Monday, December 22, 2008

An added bit of cheer!

I just wanted to pass this along to all of you.

Earlier this summer we received a large quantity of phone cards donated by the SCVR (St. Croix Valley Riders), It took awhile but with the help of Dwight Smith - President , Patty Magyar - Gifts for the Troops , Mr. Lynn Larson - Toy's for Tots, Indian John, and Yvonne Zappa the cards found a home.

They were sen to the 175 FSC that is preparing to deploy out of Appleton, MN, The cards were received due to the
2008 SCVR Red Barn Run Sign up with Miller Beer for "Keep Your Balance Pledge" sign up and they give you a 20 Min Ph card.

The unit was so happy to get them.Young soldiers will be getting them to stay in contact with their parents, and spouses while training. They will come in so handy.

Thank you to all who were involved in helping keep out troops in contact with their loved ones.

Standing in a flag line

Tim Leonhardt, our IT person and Metro NW ARC sent the following:

Standing in a flag line we don't see what is going on in the people minds as they walk by. I have wondered at times why a soldier would walk by with their head down, avoiding eye contact. I got my answer at the FPA held at the convention center, I had a captain tell me that his soldiers feel so emotional when they see us standing in honor for them they don't know how to respond. He went on to say that the soldiers are strong, proud, and pride themselves on being prepared for everything. But when they see you standing there holding a flag in their honor, they are caught off guard and they realize that they have a vulnerability. Some just look down to hide what they feel is a weakness and have no eye contact so we can't see the emotions they are having. Sounds familiar doesn't it? only we hide ours behind sunglasses.

Thanks Tim.

I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

We have an official Historian

I'd like to introduce you to Scott Smith, one of our Rochester Sector ARC's, and our new Minnesota Patriot Guard Historian.

While Scott and the leadership team are working on a solution to make our historical archive available to the public, we need to start collecting those newspaper articles, photographs and thank you notes, before they are lost forever.

So, if you have any newspaper articles or photographs that you think are important for us to preserve for future Minnesotans, please make a copy of them (preferably digital), and send them to Scott at:

Feel free to contact Scott for his snail mail address if you'd rather send him photocopies or original articles. Please do not request that Scott scan them and return them to you, as we can't ask him to donate the time to scan in photographs or documents and then pay the postage to return them to you.

If you have suggestions for Scott, feel free to send them to him at:

We currently have some thank you notes and photographs already posted on our website if you'd like to check them out at:

Thanks again Scott for stepping up and filling a huge need.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

PGR Garage Sale - Proceed to Legal Defense Fund

Just an FYI, Patriot Guard Riders is holding a Garage Sale on eBay with the proceeds going to the Legal Defense Fund. They have items currently on sale, so please check them out. To see what's currently being offered go to:

The following is posted on the National Website:

As we accessorize and customize our bikes we all end up with a garage full of parts that collect dust and take up space. We can't bring ourselves to get rid of these items, but we have no good use for them and may never need them again. Well, the PGR now has a need for those items. We need you to go through your garage and DONATE all of your good, clean, unwanted motorcycle accessories/parts to the PGR. We will sell these items on eBay and all proceeds (sales less shipping costs) will be used for the Legal Defense Fund. Motorcycle parts/accessories include pegs, seats, lights, handle bars, grips, kickstands, sissie bars, luggage, bags, mirrors, etc...

Please follow the simple steps listed below should you choose to participate in this event.

Ship your donated item to:

PGR Garage Sale
900 N. East Ave.
Panama City, Florida 32401

Include a description with all pertinent info such as Part #, Make, Model, and Year if the item is bike specific.

Please include your name and email address as we will email you a receipt for your tax deductible donation. It will be up to each individual contributor to list the value of the donated item(s) on each receipt when received.

Should you have any questions that are specific to this fund raising event please email them to:

Thank you.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

You Do Make A Difference

This comes from Doug Bley, the Ride Captain from Metro NW...George

Someone I do business with has supported the MN Patriot Guard simply because I said it was a good thing. I received this email today and it reminded me of the real value we bring holding that American flag. Earlier this year Monica talked about the face of the Patriot Guard being the flag. That in mind I reminded my friend that what he saw in AZ he would see all across this great land. Ordinary people honoring heroes in silence and with dignity. Making a difference in their communities. Thank you, MN Patriot Guard members, for being part of this wonderful movement and rebirth of patriotism.


I went to AZ after the holiday and had two sales calls Monday of this week. In between the two I stopped by where I go to Church there and could not figure out why on a Monday morning around noon the parking lot was full. As I got to the back of the lot I saw all of these motorcycles parked with American flags and then could see them standing guard by the entrance to the Church. What an experience, I have seen short news clips about your group, but never seen this in person. You are a dedicated group.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

I'd like to post something from Doug Bley, the Ride Captain from Metro NW...George

I want to express my heartfelt gratitude for the response to the Metro Area Meet and Greet 28Nov08. We don't have a hard count but we are estimating at least 175 Toys were collected so well over 200 people were there! WOW!!! The Anoka County food shelf received a great boost as well, 441 lbs. of food. The attendees also generously donated $130 towards the Patriot Guard Riders Legal defense fund.

Your generosity is humbling as many kids are going to go without this Holiday season. As we do... anonymously.. we made a difference to the 175 kids who will now have a gift under their tree.

For those who were there it was nice putting a few more faces with email names (Pete the Pyeater comes to mind) and in general relax and laugh with you all. We will do this again.

Thanks to Two Stooges for hosting us and the donations of food and drink, Zylstra HD and Dennis Kirk for raffle donations, the St Paul Chapter of the Blue Star Mom's for their $500 donation to us, John Redfield and the North Metro Blue Star Mom's for having the stores open, and as always the real thanks goes to our soldiers currently serving and the vets who kept us safe in years past.

