the life of a family. We will, as always, stand tall and proud of our being able to do that to.
Our organization, like our country, is based on freedom. Freedom to participate or stay home. Freedom to express our support of the military or stay silent. My hope for 2010 is that more people choose to help in our mission by attending one mission or event this year. Each gift of time matters to a mourning family or someone returning home from a deployment.
Thank you for everything you all do for the MN Patriot Guard. It is your efforts that make us who we are.
Minnesota Patriot Guard
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Sadly Snap was passed over the line this afternoon.
He is a former National Executive Director of the Patriot Guard Riders taking over in very turbulent times he was a steady guiding hand when it was needed.
SNAP was awarded the Army’s Distinguished Service Cross for his service in
Vietnam, and will be accorded full military honors at his funeral.
Snap was a leader when leadership was needed. He will be missed by all regardless if you knew him or not.
Bless his wife Linda and keep them in our prayers.
Friday, January 22, 2010
I know it is a big game for the Vikings Sunday night. Let's not forget that these brave men and women put it all on the line to serve our country and protect our freedom. We can find radios to listen to the game and catch the end of it when we are done saying "Welcome Home!"
Let us not forget either the three lost from the MP Company from Stillwater.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
The MN Patriot Guard has been granting $1,000 to each wounded warrior we could find. It started out with buying an airline ticket for Katie Kriesel to visit John in Germany after he was wounded. We have since then granted 25 wounded warriors our small token of appreciation. But we knew there were many more and wanted to find them.
We have partnered with the Army Wounded Warrior (AW2) program and local Veterans Services Officers in finding Combat Related Purple Heart recipients from OEF/OIF who reside in MN. We have been very fortunate in sourcing what we believe to be 24 more around the state at this time. The time is right for us to do this after receiving a $20,000 donation from the Pawlenty for Governor Campaign as it was winding down.
We started out by working with Jill Van Vugt of the Army Wounded Warrior programs (AW2). We provided the list of those who we previously donated to and she went to work. By going through her list she contacted them one by one and asked if it was OK to pass their contact info to us. At no time was their privacy compromised in this effort.
Other motivated people such as Ron Mackedanz contacted those he knew qualified and we had not donated to. Slowly this first list of 24 came together to start our donations with.
The Tribute To The Troops saw what we were doing and decided to make a $5,000 donation to help us complete this mission. We are very grateful for this help.
This last weekend we began to make the presentations to this latest group. At the Willmar and Brainerd/St Cloud Meet & Greet 10 of the checks were given out. Many more have been sent to Ride Captains to coordinate in the way the hero wants to make it happen.
Some of these heroes preferred to be very private and others were comfortable with a public presentation. However they wanted to make it happen we were OK with. Their privacy and wishes were the first priority.
While we regret not being able to do this when they first came home the upside to doing this now, years later in some cases, is that we can show we will never forget their service and sacrifice. It seems to mean more when done later on and they have moved back to regular life as it might be for them.
We know that $1,000 won’t change their lives. But if it helps out in some way to let them know we love and appreciate them we cannot put a price on that.
We will continue to look for heroes such as these. If you know of someone who qualifies (Combat Related Purple Heart recipients from OEF/OIF who reside in MN) please contact me at DougB@mnpatriotguard.org so we can work on it. Unless they are recommended through formal military channels we will ask for a copy of their DD214 to qualify them.
Support these men and women are part of our core mission responsibility. We do many other wonderful things that show our support of our military heroes but this is at the center of it. Thank you for your hard work making this all possible.