Patriot Guardsmen provide security

Friday, November 14, 2008

From staff reports

The Patriot Guard provided security for the Veterans Day ceremony Tuesday and the motorcyclists are set to do the same on Saturday for the unveiling of bronze busts of two fallen heroes.

Mike Jackson, quartermaster of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 5109, here in Lewisburg, is the ride captain for the Patriot Guard's detail this week as he explains, "It's just a duty I feel to protect the families of the soldiers, but with the bronze busts being unveiled, it's an honor to do this."

Bronze busts of Staff Sgt. Todd E. Nunes and Sgt. David M. Hierholzer, two of three Marshall County men who died as a result of their service in the war on terror, are to be unveiled at 11 a.m. Saturday in Marshall County High School. A bust of Staff Sgt. Marc Golczynski was unveiled earlier this year.

The Patriot Guard is a volunteer group of veterans who provide security for military funerals and similar ceremonies because there have been some threats of civilian protest.

Typically, the guard provides security by motorcycle patrol.

Relatives of a soldier being buried in Hohenwald were shielded from view of protesters by the bikers who held up large American flags, Jackson said.

Jackson is a Vietnam War veteran who says part of his motivation for such volunteer work stems from what he faced as he mustered out of the military, he said.

"When I was getting ready to come home" from Vietnam, he said, "the squadron leader said 'Don't wear the uniform' while traveling home. There were stories of soldiers who were getting beat up. So, I had to put on civilian clothes."

But that was in 1972 when long hair was in style for men and a soldier's haircut would stand out.

While on an airplane flying home, Jackson said, another passenger stood up and took another seat rather than sit next to him.

Now, he wants to be sure that soldiers returning from duty to know that people appreciate their service.

Still, it's the World War II veterans who Jackson admires the most, he said, explaining, "They are the ones who saved our country. The other (military actions since then) have been conflicts."

World War II veterans "are our brothers in arms who fought for us," Jackson said while discussing Veterans Day. "It's one of the most important days on the calendar."