Doug Bley RC Metro NW

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Today is Thanksgiving Day

In looking over the past year there are a lot of things to be thankful for. I’m thankful that we have young men and women who still care enough about our country that they are willing to give up time out of their lives to protect and defend our freedoms. In walking through the grocery store last night, I noticed all the babies and young children, and thought about those serving in the sandbox and the Balkans who don’t have the luxury to be able to spend the holidays with their families, and watch their children preparing for their first Christmas, their first step, that first day of school, the first communion, that first time behind the wheel of the car…all the things the rest of us take for granted. Or the spouse left behind that has to raise the kids alone, or figure out how to replace the water heater that just broke, or where to take the car to get it worked on. These are the true heroes, the young men and women who serve in the armed services of this country, and their families, and I pray we never forget their sacrifices.

I’m thankful that patriotism has come back into favor. That never again will our young men and women return home from fighting for their country, and be ashamed of their duty, or be treated like outcasts by an ungrateful nation. I’m thankful that we are able to attend the send off’s and that we are there to welcome them home. That we do make a difference in that young man or woman's life.

And I’m thankful that I have a warm place to sleep tonight and will be sitting down to a turkey dinner later today, unlike some of our veterans who have no home, and the prospects of a turkey dinner are bleak.

I’m thankful that we’ve been able to make a difference in our older veteran’s lives, by visiting them in the VA Homes and establishing friendships as we played bingo together. For some it’s the only outside contact they have.

I’m thankful that Lynn still has a job, because some of us have either lost our jobs or may not have one much longer.

I’m thankful that because through the generosity of fellow Minnesotans, that the MN Patriot Guard currently has the funds available to assist those serving our country, those who may become wounded, or God forbid, make that ultimate sacrifice and lay down their life for our country.

I’m thankful that as an organization we are establishing and have established relationships with the Family Readiness Groups throughout the state, so our National Guard families know someone here in Minnesota cares about them and their sacrifices here at home.

And if it’s not to early to ask for my Christmas wish, I wish that all our young men and women return safely back home to their loved ones. That the only missions in 2009 will be send off’s and welcome homes, or our visits to the VA Homes.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Several Things

There are several things going on that we need to share with you. First, by July of 2009 Minnesota will have approximately 5,000+ young men and women deployed to the sandbox. (I remember 2006-2007 when Red Bull had 3,200+ deployed and how we all breathed a sigh of relief when they returned home.) Over the next 6 months we will be holding a lot of send off's as the units leave Minnesota. This is an excellent way to recharge your batteries and really feel good, so please plan on attending those that fit into your schedule. And in 2010, we will be there to welcome our heroes back home.

Our leadership has been holding talks with the Minnesota National Guard on ways to improve upon our relationship with the young men and women who serve our State and Nation in the Minnesota National Guard. It was felt that we have done an excellent job of welcoming home the troops, and turning out for the MIRTS. We have gotten the message across to them that they were in our thoughts when we sent the signed Patriot Guard flags to units while they where deployed.

However, we haven't focused on the family members left behind when those troops deployed. So we are going to be starting something new. HOTH and your Ride Captains are going to work with the Family Readiness Groups (FRG's), and coordinate with them by inviting the families to join us at one or two Meet and Greets during the next year. It's a way for us to let the families know that someone cares about them, and respects the sacrifices they go through while their loved ones are serving our country. And it's a way for us to meet some really neat families living here in Minnesota. Who knows how many future motorcyclists we will be responsible for, just by spending a few hours with the families of those who are protecting our freedoms.

It's also a way for us to build a relationship with the FRG's so that they will be more willing to approach us should a family need assistance. Our HOTH program is there to assist the families of those serving in the military and National Guard that have exhausted all other resources for assistance and have fallen through the cracks. HOTH also assists our young warriors and their families should they be wounded.

And HOTH coordinates visits with our veterans who reside in the VA Nursing homes throughout the state. If you haven't joined us in visiting the veterans at the various VA Nursing homes, I encourage you to do so. Some of them for whatever reasons don't have visitors, so you may be the only outside contact they have. What an opportunity to raise the spirits of someone who gave so much to our country, and protected the freedoms we all enjoy every day.

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I can't help to give thanks to each and every one of you for making the Minnesota Patriot Guard what it is. Our men and women who serve know you are there to honor and support them. They know you will be there to protect their family should they make that ultimate sacrifice. Our Gold Star families know we will never forget their son or daughter and the sacrifice they made, and that we are there for them. Our veterans know you'll be there to visit them in the VA Homes. And our politicians know you do make a difference to the veterans and those kids who currently serve and protect our freedoms. You truly are some of the greatest people I've ever had the pleasure to meet.

Friday, September 19, 2008

MN Patriot Guard Finances

Today, it is my pleasure to post some information on the finances of MN Patriot Guard. I am proud to report our year to date donations and we will in the future announce them every six months.

From 01 January 2008 through 18 September 2008 we have donated $64,541.02 in program services to Minnesota military members and their families, wounded and injured, families of Fallen Heroes, and our Veterans.

Where did the money go?

