Sunday, December 30, 2012

New Year 2013

Happy 2013!! The past year saw us conducting over 400 missions & events across the state, and we expect 2013 to be around the same. Wonderful things happen when our hearts and hands are helping those who serve and have served.  If you have not had the opportunity to attend a mission, we'd welcome you to attend.

We periodically get asked what we do with the money that we receive in donations, store sales, and from the Patriot Ride and what some of those organizations do. Here are a few of the things we support:

- Half of the proceeds from the Patriot Ride are donated to the MMAF (Minnesota Military Appreciation Fund). This is also the fund that any deployed military person from MN can apply for $500.00 as a thank you for their service from our great state! Amounts increase if injured.

- MMFF (MN’s Military Family Foundation) also recieves funds. They help military families in crisis - it’s a quick turn around of funds to get them on their feet, and may include car repairs, groceries, furnance or other appliance repairs, etc.

- We use a little over $8,000.00 annually at our Vet Homes, for things like bingo, and food for BBQ’s and cook-outs. And we donate a little over $3,000.00 annually to our Veteran/Disabled Veteran Hunts (turkey, pheasant, deer hunts)

- Flags for the MN Fallen - this is a nation wide group that donates a large flagpole and flag for our Gold Star families, to be placed where they choose. Here in MN, we cover the cost for our MN KIA’s.

- Internal costs for things such as our webpage and email system, insurance, legal fees, postage, our Post Office box. We also have mission expenses for things such as the plaques & coins given at missions to families of our KIA’s or current serving military.

- we also donate to things such as the 34th Division Chaplain Fund, Disabled Vets Rest Camp, Project Backpack, TTTT Education Fund, AUSA Toys for Military Kids, Wreaths Across America/Wreaths for the Fallen, etc. This year we also started donating to official military unit Dining In’s/Outs to assist those in the rank of E4 and below to attend these military events steeped in tradition.

- Another special project we donated to in 2012, was towards a KIA Memorial being placed at Camp Ripley, honoring our Red Bulls that paid the ultimate price since the War on Terror.

For other news

:- Several of you have inquired whether a patch will be made by the MN PG for sale in honor of Jack Foster. After discussion, it was decided that In Memory Of and In Honor Of patches are available at our MN PG store, with the MN PG logo in the background - very fitting for Jack.  Since these patches are already available, it was determined that an extra patch will not be made/offered. There is no way for us to determine need/want to avoid having extra patches with a name on them, nor to know how many specific named patches may be needed in future.

- We have some book writers among us!  Ron Mackadanz (Bandido Mack) has written a book about his experiences in Vietnam, including his receipt of the Silver Star some 40 years later!  Many of you have been anxiously awaiting his book.  To order one of his books, send $20.00 to Ron Mackedanz at PO Box 251, Kandiyohi, MN 56251 and Ron will send you a signed copy.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Holiday Season

On behalf of your leadership team, and the Board of Directors, we would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your families a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!  Thank you for all you have done over the past year - we do make a difference to the families we stand beside, to our veterans, and to our military.  Please remember those serving this Holiday Season who can't be home with their loved ones.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Info from National on Political/Partisan events

To our members,

The below statement is from the National PGR.  While the situation that prompted this email didn't happen here in Minnesota, it is something to be taken seriously.  The MN PG is also a 501c3 and participation in political/partisan activities could jeopardize our status.  We raise, recieve donations, and our store sales allow us to donate about 85K every year, right here in Minnesota, for our military and/or veterans - something we don't want to lose!  If you are going to attend a political/partisan activity, please refrain wearing anything that identifies you as a MN PG or PGR member or stating that you are a member.
“Use of the Patriot Guard Riders, Inc., (PGR) name or logo while participating in political / partisan activities is strictly prohibited. It places our status as an IRS approved 501 (c) 3 Non-Profit organization at risk. If documented evidence is provided to any level of PGR Leadership, failure to comply will result in immediate revocation of PGR Membership and removal from any position of Leadership within the PGR.”  "This info has also been uploaded to the FAQ and the Communications Announcements Forum in the National Communications and Announcements section. "

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thank you for all you do!

