Ride Report posted for Liver

Tuesday August 10th, 2010 was a day like any other for the modern commuter – missed flights, dealing with flight changes, making arrangements to get home – except for the fact that Shaun Collins is no ordinary commuter and did not have ordinary arrangements to take him home. After 5 months in Afghanistan E3 Shaun Collins of the US Navy SeaBees was coming home to Whitemarsh, to his community and family – as well as a few people who want to see him to his house, thank him and his family – in person.


Gathering at the Barren Hill Fire Company on Germantown Pike in Lafayette Hills, PA the riders of WWR, members of A Hero’s Welcome as well as many friends and family, members of the Plymouth Meeting, Lafayette, Harmonville and Conshohocken Fire and Whitemarsh Township Police Departments assembled no less than 25 motorcycles, 6 fire trucks, 2 police cruisers, 8 personal cars, vans from Fox and Channel 6 (WPVI), reporters and a large crowd waiting for Shaun to arrive. Originally scheduled for a 2pm arrival at PHL Shaun had missed his flight and was due to arrive at 6pm – just as everyone was gathering at the fire house. 
Maria (AHW) took the opportunity during the first briefing to present a birthday cake to Charlie Becker. Charlie is a Vietnam veteran and was presented with an AHW certificate as well as being coined by WWRs own Fungi. During the wait as Shaun and his family traveled to meet us the BHFC made everyone comfortable, we all had a little cake and Conshohocken brought in it’s 1935 AutoCar fire truck for Shaun to ride in.
As we arranged bikes for the ride out, were holding our last meeting and assembling the flag line the Collins family was “15 minutes out” – or so we thought. As we all stood in front of the fire house the Collins arrived and a very surprised Shaun got out of his Dad’s truck – and was immediately greeted by the over 40 people waiting there for him in the parking lot.

As reporters gathered in front of him to ask he and his family questions we mounted up and waited for Shaun to get in the back of the AutoCar – which had broken down on the pad. The Fire Department didn’t miss a beat as they whisked him and his family into another truck for the ride home while reporters scrambled to catch a ride – one on the back of a WWR bike!

The 1.5 mile ride to the Collins residence was – to coin a phrase – spectacular. Cars and people – some holding signs with Shaun’s name – lined the streets, clearly taking their time to organize and welcome one of their own Sons home. Fire trucks seemed to be everywhere along the route which saw our first turn take place at a blocked off Germantown Pike – a major artery – with a flag draped between two ladder trucks, people everywhere. 
As we turned onto the Collins street you could swear that the end of the procession was just leaving the FD parking lot – and that there would not be enough room to fit all of the cars, trucks, people and bikes in the small cul de sac road. Amid a crowd of neighbors, friends, family, PD, FD, press, and all others assembled Shaun was presented with a certificate by AHW and coined by WWR as tokens of our sincere gratitude to his and his family’s sacrifices. Shaun, asked to make a speech, said simply “It means a lot to me” and clearly, it did.
As we gathered for a group shot the crowd easily overwhelmed the front yard and no one thought a single frame could fit us all. Afterwards we could swear that Shaun’s Father shook the hands of every person there as we all left to allow them the time to reunite, to finally relax after what his Mother said, felt like 5 years – not 5 months.

As Huggy wrote in his original post “Everyone knows how Plymouth gets out to honor it’s Heros. It’s a spectacular sight”. That is an understatement, but seeing how the Collins family is part of that very community it’s clear that they are not only spectacular but exceptional as well. Best wishes to the Collins family and their community – Welcome home Shaun & well done Plymouth!