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Monday, September 17, 2007

Saturday - 1744th and Bowman Family

Saturday started at 0300. It should have started at 0900 but the missus wanted to have breakfast Saturday morning before I went on a PGR mission, with some PGR folks she hasn’t seen in a while. Well, then she proceeds to say out till 0100 and informs me as she crawls into bed, that she is gong to sleep in... Jeese. Those people she hasn’t seen in a while are going to be there so I CAN’T sleep in.

So, I’m up at 0330 (read O-Butt thirty), dragging my tired ass around (I was up till 2300 hours Friday night trying to sew... (that’s another blog post at another time, promise) trying not to wake anyone.

It was 38 degrees here Saturday morning and predicted to be 68 for a high. Leather was the uniform for the day but I had to be sure there was room in the saddle bags to put things as I warmed up.

0400 - I head out. After a summer of 33 90+ degree days my blood has thinned, bad. My coat wasn’t zipped completely, no gloves and no head covering except for a very thin skull cap. And for those that don’t know, no windshield (a.k.a. - wuss shield) I love the cold, I am almost never cold. Last year I rode in 20 degree weather.

It is 8 miles from my house to the first meeting place. How do I say this... OK, it was just COLD!!! By the time I got to the first McDs (and there was no interstate riding) I was shaking like a leaf in a hurricane. My gawd I was cold. On go the gloves, skull mask, zip the coat up to my neck and zip the sleeves closed. I was better, and we were on to the second stop for breakfast and hot coffee. I was much better.

Enough about me. The real reason for Saturdays trip. The 1744th was coming home!! 150 members of The 1744th Transportation Company were coming home after 17 months in the sand box, all of them!!

We, about 20 of us, met with them at Camp Atterbury in Edinburgh, IN. We rode up I-65, around Indy on I-465 then west on I-74 to the Indiana Illinois line. At the IL line about 50 Illinois riders joined us and we went on to I-39 and up to Streater, IL.

The IL State police escorted us the whole way. About 10 miles into IL the bridges were full of people waiving flags and waiving at their Illinois sons and daughters coming home. At the Streater city limits we were picked up by two fire trucks and a Streater city police officer. Sirens screaming, lights flashing, we entered the town. The streets were lined with flags and well wishers. Children, grand parents, parents, brothers and sisters lined the streets with signs ‘welcome home’, ‘we are proud of you’, welcome home John, your family missed you’.

In the central park are of the town several hundred (maybe a thousand, I can’t estimate crowds) people were waiting. As the heroes got off the buses you could hear the families call out ‘Johnny, we missed you’. The solders, not yet relieved from duty, had to off load and form ranks one more time.

As they walked by, many... most were mugged by family. Long hugs from tearful family. A husband smelling his now year old son for the first time. A mother holding her now walking and nearly talking 3 year old.

As the solders were being dismissed we crossed the street and had some late lunch at the local VFW. Shortly after that we left.

Here are a couple videos and pics. They’re from my phone, so give me a break on the quality, but I think you’ll get an idea of the festivities.

Now for the mission of missions and to date, the greatest honor I have had with the PGR.

While we were in Camp Atterbury some of us decided to ride on to Illinois. The reason, the Sr. Ride Captain from IL, Greg Bowman died last weekend in a motorcycle accident. He had just logged 20K miles in 20 weeks, on PGR missions. Because our first mission is funerals of KIA and in effect Greg was in action, in our minds. We reasoned that many of the IL riders would be there and not able to meet the 1744.

News of Greg’s death had reached these troops. In a brief but very honorable ceremony Caption Jennings presented us, the riders going all the way to Streater, IL, with a flag. Not just A flag, THEIR flag. Yeah, the flag they had flown in Iraq for 16 months at their duty station. It was their request, that we present this flag, as a token of their appreciation for his service to Americas Military, to Mrs. Bowman.

