The Indiana Patriot Guard South East region riders began a two day journey on Saturday, June 9 at the Liberty Park in Batesville, where fallen hero Chad Keith was remembered. They ended the event back in Ripley County at the Cliff Hill Cemetery, where Marine Cpl. John C. Bishop was honored for his sacrifice.
The goal of the 2nd Annual Ride to Remember, according to Tim Kieffer, ride captain, was to bolster Gold Star families and never forget the sacrifice their loved ones have made. Ed Schmidt of Osgood, is the assistant ride captain for the region.
The patriot guard riders began with over 20 motorcycles - many decorated with 3X5 American, Patriot Guard and POW/MIA flags waving from their bikes as they curved through cemeteries and drove through towns that covered a 15 county area.
While they began with no police escort out of Batesville, there were met at all other towns with police escorts that included sometimes town and county police working together to get the riders safely in and out of town.
Ripley County was directly affected on July 7, 2003, when Army Sgt. Chad Keith, 21 lost his life in the war. He was from Batesville and is buried in Arlington Cemetery in Washington DC.
The ceremonies included the Pledge of Allegiance, prayer and scripture, reading of medals and accomplishments of each fallen hero, poem recital, presentation to Gold Star families of special made license plates, presentation of a plaque and rose at the gravesite, twenty-one gun salute, and the playing of taps.
Many of the patriot guard riders participated in the ceremony, but Dylan Thomas, 9 of Seymour, was the bugler for the entire trip, never missing a beat on the trumpet as he played taps.
Thomas is the nephew of fallen Marine Cpl. John C. Bishop, who is buried at the Cliff Hill Cemetery in Versailles. The young bugler is in the Young Marines of Columbus, a military structured organization for young people who have aspirations of learning more about the military.
Thomas told The Versailles Republican that he truly enjoys his time as a Young Marine and is dedicated to spend the time it takes to earn six ribbons, along with several badges for his accomplishments. He said they have military marches, and a lot of physical training. He is up to running two miles.
He said the group requires a lot of community service and he's willing to do it all. "I'm gonna' stay at this," he noted. Dylan said his uncle John (Bishop) is his hero and he's going to be a Marine like him someday. A letter from his uncle came just a day after his death.
While only three fallen heroes were from Ripley County, some of those honored were related to or friends with people from Ripley County.
The list included: Army Sgt. Chad Keith, Batesville; Army Sgt. James D. Faulkner, 23, Clarksville; Army Pfc. Anthony P. Seig, Sunman; Army Sgt. Robert J. Montgomery II, Scottsburg; Army Sgt. Kenneth R. Booker, 25, Vevay; Army NG Spc. Jonathan Menke, 22, Madison; Army NG Spc. Carlos E. Wilcox IV, 27, New Albany; Marine Cpl. Dustin Turpen, 27, Bedford; Marine Cpl. John C. Bishop, 25, Versailles; and Pfc. Zachary S. Salmon, 21, Lawrenceburg.
One twist no one expected was when the group got to the Soldiers Cemetery at Madison, a patriot guard member was kneeling at a gravesite. He then revealed that his daughter, Bethany Lee Burrier, 19, with the United States Coast Guard, was killed in a vehicle accident while on leave in 2010. She was planning to be a US Marshal. The Patriot Guard Riders widened the circle of flags to include her as well as Army NG Spc. Jonathan D. Menke, 22 of Madison.
Linda Seig of Sunman, mother of fallen hero Anthony Seig, drove behind the parade of motorcycles in her car to carry the huge flags that the patriot guard riders would hold at each ceremony. She told The Versailles Republican she was honored to be a part of the patriot guard mission and pleased she could help in any way.
Sarah Thomas, another Ripley County fallen hero's mother, drove her own motorcycle in the procession and participated by reading poems as did Linda Seig. Both mothers participated throughout the two-day event with various duties.
"It doesn't get any easier," Seig noted. She said nothing could take the place of her beloved son, Anthony. She had just lost her husband to cancer a couple of years before her son was killed. "Sometimes you just don't understand it all," she said.
Thomas, mother of Cpl. John Bishop, agreed, saying the ceremonies do help with the pain, just knowing that people remember and care.
On the programs for the event it was stated, "Keeping our promise to never forget."
During the scripture reading and prayer by patriot guard rider Jerry Burnett, it was stated that a man dies twice: once when his body expires and again when his name is no longer spoken.
The goal of the patriot guard riders is to keep the memory alive of each and every fallen hero.
One patriot guard rider said, "People need to thank veterans when they see them, they appreciate it so much."
The group traveled over 300 miles in the southeastern Indiana area to complete this mission.
WANDA ENGLISH BURNETT PHOTOS
Pictured above left, Indiana Patriot Guard Riders held a remembrance ceremony at the home of Pfc. Anthony P. Seig, Sunman. Seig was killed in action on September 9, 2006 when a rocket mortar struck his barracks. Above center Patriot Guard Captain Tim Kieffer of Batesville, presented Seig's mother, Linda, with a special made license place to commemorate her son. Pictured at above right, Dylan Thomas, nephew of fallen Marine Cpl. John Bishop, was the bugler for every cemetery stop made throughout the two-day event.