Quotation excerpted from NBCchicago Friday:  "He was a tough, hardnosed kid," said football coach Tyler Donnelly.  "He really did everything to help the team.  I mean, he played through injuries.  It got so bad where [you'd] pull his pads away and he would still take them away from the trainers because he wanted to practice more.  I mean, this kid was an embodiment of self-sacrifice and it's no surprise that he went in and served our country so well."


submitted to the Daily Herald




Story excerpted from Daily Herald Friday:  A “kind and considerate" young man from Palatine who dreamed of a career in the military has been killed in action in Afghanistan.


Christopher "C.J." Boyd, 23, a 2006 graduate of Palatine High School, became the second suburban native this week to die in Afghanistan.  ABC 7 Chicago is reporting that Boyd, who was married and the father of twin boys, was killed while on foot patrol.


ABC 7 reported that Boyd's parents left their Palatine home today for Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to claim their son's body.  Outside the Boyds' home, an American flag is at half-staff, as is a next-door neighbor's.



No one was home at the Boyd house, but an SUV in the driveway sported a "Marine Mom" license plate holder.


Neighbor Laura Bode remembers Boyd playing catch with his father. She talked with Boyd about his future after high school.  “When Chris was in high school he was dead set, he wanted to be a Navy Seal; he thought to be a Navy Seal would be the greatest thing in the world."


Then came the shock when the fit and trim teenager returned home and told his family he was enlisting in the Marine Corps.




"All of us were dumbfounded," Bode said.


"I know how much this hurts and I know how bad they miss him," she added. "He helped his country, but now he's with God."




Bode said Boyd would lend a hand with her backyard gardening. He was well liked among his friends and deeply loved by his family.


"They always have been proud as (heck) of their son, and they have good reason to be," Bode said.


Boyd was a member of the football, wrestling and lacrosse teams at Palatine High School.



Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 spokesman Tom Petersen said that while the school has already lowered the Palatine Pirates flag to half-staff in honor of Boyd, it cannot lower the American flag itself unless or until direction is given by a higher governmental authority like the governor.


Any further type of memorial will not be done without consulting his family, whom the district is still trying to reach, Petersen said.















Wednesday afternoon:  I just returned from the first segment of the Oratowski Mission.  It was a two-hour ride home because I had to stay under 40 mph to protect the 5 by 8 flag.  There is a Dominick’s grocery store with a good salad bar near our home.  Windblown and sunburned, I stopped there.


I have gone through Dawn’s checkout many times before but never had a real conversation.  This time, while I was standing, waiting, she looked up and asked, “Are you going to the Boyd funeral?”


Christopher’s father runs her union.  Ken Boyd is President of the 34,000-member UFCW Local 1546 and Vice-President of United Food & Commercial Workers International Union.


That is why she asked, but this is why she asked me:


People know about the bikers who go to military funerals.  They know.  They know and they like it.














Friday evening update:  It is done.  Christopher arrived at the airport, was waked at the funeral home, and then we buried him.  All in one day.


We had beautiful weather so the cemetery ceremony was memorable.  I took a thousand photos and will sort it out in the next week.  Just one for now:
















Later:  This was the first time I met a fallen hero at Pal-Waukee Airport, so named because it is located at the intersection of Palatine and Milwaukee and since renamed Chicago Executive Airport, a more appealing name if less informative, and far better that Gauthier’s Flying Field which was the name prior to 1928.


We met near the 94th Aero Squadron, a restaurant with a fine view of the field.  I was surprised to learn that there are three others:  California, Florida and Maryland.



Rob, a new Patriot Guard Ride Captain and my neighbor, was in charge.  Like me, he doesn’t care for baseball caps.



Eric’s cap was well-worn and Tricia’s is shiny-new.



Of course, there is always fireman-style.



At the beginning of a mission, there is a subdued festivity.  We see familiar faces and introduce ourselves to the new ones.  We gather to cheer the new guys, to pledge and to pray.  We learned some of the details of the mission and some of the history of the soldier.  And then we settle into our role.




I never sought the challenges of a Ride Captain, so I must admire those who handle that difficult job.



