Well i got the news this morning that another one of Illinois sons have laid there life down for our freedom. So i went and packed comfort packages with OSOTA...i came home, got sad, got busy cleaning, got happy about the welcome home we have to do tomorrow, took the dog for a walk in an unusually warm January sun...and now im mad. Just really really mad. My prayers to the family of every fallen son. You are our heroes. Stand down...we will keep the watch now.

Alison Bryant Johnson
FaceBook, 1/7/2012, 1837


Our hero at H.S. graduation in 2009.

“Crispy” (Chris P), as his friends called him, was also a talented musician with a gorgeous voice. He played trombone, various types of guitar, and organ. He sang in West’s A Cappella Choir and STUDyhall groups and then joined the a cappella group VuVox at Valparaiso University where he was a music education major.

Chris was what we all hope our sons grow up to be — a true gentleman who studied hard, worked hard, loved his family, served his country and fearlessly confronted danger to keep others safe. He was brave and proud and beautiful. When we send people of this caliber around the world, they allow us all to stand a little taller as Americans for the way they represent us.

-Deena Bess Sherman


Our hero 3 months before 9/11.

The Rev. Ron Weidler of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Batavia remembered Christopher:  When Christopher Patterson was given the option to continue his studies or deploy with his unit to Afghanistan, he didn’t miss a blink.  “He said, ‘Wait a minute, I didn’t join to have my tuition paid, I want to go with my unit and serve,’” Weidler recalled.


According to the Patriot Guard website, arrival at Midway is the afternoon of the 18th, Wednesday.


According to the church website on January 10th:

     Visitation on Friday, January 20, 1-8 p.m. at Immanuel Lutheran Church & School, 950 Hart Road, Batavia

     Funeral on Saturday, January 21, 11 a.m. at Immanuel Lutheran Church & School, 950 Hart Road, Batavia


Christopher will be cremated and there will be no interment ceremony.












The Beacon-News (Sun-Times) has a fine story this morning, January 11th, from which I borrow Brian Powers' photos and adapt the following:

There has always been some ambiguity in my mind about who we serve when we stand with flags or parade on bikes.  Is it a salute to the memory of a fallen hero?  Is it in defense of other veterans from Westboro or Code Pink or Occupy Wall Street?  Or are we simply demonstrators ourselves, seizing an opportunity to trumpet American Exceptionalism and national chauvinism?

The sense I have from years of participation is that most PGRiders feel motivated by a spirit of service to the surviving family.  This often focuses on a young bride who may have only known our fallen hero for a relatively short time and is herself so young that she has little perspective on the historic event that suddenly centers on her.  That emotional confusion is compounded when there are small children involved.

And that always seemed profoundly unfair to the parents and siblings of our fallen hero who, after all, knew him the longest and made him what he is.

Christopher Patterson, or Chris P., or "Crispy", was not married.  He graduated from high school just two and a half years ago and went right to college in nearby Indiana.  That is how he came to serve in an Indiana Army National Guard unit.  His father is a USN veteran:

And his mother is a USNR veteran:

You can see that their tats celebrate the other branches as well.  They wore patches on their sleeves when they were in, and now they wear patches under their sleeves for life.  These are the American parents who produced two patriotic boys.

Now think about Carl:  In addition to these fine parental examples, he has an older brother who sought to serve even as he attended college.  An older brother who suspended his college to deploy into combat.  So Carl enlisted too.

He was sent to Recruit Training Depot, San Diego, California where he was transformed from a carefree American teenager into a United States Marine.  During that transformation, he may have been told, "If you don't run faster, you will get killed!" and "If you don't shoot straighter, you will get killed!" and "If you don't polish your boots shinier, you will get killed!" and then his big brother got killed.

Carl had just finished his Crucible training as Chris was being transported to Dover.  So I still don't know who we generally serve when we stand with flags or parade on bikes most of the time, but this time IMHO it is for the family.

We elected a president on his promise to get us out of Iraq.  He and his new SecDef have just announced a refocused strategy and cut defense $487 billion over the next decade, which will double if the automatic cuts are triggered by the debt-limitation deal made last summer.  The Army will be reduced  from 570,000 to 490,000 troops and the Marines  from 202,000 to 175,000 over the next few years.

Crispy, two years ago.

