Friday, November 30, 2007

The Beginnings of December

There's a snowy forecast that I'm sure many of us are not looking forward to...and yet it seems paltry in comparison to the loss some families are facing right now.

Sadly, we have lost another soldier from Minnesota. As many of you already know, SFC John J. Tobiason died Wednesday in Iraq. His family has asked us to be part of his services in Bloomington and at Fort Snelling.

SE Metro RC Indian John is working with the family's Casualty Assistance Officer already, and services may be somewhat of a short notice this coming week. John told me a little while ago that SFC Tobiason has been awarded the Bronze Star. I know the Patriot Guard Riders will show the honor and respect this coming week that is due for a hero.

December is starting off very busy - right now the event and mission calendars on our website show November, but click ahead.

Tomorrow (Dec. 1) there is a Welcome Home at the Reintegration Training in Inver Hills, and an honor mission in St. Paul for WWII Veteran Kenneth Hinz. In the early afternoon, our HOTH team has set up the Trim the Tree Event at the Hastings Veterans Home. There's also Christmas Wrapping at Zylstra's HD in Elk River, and tomorrow night, the wife and family of SGT Nick Turcotte have invited the PGR to a memorial get-together in Minneapolis on the anniversary of Nick's death. I know we've got winter weather advisories for tomorrow, so please be careful out there.

On Sunday the 2nd, there's a benefit in the Brainerd sector for fellow PGR member Rick Tveidt. Rick is a Husband, Father, Veteran (over 20 yrs), a dedicated Patriot Guard member (a couple dozen missions in the last year while fighting his own battle with cancer), and a former MP at Camp Ripley and Little Falls Police Officer. He has volunteered at Camp Ripley for the Veteran Turkey and Deer hunts, and the Vet’s Fishing trip for many years. I'm hoping the weather we're facing won't dampen the turnout up in Randall, MN. It would be great to show Rick and his family as much support as we can.

Although it hasn't gotten on the calendar quite yet, we also have a confirmed honor mission for next Thursday and Friday in the Blaine/Coon Rapids area. The mission thread is on the National site, but details are pending. Bill L. Juneau was serving as a private security contractor working with the Marines and lost his life when an IED hit their convoy 50 miles outside of Baghdad on November 26th. His family has requested the Patriot Guard to attend the funeral services in his honor.

Bill worked formerly for the Pine City sheriff and most recently with Chisago County Sheriff's department as a deputy. He will be missed greatly by his family, friends and all of his co-workers within the law enforcement community. Some of those same officers close to Bill were of tremendous help to us when we held our State Rally and the Dennis Kirk Patriot Ride this last June.

All staging times and locations can be found on the MN website, and condolences for the three honor missions should be posted on the National site.

Once again....we're going to see some white stuff this weekend, so please be safe - and keep the families of the fallen in your thoughts or prayers.


Thursday, November 29, 2007

One Heckuva Ratio

This morning there was a sendoff mission for the 67 soldiers of the 407th Civil Affairs unit in Arden hills - the staging time was 0415. A friend of mine called me yesterday, asking if he'd read that right...was it really supposed to be 1600, or 4:00 in the afternoon? Nope, 4 a.m. Oh-dark-thirty. Jeff Good, the Northwest Metro Ride Captain, said he was going to be there at 0400 with hot coffee.

I received an email at 6:30 this morning from John Redfield, the SW Metro RC. This is what he said:


It was 12 degress when I got to the Army reserve in Shoreview for the send off this morning. I was worried about where to park since I was early - a little before 4:00 AM. I know Jeff said to park at the back - not sure where at the back - didn't matter 'cause there were already 25 cars of PGR members there when I pulled in.

We ended up with 102 PGR members there, for 67 troops going away. I am so proud to be a part of this organization. 4:00 AM, on a Thursday morning, 12 degrees and we got a hundred people standing out in a parking lot to wish these troops well. It was awesome!!

We gave them a PGR Flag that was well signed - Jeff Good and I presented it.

The Major asked Jeff, "How Many?" And Jeff said a hundred and two. The Major turned to the troops and said, "Remember this room. When you have a bad day and things are getting to you, remember this room - this is why we wear the uniform. You have to be here - they don't. Remember this room!"

All in all it was totally awesome. Everyone kept saying, "I figured there would be 10, maybe 15 people here - I figured I had to come because no one else would."

