Sunday, June 26, 2011

POW/KIA SGT Ralph Carlson, US Army, Korea

Mission Report: June 25, 2011
POW/KIA; SGT Ralph W. Carlson, US Army, Korea
Braham, MN

It’s been sixty years but SGT Ralph Carlson is finally home. One hundred and sixteen MN Patriot Guard Riders came to show their respect as he was laid to rest in the family plot next to the old headstone that marked his death and burial long ago somewhere in Korea.
They came from all over Minnesota; Metro, Cloquet, Duluth, Thief River Falls, Brainerd, St. Cloud, Marshall, Willmar, Mankato and beyond. They came to honor this soldier who sacrificed so much so long ago. SGT Carlson died in a POW camp at the age of 22. We stood with dignity as the family finally had closure.
At their request the front row of the church parking lot was reserved for PGR motorcycle parking. What a sight as over one hundred bikes stood sentinel as our escort led SGT Carlson to his funeral service. Our flagline greeted family and guests as it lined both sides of the two driveways leading to the church parking lot and all across the front of the large church.
When we stood down after the service started, all PGR members had an opportunity to sign the guest book. So as not to disturb the congregation the books and their stands were brought outside the front doors of the church. A sketch drawing had been made of Ralph and his parents as they would have looked welcoming him home as a young soldier 60 years ago. A plate at the bottom was engraved “Home at Last”. It also was brought outside for all to see.
We then moved all but the escorts two miles down the county road to the cemetery where our flagline was put in place to await the arrival of the funeral procession. The POW/MIA hot air balloon was inflated and stood vigil next to the cemetery. As the service ended they carried SGT Carlson to the coach as the PGR escorts came to attention and saluted along with the military members there. The MN Patriot Guard escorts led SGT Carlson to his final resting place. The county road was closed to all other traffic. People were scattered along the route waving flags as we passed. Many of them children.
A horse show was going on along the way to the cemetery. The show stopped and people there came to the side of the road with some holding flags. Horses and riders stood in quiet reverence as we passed by.
Our flagline surrounded the burial place and formed a corridor for the pallbearers to carry SGT Carlson through. Full military honors were given and we presented the MN PGR plaque and coins to SGT Carlson’s brother and sister, hoping to ease their pain by knowing their brother was a true American hero and was now home. We moved our flagline to line the road out of the cemetery. The look on the faces in the cars as they passed by reassured us that our mission was complete. We did make a difference this day.

We were thanked for showing Honor, Dignity and Respect for the sacrifices of this young soldier:
SGT Ralph W. Carlson, US Army, Korean War, POW/KIA
“Home at Last”

I want to thank all the members that attended this mission. You’re being there is what matters.And a thank you to the MN PGR leadership from all around the state that led their sectors to Braham for this mission and for their help during the mission. A big thank you to Alan Peterson for the photos of this mission.

Larry Myslicki “Slick”
Ride Captain Metro NE
MN Patriot Guard Riders