During our quick dinner, it was decided that I *gulp* should present the flag to Mrs. Bowman... wow, this is more of an honor than I can describe. I’m glad it was about an hour to Princeton, IL because I spent the time composing my self and trying to find some words that might express what I was feeling and what needed to be said.

When we got there, the official service was over so we went to the Bowman’s house. About 25 members of the family were there and gathered around and I presented THE flag. It has never been harder for me to speak. I think I did ok.

20 hours after leaving home, 675 miles passed. 150 Heroes are home. THE flag has been presented. A widow knows her husband will not be forgotten. Tears were shed. Hugs were exchanged. New friendships have been formed.

And I am humbled.

It was a good day.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Honoring 9/11

"Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and success of liberty."
- John F. Kennedy

We, as a Nation, must honor those who gave some and those that gave all. We must unite in our honor, regardless of our opinions, to those that have and will preserve our nation’s freedom and liberty. We, as a Nation, mustn’t view this war as an atrocity. We must view this as the world democracies, as we know it, stand against a belief having powerful similarities to the Axis of Evil from World War II. Our forefathers served and died protecting our freedoms and liberties. We, as a Nation, are poised to cross that threshold once again. We must see the parallels between Pearl Harbor and the Twin Towers. We shouldn't hide behind our political beliefs nor our misguided attempts to rationalize our dissent. Our American History clearly defines our resolve and present day shall not be an exception. We, as a Nation, shall not stand cowardly towards our aggressors. Our fellow countrymen fight bravely each day and we, as a Nation, shall honorably support their efforts. I fear that if we abandon our fellow countrymen who are patriotically providing the ultimate sacrifice, we shall reap the bitter harvests that were sown.

Some people live an entire lifetime and wonder if they have ever made a difference in the world, but the soldiers don't have that problem.

"With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphan - to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations."
- Abraham Lincoln
Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Yes, We Support Our Troops

I left The Barn about 8:30 for downtown Indy. It was a bout a 2-2.5 hour ride. I was SOOoooo glad we stopped about half way. I bought a 32 oz Gator Aid and chugged it down. It was a big help in finally finely making me feel ‘human’ again.

We were scheduled to meet with ALR (American Legion Riders) and MCR (Marine Corps Riders) in an old mall parking lot on Indy’s east side and ride west into down town. Lloyd was there with water (good thing, it was HOT!!). And Terry was there with about 175 3x5 flags.

This was our second year to do this rally. It is cool, the group www.USMCFamilies.com puts the whole thing on. All we really have to do is line the steps with flags.

This year, they decided we ‘needed some honor’ and had us head up the steps while a band played a biker/patriotic song. The singer had been there last year and was inspired to write and perform for us this year.

So, we took our place along the stairs of the War Memorial in Indy. We had about 100 people holding about 100 flags. It was a sight to see. (l got pictures, oooo, aaaahh).

From somewhere (about half way through) a group of political supporters that we don’t care for decided to walk by yelling some crap... heh!! you should have seen 100 leather clad biker types head down the stairs with flags in hand. A rough line was formed and they passed on by. Apparently headed down to a rally of their own. The neatest part was the folks standing around watching asked if they could have a flag and join us. Before they could get by, almost all of Terry’s 175 flags had been grabbed up and were flying!!! It was FANTASTIC!!!

One of the speakers L/CPL Klay South (fonder of Veterans of Valor
http://www.veteransofvalor.org/ ) just had to thank us. Said something about there still being fighters in America and we will win this with people like this supporting us. He made us blush. LOL!!!

One of the highlights of the rally was John Kiger (country singer). He preformed his newest single “Ooh Rah Up” (he spells it oorah up). WOW!! What a powerful song and so true to the Marine spirit. You can find the song at
www.oorahup.com. It is a 99 cent download and all of the proceeds go to USMC Families for the month of September. How cool is that!!! This is a video from the rally, but PLEASE, go down load the song... it's only 99 cents!!

The rally finished with the members of USMC Families reading the names of all Indiana’s fallen heroes.