Mission Report:

We have been busy! Figures are from 1 January thru 30 September each year.  Our Vet Home visits and other official events are included in the overall mission totals:

                                                            2011                   2012

KIA/MIA                                            31                       7
Active Duty                                        14                       15
Veteran Mission                                  133                     169
Welcome Homes                                 17                       40
Deployments                                       48                       8

Overall Mission Totals:                       341                     329   


Everything is on plan and to budget.  So far this year we have brought in $67,000 and donated/spent $60,000.  Our expenses for Veterans Home and Hunts is about $11,000 and donations and grants are about $42,000.  The rest of our expenses are operating needs such as insurance and Mission needs. 

The majority of our income is from the Patriot Ride.  Without the Patriot Ride income of $48,000 we can’t run the programs we support today.

State Leadership Meeting

Several topics were discussed at the State leader meeting on 27 Oct:

-  Mission reports will be added to the end of mission calendar postings.  To read the mission reports, go to the date of the mission, find your mission and scroll to the bottom of that specific mission to find the mission report.

- Leadership voted to retain the Non-MN PG calendar.  We will be re-naming the calendar to avoid any potential confusion.  The Non-MN PG calendar is only for events that support our military and/or veterans, but have no official MN PG participation.  It is strictly for member use if they wish to attend on their own as a private citizen.  Events that could violate our 501c3 status will not be posted on the calendar.

- Safety of our military is priority.  Mission postings should not show number of military member movement, flight numbers, family arrival times, etc.  Information may come from the press, but it should never come from us.

- Mission safety - RCIC needs to consider safety factors for members, i.e., bad weather, high traffic, heat/cold weather related injuries

- George Winslow, National PGR President briefed us on the current trademark issue.  There has been no change since Dec 2011.  Still in waiting mode.

- The MN Patriot Guard, Inc (MNPG) and Patriot Guard Riders (PGR) are two different groups.  The MN PG/Board of Directors deals with the money that Minnesota raises, deals with financial risks, and if state policies are needed to protect us from those risks.  The PGR is national and is responsible for doing the missions.  The State Captain is part of the National PGR’s leadership team and is held accountable by the National PGR for missions.

- Open discussions were held:

            - Northern Region SRC Rick Johnson led the discussion on the current mission scope.  It seems to be the consensus of leaders that the mission scope remain the way it is (no additions/deletions).

            - SRC Craig Ugland led discussion on the Non MN PG calendar on whether to keep it or remove it.  It was determined to have a Leadership Advisory Council (LAC) vote, which was accomplished by Survey Monkey, with a vote of 22 to2 in favor of keeping the Non MN PG calendar.

            - Metro Region SRC Ernie Johnson led discussion on engaging members.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Purchasing PGR & MN PG Goods

This is a reprint of a email sent to members in January 2012.  As of now, the trademark dispute is still ongoing.   Patriot Guard Riders are waiting for a ruling from USPTO on our motion. Normally that would take about 2 weeks, it's been since Dec 2011. We have no way to push the USPTO to make that ruling. We are at their mercy and have to wait until they rending the decision. Once that is made we have 30 days to respond to the opposers filing, then the opposer has 15 days to rebut our filing. At that point it goes to the USPTO to make the final determination on who owns the name Patriot Guard Riders, the logo and service marks, one of which is: "People standing in the cemetery holding the American flag at a military funeral."

A great many of you are probably not aware of an ongoing lawsuit between the National Patriot Guard Riders and the first PGR Executive Director Jeff "Twister" Brown.

As a background...  Jeff Brown took national the concept of the PGR after attending Missions run by our founders, the Kansas Patriot Guard.  For that we owe him thanks.

