Submitted for RC RnR Bob:
When Warriors’ Watch Riders found out that World War II veteran Robert F. Wagner had worn out his flag and needed a new one, we decided to take action.
On a gorgeous spring morning, about 20 of us met near Mr. Wagner’s home in Fox Lake, Illinois and rode over to his house to catch him before he took his wife, Martha out for Mothers Day brunch.
The commotion of our arrival brought Mr. Wagner outside, while Martha looked out from the living room window. Martha was “in” on our little surprise.
Mr. Wagner, decked out with his Honor Flight pin stared at us in amazement. The sun was shining brightly and he was squinting a bit, but his eyes gleamed with tears.
RnR (Bob Himber) presented Mr. Wagner with a new flag, WWR beads and a coin. It was a great and touching moment for all of us. After the presentation ceremony, we went around the house to the back yard, where we had a WWR-style flag raising.
There’s nothing like running our flag up the pole to start the day, but this one had special meaning for all of us. Not only did we have a WWII hero raising the flag, but that very flag belonged to one of WWR’s founding members, Chicago Jim.
It seems certain that Jim was looking down on us at that very moment. Click here to view pictures from this mission.
After we left the Wagners, we visited Vietnam veteran Terrill “Terry” Banser, who is struggling with the cancer that has ravaged his ravaged his body. Terry still enjoys being addressed by his biker name, “Joker” but he is mostly confined to a wheel chair these days.
Terry was clearly moved by the presentation of the beads and coin and we wish him all the best.
At Terry’s side was Corporal John P. “Hard Rock” Markovitch, USMC. Cpl Markovitch has been attending to Terry during all of his off duty hours since first learning of Terry’s situation.
Corporal Markovitch, stationed at Great Lakes Naval Base did not know Terry Banser at the time he decided to take care of him. We were both awed and humbled by Hard Rock’s selflessness and dedication and were honored to present him with beads and coin.
Click here to view pictures off WWR with Terry “Joker” Banser
On Sunday, May 1, 2016 about 30 of us gathered at General Mitchell Airport in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to welcome 23 World War II heroes back from their trip to Washington, DC.
Click here to see photos
Honor Flight is a privately funded program that takes World War II and Korean War (and Vietnam) veterans to Washington, DC to see the memorials that stand in their honor. Here in Northern Illinois, we are fortunate to be able to work with several Honor Flight organizations including Honor Flight Chicago, Lake County Honor Flight and McHenry Honor Flight.
As is our customary practice, our leather-clad horde marched through the airport to await the arrival of our heroes and welcome them home. The excitement in the air became palpable as other travelers become aware of the arrival of Honor Flight.
Once they were greeted, photographed and loaded onto the buses, we began our 50-mile, LEO accompanied escort to the greeting ceremony in North Chicago, Illinois.
All this was typical of an Honor Flight escort except for the following:
Officer Gary Grayer of the North Chicago Police Department had contacted the police departments in the home towns of each of the participants of Honor Flight. Leading our escort were more than 20 marked police cars from communities like Highland Park, Deerfield, Gurnee and Wauconda, IL.
All with their lights blazing through the afternoon drizzle. Between the squad cars and the bus carrying our heroes were four police motorcycles, including Officer Grayer’s.
The rest of the bike were behind the bus, where you are well-advised to stay back 75 feet to avoid the smell of burnt diesel fuel.
As we arrived at Veterans Memorial Park in North Chicago, we were met by a cheering, flag-waving crowd of hundreds. This is the very reason bikers wear sun glasses.
Once the veterans were unloaded from the bus and seated in front of the crowd, they were formally welcomed home and thanked for their service by several local dignitaries (read “politicians”) and reunited with their families.
All in all, it was great and successful mission. If you still haven’t attended an Honor Flight, you should consider doing so before this great national treasure is lost to us.
Respectfully submitted by Ride Coordinator, RJ
Warriors’ Watch Riders cyclist Tom O’Brien III was always doing something for others, especially those who have served the country or their community.
At least once a week the disabled veteran rode in a motorcycle cavalcade either to welcome a returning veteran, in a funeral procession for first responders or in other military-related honor parades and fundraising runs in South Jersey and beyond. But on Thursday and Friday this week, the Warriors’ Watch Riders will be riding to honor him.
As the 59-year-old O’Brien was preparing to ride his three-wheeled motorcycle to Mays Landing on Saturday to welcome home a fellow veteran from prison duty at Guantanamo, Cuba, he was involved in an accident with a car on the Black Horse Pike in Haddon Heights. He died the next day on Easter Sunday at Cooper University Hospital in Camden.
“Once I got him into the group, I could not stop him. He wanted to go to every Warriors’ Watch mission he could make. He was committed and got a lot of joy from it,” recalled good friend and Warriors’ Watch Riders member Syd Breidenbach. “He was a big teddy bear who would do anything for everybody. Everyone took a liking to him and we took a liking to each other right away.”
Before 6 p.m. Thursday, the riders formed a flag line outside the Lewis Funeral Home on Main Street in Moorestown for his viewing to remember their compatriot. On Friday morning motorcycles escorted his body, his family and friends from the funeral home to Christ Our Light Roman Catholic Church in Cherry Hill for a 10 a.m. Mass of Christian Burial.
