The Patriot Guard Riders (PGR) is an organization based in the United States whose members attend the funerals of members of the U.S. military, firefighters, and police at the invitation of a decedent’s family.
They saw a need for their services when it was clear a Marine was going to get a less than grand trip home.
The group forms an honor guard at military burials, helps protect mourners from harassment and fills out the ranks at burials of indigent and homeless veterans. In addition to attending funerals, the group also greets troops returning from overseas at homecoming celebrations and performs volunteer work for veteran’s organizations such as Veterans Homes according Wikipedia.
Staff Sergeant Jonathan Turner served seven tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and died last week in California from combat-related injuries.
His mother was unable to make the trip from Georgia to California for the funeral and the Marine Corps handled all of the funeral arrangements – including shipping Staff Sergeant ashes back home.
And that didn’t sit well with Patriot Guard riders, so they stepped up by creating a caravan and personally escorting SSgt Turner’s remains all the way across the country. It was an operation that involved hundreds of volunteers and thousands of miles ridden.
“I got on the road at 6 o’clock [Friday] night out of Huntsville, Alabama and I rode over to Oklahoma,” Asha Lamy said. “I need the family to know that you’re not alone and we care.”
Each time the remains were turned over to another group of riders, a ceremony was held to pay their respects for the fallen warrior.
“We did this primarily because his mother was unable to attend the services, and he had been cremated and we didn’t want him to go home in a Fed Ex box,” Oklahoma Patriot Guard Riders Capt. David Noble said.
According to the Patriot Guard website:
“Turner was a great leader who inspired his fellow Marines, both in the Corps and in daily life. You were his friend if you knew him for five minutes or five years. He would give you the shirt off his back.”