What he did right before incorporating the PGR is incorporate his own for-profit store selling PGR Merchandise attached to the national website.  People, like myself, bought merchandise from that store and had no idea the profits were going to him personally and not the PGR.

After this was discovered Jeff Brown resigned his position in the PGR and quickly the PGR established its own store so the profits would come to them and not to an individual.

In 2007 Jeff Brown brought legal action against the PGR through the United States Patent and Trademark Office.  He is trying to own the Patriot Guard Riders logos and name so he can continue to profit from them by forcing all of us to buy from or through him.

I don't know how much the legal bills have been for the PGR as they don't tell us.  I would guess in excess of $400,000 but again, that is only a guess.  I know they are hoping that it will be settled once and for all this year but there are avenues for appeal as well.

Which brings me to the point of this email....

When you buy Patriot Guard Riders or MN Patriot Guard merchandise there are only two places to go that fully support our cause.  We ask you shop only at for Patriot Guard Riders gear and for MN Patriot Guard gear.  Buying from anywhere else is putting profit in the pockets of someone who is not supporting our cause.

If you buy from Twisters Store you are helping him in his pursuit of having the PGR become a for-profit store for him by his profits paying his legal bills.

If you buy from eBay or Craigslist there is a good chance they are counterfeit goods.  I have found counterfeit MN Patriot Guard patches on eBay and forced the seller to pull them off.

As always we don't tell people where to shop or what to buy.  As far as I'm concerned you don't have to wear a vest with patches or pins at all.  It is an individual choice as to what you buy and wear.  We only want to make sure you are making an informed choice about where you shop.

Doug Bley
Former Minnesota State Captain
President, Board of Directors
Minnesota Patriot Guard

Karla Richardson
Minnesota State Captain

Friday, November 2, 2012

Veterans Day

With Veterans Day quickly approaching, we would like to take the opportunity, on behalf of the Minnesota Patriot Guard to say "THANK YOU" to all who have served.  We are grateful for your service.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Hi MN Patriot Guard... we have a request of our PGR friends in MN even though it might not be popular.

There are many cool things to do in support not just of our military and but also of our country and other patriots. You should show your support for what your heart tells you to do, please just do it as   a citizen and not a representive of the Patriot Guard.

If you are going to attend an event such as the Flag Rally recently held in Brooklyn Park.... please don't wear your MN Patriot Guard gear. It is very important that we be non political and wearing the gear to it makes us look like we are lobbying or protesting a decision made by the government.  We are not a protest nor a counter-protest group.

Also...there are many events people hold that aren't Patriot Guard related though in support of our military. Please be very careful to not give the impression it is Patriot Guard related. We don't attend events where we are the "bunting on the stage", we are not honor guards, nor are we a "Flag Line" for hire. 

The MN Patriot Guard has a Mission Scope which governs our group on what we do. All based on our mission statement on our webpage. We moderate when we have flaglines because we need to not let the meaning of them get so common they don't stand as honor, dignity, and respect for our fallen heroes any longer.

A few years somebody did a flag line for Lee Greenwood because he sings Patriotic Songs.  Yes he does and he has made millions of dollars from them and he has never served in the military.

Somebody also did a flag line for Willie G Davidson because he is a patriot.  Willie was an executive in a motorcycle company that still doesn't acknowledge the PGR and he never served in the military.

While we like and respect them for what they have accomplished professionally we don't think either of them has earned a PGR Flag Line.

Read our home page if you have any questions on our Mission Statement...

The excitement and passion people feel for what we do is  amazing and wonderful!! We just need to keep it tempered back to what we do while representing who we are.

Any and all of  us are welcome to do whatever we choose as citizens.... we only request that you don't wear your PGR gear if it might create confusion or a question if we are involved in it.


Karla Richardson
Minnesota PGR State Captain

Doug Bley
President, MN Patriot Guard

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Minnesota Patriot Guard continues to be busy as we answer the call of families to pay honor, dignity and respect to those who have served and those who are serving. Thank you to each of you who makes this happen!

