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Patriot Guard Mission Completed
In Memory Of
US Army Spc Tim "TNT" Thompson
of Wichita, Kansas
Today, Wednesday 29 November 2006, started early for many Patriot Guard as far away as Paola and Fort Riley, Kansas. Western Kansas, central Kansas, and Wichita and the surrounding cities were also represented. We expected to have tolerable temperatures for this mission, but the cold front hit this area before most of us were out of bed, bringing bitterly cold temperatures, strong winds, and low wind-chills. We met and staged at the Sedgwick County Zoo parking lot. Approximately 42 bikes and more than a dozen 4-wheel vehicles participated in this mission. The motorcycle flag honor guard was led by Sgt Doc, who used his truck equipped with emergency overhead lights to alert oncoming traffic of the procession, and the rear was well-protected by Tail Gunner. Riders Dave Wells and Gary Lasher led the procession to the church, flying the American flag. They were followed by the rest of the bikes. Drivers pulled over to the side of the road and stopped when they saw all the bikes flying American flags coming toward them. It was very touching to see them show so much respect for the procession. Our four road guards blocked traffic at each intersection.
The funeral was held at the St. Marks Catholic Church, a very beautiful church with a graveyard at the back of the property. Spc. Tim Thompson and his fiancée, Ashley Neises, were buried side by side in that graveyard. Family members, friends, and local citizens filled the church to celebrate the lives of Tim and Ashley. Those who knew the couple said the two were a Romeo and Juliet story, and the two had planned to be together forever. God took them from this earth at the same time, and now they are side by side, together forever. The Patriot Guard provided an avenue of flags to the entrance of the church, and later a small group stood by for the graveside service. The honor guard team from Fort Riley provided full military honors. They escorted Spc. Thompson's casket from the church to the gravesite, and provided a 21-gun salute, Taps, and ceremonial flag-folding. Ashley's casket was escorted by family members behind Tim's escort.
Inclement weather set in while the funeral service was in progress, and reports of ice on the roads began coming in. In the interest of safety, the Ride Captains sent all the motorcycle riders home before the service ended. Most of the 4-wheelers stayed and provided a small avenue of flags for the procession from the church to the graveyard. Sleet began falling heavily as the graveside service ended. Weather was indeed a challenge today.
One of our local motorcycle riders, Doug "Grey Eagle" Lehman, went down on an icy overpass, but he was not injured and was able to ride his bike on home. The bike did not fare as well as he did. He was with a group of riders, and they helped him recover his bike and get back on the road. It is a miracle that the others stayed upright, because they were sliding sideways as Doug went down. Many riders parked their bikes in garages of various Patriot Guard members, and then were driven home safely. God was looking out for all the riders today, and we are grateful that everyone made it home. We all believe prayers are heard and answered.
Many thanks to everyone who showed up today and braved the bitter cold and the ice storm that moved in. A special thanks goes to Betty Jean Pulliam, president of the National Gold Star Mothers, and to our Ride Captain, Dave Wells, who helped make this mission possible. Also, thanks go to Sgt Doc, Tail Gunner, and the four road guards who got us there safely in the early morning rush-hour traffic. Thanks go to our Chaplain Kenton Van for leading us in prayer for Tim, his fiancée, their families, and the Patriot Guard. We thank the Fort Riley soldiers who performed the military honors.
Please keep the families of Tim Thompson and Ashley Neises in your prayers, and include the thousands of soldiers who are currently serving to protect our country.
"Strength and Honor"