Monday, December 31, 2007
If you don't have plans for ringing in the New Year and you're near the metro area, Diamond's Bar and Grill in Ramsey is holding a "Red, White & Blue" party - the proceeds from their event benefit Minnesota Patriot Guard. Details are on the events calendar.
Happy New Year!
Friday, December 28, 2007
Mission Report: Sgt. Chad Hagg Welcome Home Pillager, MN 22 DEC 07
I arrived in Pillager with my son Nick at 1100 and went to the fire station to coordinate with the fire dept and the LEO.
The fire trucks left early so they arrived ahead of the scheduled 1145 setting up of the flag line. We made a mad scramble and got everyone on the street in time to see them coming up the road about 1/2 mile away. There were two fire trucks in front and a fire dept pickup and the police car behind him.
Sgt. Hagg walked down the flag line in his fatigues without a coat, but he would not go inside until he had shook everyone's hand. I presented him with a copy of the check from the Minnesota Patriot Guard and the Quilt of Valor provided by Karla Richardson.
After Sgt. Hagg went inside, we retired to Steve's Club for a post mission gathering. While there, Karla Richardson ARC from Detroit Lakes presented Jim Hicks, a disabled veteran on his second mission, with a Quilt of Valor for his service to the country. Thank you Karla for honoring both men with the quilts. That was pretty special.
PGR members in attendance were: 3 from ND; 4 from the Detroit Lakes Sector; 17 from the Brainerd Sector, and 1 from Atlanta, GA, all standing together on the flag line, PGR is truly without borders.
When I got home the check for Sgt. Hagg had arrived. I arranged to meet at Steve's club in Pillager and I got to visit with Sgt. Hagg, his wife, and his children, for about an hour. He asked to hear the story about Patriot Guard Riders, both Nationally and locally, then responded "THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART!!!" And could I pass along "A very special thanks to those that were here yesterday." He also wanted to tell you that the money will be put to good use taking care of family needs.
Sgt. Hagg was in charge of Road Clearance for his Unit. He was actually blown up 10 times! During the 10th time he received his injuries. The 15 other soldiers doing the same job in his unit all came home safely.
Thank you Sgt. Hagg for your sacrifices and we are thankful you are home.
Brainerd Sector RC
Monday, December 24, 2007
I wanted to share a photo with you all that was sent to one of our Ride Captains. Although I have permission to use it here, I do not know the name of the person who took it. Please respect their copyright.
We attended services for both Daniel Olsen, whose headstone is in the foreground, and Johnathan Benson, in the background. The photo was taken at Fort Snelling National Cemetery not long before the Wreaths Across America mission. The photo speaks for itself.
A Soldier's Silent Night
The link below is to a poem written by James M. Schmidt in 1986, when he was a Lance Corporal stationed in Washington, D.C. Schmidt's original version, entitled "Merry Christmas, My Friend," was published in Leatherneck (Magazine of the Marines) in December, 1991.
Over the years the text of "Merry Christmas, My Friend," has been altered to change Marine-specific wording into Army references, including the title, since U.S. Marines do not refer to themselves as soldiers.
The narrator, Father Ted Berndt, was a priest at Bread of Life Charismatic Episcopal Church in Dousman, Wisconsin. Father Ted passed away on March 19th, 2004, after battling pancreatic cancer. He was a proud Marine and a WWII Purple Heart recipient.
To all those who serve or have served, in every branch of the military...and to all of you in the Patriot Guard...best wishes during the holidays, and thank you.
A SOLDIER'S SILENT NIGHT
Saturday, December 22, 2007
As an update to the information in the "State of the State" post, we recently approved and are distributing $1000 grants for each of two Minnesota servicemembers who have been recovering at Walter Reed. At the suggestion of our Ride Captains, a gift was also sent to a Maryland couple that spends a great deal of time with many of our wounded at Walter Reed.
Gift cards were also recently distributed through our HOTH team to a number of families of deployed soldiers. We received the following note from the spouse of a soldier that I wanted to share with you all:
To all the wonderful people who are Helping on the Homefront:
A huge thank you to the Patriot Guard Riders for the gift card for Bed Bath and Beyond. It was a very pleasant surprise. It is reassuring to know that there are others who realize that sometimes those of us who are left alone back at home need alittle attention now and again.
Enjoy the Christmas Season. May you be blessed with all the joy that life has to give.