Anyway - figured you would want to know. Totally - Totally awesome!!


That's the first email I got this morning. What a way to start the day...the only way it could have been better was if I'd been member number 103 in Shoreview this morning. Who would have guessed the ratio would be 102 to 67? I choked up totally when I read that.

Yeah, John...I couldn't have said it better myself. TOTALLY AWESOME.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

State of the State

Recently a few folks have asked what's been happening since the Rally and Patriot Ride in June. Well, it's been a busy time and we don't slow down for cold weather.

July was by far our busiest month ever with the return of the Minnesota National Guard soldiers from the 1/34th BCT. The "Red Bulls" completed the longest tour by any unit since the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Over the dates of June 23 and July 16-30, we were honored to complete over 40 welcome home missions including approximately 70 escort groups for more than 2600 soldiers from the Red Bulls.

Groups of approximately six riders provided an escort for each welcome home unit's bus or buses, picking them up at the Minnesota/Wisconsin border and escorting them to their respective armories through out the state of Minnesota. At the armories themselves, more PGR members were on hand to greet them with flag lines, cheers and applause.

I must say - that period of time was incredible. You all were amazing in turning out to show our Red Bulls how much we love and appreciate them! I know one of the final escorts to Fergus Falls from the Wisconsin border was one of the coolest rides I've ever taken.

Other missions we completed are listed by their respective month...

In addition to the Red Bulls Welcome Homes, we also had 7 Honor Missions, 3 Send Off''s, 1 Vietnam Wall Escort, 1 Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Escort, 2 Veterans Home Visits, 1 Memorial Dedication.

5 Honor Missions, 3 War on Terror Wall Escorts, 1 Memorial Dedication, 1 Veterans Home Visit, 4 Welcome Homes, 3 Memorial Dedications, 1 Wounded Veterans Fish Tournament, 1 Benefit.

7 Honor Missions, 1 Vietnam Wall Escort, 2 Veterans Home Visits, 2 Welcome Homes, 5 Memorial Dedications, 8 Benefits, 1 Disabled Veterans Deer Hunt.

6 Honor Missions, 1 Send Off, 2 Welcome Homes, 2 Veterans Home Visits, 5 Memorial Dedications, 2 Benefits.

5 Honor Missions, Several Veterans' Day events, 2 Veterans Home Visits, 2 Benefits, 2 Welcome Homes and 1 Sendoff.

One of the goals of our HOTH program is to assist the families of the deployed in the areas that slip through the cracks of conventional assistance. Since the beginning of the year, our Help On The Homefront (HOTH) program provided over $9,000 in grants to various military individuals and/or families from Minnesota to either assist families with expenses associated with a loved one being killed in action, or to help members of our military who have been wounded in action.

Another part of our HOTH program is support of our veterans. Since the beginning of the year, we have spent over $1,500 to sponsor bingo at our regular visits with the veterans at the MN Veterans Homes, $3,400 to supply all of MN VA Homes with new flags, $300 to the Homeless Veterans Initiative, and $600 to offset food and lodging for the Veteran participants in the Disabled Veteran Deer Hunt. Several of our members also helped assist the veterans in all aspects of the hunt.

I'm probably missing a few things there, but I trust Marge, our Treasurer, will peruse this and tell me so. :-)

Our current membership is over 3600 people (WOW), and each one of you is important! In an all-volunteer organization, we all do what we can - and it's always enough.

Some of you have ridden and stood in the elements countless times, some of you only once but the numbers don't matter. To each family, that day is all that matters.

You always make a difference. For that, all I can say is "Thank You."

Monica Mead
MN State Captain
Patriot Guard Riders

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Our First Note....

Welcome to the Minnesota Patriot Guard news area!

We've set up this area as an easy way to post news and updates to our members. This does not replace the mission calendar or events calendars - please check those often to see what's happening around the state.

Missions Calendar: Click Here
Events: Click Here

We'll get more recent news on here soon, but this first note will be short.

Today is Thanksgiving Day. It almost goes without saying that we're thankful for the freedoms we enjoy - freedoms that our military men and women defend on a daily basis. To those of you who are currently serving and are not at home with your families today - please know that you are loved and appreciated by many. We are thankful for YOU!

This is a beautiful tribute, on Thanksgiving Day:

And lastly...thank you, members of the Patriot Guard...for all you do.

Monica Mead
MN State Captain
Patriot Guard Riders