The Beacon-News story concludes:

Because Carl is now the sole remaining heir, the Pattersons’ surviving son was given the choice of duty that would not put him in harm’s way. But the new Marine didn’t hesitate before turning down the offer, his father said.

“What’s the use of being in the military,” Carl replied, “if you are not there to serve?”

As much as “I want my boys home,” this grieving father understands. “It was Christopher’s choice. And it is Carl’s choice.”

Bob Patterson pauses briefly to collect his emotions — then announces in a voice that clearly enunciates each and every word of his final thought: “I could not be prouder.”





Monday, January 16: Crispy arrives at Midway in two days after which a series of events will demarcate the end of his life. Several gestures of recognition have already taken place, however.

His obituary was published on his high school’s website four days ago. He was a student of music. The high school’s STUDy Hall Choir will perform at his funeral, as will the Valparaiso Chorale, the university’s premiere singing group and Vovox, their all male a cappella group, all of which will be broadcast live on the cable access channel. (Crispy sang as a member of all three groups.)  Scholarship funds have been established at both his high school and his college; the one at his college is specifically limited to red-headed musicians. At the beginning of the Valparaiso/Youngstown men’s hoops, Taps was followed by Crisp’s fraternity (Mu Alpha Sinfornia) singing the National Anthem. The Lions of North Aurora are contributing to the scholarships and two of their members are also members of the Village Board.

I have just returned from the Village Board meeting. Before the meeting I met Lion and Village Trustee Mark Gaffino in the lobby. He took me into the meeting room and introduced me to Lion and Village President Dale Berman who heads the Veterans Committee. The committee built the North Aurora Veterans Memorial in 2007 and retroactively honored USMC Captain Timothy Ryan of North Aurora, killed in May, 2003 whom Crispy now joins.  The meeting began and the first three elements of business were Pledge, Prayer and Proclamation:

I was there to take a picture of that historic moment, even though I knew it would be a mundane photo. And so it was. As the mayor read, everyone followed along in their laptops. To understand the moment, you had to be there.

Not pictured, there were architects and lawyers with business pending with the board, and a few village residents there to observe or to speak. But if you closed your eyes, the only evidence heard were the slap of the mirror of my SLR and the words of the proclamation read by President Berman.

He read slowly and spoke each word clearly. Perhaps that is his manner – I wouldn’t know. But I suspect he intended the gravity that his purposeful speech gave the moment; a suspicion confirmed when he finished, looked up and announced in a quicker meter, “So be it.”

When I entered the building, I noted that their flag was flying at half-staff. I understand that they also have a carved brick and an engraved brass plate, both to be installed in their respective places. And it is right that these things are done; my mind turned to the Gettysburg Address:

…we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.

Except for a framed certificate on a wall of the Patterson home, the world will little note nor long remember the mayor’s words. But history will record that Christopher Alexander Patterson left his college and his music and his home and his friends to clear away roadside bombs on the other side of the planet.

I picked-up my camera and my coat and I left the room as quietly as I could. The mayor called for public comment and I passed a woman who was to comment first. I passed the architects and the lawyers and made my way to the lobby.  Two other people were also leaving. I asked, “Just here for the proclamation?”

Eddie and Bettina Sailer told me how important Crispy was to them. From the Kane County Chroncle:

“He wanted to stand next to them and fight with them,” longtime friend Saran Sailer said.

Sailer, 18, and a recent West Aurora High School graduate, said she has known Patterson’s family since she was in kindergarten. Sailer said she got to know Patterson better after she was diagnosed with a brain tumor last summer.

“He would come visit me at the hospital,” Sailer said. “Chris was a great, brave young man, and I love him. He does have a place in my heart.”

Bettina asked me if I knew exactly when the Midway procession would reach Highway 31. “We will be standing out there shivering in the cold.”

“Yes,” I said, “and that will probably cut down the number of motorcycles in the procession, too.”

I was wearing a suit and I didn’t say what motorcycles I was talking about so I thought that she might think I meant the police escort, but what she said was:

“Oh, I don’t think this weather will stop the Patriot Guard Riders.”






Wednesday, January 18:  It didn't.  There were 4 bikes and 40 PGRiders.

