Very Short Notice
1LT. Daren M. Hidalgo
Feb 27 - Mar 2, 2011
1LT Daren M Hidalgo, 24, was killed in action February 20, 2011 while serving his country in Afghanistan. He graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 2009. He completed Infantry Officer Basic Course, Airborne, Ranger, Army Combatives, and Stryker Leader Course at Ft. Benning, GA. Daren was assigned to G Company, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, Rose Barracks, Germany.
Daren’s father contacted us immediately requesting that the Patriot Guard Riders attend the services for his son. Due to the high profile of this mission, he is concerned about "uninvited guests". Let us support this fine military family and recognize the supreme sacrifice Daren made for our country and our freedom. This is expected to be a large turnout mission.
Due to the size of this event, I have offered to take on traffic control as we are expecting 1,000 people, will be filling 3 parking lots, and have to handle a grade school release in the middle of the visitation.
All members are to park in the Lakeview Lodge / Bowling alley lot north of the church. I will attempt to stake a PGR flag at the parking area.
Staging will be directly south of parking in the northeast corner of the main lot. Again, members who have high visibility vests are asked to bring them.
Anyone who served in Cavalry please contact me directly as soon as a possible (email@example.com)
Wednesday March 2, 2011
11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.
(from I-94 exit County Road SS)
W280N2101 Prospect Ave
Pewaukee, WI 53072
9:00 a.m. - family arrival 10:00 a.m.
Follows immediately at 4:00 p.m.
Return Escort to
Randle–Dable Funeral Home
1110 South Grand Avenue
Waukesha, WI 53186
Burial will be at West Point.
Ride Captain for return is Jim Unruh JUNRUH2@WI.RR.COM
Ride Captain for services is Terry Streicher firstname.lastname@example.org
Assisting at services John Curran email@example.com
I traveled up from Illinois two weeks after 14 Democrats of the Wisconsin Senate traveled down to Illinois. This is an historic time for Wisconsin. The day before the funeral for Daren, Governor Walker presented his budget even though the Senate cannot gather a quorum adequate for fiscal business. A similar conflict in several other states when government unions are entrenched has focused national attention on Gov. Walker.
So he didn’t want to disrupt the funeral by attracting demonstrators to it. Instead of coming to the church, he went to the funeral home and met with the family there. We assembled at the church and waited.
A girl making a flower delivery who was familiar with the PGR Mission paused and shouted, “Let’s hope that you won’t have to do anything today except make a patriotic display!”
The State Captain shouted back, “And assist with parking!”
Four PGRiders had been promised for duty in the parking lot. And that seemed strange to me.
The State Captain would tell us of the email he received from Daren’s father at 0600 following the day he was notified. Think about that. The first thing he thought of when he was ready to start making arrangement was the Patriot Guard Riders. It wasn’t because he needed cars parked.
The first order of business to place two flags at each of the two parking lot entrances.
None of us knew Daren. Most of us would leave the parking lot after seven hours of standing. We would not go inside. There was no escort planned. Our lives would intersect with Daren’s in only a very limited way.
And yet we were invited and we were glad to be invited. We had taken vacation days and dressed for the weather and would do what we could.
Terry was the perfect Ride Captain. We were all willing to take instruction, so her low-key and friendly leadership was well received.
We don’t need encouragement and we don’t want gratitude. We just want the Ride Captain to know what we should do and tell us.
Rob had produce mission stickers.
Pledge & prayer.
There is always a briefing just before we go begin. The one time I heard Terry get tough was when she told us what we were not going to do in the flagline. “No cell phones. No eating or drinking. No smoking. No talking.”
We all knew those things. We had heard them before. But she was not perfunctory. She was emphatic.
If you want to be a Ride Captain for the glory of it, then you want it for the wrong reasons. Terry was not off someplace taking credit. Twice she came over to me and asked if she could take my place so that I could have a break.
Just after Daren arrived but before the arrival of the many who would mourn his passing, my phone received a text message from my wife.
And then they came. Most walked past us silently. A few glanced at us and said “Thank you for being here.” And a few went down our line.
There is no right or wrong. Anything they want to do is fine with us.
The job we created for ourselves is to stand with flags. It is a powerful statement.
We don’t try to convince anyone of our sympathy or sincerity. Any other communication would only dilute our message.
A medic, a First Sergeant, smiled.
And a General.
An Air Force Captain stopped in front of me to say thanks and then walked on. I took his picture as he entered the building.
Rob and Mike held the doors for him. We are not doormen, but we are not comfortable standing by while people struggle with doors. There is something ungentlemanly about it – we are not the Buckingham Palace Guards.
But it is not right to hold a flag while holding the door – flag-holding is a full-time job.
And then a lady emerged from a car and had some trouble at the curb. Rob came out to her. I noticed that he went down to one knee and did something at her shoe. Then he rose, offered her his arm and walked her in.
And that is another way to show respect for Daren.
Then it was time for the service to begin. Finally. I was cold and hungry. My feet and knees hurt.
The church and the army would take it from here. I was going home.
Daren’s brother was a West Point graduate too. As was their father before them.
Daren had returned from southern Afghanistan and was returning to West Point.
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