34th Division Chaplains’ Fund


Disabled Vets Rest Camp


Flags for MN Fallen Military


Gold Star Event


Military Heroes Foundation


Minnesotan’s Military Appreciation Fund


Project Backpack (children of MN military)


TTTT Scholarship Fund


HOTH Donations broken down by Sectors

Brainerd Sector





Helping a family of a currently serving soldier


Mankato Sector



Metro Sectors





WIA Tuition Assistance


St. Cloud Sector

Melrose House Clean-up


Thief River Falls Sector



Willmar Sector

KMS Memorial Ride


Worthington Sector

Chairlift for Luverne MVH


Veterans Home Events

St. Cloud Monte Carlo Nights


MPLS Veterans Home Bingo


Hastings Veterans Home Bingo


Hastings Veterans Home Bike Show


Luverne Veterans Home Bingo


Disabled Veterans Turkey Hunt


Fergus Falls Veterans Home Bingo


Silver Bay Veterans Home


Flags for Veterans Homes



Fergus Falls


Bus Ticket for Veteran




A few notes about this:

Our HOTH mission is not to duplicate the services of other organizations - it is to help with needs that fall through the cracks of conventional assistance. Some of the organizations shown that we have donated to have come to our attention through requests for assistance made to our board.

Rather than step into areas where the generous people of Minnesota are already working hard to support our military families and have a solid system in place to help, we as a board have chosen to support those requests in this manner.

A note about the donation to the Minnesotan's Military Appreciation Fund of nearly $20,000 (I'll try to make this as simple as possible): We collaborate with the generous folks at Dennis Kirk on the Patriot Ride event and bike raffle, and 50% of the net proceeds are designated directly for the MMAF. All raffle ticket deposits went into a special account set up by MN Patriot Guard, since we secured the gambling license for the raffle; other revenues were handled by Dennis Kirk.

Final net proceeds from the Patriot Ride and bike raffle were just over $73,000, half of which was designated for MMAF ($36,600). After a final accounting, the donation to MMAF came from both Dennis Kirk and MN Patriot Guard accounts. To sum it up: The efforts of PGR volunteers and the generosity and hard work from the people at Dennis Kirk was incredible!

In the past there was talk of scholarships for the children of Fallen Heroes from Minnesota. Tribute to the Troops, whose mission is slightly different but closely tied to our own, has taken on this challenge. We have chosen to support this effort through them this year with a $5,000 contribution, and have pledged $10,000 in 2009. Our youngest rider on the Patriot Ride this year - the 6-year-old son of a man we honored with a flag line - will someday benefit from those contributions.

Several of the amounts shown by sector are labeled WIA - wounded or injured members of our military. There are often other requests that are responded to by our HOTH team and/or the board on a case-by-case basis. We choose not to show most names out of respect to privacy for those who defend our nation, unless these activities have been in the news or we have the consent of those we have assisted.

The Veterans' Home events are much more than numbers on a spreadsheet. Due to privacy polices of the VA, we normally cannot show you the smiles on the faces of our Veterans - but those who are active in Bingo and other activities can tell you that they happen each and every time, without question. As our HOTH team is fond of saying, "Our real power does not lie in a checkbook - it lies in our hands and in our hearts."

This report would not have been possible without the generous donations we've received - from PGR members, friends and families; the Patriot Ride event; from corporations in Minnesota; proceeds from our store sales; and the hard work from our HOTH representatives working throughout the state. Thank you, thank you everyone for making a difference.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Follow up KIA SSG Brian Studer, 28, of Ramsey, MN

MN Patriot Guard members...

We thought it appropriate to let you know that a very small group of Ride Captains and Assistant Ride Captains attended a mission today honoring SSG Brian Studer at his interment at FSNC. The family was clear in its request for a discreet and very low key mission. They were very concerned about uninvited guests showing up with the RNC being held in St Paul. Many of you have seen the video clips of the violent protests that have taken place and with that in mind their fears were founded on fact. That media released details of the services was unfortunate but the family did not change their request for a small discreet showing from us.

It is important to remember we serve at the pleasure of the families of the fallen. Our organization was founded on the principles of shielding them from unwanted disturbances at events surrounding the fallen heroes services. All of our decisions are made with that in mind and we will always consider them first.

Not opening this up as a general mission in no way implies that all of our members aren't deeply appreciated for their hard work. It was a decision based on how to best fulfill the family wishes.

If you have any questions please send an email to

Thanks for the hard work you do!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

KIA SSG Brian Studer, 28, of Ramsey, MN.

Once again Minnesota lost a young hero who gave up his life defending our freedoms. Please keep his family in your prayers.

The family has asked us to stand down from a mission for Brian. Please continue to post condolences as they are reading them.

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. Staff Sgt. Brian E. Studer, 28, of Ramsey, MN, died 22 Aug 2008 in Ghazni, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when the improvised explosive device he was attempting to deactivate detonated. He was assigned to the 720th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company, 28th Transportation Battalion, 18th Military Police Brigade, Mannheim, Germany.

Thanks for everything you do to help support our troops.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Welcome Home mission you won't want to miss

First off - my apologies for not keeping up here on postings. There are definitely a few things that should have been posted in the News & Notes this month that haven't made it here yet. I'm going to start "catching up" with a note from one of our former board members, Dave "Wink" Winkler. He's a Vietnam Veteran who is representing us on a special committee, and I'll let his words tell you all about it.

Welcome Home

The words "Welcome Home" have, for the Minnesota Patriot Guard, had special meaning this past year. We've welcomed home some 2600 Red Bulls a year ago and have had the pleasure of welcoming home hundreds more since then.

It's truly a happy time and my heart is lifted at the sight of a mother or father who gets the chance to hold their loved one so close after being gone serving their country. I think I've shed as many tears of joy at these missions, as I have tears of sadness at honor missions.

There are many reasons that we attend these missions. It's about honoring their service, letting them know that while they were away, they were not forgotten. We sent them off and were there for them showing our support for their service. We told them we'd be there when they came home, and we kept our word so it's about fulfilling a promise.

Some of us welcome these servicemen and women home and through that act receive a piece of a welcome home we didn't get. We want to make sure that what happened in the '60s and '70s doesn't ever happen again. We aren't bitter, not at all. We're so glad to be there for them.