"Where does it go" really is about time, too. It's wonderful to provide financial assistance whether it's filling an immediate need or making life a little easier on a family, but the time you all take to show people you care is truly impressive.
We sponsor activities such as bingo at the Veteran's homes, but it also takes the precious commodity of time - time provided by our members - to make that happen. The bingo prize pales in comparison to making "Never Forget" more than just words.
On a recent welcome home mission for a soldier wounded in action had 25 members - on less than eight hours notice.
I want to share another letter. Jeff and Deb Good, our NW Metro Ride Captains, received this from the father of a Red Bull. It, too, is about the results of you all giving of your time:
As 2007 winds down, I hope you, Jeff and the rest of the PG realize how important you have been in the lives of so many. For us, and other families, one of the best things to come out of this mess in Iraq was the opportunity to get to know you. The selfless acts of support and respect you show to soldiers and their families is one of the more meaningful acts I have had the good fortune to witness in my lifetime. I am so proud to talk to friends and family about the great things you guys do. Know that you made many lives better by your presence, efforts and care.
Friday, December 21, 2007
We love Welcome Home missions, and we're got a special one in the Brainerd sector. Sgt. Chad Hagg hasn't seen his children in nine months, and he's coming home to Pillager tomorrow. They're waiting...and so are we. This is the thread for more information:
We were hoping to welcome another of Minnesota's own right now too - Spc. Andrew Hanson of Luverne. He was wounded by a roadside bomb in May, and has been recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Unfortunately, some of his circumstances have changed and his homecoming is on hold right now while he receives further treatment.
Paul Ramsbey, our Worthington Sector Ride Captain, remains in touch with Andrew's parents. As soon as he knows more about Andrew's homecoming, you will too.
Not everyone will be home for the holidays, though.
If you've never seen the video "Until Then," you'll want to click the link below. It's a tribute to those who serve, and the families who await their return. The music is called "Homeward Bound."
In the quiet misty morning when the moon has gone to bed,
When the sparrows stop their singing and the sky is clear and red.
When the summer's ceased its gleaming,
When the corn is past its prime,
When adventure's lost its meaning,
I'll be homeward bound in time.
Bind me not to the pasture, chain me not to the plow.
Set me free to find my calling and I'll return to you somehow.
If you find it's me you're missing, if you're hoping I'll return.
To your thoughts I'll soon be list'ning, and in the road I'll stop and turn.
Then the wind will set me racing as my journey nears its end.
And the path I'll be retracing when I'm homeward bound again.
Bind me not to the pasture, chain me not to the plow.
Set me free to find my calling and I'll return to you somehow.
In the quiet misty morning when the moon has gone to bed,
When the sparrows stop their singing,
I'll be homeward bound again.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
As I write this, there's someone pretty special who should be just getting off a plane in Minneapolis. His name is Marcus Kuboy. He's one of our own, and he's coming HOME.
Patriot Guard members are gathering right now at the home of Marc's father to welcome him back home to Minnesota. This was such a short notice, only the NW Metro sector received an email about it. I'm sorry there was no time to tell more people about this mission, but I still want to tell you about Marc, and about a couple named Ann and Ted Nettles.
Marc was wounded in a humvee explosion. He's spent a long, long time recuperating from broken legs and vertebrae, along with other multiple injuries. Ann and Ted are a couple who have come to feel that Marc and his brother are family. I know it's hard on them to say goodbye, but they're also overjoyed that Marc's has recovered enough to return home. So are we.
Ann and Ted are PGR members in Maryland. In addition to being Ride Captains, they're extremely involved in PGR's Help On The Homefront (HOTH). They visit countless wounded servicemen and women at Walter Reed, and get in touch with us when they're coming home. Actually, they do a lot more than visit them - they nearly adopt them. Marc and his brother Kip spent Thanksgiving with the Nettles family.
Welcome home, Marc. We're here for you. And thank you Ann and Ted, for being there for one of our men, and for doing what you do in HOTH. The Patriot Guard is blessed to have people like you.
One of our HOTH activities here in Minnesota is visits to veteran's homes. We've sponsored bingo games at the Minneapolis Veteran's Home for quite some time now, and I'm sad to report that we have an honor mission for one of the residents of the Home.
Ronald Earl LaBar, 64, a USN Vietnam Veteran passed away December 13. His family has requested our presence at his services tomorrow, so this is very short-notice. Information for this mission is available on the state mission calendar or on the National website; links to both are on the right-hand side of this page.
