War has always been a part of human society.  Two thousand years ago, Roman Legions built watchtowers like this one:


They were built that way for most of those two thousand years, and perhaps for thousands of years before.  Only in the last century have they changed – but not by much:



“The Department of Defense confirmed Monday that Army Spc. Robert M. Rieckhoff, 26, died March 18th of wounds he suffered after a rocket-propelled grenade struck the watchtower where he was on duty in Baghdad.”





Airport Escort


















To get the last photo above I stood on a hill.  As I was taking, I was taken…


Robert is home.  The Patriot Guard assembled at the funeral home, escorted the family to the airport, witnessed his return and then escorted Robert & family back to the funeral home.  The Kenosha News has a good description which includes this comment:


Only family accompanied pall bearers from the 10th Mountain Division, Robbie’s unit, inside the funeral home, where the family learned the casket could remain open, allowing them to see and touch Robbie’s body, bedecked in his Army dress greens. However, due to the severity of his fatal wound, his head would remain enwrapped in spotless white gauze, preventing them from seeing — identifying — the facial features they so longed to see.








My grandson Kevin and I attended the visitation.  A school across the street from the funeral home was flying their flag at the top of their pole.  There was nothing wrong with that – the governor had ordered the flags for which he has authority to be flown at half on the funeral day only.  Still, I climbed the steps to lower it because it was right across the street.  When I got it about halfway down I turned to see if anyone could confirm the height for me.  There was contractor (Kontractor) Kevin standing alone.  So I took his picture.



A service flag on her hat and a service flag on her car.



A service flag on her shirt.  With two stars.  Blue.



Couplea new guys.



They are looking up at a PGR flag.  Kontractor told us how it came to be littered with soldier’s signatures.



Two of the signatures belong to guys who died.



His step-brother, a firefighter, came over to us.



At 1800 in the chapel before the casket, the VFW offered a burial ritual.  Then the Wisconsin State Captain, the SouthEast Region Senior Ride Captain and the Rieckhoff Mission Ride Captain stood before the family to offer them a few items and a few words.  Konractor was eloquent.


The Staff Sergeant has five bars on his forearm.  Five deployments.



John with 93 year-old PGRider Helen.



American Legion guys.



American Legion Riders.











Milwaukee Fire Fighters.



The Lieutenant Colonel explained that he had been on so many deployments that they finally gave him a job that would guarantee him some time at home.  He authorizes disbursement to defense contractors in Wisconsin.  It’s a quarter horse pulling a plow, if you ask me.  But they asked his wife and son instead.



He got his bike in Baghdad.



Kevin and I like this one because it had blue in it.


His empathy for this bike extends even to his posture.



This one has me re-thinking fringe.



Pledge & prayer each day, as it should be.



Governor Jim Doyle.



I try not to feature mourners, but I try to get soldiers and I realize that they are often the same.



Three display cases for folded American flags.



The Lieutenant Colonel finds his place in the flagline.



As does this younger soldier.



I didn’t see the General at the funeral home, but I saw this evidence.



Pipe & Drum.



Ride Captains with 7 year-old PGRider Kevin.









We left ahead of the procession and found many people lining-up early along the route.  We stopped briefly to greet these two.



When the honor guard arrived, I knew that Robert had been moved into the hearse and that he would arrive soon.



Three folded American flags.



The bikes rolled in.



Dozens of PGRiders.



Dozens of rumbling bikes.



Then we settled into our place in the background while the army took center stage.









Rest in peace, Robert.












Photo Albums:              Airport 102 photos


                                    Visitation 109 photos


                                    Funeral 60 photos


                                    Interment 55 photos