In June 2009, we will have another opportunity to attend a welcome home mission. It's a special welcome home that's decades overdue and I want to make sure that you're all saving the 13th of June for Minnesota's official welcome home for Vietnam Veterans and those who served this great nation during that conflict. The Minnesota Patriot Guard has been asked to do what we do best, show honor and respect for our troops. We're honored by the invitation and gladly accept.

Over the next months, you'll begin to see and hear more about the event. I'll do my best to let you all know as many details as I can. At this time, what I can tell you is that this has all the makings of a huge event and one you won't want to miss.

Thank you for all you do for our troops and this great nation.

If you have any questions, send me an email at and I'll do my best to answer.

Ride safely. See you at the next mission.


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Daughter's Gift

Last week, we were requested to do a mission for the re-interment of James Rhame by his wife Mary and their four daughters. James Rhame joined the Navy when he was 17 right out of Stillwater High School, Stillwater, Minnesota. He was on the USS Ticonderoga Carrier Air Group 5 - one of the first air craft carriers in the Gulf of Tonkin at the beginning of the Vietnam War.

James passed away suddenly in 1995, at 51 years of age. His wife Mary said, "This was such a shock to all of us. At a time like this, a person doesn't always make the best or the right decision. There was pressure to have him buried with his grandparents and this is what I did. I knew right away that I had made the wrong decision in not burying him at Fort Snelling. As you know, it just takes the right timing for changes to happen. I feel that burying him at Fort Snelling will bring him the honor he deserves and will bring me closer. I know in my heart this is the right thing to do."

After the re-interment at Fort Snelling National Cemetery with full military honors and many members of the Patriot Guard in attendance, SE Metro Ride Captain John Thompson (better known as "Indian John") received the following note:

Dear John,
My daughter Christina was so moved by the attendance of so many "Patriot Guard" members at her father's ceremony (James Rhame) that she was moved to write this poem. This poem is her gift to you and all the "Patriot Guard" members for your dedication and commitment to the veteran community. Please forward with her deepest gratitude.
Thank you,


The FREEDOM they have to ride and play,
these men and women choose Fort Snelling this day.
Bikes and cars that's how they arrive,
with Honor, Dignity, Respect and Pride.

They stood so still on this Special Day,
with their Presence known in a wonderful way.
What a beautiful sight to drive upon,
ALL standing in honor one by one.

There must have been thirty those ANGELS I say,
as we lay down flowers and begin to Pray.
Memories come back that are so deep,
I hug you in Thanks and start to weep.

Consoling words from a Guard in my ear,
make all my tears soon disappear.
The MISSION they have is to family and friends,
while VETERANS are honored from beginning to end.

Beloved VETERAN'S and HERO'S
In God's Hands they'll be,
Their Service Honored by Guards
May They Rest Peacefully.

Passion and Commitment in their hearts they carry,
rain or shine whatever's necessary.
Who are these unselfish Men and Women you ask?
The "MINNESOTA PATRIOT GUARD" who have a task.

So please SALUTE them
As you see them ride,

Dedicated to the Men and Women of the "Minnesota Patriot Guard"

Written by Christina Mondry-Rhame
In Loving memory of my Father James Warren Rhame
US Navy-USS Ticonderoga-Carrier Air Group 5
© 6-17-2008

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Face of the Patriot Guard

Remember Karl Malden doing those ads for American Express? "Don't leave home without it!" was his catch phrase and for quite some time, he was the "face" of the company.

One of the neat things about the Patriot Guard is that we don't have any particular "face" that the general public knows us by. For us as members, the faces we look for at missions are those of the Ride Captains - they are the ones who have the details of what we're doing that day. Some of us look for new faces, to welcome them. As many of us have become friends, we now look for each other - and we look out for each other.

But when we hear from military members, their families or the general public they never say "when I came up the street, I saw John, Karla, and Paul standing there." What we always hear is, "I turned the corner and saw all those FLAGS." Sometimes they add, "...and I felt so safe when I saw them."

That's really the face of the Patriot Guard: Old Glory. The flag of the United States of America. What better face could we possibly have? We're lucky that we don't depend on any one personality to represent us - but even though our face doesn't need a nightly dose of Oil of Olay or botox injections, HOW we show that face matters a lot.

This week, several members spent quite a while talking about flag etiquette and flag protocol with members of state leadership - how far we've come, and where we'd like to be. At early missions, it was pretty common to see flags held at all sorts of angles. Today, it's much more common to see them held straight up, as it should be. The US flag is never dipped.

We're not a military organization, and we're not an official color guard - but we are holding the flag lines in the presence of the military and in honor of those who serve. Every effort we can make to get it right, we should!

If we were to follow military ceremony protocol, we'd all be holding the flag in our right hands, never our left. However...when we're standing in heat, cold, strong winds and driving rain or snow for a few hours or longer, it's not always possible to perfectly emulate a color guard. As one member put it, the US Flag Code doesn't exactly address that length of time in those conditions, or the fact that some of us might have physical impairments that make it impossible.

Obviously, we all know the flag should never touch the ground - but another member made a comment that some of us might not even think about when we're finishing up at a mission:

"I can't stand it when someone walks with a flag over their shoulder like it's a sack of laundry. It should always be treated with RESPECT, not casually."

Even if we can't do this perfectly, one of several things we all agreed on is that we can never be "too respectful" of our flag, or give out "too much" information on protocol. It represents so much - and when we are standing in a flag line, we are holding it in honor of those who serve our country. All too often, it is in honor of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for all of us.

Right now, our flag protocol is a little buried on the website under "Member Documents." We're talking about expanding the information and making it a little more visible on our website. One of our Ride Captains pointed out that the Kansas Patriot Guard has a great page on flag protocol on their website - click HERE to see that page.

