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Patriot Guard Riders support deployers at Yellow Ribbon event

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Sean Evans
  • 514th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

During the conclusion of nearly every Air Force Reserve Yellow Ribbon event for the past decade, members of a nonprofit organization deliver a presentation to show respect for deployers and their loved ones.

The Patriot Guard Riders help ensure dignity and respect at memorial services honoring fallen service members, first responders and honorably discharged veterans.

Rick Hyman, a Patriot Guard Rider, spoke to attendees at a Yellow Ribbon event in Atlanta, June 19, and described the kind of people who volunteer with him.

“I'd say about 50 to 60 percent of our membership are prior military, and the rest are just average, everyday citizens who want to show respect to the military,” said Hyman. “Right now, we number approximately 300,000 members across the United States and some internationally.”

The PGR’s mission has expanded in scope since their inception in 2005 but their core objective, which has gained them the most public recognition, has remained the same.

“Our main mission is to attend the funeral services of fallen American heroes as invited guests of the family with two basic objectives: to show our sincere respect for our fallen heroes, their families, and their communities and to shield the mourning family and their friends from interruptions created by any protest or group of protesters,” Hyman said.

The PGR operates another program that provides support for veterans and their families that more closely aligns with the mission of the Yellow Ribbon Program.

“It's called Help on the Homefront, and being here at this event today is one of those missions,” said Hyman. “We greet troops returning from overseas, welcome-home celebrations and deployment ceremonies.”

The Patriot Guard also perform several other services in support of the military community. Hyman said they perform volunteer work for veterans’ organizations, participate in the construction of homes for disabled veterans and provides transportation and lodging assistance to families visiting their loved ones at military hospitals.

Senior Master Sgt. Michelle Tucker, an event manager for the Yellow Ribbon Program, said PGR attends the events to inform Reserve Airmen and their loved ones of the valuable resources they provide.

However, Tucker said PGR also provides intangible benefits.

“They serve as a reminder to all Americans how important our service members and their families are through their participation in flag lines, deployment send offs, attendance at welcome-home events, and through their Help on the Homefront program,” she said.

Hyman said they are always welcoming new members, and there is only one qualification.

“It doesn’t matter where you’re from or what your income is. You don’t even have to ride. The only prerequisite is respect,” Hyman said. “We all have one thing in common besides motorcycles—that is an unwavering respect for those who risked their very lives for America’s freedom and security.”

The mission of the Yellow Ribbon program is to connect Reserve Airmen and their loved ones with resources to help them before, during and after deployment.