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Patriot Guard Riders need new members to keep patriotic tradition alive

Patriot Guard says you don't have to be a veteran to volunteer, just a patriot with a huge heart.

EL CAJON, Calif. — When a military veteran passes away, the Patriot Guard provides an honorable escort for every hero. In this Zevely Zone, I learned how new members are needed to keep the patriotic tradition alive. 

The Patriot Guard is all about serving others, but in this story, they are the ones who need some help. "Our hero today is Patrick Ralph McGee who served in the Army. He has no family. We are his family today," said Stacey McCarthy. 

The Patriot Guard Ride Captain will never forget her first procession. "The very first mission I ever went on was for an active-duty Marine who was killed in action and the second I got on my motorcycle, I still can't talk about it without getting choked up, I felt like I was part of something so important and I was hooked right away," said Stacey.

Credit: Patriot Guard Riders

When a military veteran dies, Patriot Guard Riders proudly escort the hero to their final resting place. A few years ago, the group was getting 30 riders for every mission but lately the number of riders has fallen to 7 or 8. "Yeah, hopefully that will pick back up," said Stacey. As older riders become unable to volunteer, the group needs new riders to step up.

Credit: Patriot Guard Riders

"I needed a purpose and I found it here," said Coast Guard veteran Steve Crouch. He has suffered from chronic depression but found happiness in honoring others. "Guys that are hopeless these days, you guys who are hopeless, come out to the Patriot Guard it will make you feel like you have a purpose. Don't lay on the couch, get into your car, get into your motorcycle, get on your bicycle and come out and join us because you will feel the comradery of this group and a purpose, it will help you so much," said Steve.

Credit: Patriot Guard Riders

Retired Marine Colonel Jay Anderson wants to make it clear you don't need to be a veteran; anyone can volunteer. "There's a lot of us who are veterans, but there are folks here who are not veterans and that's fantastic because they are patriots," said Jay.

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"We just want people to come out and be part of something important that makes your heart feel good," said Stacey. The Patriot Guard hopes when you see their escort, you to think the fallen veteran must have been important because every person who served this country should be celebrated.

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"I hope their first thought is wow," said Stacey. "I have never been moved to do something like be a Patriot Guard Rider ever in my life." If you'd like to join the Patriot Guard Riders, there is no obligation. Volunteers can ride as much or as little as they'd like. For more information click here.

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