If You Were Not Able To Attend 11st Lt. Gwilym J. Newman's Return Home, Please Read The Following Description:
Just thought I would tell you about my latest Patriot Guard Riders mission. On Friday, April 20th, about fifteen of us met in Garland and rode to Greenville airport to meet a soldier from Rockwall who was killed in Iraq. This was my second experience with the group.
Once again, I was just amazed! These guys do this just "because it is the right thing to do." Many are older guys (Viet Nam era) and look like "bikers." Lots of tattoos, shaggy beards, and skull caps, yet these guys are some of the friendliest and caring people I have ever met. One guy even said, "The trick is to wear sunglasses…that way, everyone else can’t see the tears in your eyes." The group was formed to shield grieving families from protesting church groups who had been staging demonstrations at funerals of fallen patriots. The riders "stand for those who stood for us" and is all about respect. For more information see: Patriot Guard Riders.
We met the plane as it came in. The military now uses chartered airplanes and fly into local airports, rather than using commercial flights, to bring dead soldiers home. Some people objected to their loved ones being transported with the cargo and being unloaded with a forklift. This is much better with the family being able to go onto the tarmac as the casket is unloaded by military pall bearers using very precise formations and salutes. Very nice and VERY moving. This is the first time the family has seen their loved one since he died, so you can imagine the emotion. This particular widow looked like she was about 20 years old and was with another young lady, who I assumed was the soldier’s sister. The soldier has a son, who will be two years old next week.
The pall bearers unloaded the casket from the plane and loaded it into the hearse. We were standing at attention at the edge of the tarmac. There were a lot of other people nearby and along the road out of the airport waving flags and saluting.
We left the airport with a police escort – one state police car, several Greenville police cars, and one police car from Mesquite, where the funeral home is located. All the roads were blocked off as we passed so we didn’t have to stop. The police officers blocking the roads stood by their vehicles and saluted as we went by. Very impressive. The Greenville police dropped off as we left the city limits. The state police and Mesquite police remained with us all the way.
As we approached Rockwall, we were met by several more Mesquite police cars who escorted us to the funeral home. These guys did an amazing job. They leap-frogged from one on-ramp to the next blocking traffic as we went by. We had no traffic to contend with and no stops to make for the entire trip. I normally don’t have much respect for police officers in general (because most I have met are on a power trip talking down to citizens), but when I got back home, I sent an E-Mail to the Mesquite Police Department about the great job they did this day…I was REALLY impressed.
By the way, the widow rode on the back of the ride captain’s trike from the airport to the funeral home. As we were disbanding, he (E.R. "Wingman") said about that, "What an honor that was!"
The pall bearers unloaded the casket and took it into the funeral home as we stood by at attention. We then broke up and left. It was a 160 mile round trip for me. Another one I will never forget.
On Monday, about ten of us escorted Lt. Newman from the funeral home in Mesquite to a church in Rockwall for private funeral services. Military ceremonies, such as the gun salute and folding and presentation of the flag, were done outside the Church. Then all the Patriot Guard Riders in attendance escorted him back to the funeral home to be cremated. Exemplary police escort was again provided by the Mesquite and other police departments.
As one person so eloquently put it: Patriot down - kick stands up! As much as this new Patriot Guard Rider is honored to be allowed to show my respect for fallen soldiers, I hope to not have this opportunity too much longer.
Coalition War Dead
At least 3602 Coalition forces have been killed in Operation Iraqi
3336 from US , 141 from UK , 32 from Italy , 19 from Poland , 18 from Ukraine , 13 from Bulgaria , 11 from Spain , 6 from Denmark , 5 from El Salvador , 4 from Slovakia , 3 from Latvia , 2 from Netherlands , 2 from Thailand , 2 from Australia , 2 from Estonia , 2 from Romania , 1 from Canada , 1 from Hungary , 1 from Kazakhstan , 1 from Fiji .