BRYAN, Tex. (KBTX) -- Families of our fallen heroes carry a burden and a hole that some say is impossible to fill, but a local group tries to bring them some peace in the midst of tragedy.
On a quiet Saturday morning, friends and family said good-bye to Vietnam veteran Al Sims. But on this day of reflection and honor, it’s not the flags or the friends that have the biggest impact.
It’s the large group of individuals standing outside the funeral home ready for one last ride.
“When these men and women sign up for the military or even as first repsonders for fire, police, EMS, they’re writing a blank check to our country in an amount including up to their life. They deserve our respect,” said Randal Allison with the Patriot Guard Riders.
Allison isn’t a veteran, but he understands the sacrifice.
“You don’t have to ride, it doesn’t matter what your politics are. As long as you feel like you can support our folks. That’s all we ask,” Allison said.
“They just want people who want to take care of our veteran families and our veterans at this time... The biggest time of need they have,” said veteran and Patriot Guard Rider James Holt.
Patriot Guard Riders are spread out across the country. The group started after protesters appeared outside a fallen soldier’s funeral.
But this group says they offer protection of love over families of the fallen.
“I have never seen an outpouring for love and support like this and it’s from people I don’t even know,” said Wilma Lawler. She’s Al Sims’s younger sister.
Families like Lawler’s lean on support from the riders, but the group doesn’t do it for money or recognition.
“That probably sounds cliché, but it’s not for me. It’s for the families,” said veteran and Patriot Guard Rider Jared Rice.
These riders give Brazos Valley heroes a proper send-off and one last escort to their final resting place.
“It’s just a way to honor those of us who have served to show that you’re not alone, not even in death, that we’ll still carry you home,” Rice said.
Patriot Guard Riders will fulfill any mission for a first responder or military personnel at the request of the family. You can find a link to their website in the ‘Related Links’ section on this page.