Monday, August 29, 2011

SGT Matthew Harmon

Sgt. Matthew Harmon escort Friday, August 26, 2011:
John Reuter RC’d the escort from Bemidji to Fosston. The plane landed at 10:00 a.m. at the Bemidji airport.  Eight bikes escorted Sgt. Matthew Harmon the thirty miles to the Fosston funeral home. Every town they traveled through had people waving flags in honor of Sgt. Harmon.  The escort arrived in Fosston at noon.  Thanks to the MN Highway Patrol for the LE escort.

Sgt. Matthew Harmon visitation and service Saturday, August 27, 2011:
The morning started out a little chilly but warmed plenty by the start of the visitation for the approximate 127 members and 100 bikes from Minnesota and North Dakota. At 10:30 a.m. we had a briefing for the day’s mission.  At 11:00 a.m., six riders escorted Sgt. Matthew Harmon from the funeral home to the Fosston High School.  The remainder of the riders stood on the flag line at the school.  After the casket was brought into the school, we stood down and had time for coffee, water, cookies, and bars that were provided for us.  At 11:45 a.m. we re-established the flag line for the visitation.  We stood down at 2:15 p.m. to prepare for the escort to the cemetery in Lengby.  Jim Cyr took about 12 members who were in cages to the cemetery to set up a flag line for the arrival of Sgt. Harmon.  We re-established a flag line outside the school with about 25 members when they brought Sgt. Harmon from the services to the hearse.  The 25 members re-joined the remainder of the riders who were staging across the street for the escort to the Lengby cemetery.  We all proceeded to be lined up on HWY 2 with the Polk County Sherriff deputy escorting 4 fire trucks, our 100 bikes followed by the hearse and the family of Sgt. Harmon.  As we rode the seven miles to the Lengby cemetery at 25 mph, there were people along the entire route holding flags in honor of Sgt. Harmon and for support of his family.  Upon arrival we set up a flag line around the perimeter of the cemetery.  After the completion of the services, which included the ringing of the “Freedom Bell” seven times, we stayed in formation until the family had gone through and thanked each of us and left the cemetery.

Thanks to Jim Cyr and Curt Nelson for all their coordination for this mission and for all the participants who were able give of themselves for the honor, respect, and dignity of Sgt. Matthew Harmon, a true American Hero.

Gary Metcalf, RCIC

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Waldemar "Wally" Ahlf, 28 Aug 11, Sebeka, MN

Under clear skies, 22 Patriot Guard stood the flag line to honor Waldemar "Wally" Ahlf for his service in the Army during WWII, and his many years in Law Enforcement, on 28 Aug 11, in Sebeka, MN.  Flag line was established for arrival at the church, and re-established for family and friends attending visitation and services.  Flag line was again established for military honors,   When Mr. Ahlf was brought out of the church, 15 squad cars from Hubbard, Wadena, and Ottertail counties and many local towns had their lights flashing and LEO also formed a line on both sides of the hearse.  Wadena County Sherrif's office had the honors of folding the US flag for presentation to the family.
Services were held at the church that Mr. Ahlf attended for many years.  There was a parking space sign that said "Pastor parking - you park - you preach".  We noticed no one parked in that spot, but the Pastor did come over with tears in his eyes to thank us for being there today and to tell us what an impressive sight it was to see all the US Flags when he arrived. 
Many family members and LEO thanked us for being there and for what we do.  We were very strongly encouraged/invited in for the luncheon, which some members were able to participate in.  Some of us went to A&W in Park Rapids for rootbeer floats.
Members came from Detroit Lakes, Bemidji, Brainerd and St Cloud Sectors - thanks to all who were able to attend!  Thank you to Mr. Ahlf for his many years of service to our community and country.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Mission Report: KIA SO2 Nicholas Spehar, US Navy, Chisago City

