Wednesday, May 17, 2006

They ride to honor those who gave their all...

From a participant in a recent mission of the Patriot Guard Riders in Ladysmith, Wisconsin:
I arrived at the Lindstrom stage about 6:30 AM and there was already an
early bird PGR there.  I think his name is Paul, but, as you will all
soon learn, I'm horrible with names.  Riders bagan rolling in, and, by
about 7:20, we had around 25 scoots.  Everyone behaved like I expected
they would - no trash left behind, everyone filled out a liability
release, everyone was friendly and helpful.  The local LEO arrived at
about 7:15, well in advance of our departure time.

We lit the fires and rolled out at 7:30 with Highway 8 traffic stopped
for us by the LEOs so we could get started in a pack.  The ride to
Ladysmith was uneventful, the pack stayed formed up nicely and I
managed not to get us lost.  We picked up several more riders in Turtle
Lake and a few more later on.  We rolled into the Ladysmith Armory at
9:15 and were warmly welcomed by Dave, an RC from Wisconsin.  Scooter
counts came in between 85 and 91.

We rode as a group slowly through town to the high school and deployed
to both sides of the road, scoots, flags, and riders.  There were more
LEOs there providing traffic control and doing a great job.  The
procession came through and was respectfully greeted by our American
flags.  A rumor was floating around that both the Wisconsin and the
Minnesota governors were to be present.  Another rumor I heard was that
the LEOs were prepared to wall off any UGs and separate them from the
mourners with a line of fire trucks.  Yes, there was a bunch of fire
trucks there!  Fortunately for all, not a UG in sight.

The PGR and LEOs formed up in the high school parking lot and formed a
corridor of American flags for Sgt. Vacho and family and friends to
pass through on the way to the outdoor military ceremony.  Sgt. Vacho
received a 21 gun salute and beautiful and mournful live rendition of  
taps.  The PGR, fire department personnel, and law enforcement were
located in such a position that we could not hear the proceedings.  I
wish we could have.

I received and heard many, many unsolicited 'thank you's from
civilians, military, LEOs.  We were appreciated.  We made a difference.
  Sgt. Vacho may stand down in peace knowing that his country is proud
of him and mourns his ultimate sacrifice for freedom.

When we dispersed, several of us stopped at a liitle restaurant in
Ladysmith for a bite to eat.  When we left, a proud and grateful
citizen stopped us to thank us again for our participation.  Although
at many times my vision was blurred by tears, at the same time I
overjoyed to stand with the PGR in a fine act of patriotism, pride, and

We pretty much all went our own way on the trip back.  So much so, in
fact, I didn't see another PGR after leaving Ladysmith.  I road through
rain showers a half a dozen times, but, not bad enough to call for rain

I'm learning that not many folks know about us yet, but, when they find
out, we are very well received.  The owner of the BP station in
Lindstrom where we staged came out and shook my hand, wished us a good
ride, and again, offered his station for future stages!!  He hadn't
heard of PGR until I walked into his station and introduced myself last
week, and, now, we have new friend.  A little PR goes a long, long way.

I want to thank everyone, riders, passengers, cage drivers, and riders
for all your help, participation, and a great experience.  This was my
first mission.  I shall not soon forget.


Mike "RetroDude" Sewell
Ride Captain - Duluth/Metro NE
...As a parent of a deployed Iraqi Freedom Soldier, I thank you, Mr. Sewell, and the rest of your freedom-riding comrades. 

You truly do make a difference.

(Filed under Heroes)