Thursday, April 9, 2009

MN Patriot Guard March 2009 Activities

Happy Spring!!!  Maybe.. hopefully...  any day now!

To our friends in the Red River Valley we are hoping that things work out Ok from the flooding.  We know they are tough days and hopefully things get back to normal soon.

Below is our activity in March 2009.  

One thing not listed on here is a donation we made to an important group.  The "Dear American Hero" cards have found their way into our organization since I have been around.  I have handed them out to to military members literally around the world.  Thanks to Ron Reineke we found out that Dick Glasgow lost his sponsorship of the printing.  With that the Minnesota Patriot Guard made a donation to him to help keep the cards being printed.  If you have been a recipient of these cars please consider helping Dick out with a small donation of your own.

On a serious note.  John "Indian" Thompson has been challenged seriously with some health issues.  John recently underwent brain surgery and every report we have received is very positive.  Respecting his privacy means that John "Knee Cap" "Finigan" Foster can't say everything he knows.  Indian John resigned his RC position in order  to focus on his health and I personally want to thank John for his service.  There have been few members as dedicated as he.  See ya back soon on the flag line IJ!
    March 09
KIA/Active Duty/LEO Funeral   3
Veterans Funeral   3
Honor Mission    
Welcome Home   2
Send Off   6
Wounded Welcome Home    
Benefit   2
MIRT   1
Veterans Home Event   2
Meet & Greet   7
Memorial Dedication    
Gold Star Event    
Blue Star Mothers Event   1
Monthly Tribute Mankato   1
Bronze Star Ceremony    
Fund Raiser   3
Information Booth    
Veterans Day Event   1
Memorial Day Event    
POW/MIA Rememberance    
Vietnam Wall Escort    
Wreaths Across America    
Tribute Ride    
National Guard Event    
Total Number To Date   32

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Thank you to the Minnesota Patriot Guard from the family of SFC Leslie M Johnson

I am writing to thank the Minnesota Patriot Guard for all they have done for my brother SFC Leslie M Johnson. 

Let me start from the beginning. My brother Les was in his 20th year in the army as an MP.In March 2008 he found out he had cancer. He fought, but this fight he was not winning. he lived in Fort Polk, LA. His large family lived up here in Minnesota. He chose to stay down there where his wife's family is and get treatment in Houston TX. We all got down to see him there and it was a very hard thing for us to come back to Minnesota without him. We felt helpless. Lots of phone calls is all we had along with prays. As months went by, Les was getting worse. 

Around Christmas time, Les' wife asked him what he wanted for Christmas and he said he wanted to go home , which was Rochester Mn. Money was tight for them, so all eight of Les' siblings got together and bought 5 airline tickets for Les, his wife, two boys and their dog, to be flown home on Dec 21, 2008. A co-worker of mine, Wanda told me about the Patriot Guard and how they could give my brother a warm welcome home and she explained to me about what the Patriots were all about. I was so excited! 

She had Jim Nelson call me. After many conversations and planning,the Patriots were to be lining up over the 75th bridge welcoming my brother as he came down Hwy 52S from the Minneapolis airport in a limo that was donated in the homecoming. Also was the police and fire department to greet him. We posted this homecoming in the local newspaper to invite everyone around to help in the welcoming. It was a big and exciting day to come. Giving my brother the honor he deserves. On the morning of Dec 21, my brother took a turn for the worse. He was unable to fly and was admitted to the hospital. We all were so devastated. Tears were non stop. As I write this part, my eyes have teared.I had to call Jim and let him know. He got an e-mail out telling the Patriots it had been canceled. My sister and I thought we should go out to the bridge and let everyone that came out for the event know of the cancellation. 

When we got there, there were already about 30 Patriots standing with their flags in below 0 temps, all bundled up to welcome Les home. We informed them of the sad news. A few more people came and we had to tell them also. We heard later how there were people holding flags all along the highway in different areas waiting for him to pass by. It was going to be just a wonderful welcome home for him. We were told Les had about a month. We all knew we had to get down there but money was such an issue with it being tied up in the airline tickets, which would not be refunded back to us until we showed them my brothers death cert. Really sad of them don't you think? Then for some of my family to get off work again was tough. So we thought he needs his mother and father the most. But my mom and dad have never flown before so we know one sibling had to go along. But then money was an issue. It was around Christmas time and presents were bought so you know how broke everyone is at that time. 

Jim and I stayed in contact a lot so that I could fill him in on how everything was going. As our family was trying to figure our money together, Jim gave me a call to inform me that the Patriot Guard had a gift for us, or rather my parents. He met me out at my parents house along with a beautiful red, white and blue crocheted blanket done by a wonderful woman we didn't even know. She wanted it to be given to my brother. The Patriots gave a $1000.00 check to my parents to buy airline tickets to get them down to their son. Was that prayers answered or what!

Instead of using the money for airline tickets we used it for rental cars and we all drove down to see him. We all thought or rather knew it was the last time we would see him, and it was. Les past away Jan 20 2009. The military came to our parents home the day he passed and said they are here to do what they can to make sure Les family get down for his funeral.Once again our prayers were answered. 

The military bought my parents and all 8 siblings airline tickets, and rental cars while down there along with hotel stay and food. We could not believe it. The military told us for the 21 years SFC Johnson has served for our country this is the least they could do. They treated us like royalty down there. The funeral was Jan 26 in Texas. Later in March we decided to have a memorial service for Les here in Rochester Mn. I gave Jim a call and asked if the Patriot Guard would do the honor of being at my brothers service. He made the contacts and on March 22 we had the most beautiful and honorable service for Les at the Soldiers Field Memorial. Patriot Guards were all lined up all around the memorial grounds along with a 21 gun salute and "Taps" from the American Legion. MPs from all around, friends and family also joined the service. The day couldn't have been more perfect, the sun shinning down on us as if my brother was telling us he's at peace with no more pain, and looking down at the respect of his fellow man, the army and his loved ones. To The Patriot Guard, we the Johnson family will never forget what you have done for our family and especially for my brother SFC LESLIE M. JOHNSON. 
With all our respects;
Linda and the Johnson family

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Upcoming TEA Parties on 15 April 2009

Patriot Guard Riders is a non-political organization and this event is not the kind of thing we would advertise to our members, as our members come from all over the political spectrum. In addition, taking political stances as an organization (or even appearing to) could have a negative impact on our relationship with the DoD, and as such, could hurt our mission.

Can I wear my Patriot Guard gear to the TEA Party? As to whether or not you should wear any Patriot Guard gear there, you own those items that you purchased, and so you are free to do with them as you please. All we have ever asked of members is that they think about what they are representing when they wear that name or symbol, and the hard work and dedication of tens of thousands of patriots (including you!) across the country coming together to honor our country's heroes. Personally, I don't think wearing it to a political rally helps further our mission in any way, so I won't be wearing any PGR gear while I'm attending the TEA Party. I wouldn't want the media to claim PGR was supporting the TEA Parties and show my vest on the 6 and 10 o'clock news.