One thing I should point out about flying flags from bikes: In addition to flag protocol, we will not be flying any flags if we're over 30-35 mph....for both safety reasons (dodging poles is no fun), and so we do not see any flags laying on the roadside because a grommet let loose or a flag pole failed at highway speeds.

We'll continue to hold them upright, with respect....because it makes a difference.

A week ago, several of us were gathered at a gas station prior to a Welcome Home escort when a car with Veteran license plates pulled up and stopped. A young woman got out and walked over, saying, "Are you guys all Patriot Guard Riders?"

We all nodded and she said, "I'm one of the Red Bulls that you welcomed home last summer. That was just incredible! I can't tell you how much it meant to us when you escorted our bus - and when we got to the armory and saw all those flags, we just couldn't believe it. Have you ever realized how beautiful our flag is? The colors are so bright and beautiful!"

It was a pretty neat conversation, especially when she realized why we were gathered at that particular gas station; we were headed out to welcome home another group of National Guard soldiers. I must say that it was also a little bittersweet, because she told us she will be deployed to Iraq again this coming January. We'll be there when she leaves....and again when she comes home.

And it won't matter specifically who is there, because no matter who is holding it...the face of the Patriot Guard will be there, with her colors as bright as ever: Old Glory.

Friday, June 6, 2008


The next time you wonder if you really make a difference in a military persons life by taking a couple hours to stand on the flag line, rest assured YOU DO!

Lynn and I were privileged to represent the Minnesota Patriot Guard at the Freedom Salute Ceremony of the 147th Personnel Services Battalion, Minnesota Army National Guard at the Rosetown American Legion in Roseville, MN on Sunday 01 June 2008. I estimate that there were about 100 soldiers present, then their spouses and children, and in some instances, their parents. I believe that every soldier came over and shook my hand and told me how much they appreciated the Patriot Guard. I also believe that every parent present came over to thank us for what you our members do.

When Command Sergeant Major Robert J. Schreiner presented the Minnesota Patriot Guard with a Certificate of APPRECIATION the entire room stood and gave us (MN Patriot Guard) a standing ovation (the only one of the day). CSM Schreiner thanked us for showing up to sent them off to Afghanistan last year. He thanked us for sending them a Patriot Guard Riders flag that you had signed, saying it let them know that someone back home besides their families cared about them. Then we showed up to welcome them back and how much that meant to them. But, when we showed up at the MIRT (Monthly Individual Reintegration Training) classes they were blown away. They couldn't believe how much we actually cared about them and that it was more than just mear words. Your actions spoke much louder than your words did.

So rest assured that when you stand on that flag line it does make a difference to that young man or woman, and that they will never forget how special you made them feel. I know most of us believe that they are the heroes, but in their eyes, you are the hero. Thank you for making a difference.

It is an honor and a privilege to be associated with such a fantastic group of men and women as the Minnesota Patriot Guard.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Memorial Day

Yesterday we celebrated another Memorial Day, the day set aside to honor those who served this country and paid the ultimate price. Once again some of us remembered fallen comrades and their dreams and hopes. Some remembered fallen loved ones and wondered what life would have been like with them around. And like in the movie "Saving Private Ryan" some of us questioned if we've lived up to the standards that our fallen comrades/loved ones would have wished for us, when they laid down their lives for us. And we turn to our loved ones and asked, "Am I a good man/woman?" "Did I measure up?"

Some of us remembered the Memorial Day parades of our youth, when our family members wore their ill fitting uniforms and marched past us in the parade. Or we made floats out of our bikes and rode in the parade. Some may remember a time when it wasn't popular to support those who made that ultimate sacrifice. Thankfully yesterday we had the chance to once again honor them publicly.

One of the things I appreciate most about Patriot Guard Riders is it gives us all a chance to demonstrate not just once a year at Memorial Day, but each and every day, the honor and respect we hold for the military personnel who sacrifice much while serving their country, protecting our freedoms.

Thank you for your service, and know that we will never forget you or your sacrifices. God Bless you today and every day.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

From the Beardsley Family

May 7th, 2008

Dear Patriot Guard Riders,

My wife and I and our family would just like to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for supporting the 'Heroes United" Event this past May 3rd.

We were honored to host this event and it turned out to be more than we had ever expected. We feel there was a lot of healing that took place because of this event, allowing families to know that there are others to stand with them was very comforting. To know that so many do really care means so much to us - THANK YOU IS NOT ENOUGH!!!! We believe you have changed lives.

There are so many to thank and words cannot say enough. We would like to thank Doug Bley, for all your amazing talents in organizing (all those gadgets you have do come in handy) we know how much blood, sweat, and tears - emphasis on tears - went into this event - THANK YOU.

Jeff and Deb Good, thank you for everything that you were involved in, especially the amazing memorial video that we will forever cherish. This event would not have happened if it were not for your great commitment to what you stand for.

There were so many details that you guys took care of - Jeff you will forever be remembered as the "fixer of all problems." Chris Lind and Pam Johnson, thank you for being a part of all of the planning and your attention to detail and your incredible ideas - this event would not have been the same without your involvement.

Thank you all for your friendship throughout not only this event but really caring about how we are doing. The Patriot Guard put together an amazing team to pull this event off - Steve and Marjie Benson and Jen Turcotte and the above mentioned Patriot Guard members - we were humbled and honored to work along side such wonderful people. What will stand out in our minds forever the day of the event is the flag line. We know many of you came to honor our loved ones and our families.

It is beyond words what we feel when we see so many that are willing to stand for us - WE WILL BE FOREVER GRATEFUL for your support. Know that what you do helps us to hold our heads high and stand tall knowing that our loved ones are not forgotten and are honored for the sacrifice they and their families made. Again there are not enough words to express our deep feelings for what you do for us, we are blessed to have you be a part of our lives.

