Monday, April 12, 2010

A busy weekend

As is my usual practice, if you check out the pictures from the last to the first you will get them in proper order. One of these days I will get it straight and then everyone will be all confused I suppose. Anyhow, the weekend started on Friday when a group of PGR riders met at our place and then we headed for Rochester for the return of Lcpl Swenson's remains. Somehow that doesn't sound like the correct term for the body of a 20 year old Marine that was killed in action in Afghanistan. He was a son, brother, grandson, and husband. The first part of the mission was at the Rochester airport to greet the charter flight that brought his body home and escort him to the church where the funeral was held. The visitation was later in the evening, so in the interim I rode over to the Theobalds to drop my gear and hang out for a bit. The next photo up is Gus of course and then one from the visitation. Saturday morning dawned bright and warming nicely so there was a big group on hand for the funeral . We had the Patriot Guard and The Leatherneck MC club in abundance. I believe that we had over 200 standing in the flag line and at least 175 bikes across the street in the K-Mart parking lot. Maybe I am selfish, but I always try to line up as close to the door as possible so that I can see what all goes on. Let me tell you that the Marine Corps does a fantastic job of taking care of their own. Lcpl Swenson had a guard from the time he got off the plane until the casket was in the ground in Houston, Minnesota. Their precision and attention to detail puts the other services to shame. They had us surround the hearse with our backs to the vehicle while they placed something with the Lcpl in his casket. Someday maybe I'll find out what. After the service we lined up for the 64 mile drive to Houston. I don't know how many bikes that were in the string but it must have stretched for over a mile on I-90. I think that every bridge that we went under on the way down had people waving flags or just waving as we went by, but Houston was incredible. The main drag for several blocks, was lined with people shoulder to shoulder with flags etc.. Wow, it just gave me goose bumps passing down that street. He was buried at a small cemetery outside of town with all of the honors. We also had the almost common bald eagle fly over too. This is getting so common, you begin to wonder if our national bird is aware of what is going on on the ground below. I shook a lot of hands over the weekend with his father, mother, Grandmother, sister, wife, and Marine after Marine some of whom were in tears, all in all a satisfying two days. I managed to get home just as the sun set Saturday night. Sunday Eli, Lindsey, Jan and I went for a bike ride up to Fort Ridgley and down to Mankato along the Minnesota river. We stopped at a small waterfall-don't ask me how to spell it or pronounce it-and at Lake Crystal for a break and gas. After we got home Jan and I drove over to Eli and Lindsey's for a brewski. Today- Monday- I was going to go to St. Cloud for the funeral for Sgt Kruize, a 35 year old father of four, killed in an accident in Iraq, but it was raining and 47 degrees this morning when I got up and the funeral was early. I wanted to make the internment at Camp Ripley but I wimped out, I do have my limits. As I sit here writing I can hear the thunder outside and Eli called me from his job and said they were warning of flash flooding around Worthington. This will really green up the lawns. Take care and stay in touch?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter weekend PGR tour

Jan and I took a kind of long distance tour on Saturday to visit a few of the places that I have been to on Patriot Guard missions in the last couple of years. As is usual in my photo layout, if you read from the bottom up they will be in the proper order. We headed out Saturday morning with our cooler full of peanut butter sandwiches, soft drinks, and snacks. The first stop was at Duvi Wolf's grave site in Farmer, South Dakota. As can be seen by the photo, no gravestone is in place yet, but since her funeral was late last Fall I assume that no stone could be placed yet. We usually make several trips a year to Rapid City and the Black Hills, so I'll check back in the future to see how things are progressing. Farmer is another small town on the prairie that is virtually disappearing. I imagine that being bypassed by the interstate and having the railroad tracks removed didn't help. They actually had a high school up until 1968. It makes me wonder what the town was like in the 50's and 60's. I know that the small town - Ormsby population 220- that I came from, in 1960 could almost fill up a school bus with kids. Today I am sure there is no more than a hand full of kids in Ormsby, Minnesota. I digress, from there we headed mostly north to Willow Lake, South Dakota where the PGR helped dedicate a veteran's memorial in the city park. It is another very nice memorial in a small town with a special part for a local son Scott Saboe, who was a 33 year old helicopter pilot in Iraq when he was killed in action. I don't know if I am more aware of these memorials or that there are more of them being erected, but it seems as if I have run across a lot of them in the last few years. Anyhow, from there we headed east back to Minnesota to Dawson to visit the grave site for David Staab. It is at another rural cemetery that is kind of bleak this time of year. Sgt. Staab's headstone is unique with all of the etchings on it. I wonder what someone 1 or 200 years from now will think of the Chevy pickup? Sgt. Staab who took his own life after returning from Iraq is as much a combat death as anyone killed in action on the battlefield. His was one of the toughest funerals that I have attended, but I am afraid that it won't be the last. Next we headed north to check out a possible campsite at Lac Qui Parle state park. We couldn't do much recon there because of high water on the Minnesota river. The next stop was Lucan to show Jan the site of Captain Dan Days which I attended last year and had such a good time, as a matter of fact I have been to a couple of missions there. Lucan is a patriotic small town with a nice park and a brewery too, we took the tour last year. The last stop was at Eli and Lindsey's for a night cap, all in all we had a really nice day. The last few pictures are from last weekend when the whole tribe was at our place for an early Easter dinner. The Theobalds stayed over Friday night so we got a few on Saturday morning. Well, that's about it from here for now. The weather has taken a turn for terrific so I have had all of the bikes out for runs and oil changes and the 94 Ducati, Francesca, is running pretty good too after carburetor cleaning and fresh gaskets, new rubber, and battery. After the last winter we deserve it. Take care and stay in touch.