Edit: Added photo of Ann, Ted and Marc
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Rumor has it he didn't frighten too many children...in fact, the little one pictured below was quite content on his lap.
According to "Bigdog Santa," the most difficult Christmas request came from a little boy who wants his big brother to come home from Iraq for Christmas. Although Santa can't make everyone's wishes come true, he did bring smiles to both children and adults alike.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Friday, December 14, 2007
Tomorrow morning there will be Wreaths Across America; we will be active at both Fort Snelling and in Rochester. In addition, we have the opportunity to welcome home more of the Red Bulls at their Reintegration Training in Inver Grove Heights.
We also have a short-notice mission in the Brainerd sector for Chuck Lange, a Vietnam Veteran. More information can be found in the mission thread:
I know you're the warmest people in the world on the inside...but dress warmly for the outside too. More than one of our Ride Captains has said that they have a hard time talking some of you into taking a break to warm up. Listen to 'em please - don't think you have anything to prove. We already KNOW you're tough.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Another Minnesotan has lost his life in Iraq. Army Specialist Randy W. Pickering of Bovey, Minnesota died December 9th in Baghdad.
According to the Casualty Assistance Officer assigned to help his family through the days ahead, his services will be held in Michigan. The State Captain of Michigan is on top of this now, and we are standing down in Minnesota.
For those of you who'd like to post condolences for his family and show your appreciation for one of our own from the Iron Range, this is a link to the mission thread on the National website:
This Friday, there is an honor mission in Brooklyn Park for Michael Weiss, a Vietnam Veteran who recently passed away after suffering from the effects of Agent Orange for many years. This is a link to the mission thread:
Spc. Pickering and Michael Weiss...rest in peace. You will not be forgotten.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
In addition to others who rode separately from different areas in Minnesota, approximately 30 bikes and 6-8 cages left St. Paul Harley-Davidson that morning heading east on I-94. In Wisconsin, the speed limit is 65 mph and we were traveling as a group in the left lane, doing between 65 and 67 mph. In Minnesota, the Highway Patrol has normally recommended we use the left lane for safety reasons - it allows for other traffic to enter and exit the freeway safely.
Near the Menomonie, WI exit, we were stopped by 11-12 police vehicles from the WI Highway Patrol along with local and county departments. Our Ride Captain that day, Jeff Good (NE Metro RC), spoke at length with the officer in charge to straighten out the situation. I spoke with some of the officers as well, as did Ron Reineke, our Safety Officer.
We were informed that the left lane is for passing only and that in the future we should stick to the right lane unless passing. Traveling solely in the left lane, even at or slightly above the speed limit, is considered obstructing traffic.
Although initially this was a tense situation due to the manner in which we were stopped, the situation was defused. Our primary goal was to complete our mission that day and we did. After the delay, we were able to continue without incident to the staging area and to the funeral, to pay our respects and show support to the family and friends of Lt. Alger.
At my request, Jeff Good has continued our communications with the Wisconsin Highway Patrol in an effort to both express concern at how we were stopped and to ensure good communication and clarity of traffic law for future missions. Below is a letter we recently received from the WI Highway Patrol that brings this matter to a close.
We have always enjoyed a very good relationship with law enforcement in Minnesota; we are taking the lessons learned from this situation so we can enjoy the same kind of relationship with LEOs in other states, as well as continue to travel in the safest manner possible to and from missions.
I'd like to thank both Jeff Good and the WI Highway Patrol for their followup and for bringing this to a positive resolution...and I'd also like to thank the PGR members who braved an extremely cold day to stand in honor of 2nd Lt. Tracy Lynn Alger.
Our investigation of the circumstances surrounding the November 10, 2007 stop of your group has concluded. We have been in contact with all the agencies involved and appreciate your patience as we did so. We are very grateful for the communications this incident has allowed us to establish with the Minnesota Patriot Guard, as we believe these communications will ensure coordination of safe and successful future missions.
The circumstances surrounding the traffic stop of the Minnesota Patriot Guard were based on our response to a citizen call. Our Communications Center received a complaint from a party traveling behind the motorcycle convoy. The caller had reported; "a group of 20 motorcycles are blocking the road, along with 8 or 10 more vehicles with their hazards on….no body can pass them….about 55 mph….both lanes…..vehicles are backed up a 1\2 mile to a mile….people are getting frustrated beyond belief." We had two troopers respond to the complaint.