Sort of at a loss for words tonight. Saran, Eddie & I joined the IL Patriot Guard in the escort from Midway airport to the funeral home in Batavia. Although it was under sad conditions, it was an experience we wont soon forget. We were honored to be asked by the Guard to join them in support of the Pattersons. We were amazed by the support of total strangers who gave up their time to participate. They were already at the airport by 3:45pm and I am sure some are still driving home! From the Guard to the unknown Fire Departments who were standing at attention at so many overpasses along the expressways, to the local people braving it outside at the sides of the roads along the way. Patriotism like I had never seen before! I am proud to be an American. And proud to have known Chris Patterson, as well as the rest of his family!

Bettina Sailer
FaceBook, 1/18/2012, 2030



In our many riding groups PGR ,WWR & Welcome You Home we always embrace each other with a hug when seeing each other or as we depart. But today as i watched many old ruff & tuff bikers exit the hanger looking to the ground as they walk holding back tears the best they could . i walked over to my friend Mark gave him a hug & he says "thanks I needed that, these are so so hard to do". I look around as many more of my friends are finding some comfort in the embrace from a friend. No matter how many we do they just don't get easier. Tears always sneek out or that lump sits in your throut. I had a reporter ask me once how we prepare the family for that day & with tears in my eyes i say we can't we havent even found the way to prepare ourselves. I think its support of each other that helps us face the next one knowing that when that tear runs down your cheek instead of judgement from the guys you get a solemn embrace.Everytime I pray this is the last one but whens it not I know I wont stand alone we will gather again to show honor to our hero & support for thier family.God bless our hero & please find him a special place in heaven & thank you for all those riders who help each other honor our fallen at here at home.

Patrick Rick Phelan
FaceBook, 1/19/2012, 0030





47 photos







Friday, January 20:

Crispy will be taken from funeral home to church by way of two of his schools.

He is expected to pass by the Aurora schools around 10:30 on Friday morning:

 per BataviaPatch and BeaconNews Thursday morning (I created and posted the map above on Thursday morning when I also linked to the two newspapers from FaceBook) 

 email received 1716 Thur:  "stage Fri at Moss F.H. @ 0930" (national website updated 1639 Thur)




I traveled the Crispy's schools on Friday morning.  The drive took one hour.  From I-88 as I neared Farnsworth I stopped to take this photo on which I have indicated the flag.

The trip home later that day took six hours. From Farnsworth as I neared I-88 I stopped to take this photo on which I have indicated that same flag.

We didn't have any bikes in the escort procession.  Perhaps we would have had there been greater notice, but those that were not local or trailered would have been stranded.


The two schools had their students out at curbside in the 15 degree temperature.  Happy to be skipping English class (or whatever class) they were having a lark.  Then the flashing lights appeared down the block and these gleeful teens became respectfully silent.

Usually I am in the procession.  This time I was not and I gained a new perspective.  When the last vehicle passed, there was applause.




 Mike Chapin, the Community Relations Director for SD 129 sent me three which I post below.  The captions are his.


Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner (blue cap) holds an American flag with Dist. 129 Supt. Jim Rydland in front of West Aurora High School on Jan. 20 as the hearse carrying the body of SPC Christopher Alexander Patterson is driven by school from where Patterson was graduated in 2009. Patterson passed away Friday, Jan. 6, while serving his country in the Kandahar Province in Afghanistan.


Members of the Patriot Guard Riders accompany the funeral procession of SPC Christopher Alexander Patterson on Jan. 20 past West Aurora High School from where Patterson was graduated in 2009. Patterson passed away Friday, Jan. 6, while serving his country in the Kandahar Province in Afghanistan.


West Aurora High School students line up in front of their school on Jan. 20 to show respect for 2009 graduate SPC Christopher Alexander Patterson as his body was driven by school. Patterson passed away Friday, Jan. 6, while serving his country in the Kandahar Province in Afghanistan.










elementry school:  25 photos

high school:  34 photos

church:  36 photos

church school art:  23 photos







Saturday, January 21:

Nine months ago, Crispy wrote a three-page paper for Professor Ostoyich.  The middle page speaks to his military training the previous summer, the trust he developed with the 35 others in his training platoon, his discussions with them about his decision to skip a year of college and deploy with them, and his plan to return to college in the Spring of 2013.

His professor writes in the column "Good to hear!" next to his statement "I will be walking away from this year with 35 new Brothers and friendships and bonds that will last for the rest of my life." which, sadly, was to be true.


arrivals:  30 photos

before:  34 photos

during:  35 photos

after:  41 photos




Patterson highway dedication