Friday, Veterans Day, we rolled into O'Hare as the sun was setting.



After a short time, the procession from the funeral home also rolled in:

LEOs, bikers, and empty hearse and the family.



All conversation stopped.



Bob Riccardino has been making these ride for years.

This time was different.

His daughters, Sarah and Caitlin, were friends of Nick.



I caught Deb Pyznarski sitting on my bike but I had to use a flash.



Photography is seemingly callous but flash photography certainly is. I put the camera away. Deb and I went into the transshipment building where it was warm and bright. On my other side was Al Preserbn – if it has an eagle, globe & anchor on it, Al will buy one.

So I stood there between a Marine mom and a Marine. We talked quietly. Two limos and the hearse were parked in a column and hundreds of people defined a perimeter around them, like the Circle of Comfort we do at gravesites. There were several biker groups and there were family friends. There were children of bikers and children of friends. And there were hours.

It was two hours from staging till departure. And it seemed longer. And we knew it was cold and dark outside. And the salute during the transfer was the longest in my entire Patriot Guard experience. I wish I had timed it – I’m sure it was several minutes. But these are not complaints; just descriptions.

Finally, three dozen bikes pushed into the cold darkness. Somehow, people knew we were coming. They always know. They stood on the side of the street with salutes and flags. About 9500 Irving Park, the fire department had suspended a flag across the road. We turned onto Cumberland and then onto Belmont.  I fell out and parked my big flag right next to the path of the procession. Again I stood and saluted. Car after car after car filled with Nick's friends passed by.



Monday,  Funeral Day:

The Shamrock football team won the first three games this year. Then they lost the last five. Oh, well. It’s just a game.  Nick (Class of '04) had returned to his high school to coach.  The players who are seniors this year were coached by Nick when they were freshmen.  Since then, they have been promoted to sophomores and then juniors; and then they received their final promotion at Saint Patrick High School.

And since their freshman year when they last saw hm, Nick too has been promoted.  First to Marine and then to heroic combat veteran; and now he has received his final promotion.













  (This page will be updated further in the next week or so.)



editor's note:  It has alway been my policy never to feature the mourners or casket.  The purpose of that policy is to protect the dignity of the mourners and the fallen hero.  The photo above is the exception that proves that rule.