Again, an unfortunate circumstance developed, one of the troopers had just read an alert of a "motorcycle gang" possibly traveling through the area. Our trooper immediately assumed this group of motorcycles was the "gang". In doing so she requested local law enforcement to assist in stopping the "motorcycle gang". The agencies were given incorrect information by our trooper, and placed them on a heightened alert.
Upon making visual contact with your group of motorcycles, the trooper recognized the violation, and regardless of whom the motorcycle group was, the traffic stop was appropriate. However, the trooper's demeanor did not meet our expectations of professionalism, nor did it meet yours and for this we offer our sincere apologies.
We are grateful to Sgt. Hollister of Menomonie Police Department and Sgt. Voight of the State Patrol for recognizing the Patriot Guard, and sharing the information that would allow the Patriot Guard to successfully complete their important mission without further incident.
We have a shared recognition; that our nation's freedoms and liberties come with great cost, paid by those who serve our Nation. Those in uniform have sacrificed much and deserve the honor, respect, and dignity bestowed upon them. The Minnesota Patriot Guard continues to play a significant role in recognizing those who have paid the ultimate price in service to our Country.
I trust there is now an improved line of communications between the Wisconsin State Patrol and the Minnesota Patriot Guard and that future missions will be remembered for all the right reasons.
Captain Douglas R. Notbohm
Northwest Region Commander
Monday, December 10, 2007
To all Minnesota members:
With an honor mission coming up in the neighboring state of Iowa this Friday for a Vietnam MIA, we've been asked by several members to clarify back patch recommendations.
As most of you know, we are redesigning the back patch formerly sold in MN to be a one-piece patch, so it does not resemble the 3-piece patches that motorcycle clubs (MCs) wear. The patches formerly sold had "rockers" - a separate piece above and below the center patch. We suggest those who have these patches wear them only to missions in Minnesota. Please note that we cannot dictate your actions - this is a suggestion based on communications with motorcycle clubs in the state, and with neighboring states.
To clarify that, I would like to stress that there have been no threats from clubs - some of this information has been misconstrued along the way. To set the record straight, the MCs we've communicated with have expressed concern for our members, saying that wearing rockers that resembles an MC patch puts people into a world they are unfamiliar with and that it could, in some instances, put them in danger. All of the clubs we've spoken with have expressed their utmost support for the Patriot Guard mission and many MC members attend missions. However, there's no way to contact every member of every single club in the state - hence our suggestion.
Rockers carry a great deal of significance in the world of MCs. If you would like to learn more about Motorcycle Clubs and Riding Clubs, this is a good resource:
We've also been asked to specifically clarify the situation in Iowa with regard to rockers. Earlier this year, the Iowa State Captain approached the Coalition of Motorcycle Clubs in his state, to ask whether or not they foresaw any problems with National's one-piece patch. They said no problems, but that wearing rockers are not a good idea at all. The Iowa State Captain communicated that to us, and we have passed that on to our members. I appreciate the good communication from Bear - he's looking out for members in our state as well as his own. Out of respect for PGR members in Iowa and the relationship they have established with clubs, we request that rockers not be worn to missions in Iowa.
Thank you to everyone who has asked about this - I know some of you plan to attend the mission in Iowa for LTJG Norman L. Roggow, who was Missing In Action since his plane went down near Da Nang in 1967; his remains were recently recovered. It is an honor for us to be part of repatriating one of our heroes from the Vietnam War, and your desire to attend is an excellent example of the "no borders" relationship we have with our neighboring states.
For information on the mission for LTJG Roggow, please see the mission thread on the National website:
We've also been asked for updates on the new back patch. The new patch will have the Fallen Heroes patch in the center with the order of service will be changed to the proper order, and the seals will be updated to the proper versions. An outer ring will be added that says "Patriot Guard Riders" circling around the top, and Honor, Dignity, Respect circling up from the bottom, separated by stars.
Currently, our MN store coordinator is working with the patch manufacturer to ensure we are ok on copyright, as well as finalizing the design and getting estimates. We have the approval of the National PGR Board of Directors to use the name Patriot Guard Riders, but the official trademark for the name is not quite finalized for Patriot Guard Riders Inc. We're hoping that will be finalized on the National level in a few weeks. Further news on the back patch will be updated on the "News & Notes" section of the MN website.
Thanks everyone...for all you do.
