Niagara Gazette

Local News

June 6, 2014

EVENT: Local VFW post to honor Patriot Guard Riders.

Niagara Gazette —

Although their intent is always to honor others, the local Patriot Guard Riders are being honored themselves today. 

The local VFW Post 917 will be giving plaques to a contingent of Patriot Guard Riders, members of an organization of volunteers that stand guard at events honoring American soldiers.

"We're going to honor the Patriot Guard Riders and thank them for their contribution," said Les Carpenter, bar steward, at VFW 917. "We are the first VFW ever to do this."

The post, located at 2435 Seneca Ave. off Hyde Park Boulevard, will offer live music by the CRS Band and provide food for the riders. Activities begin at 1 p.m. today and include a presentation. There will also be food available for sale to the public, including hot dogs, hamburgers and corn on the cob. The live music starts at 3 p.m. 

About 40 Patriot Guard members are expected to attend today, according to a representative of the group, which has about 400 members in the New York region from Jamestown to Rochester. Members will also be present at a veteran's ceremony in Hamburg today and stand in formation again tonight at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport when elderly veterans return from an Honor Flight trip to see the WWII Veteran's Memorial in Washington.

A representative for the riders, many of whom ride motorcyles in formation to the events, say the VFW's tribute is unusual for the group, whose motto is, "Standing for those who stood For Us."

"Our motive is to honor our veterans. It's not about us," noted Bill Brainard, senior ride captain in the region.

"Usually we don't do this," added Kirby Johnson, a ride captain from Niagara Falls. "We are kind of a humble bunch."

There are about 400 Patriot Guard riders in the Western New York Region, Johnson said, part of a national organization now 200,000 strong. 

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