The Patriot Ride was a great success again this year. Over 2,000 came together to make it a memorable day. Yes, we got poured on again - same place as last year leaving the half way stop, and we know with the storms rolling across MN, some of you were not able to make it. But it was a great day of remembrance and rejuvenation. Kudo's to the Patriot Ride committee, all the volunteers, and to Dennis Kirk - they put in countless hours making sure everything falls in place!

Summer is now upon us. Some things to remember regarding heat, heat indexes and our members. In a state close to ours over the past weekend, 9 flagline members fell out because of heat - this can not happen!! Our leaders and members are precious, and I can't even imagine how a family we are standing alongside would feel if members were not taking care of themselves or put themselves at risk to be on the flagline. We are told to be self-sufficient at missions with food and drinks, but it extends further than that - we need to know when we individually need to step into the shade or a cool space.

There are several things you can do to help:
- review the "Avoid Health Illness Tips" in the member documents area at the state website. This is a quick overview of what to look for and what to do.
- come to missions hydrated and continue to keep yourself hydrated. Don't wait until you are thirsty to drink fluids that hydrate.
- watch out for yourself and each other at missions. If the person standing next to you needs to take a break, take their flag and tell them to go cool down. Keep in mind that if you are riding to a mission, some of your hydration will already be depleted before you even get on the flagline.
- if the RCIC asks you to seek shade or a cool space, don't argue and say you are fine. I've been "yes mom'd" more than once for telling people to come off the flagline to cool off. And that's OK - I'd rather that than have a member ill or worse. It would of course be preferrable if members identify themselves that they need to cool off, but our leaders will ask/demand if necessary.
- our vests - while they identify who we are - they are a heat/sun magnet! If they need to come off to allow for air circulation and cooling - do it! The flagline shows who we are and why we are there.

Be safe out there! Be smart, take care of yourself and each other!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

MN Patriot Guard Members,

Whew - it's been a busy month! Almost 3,000 members of our MN National Guard were brought home and we continued to welcome them at the 30 Day MIRT's. We pay honor, dignity and respect to our military serving and veterans at missions, we just participated in Memorial Day events at our Veteran Homes, State Veterans Cemetery near Camp Ripley, and the Ft Snelling Chapel Gold Star Service.  We continue with our monthly visits to Veteran Homes. Thank you all for making this happen! Without your dedication and support we wouldn't be able to make sure all these things take place.

Speaking of missions, every now and then we get asked about where we can attend PGR missions, or what "no borders" means. Well ... it means that you are welcome to attend any MN PG (MN Patriot Guard) mission or MN PG event anywhere in the state (not just in your own sector). Expand that even further, you are welcome to attend any PGR mission across the nation. We have members who bring their flags on their vacations "just in case", and we have snowbirds who participate in missions in Florida, Texas, Arizona and other places south. Keep in mind that some states do some things differently and you will just follow the ride captain's direction just as in MN. Not all states do Veteran missions, but anything that is going on with the PGR, you are welcome to attend. For information in other states, the national site ( is a good place to find out where missions are.

The Patriot Ride is almost upon us!! For those that haven't been able to attend in the past, it is an event that you will not regret attending.  The pre and post ride programs remind us all of why we joined the Patriot Guard and do what we do. We get to spend the day with our Gold Star families and remember those from MN who have given all in the War on Terror, we have a special memorial for those fallen in the last year during the last mile to the mid-way stop. For those worried about the number of bikes - don't worry!! The ride heads out in waves, so you really don't realize there are so many bikes on the ride. It's a day of reflection, a day to never forget those who serve & have served, a day of celebration and a good re-charge of the batteries. 

We have a special Guest Speaker - Rear Admiral Sean Pybus. RADM Pybus is responsible for Naval Special Warfare Command which he assumed on June 30, 2011. He is a career Naval Special Warfare (NSW) SEAL officer with multiple Joint Special Operations duty assignments.

