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