Mission Report: KIA SO2 Nicholas Spehar, US Navy, Chisago City

Tuesday, 16 Aug: From the time the riders arrived at the Air Force base to escort home Navy Special Warfare Operator 2nd Class Nicholas Spehar; I knew this mission was going to be something different, something special. With Navy escort, the Air Force guard at the gate just waved us through. The Navy Petty Officer brought us to the road just outside the tarmac fence where the family would gather to await the plane carrying their fallen loved one. With the coach and family behind us we left the base. All we passed stood at attention and saluted. The street just inside the gate was lined with what looked like 50 to 70 Navy and Air Force personnel standing shoulder to shoulder saluting the procession as it passed. As we exited the freeway and rode the last 9 miles on Hwy 8, people in large and small groups lined the road. Waving flags or standing in silent respect with hands over hearts as the procession passed. Near a school a large group of small children held their flags with eyes opened wide as the procession by now had been joined by fire trucks and more squad cars. Goose bumps rose and tears swelled as we rode.
With only four and a half hours notice, MN Patriot Guard members had a flag line at the Funeral Home awaiting Nick Spehar’s arrival. (This mission will be remembered by its last minute time schedules and changes)

Thursday, 18 Aug: 130 MN Patriot Guard stood the flag line at the Visitation services for Nick. PGR Riders came from as far away as Willmar, Brainerd and St Cloud. This long afternoon and evening began around 2:15pm with the arrival of the coach carrying SO2 Spehar along with law enforcement and PGR escorts at St Bridget’s of Sweden Church. Early arrivals for staging had a flagline set up at the main entrance of the church and showed honors as Navy SEALS carried Nick into the church. The local fire dept had a large flag hanging from their ladder truck parked in the street alongside the church. Our flagline stretched from the back entrance of the church, around the side to the front entrance, out to the street (Hwy 8. Main St of the town) and along the sidewalk for almost a block. Family, guests and Navy SEALS walked the line thanking us for our presence. The MN PGR plaque and challenge coins were presented to the family along with our sincere condolences and gratefulness for their son and brother’s sacrifice and service.
I think the entire town came out to pay their respects to one of their own fallen residents as the church was full. There was also a lot of Navy presence at the visitation along with their top brass.
The family and the church were gracious enough to provide food for us and the military that were there during our long evening. We broke down the flagline around 8:15pm.

Friday, Aug 19: 116 MN Patriot Guard members gathered at the parking lot of the St Paul College to stage for the Funeral of SO2 Nicholas Spehar. We walked over to the Cathedral of St Paul in a single file line of flags. An awesome sight of support and respect for our fallen warrior. Our flagline extended down both sides of the long steps leading from the front doors of the cathedral to the street, down the sidewalk along the entire block and around the corner to a side entrance. Fire trucks from Chisago City and Lindstrom were there with a huge flag hanging from the ladder truck. Nick and family arrived with law enforcement, more fire trucks and Patriot Guard escort. Navy SEALS carried him up the stairs to his funeral service. Amongst the large crowd in attendance were our Governor and Senator Amy Klobuchar.
Along with Ramsey County Motor Patrol and squad cars, Patriot Guard escorts led Nick Spehar to his final resting place. Upon arrival at Ft Snelling National Cemetery we were met by one of the largest PGR flaglines I have seen. A large formation of sailors, Navy Honor Guard and Rifle Squad were there, along with Nick’s SEAL team.
Military honors were given but the most touching was the Trident Ceremony. As Nick’s SEAL Team came one by one, they tacked their Navy SEAL Trident Pin to the top of his wooden coffin as a final honor and farewell to their fallen brother. Special Warfare Operator 2nd Class Nicholas Spehar, a true American hero.
A Navy (two star) Rear Admiral came by and thanked us for being there but hoped we didn’t have to meet like this again. Amen!

I want to thank all of our Patriot Guard members that attended this mission. The flagline is what matters. To all who stood with dignity and honor, this day we, the MN Patriot Guard, gained the respect of a very special group - The US Navy SEALS.


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