We also have the honor of the Canadian Vietnam Veterans Association (CVVA) bringing their Memorial Wall to the Patriot Ride. Over 30,000 Canadians joined the US military branches, over 12,000 served in Vietnam as US military. 121 were lost with 7 POW/MIA's - those names are on this Memorial Wall. There will also be a special wreath laying ceremony at the Memorial Wall at 10:00 a.m. the morning of the ride, hosted by the Military Salute Project, and all are welcome to attend.

Our friends from the Minnesota Military Radio Hour (who feature the MN Patriot Guard once per month) are taping their Fathers Day special at the ride with many guests from the ride.

For more information please go to

Thank you for all you do and be safe out there!

Karla Richardson, MNPG State Captain

Thursday, May 3, 2012

MN Patriot Guard,

To keep you informed and make a request....

An incident took place at one of the Welcome Homes that put our safety and relationship with the Military and Law Enforcement in jeopardy.  This is a reminder of why we conduct missions and escorts with the guidelines and policies we have in place.  Those guidelines and polices have been built based on the thousands of miles, missions, and hours of experience from doing them with ZERO incidents until this year.  We need you to help us keep you, the military, and the public safe.

The incident could have had a tragic outcome had it not been for a police officer's training and quick reflexes.

On an escort a group of motorcycles other than the MN Patriot Guard hopped in behind the bus. Somewhere close to the pick up point for the fire, police and MN PG escort something happened with one of the motorcycles jumping in.  The motorcycle rider swerved into the left lane illegally cutting in front of the police squad (possibly to illegally block traffic is what is thought) and causing a Law Enforcement vehicle to go in the ditch to avoid an accident with the bike (no damage to either vehicle - shallow median).

Unfortunately this also caused the Law Enforcement vehicle for that town from being in front of the bus as part of the procession. The squad car had to bring up the rear after waiting for everyone to get by and drive out of the ditch.  Although not the fault of the MN Patriot Guard in any way, the RCIC (Ride Captain In Charge) of the Mission said he was going to make apologies to the involved Police Department and Mayor and will explain that the other group was not the MN Patriot Guard. He will also offer an apology for any inconvenience that the other unauthorized group caused.

I wish I could say this is an isolated incident - it's not.  We also know there have been several situations where bikes are sitting along highways hopping in front of buses surprising the bus drivers. Other situations that cause concern with Nat'l Guard are flag lines that appear to be Patriot Guard when they hadn't invited us.

What can you do? 

No matter what group many of us belong to; when you are wearing your MN Patriot Guard gear you are representing the MN Patriot Guard.  Please make choices that don't put all of us at risk with the Military by making it appear the MN Patriot Guard is at an event that has not been formally requested by the Military.  As the proud and trusted MN Patriot Guard we wouldn't do that.

Thank you for your support in giving our Military the honor, dignity, and respect they deserve

Karla Richardson, Doug Bley, and Tim Leonhardt
MNPG State Captain, MNPG President, and MNPG Assistant Sate Captain

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Hey everybody,

Our relationships with the military is based on trust and our integrity to deal with sensitive and privileged information.  They know when they give us their expectations of where, when, and how we listen. They also know that we will follow their protocols and meet their expectations they have given us without question. This is very important to what we do and we need to stay that way.

All Missions, including Deployment and Welcome Home cermonies, are at the clear invitation of the Military.  During the Red Bull return they have, up to this point, been very clear...  "do not publicize or post troop movements and no flag lines at the bus stops."  Any flag lines or other Welcome Home Activities not listed on the calendar were not at the invitation of Military Leadership and were not MN Patriot Guard Missions. 

As you are aware, the military is very serious about protecting troop movement information.  We need to remember that anything we post or email is public and can be seen around the world.  Even though the media and other groups have publicized the details we have needed to be careful in what we post.

As of this morning, we have now been given permission by the National Guard to post daily bus stops and estimated arrival times for our Red Bulls, as long as the information is in the news.  YAY!!!!