The Camden County Prosecutor’s Office is investigating the accident and declined comment. No charges had been brought as of Wednesday against the other driver, whose name was not immediately available from authorities.
Family members said they were told by police a woman driving southbound on the pike was making a left turn into the northbound lanes where O’Brien was operating his motorcycle and that after the collision he struck a utility pole along the pike.
On that pole near Bryn Mawr Avenue and the Philly Pretzel shop, family members placed a photo of O’Brien, who sported a beard down to his chest and who was better known as “Obie” to many. Underneath the photo they wrote, “May your angels always ride with you,” and mounted an anchor signifying his service in the U.S. Navy after graduating in the Class of 1975 from Camden County Vocational School.
Tony Meade of Gibbstown, Warriors’ Watch Riders State Coordinator, praised O’Brien’s passion and said his death has been upsetting for members, whom he expects will turn out in force to honor one of their own.
One of the recent Warriors’ events he participated in was the March 10 candlelight vigil for New Jersey Trooper Sean Cullen of Cinnaminson, who died after being struck by a passing motorist at the scene of an accident on Interstate 295 in Deptford. Last week he was in Delaware honoring a veteran.
Breidenbach said O’Brien took time off from his job at the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia one day last year because he wanted to ride in the memorial run honoring a city police officer killed while buying a present to reward his son for good grades.
His buddy said he and some of the dozens of Warriors’ riders who rushed to the hospital last weekend were able to say goodbye to their unconscious comrade before he died. The family said O’Brien suffered head and other injuries.
“In 28 days he was going to retire from the mint and was so looking forward to it so he could do more for the VFW, the Warriors’ Watch and Toys for Tots,” said Joann Schuman, of Maple Shade, one of his three sisters. A former worker at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, he worked as a material maintenance expeditor at the mint.
Besides his commitment to the Warriors’ Watch, every year O’Brien was a right jolly elf, playing Santa for VFW Post 3324 of Runnemede , where he was a member. He also visited homes of family and friends as Santa on Christmas Eve to entertain children. “He would do anything for anybody. If a stranger walked in, he would introduce himself and start up a conversation. He loved people,” his sister said.
O’Brien is survived by his wife, Evelyn; daughters Nali and Rani O’Brien; father Thomas and two other sisters, Margaret “Peggy” Mitchell of Maple Shade and Karen Kling of Hainesport.
Story courtesy of the Courier Post newspaper
Posted for Bonnie “Snap” Schuster:
Posted for Bonnie “Snap” Schuster:
On June 4th at 5:45pm 53 Bikes and a 5 cages gathered at our rally spot for the Welcome Home of U.S. National Guard SSGT. Richard M. Johnson in Sewell NJ. Our Ride Captain for this mission was “Jersey Jeff” Novak. He gathered us in for our ride brief on our Hero and went over the route to be taken from pick up to finish. Soon after completion of the ride brief our group safely headed out behind the lead of the Washington Township Police Department who afforded us 4 Police cars and 1 Police Officer on a MOTORCYCLE…HOW COOL IS THAT!! The WTPD Police Chief was with us at the gathering point but could not travel with us due to other obligations.
After a short ride to get our Hero at his House with WTPD leading the way with lights and sirens just adding to making a Hero feel like a Hero, with our Motorcycles engines roaring and horns beeping through the streets we pulled up to see our Hero greet us outside in total surprise. Also in our Welcoming Group was the Mayor of Washington Township there to shake our Hero’s hand and Thank Him for his service to our Country.
We soon after started out on our way again behind the lead of WTPD making our way to our final destination of Voorhees. Along the way our group had no problem at all negotiating our way through intersections and street lights because WTPD along with Gloucester Township PD, Somerdale PD and VOORHEES Police Departments were stopping cross traffic to further enhance the Hero Treatment that should be given to our returning Serviceman and his Family.
At one point our ride route took us past the Chews Landing Fire Department, and there we rode past their Fire Engines lined up outside the Firehouse with Firemen outside to Honor our Hero, horns blasting and sirens screaming with firefighters waving and taking photos.
Washington Township Police Department and the Mayor led us and took us the whole ride through Gloucester Township, Somerdale and right to Voorhees where the Voorhees PD were waiting on our arrival and took over the lead and escort. Voorhees PD led our group through their Township to the end at Iron Hill Brewery, first winding through Voorhees Commons shopping lot where we saw and rode under 2 Voorhees Fire Department Fire Trucks extended out with a HUGE American Flag for our Hero and our Group to ride under. Waiting to also Welcome Home SSGT. Johnson was Operation Yellow Ribbon, our Partners in the Welcome Home Business along with a large group of Thankful Americans just waiting to shake our Hero’s hand in gratitude.
I would like to thank the entire Washington Township Police Department, the Mayor of Washington Township, the Gloucester Township, Somerdale and Voorhees Police Departments along with he Chews Landing FD and Voorhees Fire Department. Also the Iron Hill Brewery who asked for a Welcome Home to finish up at their establishment. They showed our Hero their gratitude by showering him with Dinner, Gift Cards and flat out gave our Hero and his Family the HERO TREATMENT. There were easily over 100 civilians waving flags and listening to patriotic music provided by a D.J. – Iron Hill Brewery went way above and beyond to greet this Hero and his family.
