died on August 27th in
I just attended the Robert Newton Funeral Mission for which the Illinois State Captain was the Ride captain. I am just about to attend the Adam Novak Funeral Mission for which then Wisconsin State Captain is the Ride Captain. Some State Captains fancy themselves executives, too self-important for any missions except fund-raisers. When Gary and John are not wrestling with administrivia, they are wrestling with flags.
Chad Coleman was killed by the same IED that took
Adam*. I attended
It was a great day for a homecoming; I just wish it was of a different nature. There were thirty of Adam's friends waiting for his family at the gates of the 115th Tactical Wing. Thirty people waiting to show their respect for a friend, a friend they'd never met. Due to head-on wind gusts of over 40 miles an hour, we could not display the flags that Adam fought to defend but there were hundreds of them along the route. Some in the hands of children, some so large a family of six was struggling to hold it in the wind and keep from being blown over.
The people of rural
I looked at Nick Anderson’s mission thread and had to stop when seeing that so many of the same people who road across the state long ago, rode again yesterday. Nick was our second mission. There have been many missions since and, unfortunately more to come, but let us always remember that the most important one is the one we do today.
I remember my first mission four and a half years ago. I remember it vividly. I was compelled to write about it so that I wouldn’t forget the details. A few months later, it became the first entry and foundation of this website.
John posted his comments about noon the day following the airport escort. That evening DairyLandLady, Patti, posted. According to her posting counter, this was her first:
I spent quite a bit of time thinking about my brother John today, and how I know he was proud of me today from Heaven. I didn't do anything that he wouldn't have been so very honored to have done, just as I was honored to be able to share in today's memorable event.
I drove to the airport and saw a group of
motorcycles, and then everyone that obviously rode the bikes - dressed in their
traditional leather garb. The gang of bikes sparkled, even though the day
was cloudy and had wind gusts up to 50 mph. "The LEATHERS" were
certainly necessary in the
Shortly, John Curran, not only the Ride Captain for
this event, but also the State Captain joined us and briefed us all. We
soon left and arrived at Truax Field, (a military base in
When one looks at a flag, it is different than actually holding a flag and hearing up close the snap of the fabric from the wind. Candy and Karen and I were in a row - I think the 3 of us were perhaps some of the shortest ones there –everyone was hoping the winds wouldn't carry us away, or horribly - rip the flags from our gloved hands. These ladies smiles made me feel welcome and warmed.
We lined both sides of the streets at the curb as the motorcade slowly passed us by. I think there were nearly 30 of us at that time. Each person was somber, grateful to be able to show their respects by standing there as the family that gave so very much passed. The mood was far from a happy time moments before the police cars and cycles and hearse and family approached - but the air, even in the brisk cold winds - changed - we breathed it differently when the family of PV2 Adam Novak went by. It was explained to me that as the family came by - one would forget the cold wind - he was so right. The moment did not go by unnoticed by me - however brief it was - it was just as powerful.
Taking the flag apart proved to be a bit more difficult, but, only because I ended up with a sticky one, explained Russ, as he helped me without making fun of me. We waited in the parking lot outside the guard station as the family greeted home their Hero. When the motorcade passed by for the 2nd time, -methodically - as if in a choreographed dance - we all fell in behind - two by two. John Curran was so very gracious and allowed me to follow directly behind the cycles and he followed me. As traffic lanes opened to 2 - the cycles rode beside each other in each lane.
From my position in line, driving down the highways - through Wisconsin lands of fields, green trees and grasses over soft hillsides with the sun sometimes shining very brightly - I could see far ahead to the red and blue flashing lights of the motorcade, and the twinkling orange flashers of all the cycles -such a very long procession! It seemed to last for miles and miles - the lights and sparkles two hillsides ahead, dipping down and then raising up to meet the sun. I held my breath each time we passed police cars and firetrucks and ambulances parked alongside - and uniformed personnel standing at attention and saluting PV2 Adam Novak. Imagine how I fought to watch traffic when I saw a flagged display of respect and more uniformed personnel standing on an overpass and we all drove beneath them.
Going through the
I didn't expect this, I should have, and I'm
prouder today of
At the funeral home, we again displayed the flags - this time, in the cramped parking lot. How it got even quieter, I will never know - only the few escaped gentle sobs (that I'm sure ripped from her body) of a woman that I do not know were heard, as the family filed into the building leaving the now bright sunlight to illuminate the flags and bearers alone. Those flags were a wall of pride and brightness. I am sure the family did not even see the people all dressed in black (leather and otherwise) holding those colorful red, white and blue flags - a little calmer now - .... It's almost as if the flags knew that this moment was different than the first time they were out in true style for this family. I am sure the family only saw the flickering red, white and blue wall with the sun shining brightly through them nearly making them neon in colors that almost stung the eyes.
I'm exhausted, I'm empty, and I'm filled. My voice is scratchy from the wind, and I wasn't even on a bike, rather-in a comfy Buick - but my body is numb.
If you meet a Hero - thank them, very
sincerely. If you meet a Patriot Guard, respect them. Soldier's
Angels get to show their respect and love too - but it isn't as quietly.
I'm a very lucky person today - and I met some very valuable, warm and truly GOOD
My sincerest appreciation and condolences to this special family.
I am looking forward to venturing again into the frozen tundra – mostly to stand for Adam, but also to stand with John and Patti and others like them.
Preliminary post-mission comments: I met Patti. John recruited her for treasurer. Good.
friends, his parents and his wife of six months visited Adam at the
There was only one venue – no procession. We used stakes to hold some flags near the street and we used PGRiders to hold other flags near the sidewalk. We did what we could to let the world know that this was an important event.
I had a nice conversation with Henry.
told me about a mission near
A lady came over to Henry and asked about the many flags and the many serious people holding the flags. He told her that a soldier had died. She nodded and said “I knew it had to be somebody important.”
That is what we do: We make people think, “I knew it had to be somebody important.”
I was there Friday and Saturday. This page will be updated with mission photography and comment later.
back to ALL MISSIONS
* Thanks Paula.