We will not have this information in time to send out emails, so it remains important to check the Mission Calendar before you leave.  We will be adding the stops and approximate times to the calendar as we get it. We will get the information hopefully the night before, but most likely will be the day of.  Keep in mind that schedules do change.  Starting in the next few days, we will be very busy with almost daily arrivals, so any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

Now that we have this permission we are able to conduct flaglines at the local Armories and it will feel more like our traditional welcome homes.  We will still be doing the bus escorts to the first stops as they were worked out with the military.  Anything beyond that is not a MN Patriot Guard mission nor can it appear to be a MN Patriot Guard mission.  We expect that people DO NOT try to intercept buses and try getting in front of them.  The bus drivers are not prepared for that and something tragic could become of this uninvited, unwelcome, and illegal action.

Thank you for all you do!

Thank you for your support in giving our Military the honor, dignity, and respect they deserve


Karla Richardson
Minnesota Patriot Guard State Captain

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

We will soon be welcoming back our Minnesota National Guard "Red Bulls" from deployment - very exciting!! For our part of welcoming these soldiers home - it will be and feel much different that Welcome Homes we have done and enjoyed in the past. We have all enjoyed the busses rolling in thru the flagline, seeing the mad rush of soldiers & families finding each other, and getting the opportunity to shake some hands and say "Welcome Home".

The National Guard is bringing the soldiers home this time as they finish their de-mobilization, and not by unit or geographical location - this is great for the soldiers - when they are done, they get on the next plane Minnesota bound. Once they land, they will be put on 8-9 different bus routes going throughout the state, to a designated bus stop closest to their homes. We can't publish the "daily bus stops" or the bus routes - as you know the military safeguards troop movement, and we have to do the same.

What we do know is where they will land and get on the busses and that will be our focus. There is the possibility of night arrivals, and multiple planes coming in at different times on any given day - we will hopefully have about 24 hour notice.

Daily staging and flaglines will be at the Light Rail Commuter lot on the SE corner of Hwy 62 (Crosstown Hwy) and Minnehaha Ave. 
It will be very important for each of you to be checking the MN PG calendar daily because it will be updated as soon as we know new information, - emails may not come out quick enough. We also want to make sure that everyone across the state, if available, can come help man the flaglines as the busses head out on their routes. Bring your lawn chairs and enough to be self sufficient, because we may have one plane come in and another one several hours later, and we want to make sure the soldiers see the flagline - they are all telling us they want to see us! There are no restroom facilities at the commuter lot, but we will have maps available at staging for nearby bathrooms, restaurants, and gas stations.

The reasons for the "one location" flagline is necessary. Of the 8-9 bus routes going daily (and possibly several times a day), there are scheduled stops, but not all stops may happen on any given route - if there is no soldier getting off - the bus won't stop. Trying to establish flaglines at each stop is not realistic, plus we can't publish the information. Again, these Welcome Homes will be and feel much different for us than in the past.

The good news is that we will be able to welcome them all home in the way we are used to when the units all have their official unit/community Welcome Homes - somewhere between 30-90 days after their return.

Welcome Home and Thank You to our returning Red Bulls, and to their families who held down the fort!

Thank you for your support in giving our Military the honor, dignity, and respect they deserve

Karla Richardson
Minnesota Patriot Guard State Captain

Monday, April 2, 2012

Fellow Minnesota Patriot Guard Members,

Just had a few things to talk to you about, but before I get into that - THANK YOU for all you are doing all around the state! Missions, Vet Home visits and other activities go on all around the state - supported by our members! Many of you are getting out on your bikes, but regardless of your mode of transport - be safe out there!

