On Sunday, March 11, 2007, the Southeast Chapter of the Patriot Guard was thrilled to welcome Pvt. Brian Gilmore back to U.S. soil and escort him to his home in League City, TX.
It was a beautiful day on the coast as LB and I rode to the gathering point at the Sheraton Hotel on JFK Blvd. It is always an incredible sight to turn into the parking lot and see all the bikes that have come out to support our troops. This was my first Welcome Home ride and it was great to see laughter and cheers rather than sadness and tears.
At the gathering, SE PGR captain JohnnyD displayed a flag donated to the chapter by Speedy, currently serving in Iraq. The flag was accompanied by a certificate of authenticity verifying that it had flown in battle and was given to the SE PGR in appreciation of their efforts on behalf of soldiers.
After the safety briefing, the mother of Pvt. Gilmore told us how much she appreciated us coming out to greet her son. She was truly thrilled that we were there. Also attending were the parents of Pfc. Nathaniel Given, for whom the guard rode on January 6, 2007. Gosh, that must have been hard for them to attend a welcome home ride when their son didn’t make it back. They were given the honor of leading the escort on their Harley. Truly cool.
At the airport, we staged in the far left lane directly in front of Terminal D. There was a little delay, so we had plenty of time to walk around and check out the bikes. LB and I started in the middle, going opposite directions and counted the bikes. There were 110 total, 107 bikes and 3 trikes. In addition, we had the usual escort truck and this time the honor car that carried Pvt. Gilmore. What a sight! Everyone at the airport took notice, which was the intention. We need to honor our soldiers.
The ride to League City was 48 miles and took about an hour and a half. It is an awesome sight to see an escort of this length. People were gawking at us the entire route. Pulling into the neighborhood, the streets were lined with neighbors and flags lined Pvt. Gilmore’s home. A short reception was held and then the ride was over. Very, very good day. Hoorah!