A tremendous thank you to Dave Silver’s Group OPERATION YELLOW RIBBON who always dots the I’s and crosses the T’s in the Welcome Home’s and always do an AWESOME JOB in making a Hero feel like a Hero. Lastly I’d like to thank my fellow riders of the Warriors Watch.
Posted for Jeff Novak:
On Saturday June 27th at 1:30 pm 8 cars and 1 bike gathered at our rally spot in Stratford NJ to thank our Hero Becky Herrera for her commitment to our country as she prepares for her July departure to serve in the U.S. Navy. Becky signed up as part of the DEP (Delayed Entry Program) and was joining friends and family at her home in Lindenwold for a farewell party, which we were happy to acknowledge.
Ride Captain for this mission was “Jersey Jeff” Novak and after conducting the briefing we departed for the short ride to Becky’s home. Although it was a rainy and overcast that day one bike was present and our small caravan left at 2:15pm to make our Hero feel special. With lots of noise we rolled into her community to insure she knew that her service was deeply appreciated. As we rolled up we observed a large number of people on her front lawn waving flags and pointing to us and obviously excited. There were lots of flags and other decorations and we were greeted enthusiastically by Becky and her family and friends.
We gathered around Becky after greeting her with mugs and hugs to express our thoughts about her stepping up to serve in the Navy and help protect our freedoms and way of life as Americans. Becky seemed a bit overwhelmed by the recognition from complete strangers and we all shared a few laughs followed by another round of handshakes and hugs, and lastly a group picture before we rolled out and left her to enjoy the party in her honor.
It was a few hours very well spent by those in attendance which included riders from Philadelphia as well as New Jersey. I would like to thank each of the participants and especially Fitter for helping us make sure this Hero got a little extra special treatment courtesy of WWR NJ.
Posted for Jeff Novak:
On November 14th at 11:45am about 15-20 Bikes and 6 cages gathered at our rally spot for the Mug and Hug of U.S. Army Sgt. Roger Ortiz and U.S. Army Major Jim Casalunova in Sewell NJ. Our Ride Captain for this mission was “Jersey Jeff” Novak. He gathered us in for our ride brief on one of the Hero’s and Big Daddy provided the bio on our 2nd Hero.
Jersey Jeff went over the route to be taken to the location where both Hero’s work together. As we began to prepare for our departure Big Daddy pulled us all together for a moment of silence in honor of the lives lost the day before – stolen by the terrorist in Paris. The moment of silence was observed and gave us all time to reflect on the loss of innocent lives, it was an extra motivator to go out and make our feelings known to the two hero’s and their families. Soon after completion of the ride brief our group safely headed out to our destination which was very close by. The Major was under the impression he was setting Sgt. Ortiz up to be honored and he was totally unaware that we were going to be recognizing his service as well, two Hero’s to Thank.
After a short ride to our Hero’s workplace we arrived and parked out front to the delight of our Hero’s wife and children and grandson. Sgt. Ortiz was quite obviously shocked and delighted by the surprise visit to acknowledge his service to our country. Jersey Jeff spoke to those in attendance about the service and sacrifice made by Sgt. Ortiz and presented him with the WWR coin and a big hug. This was followed by warm greetings and sincere expressions of gratitude by each of the WWR NJ members and a few members of OYR that were local and eager to show the respect and pride. It was a great time with lots of laughter and joking, and all while Major Casalunova was standing by with a great grin on his face celebrating the recognition given to Sgt. Ortiz.
As we began to wrap things up (so it appeared) Big Daddy began to speak about thanking Sgt. Ortiz and what an honor and privilege it had been to shake his hand, and then he turned to the Major and began the reveal – we were aware of his service and he was our other Hero of the day. Big Daddy discreetly coined the Major and let him know that his daughter was in on the plan (with her boyfriend) and we all took turns letting the Major know how we felt about his service to our country. It was our coldest ride day to date for the fall, and the wind was brisk but the group rode proud and tall and left our Hero’s with humble smiles and special memories.
I would like to thank Big Daddy for coordinating the mission with Sgt. Ortiz wife and the Majors daughter. It was an especially good time to honor these men and Big Daddy pulled it together on short notice and again showed me how to take a more active role in WWR NJ and gain confidence as an RC. Additionally he is always exceptionally nice to my 12 year old daughter and has become one of her favorites – seeing her become passionate about the missions brings something to the table for years into the future.
...WE WILL HONOR OUR NATION’S WARRIORS HERE AT HOME, AND SUPPORT THEIR FAMILIES WHILE THEY FIGHT FOR US ABROAD...
...THE WARRIORS’ WATCH RIDERS ENVISION A DAY WHEN EVERY MEMBER OF THE UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES, AT HOME AND ABROAD, AND THEIR FAMILIES, FEEL APPRECIATED, HONORED, RESPECTED AND LOVED BY THE CITIZENS THEY RISK THEIR LIVES TO PROTECT...