Welcome Homes:
Most of you already know and are hearing someone you know saying that their loved one is coming home from deployment soon - exciting times!! To keep you up to date - we are working with the MN National Guard, but information is not available yet.. Once we know and once we have permission from the MN National Guard, we will be able to post the missions - not until then. So some may be a bit shorter notice, and times may fluctuate closer to arrival time, so we'll have to be flexible, and always check the calendar before you head out to a mission for any last minute changes. Below are a few questions and answers that we get a lot of questions about regarding Welcome Homes:

*     I have some important information about a unit return.  What should I do?
The information we work with is the official information given to us by the National Guard.  If you have something you think should be shared please email it to  Please don't post anything to Facebook or other websites with this information as the military does want to guard against publicizing troop movements.

*     Why are the escorts so small?
Several years ago we were asked by the MN NG and Law Enforcement to limit our bike escorts to 6-8 bikes. It is a safety concern and it adds to the length of the procession that they want to keep down as much as possible. So that's 6-8 bikes total - behind the buses are also considered part of the escort procession - we need to honor the request made of us. Passengers are also not allowed. Specific riding gear is at the discretion of the RCIC (Ride Captain in Charge) for that mission.

*     I know someone on the bus.  Why can't I be part of the escort?
One thing that is difficult for all of us in leadership is to explain to someone why it's not a good idea to be part of the escort when "my son/daughter/best friend is on that bus."  We are excited right along with you that they are home, but we do ask that you really think about it and refrain from asking to be in the escorts.  Many of us, including me, have ridden an escort of the remains of one of our hero's with tears flowing at 30 mph. 60 mph with tears in front of a bus that can't stop in time, is not a good plan for safety of the fellow escort riders. Let us cover for you the day of your loved ones return - you join the other families and be the first to greet your loved one back home, instead of having to park the bike, and get thru the mob to find your loved one, because all the other families and soldiers are already with their loved one - we have your back that day! Let us handle the escort.

Mission Requests:
One thing we often hear as members is someone asking us how to get the PGR at a funeral or saying they didn't know how to contact us. If you are asked that question, please refer them to our state website at and click on the "Request" link, fill that out and submit. That form gives us all the information we need to setup the mission, get it out to members in as timely manner as we can. The Missions team (6 sets of eyes) monitor the email address that the request goes to, so we can get it out to the Ride Captain to set up as soon as possible. Requests have to come from immediate family (parent, sibling, spouse, child), through official military channels, or by funeral director. We have to know it is the express wishes of the family that we are there, and respect their wishes on how they want to mourn the loss or celebrate the life of their loved one.

Mission Attendance:
I was at a conference last week, and a gentleman there (shout out to MSG (Ret) from Hennepin County - thank you for your service!) said to me that he had joined the MN Patriot Guard several years ago, but hadn't been able to work in a mission. I think we've all heard that a time or two. That's OK!!! We'd sure love to have you join us, but we all have other responsibilities as well that have to come first. I do want to say if it's because you aren't sure of what to do if you go to a mission - don't worry about that!! You will find us a friendly group, who all remember our first mission and not knowing what to do. We generally ask for any new members to identify themselves at missions - not to put you on the spot - but for 2 reasons - to thank you for joining us, and so that someone who has more experience can pair up with you and help you get comfortable with what we do and how we do things. So if that is the reason you haven't been able to join us yet, put that to rest - we'd love to have you join us!

Patriot Ride:
Planning for the Patriot Ride is in full swing - you all received a email from Doug last week on that - 16 June - it's a day you will never forget, remembrances, the CVVA Memorial Moving Wall, tributes to our military, veterans, their families and most of all the Gold Star families, and it's lot of FUN!  You can get more information at

I also want to say a big thank you to our leadership! Missions getting set up and the word getting out wouldn't happen without them, keeping us focused on our mission scope, and making sure those that have served or are serving are given the honor that their service deserves.

I look forward to seeing you all on the flagline & at the Patriot Ride!