MN State Captain
But we live in Minnesota and so the riding season comes to an end unfortunately. But those brave young men and women who defend our freedoms don't have the luxury to stop what they are doing, so our services are required during the winter months too.
I know it's difficult to take time off from work, I know it's a lot more expensive to drive that car, pickup or SUV than it is to ride the motorcycle. And I know that standing on the flag line isn't nearly as much fun when it's cold outside, and/or snowing. I hate when I can't feel my fingers, or my toes. But if that's the inconvenience I have to endure for a couple hours to pay Honor and Respect for that fallen hero, it's a no brainer for me. That fallen hero gave his/her life to protect me and my freedoms. So getting a little cold really isn't that much of a sacrifice on my part.
If you can get some of your buddies from your sector to join you in the car, y'all can share the cost of gas, making it easier to attend those winter missions. Yes it takes a little more work, but I can promise you it sure means a whole heck of a lot to the families and communities when they see us standing on that flag line when it's snowing or cold outside.
We all live in Minnesota, so we already have the cold weather gear we need to stay warm. Those of us with snowmobiles definitely have the gear!
So next time there's an honor mission and you think "It's too cold," please remember how much it means to the families. I know it will warm your heart to let the family feel that someone cares about their loved one, and the sacrifice they made for our country.
George H Winslow, Jr.
Minnesota Assistant State Captain
Sunday, December 9, 2007
Over that period of time, Worcester Wreath has donated 75,000 wreaths which were placed by volunteers in a wreath-laying ceremony each December. This year Worcester Wreath Company is doubling its annual donation to 10,000 wreaths destined for Arlington National Cemetery.
In addition to the Arlington Wreath Project, they will donate 2,500 wreaths to the Maine Veterans Cemetery at Togus, and over 1,800 ceremonial wreaths, representing all branches of the armed forces, will be sent to over 200 other state and national veterans cemeteries across the Country. For the first time in 2007, ceremonial wreaths will also be donated to 24 veterans cemeteries on foreign soil, and aboard U.S. ships sailing in all seven seas.
All wreath-laying ceremonies across the country and around the world will be held concurrently on Saturday, December 15th, at 12:00 noon EST (11:00 a.m. in Minnesota).
This is a Patriot Guard Riders supported event in many states across the nation. Here in Minnesota, we are honored to support Wreaths Across America at Fort Snelling National Cemetery.
Seven ceremonial wreaths will be placed at the Flag Poles representing the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard, Merchant Marines, and POW/MIA. Ceremonial wreaths will also be placed at the grave sites of approximately 80 of our recent Fallen Heroes at the conclusion of the ceremony.
Keep an eye on the mission calendar for staging and information updates.
Saturday, December 8, 2007
These are a few comments from Rochester RC Craig Ugland, who was at the memorial service for SFC Tobiason in Kasson:
Ms. Tobiason was in the sanctuary with the Blue Star Mothers where she was presented with her Gold Star. I wanted to wait to dismiss the flag line until she had left the Sanctuary, then the Narthex, to the Fellowship Hall, before we dismissed the flag line. Well, she entered the Narthex, in plain sight of us through the large glass entry to the church. We all watched as she gave hugs to friends and family, and then we watched as she turned to look out at us, all at attention, looking in with flags held high. She walked over to the glass, tears streaming down her face, as they are mine as I write this. She crossed her hands over her chest as she mouthed "Thank You" to us. I can guarantee there was not a cheek without frozen tears among all of us standing outside.
Last weekend, a benefit was held for Veteran and fellow PGR member Rick Tveit - it was definitely a success, and Rick was able to be in attendance. This is a note from Rick:
A few people have asked if donations are still being accepted - if you'd like more information on that, please contact Starr Marshall, the Brainerd Ride Captain, by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rick, you remain in our thoughts and prayers.
Thursday, December 6, 2007
And at the same time tonight, others were in Blaine for Bill Juneau's wake. More of you will stand guard at his services tomorrow. This is a thank you note received just a little while ago. It may warm some toes that are probably still cold.
I attended the wake tonight of a good friend and fellow officer who was killed in Iraq last week, Deputy Bill Juneau. Your people stood guard outside protecting us in the cold while we could pay our last respects to a great person and hero. There are not words to describe my thanks to you, what you do and stand for. I have two kids over seas in the Army now and lost a close friend and part of my instructional staff in Iraq so this hits pretty close to home again. Thank You, God’s safety and Blessings to you all.
David A. Sohm, SPPD (ret.)