It is our prayer that you will all be blessed for the willingness to stand beside us. Thank you again for all that you do - it is very much appreciated.

With Love and Blessing,

Jim and Dianna Beardsley and Family of SSG William 'BJ' Beardsley
II Corinthians 1:3-4

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Heroes United: A Special Mission Report

Mission Report:
Gold Star Family Event, "Heroes United"
St Cloud, MN ~ May 3rd, 2008

Heroes United was developed in response to comments made by some Gold Star families that they wished they were able to contact other Gold Star families for both support and to offer comfort. The Board of Directors approved this event in the fall of 2007 and the planning began to evolve.

The event was to be hosted by a Gold Star family, with all communications coming from them. It was important that the other families believed and trusted the person sending it had their best interest at heart. We also decided to get at least 2-3 families in the planning so that all final decisions were made by them.

The Beardsley family (SSG BJ Beardsley) agreed to be the host family. Also participating on the planning committee were the Benson family (LCpl Johnathan Benson) and Turcotte family (Sgt Nicholas Turcotte). Representing the MN Patriot Guard were Doug Bley, Jeff Good, Deb Good, Chris Lind, and Pam Johnson.

The desire of this event was to focus on the fact that their loved ones are heroes and will never be forgotten. The goal was to create a setting in which all of the families could meet each other, exchange information, share stories of their healing, help each other emotionally and show the world they are united in remembering our heroes.

The team agreed to centrally locate a hotel to for the convenience of the families traveling in from the all parts of MN. St Cloud was the city chosen and the Radisson Suites selected as the site.

The families were insistent that the membership of the Minnesota Patriot Guard be part of the day and they were willing to risk uninvited guests and press as a result of that. That in mind and believing at the time that May 3rd would be bright and sunny riding weather, the St Cloud leadership team was asked to develop a staging area and plans to move anywhere from 100 to 1,000 motorcycles. Challenged by the closure of the Highway 23 Bridge the team worked closely with the St Cloud PD and Technical College and developed a 1-mile movement plan that minimized the impact on city traffic and ensured the safety of our members. To comply with city ordinances the St Cloud sector leadership team needed to get the signatures of all the businesses surrounding the hotel that they agreed to our using the sidewalks. After many trips downtown all 30 signatures were gathered.

Months of planning were involved to make this a dignified and meaningful event. With only 4 months to work with, it became at times a full time job to make it come together. But the day of May 3rd arrived and we were ready.

The weather initially showed no signs of cooperating with us. The forecast was to be in the 40’s - 50’s with a likelihood of rain mixed with snow. When we woke up the sun was shining but they nailed the temp forecast right on, coupling it with strong winds.

It didn’t deter over 160 hardy Minnesotans from coming to the mission. Nearly 100 bikes and many cages begin to move from the staging area at 11:15 AM and by 12:30 PM they were all there. From the registration area of the hotel we could hear the V Twin rumble so we all went outside to watch the first group come in. It never ceases to amaze me -- the power of having all those bikes slowly work their way in with flags flying in the wind and the flashing lights of squad cars.

The RCIC of the flag line positioned the MNPG all around the hotel so that as the families arrived they were greeted once again by our group of patriots holding flags in reverence and honor.

We asked that the members use the day as a way to reconnect and honor the missions they had been on. Where we usually stand in solemn silence they were encouraged to talk, laugh, and celebrate our heroes.

Inside the hotel lobby we stationed two motorcycles that were custom painted to honor our fallen heroes. Both drew a lot of attention from not just the family members as they made their way to the registration area, but also from the many other guests of the hotel as they asked what was going on. The opportunity to watch their faces as they understood the gravity of the day was fulfilling as we accepted the expressions of gratitude from the general public.

At 2:00 PM the registration table was opened and the 112 people from 30 families began to stream in. As each registered they were given a commemorative pin that only these families are allowed to wear as well as a CD from Crystal Lyons titled, "Hero."

Each family was invited to bring two 8 x 10 photos of their hero to be placed on a table of honor. When it was done at least 40 feet of table space was used for this inspiring display. Candles were placed in front of the pictures and the flickering effect when the lights were turned down was reverential.

As the families gathered it was very serious and somber. As many didn’t know what to expect they anxiously scanned the program to try to get a sense of the day and what was ahead. There was a small group of MNPG members who had RC’d many missions and knew many of the families. Their role was to talk to them as well as look for folks who needed to be reassured the day would be worth staying for.

We discovered one of the local law enforcement officers had served with one of our fallen heroes, and he had an opportunity to meet his fallen brother’s family for the first time. It was an emotional experience for both the family and the officer.

At about 3:10 PM any family member who wished to was invited to walk by the flag line and gather at the front of the hotel. What we originally had thought would be a small group of family members turned out to be all of them!!! As they walked down the sidewalk in a group they couldn’t help but stop and hug the members to say “Thanks.”

As we gathered all the members together, the families faced them with a lot of emotion. Using a bull horn so the whole group could hear them the Beardsley and Benson families expressed their appreciation to the members. The theme of the message was the flag lines we form give them comfort more than we could imagine. Seeing the flags in the breeze have helped all these families stand a little bit taller and face their dark days because they know they are both protected and loved. The members of the Minnesota Patriot Guard were dismissed with honor -- and more than a few tears.

The program was set up for 1.5 hours.