Thank you for your support in giving our Military the honor, dignity, and respect they deserve

Karla Richardson
Minnesota Patriot Guard State Captain

Monday, January 30, 2012

Message from New State Captain

Wow - I don’t even know quite where to start - I never expected to be holding the position of State Captain for such great organization. Thank you to the membership and leaders of the Minnesota Patriot Guard for entrusting this position to me, and it’s not one I take lightly. When Doug Bley took over as State Captain, he made a comment that I have always remembered, "It is an honor to be holding a position that is entirely a reflection of those people holding a flag in honor of our fallen and in support of our military, family and veterans", and I find that statement to be entirely true not only in this position, but all the positions I have held.

In Minnesota, we stand at almost 6,000 members, a small part of a national organization of over 225,000 members across our country. Members who have stood up to make sure that those serving and those who have served are always given the honor, dignity, and respect that such service deserves. We wear our sunglasses at missions to hide our tears, but as we stand the flagline, our hearts are filled with pride for the selfless men and women in our Armed Forces.

You, our members are our most valued asset. You are the ones that make sure the mission is carried out. I have said on numerous occasion, that it never ceases to amaze me how our members make sure the mission happens - it doesn’t matter what day of the week, what time of the day, or how many missions are going on around the state on the same day - you make it happen! We provide comfort to a grieving family, we are there when our military deploy, we are privileged to be there again when they come home to their families and loved ones; and we bring smiles to the faces of those in our veterans home. I have talked to some of our Minnesota National Guard members who have said when they see us at the border, they know they are HOME! What a feeling for them, their loved ones, and for us to welcome them back.
Due to the Patriot Ride, our only fund-raiser, we are able to make donations to really great causes that support our military, veterans, and their families. We stand in remembrance with our Gold Star families, and we share hugs and heartbreaks with them, we remember and never forget. That is what makes each of you so very special - you give of your hearts, and you also give of your time and expense to make sure that we uphold our mission.

We receive thank you letters from families, friends, and by-standers who comment on the professionalism in which we conduct ourselves, and the way we pay honor, dignity and respect. You all have earned that reputation that we can all be proud of and enjoy. General Shellito said it best at the 2011 Patriot Ride - "the Minnesota Patriot Guard is one of the most respected organizations in the state". That is a tribute to our members. We see on Facebook, Twitter and other media forums, comments made by our military that the "Patriot Guard is one of the most dedicated organizations", again a tribute to our members. THANK YOU!!!

I attended my very first mission on 2 June 2006 for SPC Michael Hermanson in Fargo, ND. Like many of you, it was an event that forever changed my life. Not only did I know that our mission is what I needed to do, it was what I wanted to do. A friend and I had been tracking the national site for months, vowing that if one came close, we would be there - it was 2 hours away and close! Some friends and I went, including 2 young soldiers who had recently returned from deployment to Iraq. It was the most awesome and impressive thing I have ever seen, and I was so proud to be able to be part of letting that family know that SPC Hermanson’s sacrifice was not in vain and that we were there to honor the hero that he was. There was also another group there that day, my first exposure to them, and to this day I can remember the horrified feeling I had that someone would do that to anyone, let alone someone who signed the dotted line for Uncle Sam and said they would go where-ever needed to protect our freedoms.

For those that don’t know me, since that time, I have served as an Assistant Ride Captain in Nov 07, to Ride Captain in Jan 08, to Northern Region Senior Ride Captain in Dec 08. It has been an honor every step of the way. My background before the Patriot Guard Riders and the Minnesota Patriot Guard came into my life was serving in the US Army for 21 years until my retirement, then 2 years volunteering with the soldiers of the Wadena National Guard, and 6 years in the role of Family Readiness Group leader. I long ago stopped counting the number of missions I have attended - each one has been a privilege and honor to be at.
Some have wondered what our future will be when deployments end. In our endeavor to "never forget", we will still have missions to conduct. We have military still serving; we have a whole group of veterans in our veterans homes, who unfortunately sometimes are forgotten - we need to remember! Our veteran home missions can be some of the most fun times we get to experience in our organization. We will continue to have a job to do, and I would encourage each of you to take that step to be involved - your life will be richly blessed for it.