And that is the beauty of the PGR creation:  Most of us prefer to simply vote with our bodies, and we get credit for that.



If you can get to a flagline, and you know how to stand respectfully, they will give you a flag.  Plus, nobody is shooting at you.


A lot of families want privacy.  Probably, they are private people who wish to grieve alone.  I am like that, and so I understand that.  Still, I think how sad the memory would be if the only people who acknowledged the arrival of Corporal Christopher J. Boyd were those just doing their jobs.  Signature and Kalitta always perform their parts well, but we are the ones here voluntarily.



An air traffic controller watched us.



We remained outside.  The Marines were inside to witness the transfer from jet to hearse.  A limousine brought the parents and then another brought the widow.  We were the last thing they saw before they went inside to face the first ordeal of the day.  And we were still there when they came back out.



We were told not to furl our flags right away.  We marched back to the bikes with flags flying.



We were led by a Marine Mom whose son was in boot camp.






At last, we were ready.



There would be a public memorial the next day, after Chris was buried.  Today, there were few along our route but fire departments can always be counted-on.



We led the hearse past the front door and then parked across the street.



The American Legion formed a line.



And so did we.



Our S.O.P. at funeral homes and churches is to remain outside.  We never met the fallen hero and besides, we are not dressed right.  The job we created for ourselves is to extend the area of solemn reverence from a single room to the entire property.



This would be a one day mission from airport to grave.  Some of us wouldn’t eat but most found a place for lunch.  The famous Hackney’s was right next door, but many walked past it to the Super Dawg a little farther down the road.  I rode to the nearest Subway.



I was several blocks from the funeral home but when I got to the cashier he asked “Are you here for that Marine?”


I admitted it and he said, “No charge.  And thanks.”


So I knew I was going to take his photo to help me tell this story.  I reached into my pocket to get a card with this website address printed on it for his use later.  He saw me reach into my pocket.  “No man, really, I’m not taking your money.”



I heard that Super Dawg did likewise.



After lunch the LtCol and SgtMaj from the Oratowski (and Vazquez) mission visited our LtCol and SgtMaj.



It was a private visitation – family and Marines only.  So we didn’t do much business out in the parking lot.  That is fine because they knew we were there and that is all that matters.



Chris was one of the “Magnificent Bastards” – the battalion was named by a previous commander reflecting on his experience in Korea just south of the Chosin Reservoir right after the Chinese entered the war.


A Lieutenant Colonel is a Battalion Commander.  LtCol William Vivian leads the 2nd Battalion of the 4th Marines which is one of the four battalions of the 5th Marines.  First, Second, Third and 4th of the 5th.


Christopher’s Battalion Commander honored us.








Sergeant Major is the highest enlisted rank.  SgtMaj Willie Jackson honored us.



That’s how you know you’re doing something right.



The visitation transformed into the funeral service.  For us, that meant that no one would be coming or going.  So Rob called us together in the shadow of Hackney’s to describe the trip to the cemetery.






The police gave us one lane of US 45 to stage from the funeral home,



all the way to Super Dawg.



We strapped in,



and moved out,



down US 45,



taking Chris,






The Patriot Guard and Marines had moved the area of solemn reverence to the gravesite.



Chris married a girl he met at 14.  They have twin boys in diapers.  Five years from now they will begin to understand.



I was honored to be trusted to photograph the flag presentation for the family’s use.  I was glad to do it for the parents and the widow, but I was thankful to do it for the twin boys.  They will never know their dad directly.  They will only know what they are told about him, and what they can read in old photos.



I pray that 20 years from now, when they are looking at 20-year old photos, they will correctly understand.



Their father was a great American hero.  A warrior who risked his future and lost it.



He was a hero for accepting the risk.  It is something that should be remembered.



We left the field because it was time to go.  We will never leave his memory.



And when we left the field, it was ruled by the squirrels.  The squirrels became the most powerful occupying force.



Let’s hope the squirrels do not impose Sharia upon the other rodents.  But they could.



Let’s hope that the most powerful force in the world is always the peace-loving West.



You helped to make the world a better place for your sons, Chris.