Welcome ~ Jim & Dianna Beardsley
  • Pledge of Allegiance
  • National Anthem ~ Jamie Borden ~ Brother-in-law of SSG BJ Beardsley
  • Invocation ~ Chaplain (LTC) John Morris ~ MN Army National Guard
  • Video Biography of the Beardsley family ~ Lifetouch Photography
  • Monica Mead ~ MN Patriot Guard State Captain
  • Reading of a letter from President Bush to the families ~ Cassie Borden ~ Sister of SSG BJ Beardsley
  • The Honorable Tim Pawlenty ~ Governor of the State of Minnesota
  • Video Remembrance ~ Jeff & Deb Good ~ MNPG Ride Captains
  • Jeff Seeber ~ Vietnam Veteran, US Navy & Founder of the Military Salute Project
  • Song “The Heroes We Left Behind” ~ Cody James ~ Friend of the Beardsley’s
  • Prayer and Remarks ~ Chaplain (LTC) John Morris
  • Final Remarks ~ Jim and Dianna Beardsley
I can not even begin to capture the emotions of the speeches and the heart that was given in each word being spoken.
  • LTC Morris made a point of complimenting Governor Pawlenty for genuinely supporting these families often behind the scenes.
  • Stacy Beardsley in the video, telling everybody it is OK to talk about it and to call her if they can’t find anyone else to talk to.
  • Monica spoke of our “Thank You Argument” where we often respond with “No...Thank You,” noting the impact that honoring our heroes has had on us when we are invited into the lives of their families.
  • Governor Pawlenty recognizing the families for raising the solid and honorable men and women of our military, and making a personal pledge to be always be there to help these families.
  • During the playing of the MNPG video produced by the Good’s, seeing the look on the families' faces as the name and picture of their hero scrolled across.
  • Jeff Seeber talking about the empty chair. In each of these families is an empty chair that their hero used to sit in; these heroes are remembered by people the families may never realize. To see the transcript of the Jeff’s speech, click here
  • After the program, a young man affected by Down’s Syndrome came up and asked the Governor if he could bring his brother back. How Governor Pawlenty could handle answering “I can’t, son,” is beyond me.
Taking a small break before dinner, many families had the opportunity to reach out again but this time there was some laughter starting to be heard. The hardest part of the day was over and people could start to breathe again. Governor Pawlenty again proved what a genuine person he is as he got on the floor for pictures with the children letting them make “bunny ears” on him. I got to hug and chat with a Mom who had come back from a Florida vacation just for the day because she felt it was the right thing to do.

After dinner the mood was lightened considerably by the awarding of donated door prizes. A company had donated 10 raffle tickets for the MNPG motorcycle raffle that Jeff Good and I used as an opportunity to tease each winner as they approached the podium. Once we awarded all 10 of those Dave Woodward jumped up with a check to buy 10 more… and once they were gone the Turcotte family came forward with 10 more tickets!!! All in all 32 tickets (Thank you Monica and Marge for the last 2) were given away but the best part was watching the heavy air leave the room. People were laughing and joking… they were breathing again.

The best raffle winner was the young man with Down’s Syndrome winning a ticket. He was beaming ear to ear...everybody cheering him...and high-fiving Jeff Good so hard he almost knocked the podium down!

As we cleaned up our materials and settled up with the hotel, we kept watching the ball room. While the families were invited to stay until 9 PM… the MNPG team left about 6:30. It was all worth it watching the interaction the families were having. Every goal we set was being met. Every hope we had was being realized in there.

There are so many people to “Thank”… but my special “thanks” goes to Jeff and Deb Good. Be it ideas, sounding board, video production, or just being there, none of this could have happened as well as it did without them.

Planning committee:
Jim and Dianna Beardsley
Steve and Marjie Benson
Jen Turcotte
Doug Bley
Jeff and Deb Good
Chris Lind and Pam Johnson

Rob Boisvert
Marge Boisvert

Jim Deadrick
Keith Schaefer
Greg Studer

Flag Lines:
John Redfield
Joe and Pat Fucile
John Stolte
Greg Studer
Dave Winkler

LEO Contact:
Phil Pesheck

Deb Good
Marge Boisvert
Jen Graftaas
Pam Johnson
Linda Pesheck

AV and Video:
Tim and Laurie Leonhardt

Marjie Benson

Bikes in the lobby (HUGE hit with all the hotel guests):
Chris Lind
Ron Reineke
Lance and Sue Vascher (Tribute To The Troops)

Monica Mead
George Winslow
Mike Hangaard
Dave Woodward
Nate Zenker
Craig Ugland

Bill Schuster
Jen Turcotte and Family
Gregg Campbell

Shannon Hady

Monica Mead
Governor Tim Pawlenty
Jeff “Sailordoc” Seeber
Chaplain (LTC) John Morris, Minnesota National Guard
Lifetouch Video
Cody James (Country/Christan song writer)

Raffle Ticket Donations:
Fox Express (Los Angeles, CA)
Dave Woodward
Turcotte Family

The event staff at the Radisson
The city of St Cloud
Sgt Marty Sayre and the St Cloud Police Department
Mayor Dave Kleis
St. Cloud Police Officer's Union

If this event is held again is up to the families who attended. They are in complete control of its destiny and future.

We have received many beautiful emails thanking us for this event. One in particular grabbed me and made me a shake a bit when she said this:

“Thank you personally, and to all of you collectively, 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.”

I am honored to have helped plan this event. To call it a “labor of love” would be to say it was work, so I am trying to come up with a different description of it. Every hour spent working on it was worth it when you could see the faces of our heroe's families. Each mile I have traveled across this state was worth it when a Dad or Mom looks at me and says “I remember you.” Every smile I see from a family who at some point in the past thought they would never smile again gives me the energy to get up again at “oh dark thirty” to go to another mission.

None of this would even have been possible without our members. The thousands of people who have ridden and driven thousands and thousands of miles… standing in weather from +100 degrees to minus 40 degrees.. all on their own time and their own dime.