It is my honor to list their names here.

Allen Jr. Ronald D. - Specialist
Amos II John D. - Private 1st Class
Babb Brock A. - Sergeant
Balmer Ryan A. - Technical Sergeant
Baughman Nathaniel S. - Corporal
Beadles Jason J. - Corporal
Bechert Michael A. -
Black Jarrod W. - Sergeant
Blair Jonathan F. - Corporal
Blakley Richard A. - Staff Sergeant
Blodgett Clinton C. - Specialist
Blue Shaun M. - 1st Lieutenant
Boling Craig A. - Sergeant 1st Class
Brown James - Lance Corporal
Buckley Roy R - Specialist
Carter Curtiss A. -
Childress Kyle William - Sergeant
Clemens Brian -
Colburn Gavin J. - Private 1st Class
Colvill Jr. Robert E. - Sergeant
Corban Jeffrey W. - Specialist
Davenport James R. - Lance Corporal
Deblanc Darren A. - Private 1st Class
Depew Cory R. - Private
Faulkenburg Steven W. - Command Sergeant Major
Faulkner James Daniel - Sergeant
Fiscus Michael -
Flanigan William T. -
Frantz Matthew C. - Specialist
Frickey Armand L. -
Frigo Nathan J. - Petty Officer 1st Class
Frist Luke P. - Specialist
Fritsche William R. -
Gamble Jr. Carter A. - Specialist
Gonzalez Zachariah -
GramesSanchez David J. - Lance Corporal
Hallal Deryk L. - Private 1st Class
Halling Jesse M. - Private
Hartge Nicholas S. - Private 1st Class
Harting Adam J. - Specialist
Heath David M. - Sergeant
Hensel Shawn D. - Private 1st Class
Hester Charles B. - Private 1st Class
Hill Joshua -
Hillenburg Eric - Lance Corporal
Hudson Christopher E. - Private 1st Class
Idalski Nicholas R. - Specialist
Jack Edward E. -
Jeffries William Andrew - Specialist
Johns Jason D. -
Jones Rickey E. - Sergeant
Keith Chad L. - Sergeant
Kimmell Matthew A. - Staff Sergeant
King Bradley D. - Staff Sergeant
Kirkpatrick David Austin - Private 1st Class
Langenbrunner Richard P. - Private 1st Class
Lee James -
Lewsader Jr. Roy P. -
Lueken Eric R. - Corporal
McKinley Robert L. - Private
McKinzie Antoine J. - Corporal
McLochlin Jeffrey -
Miller Jr. Frederick L. - Staff Sergeant
Monroe Christopher T. - Specialist
Montgomery Jr. Robert J. - Sergeant
Muralles Marcus -
Murray Jr. Robert W. - Private 1st Class
Pabla Paul - Staff Sergeant
Pahnke Shawn D. - Private
Penisten Brian H. - Specialist
Pfender Jonathan R. - Private
Powell Willard M. - Corporal
Proctor Joseph E. - Sergeant
Profitt Jason -
Putnam Cody A. - Corporal
Rios Duane Roy - Sergeant
Rojas Jonathan - Staff Sergeant
Sanders Gregory Paul - Specialist
Seal Aaron L. - Corporal
Seig Anthony P. - Private 1st Class
Shank Neale M. - 1st Lieutenant
Simmons David N. - Private 1st Class
Sirko Steven F. - Private 1st Class
Smith Darrell L. - Corporal
Snyder Norman -
Stahl Nathan E. - Private 1st Class
Strong Joseph A. - Specialist
Swain James E. - Lance Corporal
Thompson Lance M. - Corporal
Trost III Marvin Lee - Staff Sergeant
Weiss Andrew R. - Specialist
White Raymond L. - Specialist
Wiesemann Michael J. - Specialist
Wilkey Jr. David A. - Private 1st Class
Wilson Bryan S. - Corporal
Wright Jeremy -
Zubowski Scott A. - Lance Corporal


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