Your efforts matter to these families. We will never know the depth and extent of what we have done. We can only trust in their words that it made a difference not just on that day but every time they see a flag.

To close I would like to thank the families of all of our Fallen Heroes. As Governor Pawlenty noted in his talk, these families raised the solid, dependable and committed men and women who defend our country every day.

Some families could not attend, but they were no less in our thoughts. For those who were able to attend Heroes United, we recognize it took a tremendous amount of courage to come, and to remember those they have lost in the presence of many others. Doing so brings countless feelings to the surface – pride in those who gave all, and pain at their loss. May it comfort them in some small measure to know that we will not forget.

Respectfully submitted,

Doug Bley
Minnesota Patriot Guard Board Member
NW Metro Ride Captain

Heroes United, part 1

The report is almost done and will be posted tonight but I am posting the graphics now. First is the cover of the invitation, and second is the program.

New Board Members

To the 15 men and women who agreed to be nominees for the Minnesota Patriot Guard Board of Directors, we thank you. You have all stood on the flag line countless time in honor of Heroes, and your willingness to do much more than that is sincerely appreciated.

All of us on the current board were heartened to see such a wide slate of well-qualified people to choose from – and I think we were all grateful that the difficult choice was not made solely by us, but by all the leadership team in Minnesota with input from the most important people in this organization – those of you, who stand on the flag line.

The Leadership Advisory Committee comprised of: 20 Ride Captains; 3 Senior Ride Captains; Law Enforcement Coordinator; Safety Coordinator; Events & General Fundraising Coordinator; Corporate Fundraising Coordinator; Public Relations Coordinator; and Assistant HOTH Coordinator, voted last week. The following four people were recommended to Board: Tim Leonhardt; Jerry Teeson; Terry Throndson; and Greg Yung.

Based on that recommendation, the Board held a brief meeting following the Heroes United event for Gold Star Families in St. Cloud on Saturday. The recommendation of those four people was accepted unanimously.

Welcome aboard Tim, Jerry, Terry and Greg.

Together with you, our rank and file members, we can make a difference.

Friday, May 2, 2008

A Special Mission Tomorrow

Many of you have stood flag lines in honor of our heroes since the inception of the Patriot Guard, and surrounded their families and friends in an unbreakable circle of love and respect. Tomorrow is a special day, and a very special mission - because those same families would like to see you again.

The letter below speaks for itself. We sent it out in a statewide email but just in case anyone did not receive it, I am re-posting it here. The weather does not look friendly...but we've seen much, much worse. Be safe in your travels to St. Cloud, and I look forward to seeing you all tomorrow. More information on tomorrow's special mission can be found here:

With respect and appreciation for all you do,

Monica Mead
MN State Captain

Dear Minnesota Patriot Guard members,

My name is Jim Beardsley, and along with my wife Dianna and our family we would like to invite you to be a part of an upcoming event to honor our loved ones and their families.

Our son, SSG William 'BJ' Beardsley was killed in action on February 26th, 2007 in Iraq. He leaves behind a wife, Stacy, two children, Chance and Alexis, a sister and brother-in-law, Jamie and Cassie, his parents, grandparents, and many friends and family.

Upon hearing of our son's death the Minnesota Patriot Guard contacted us to see if they could come along side of our family and support us. We accepted and forever gained an extended family that we are SO grateful for.

On Saturday, May 3rd, 2008 the Minnesota Patriot Guard is sponsoring an event appropriately titled ' Heroes United' that we will be hosting in St Cloud, MN. This is an event to bring together Minnesota Gold Star families that have lost a loved one in the war. We are honored to be able to host an event that will allow our families to remember our loved ones and to be there for each other.

We would be honored by your presence, when my family reflects on our sons memorial service, much of it is a blur, but the one thing we do remember is the flag line, how honored and not alone we felt, knowing that people would take the time to just come and stand in silence to honor our son and our family, we cannot put into words what that moment was like. The support we received was unbelievable, we felt as if we could stand taller that day knowing that we were not alone. It is our hopes that the Minnesota Patriot Guard would once again come together to not only honor our family, but the many families that will be attending this event.

Thank You and God Bless,

Jim Beardsley and Family

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

From a Gold Star Mother


Thank you for your support at my son's funeral (Specialist Jacob J. Fairbanks).

At a time when I did not feel safe, you made me feel safe.
At the time when I was crying, you comforted me
At a time when we needed support, you supported us......

Jake is a hero and you made sure everyone knew he is a hero......

I honestly think that you are Angels sent to look after fallen soldiers and their families......

Thanks soooo very much!

Janette Fairbanks
(Jacobs mother)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

MN Patriot Guard Board of Directors Nominations

It is my pleasure to introduce the following nominees for the Minnesota Patriot Guard Board of Directors:

Joe Egan - Plymouth

James H. Elmquist - Rush City

John "Jack" Foster - Plymouth

Holly Frost - Bloomington

Brian Jones - Hager City - Current member of leadership

Christopher "Cowboy" Kamp - Blane

Tim Leonhardt - New Hope - Current member of leadership

Gary P. Meyers - Arden Hills

Michael P. "Medic Dad" O'Loughlin - Maple Lake

John Reuter - Walker

Sue Rochholz - Woodbury

Terrance J. Schwartz - St. Paul

Jerry R. Teeson - Coon Rapids

Terry R. Throndson - Rochester

Greg "Springer" Yung - Apple Valley

Please advise your Ride Captain as to your choice(s) of who you'd like to see elected to the Board of Directors. Since we didn't have as many nominations as anticipated we will hold only the one vote for the final four Board of Director positions to be filled.

The Leadership Advisory Committee will vote on 02 May 2008. The new board members will assume their positions on 05 May 2008.

Good luck to the ladies and gentleman listed above.