Ride Report posted by Lutz

Warriors’ Watch was contacted several weeks ago by Mr. William E. Blackman (Retired Philadelphia Police Sergeant) who is the Family Assistance Center Specialist for the Pa. State Family Program Office at the NorthEast Philadelphia Armory.

Bill was effusive in his praise of the work of the Warriors’ Watch Riders, and he told me that a PAARNG unit was soon departing for deployment to Afghanistan. He asked if we could come to the Armory and give the departing troops a proper sendoff.

He also invited us to attend and take part in the ceremonies at the Armory for the departing troops and their families. We arrived at 11 and were greeted like old friends by the Armory guards on duty there. Our motorcycles were lined up in a place of honor, we would lead the convoy out of the Armory to the destination, Fort Dix.

Mingling outside with the arriving troops and their families was a heart-wrending experience. Most of them looked so young, and all of them were apprehensive, of course, about the duty they were about to undertake. I met and befriended several troops and family members,  not to mention Philadelphia Traffic police and news cameramen who were very well known to us from many past events.

One troop, a young but nonetheless fellow Philly “sister,” told me of her apprehension at this, her first deployment, saying that she just didn’t know what to expect. She had a great family with her, and I was glad for her to see the support that was evident in that family, mom and dad and some small ones, there for her and holding home made signs for her.

That story was repeated over and over again as the morning progressed. We went inside for the cememonies and these National Guardsmen looked great – sharp and eager in formation.

After the presentation of the colors and the National Anthem, the formation was dismissed to let them sit up in the bleachers with their families, and a series of high-ranking officers and city officials spoke of our united committment to the support of these great soldiers.

The convy was extremely long – five tour buses for the troops, and a line of trucks for the equipment that was equal in size and number to the buses. Despite that, the escort came off without a hitch. The Company Commander was in the lead vehicle, the Warriors’ Watch motorcycles followed, the buses behind us, then the trucks and other odd vehicles. Police support was tremendous. Philly traffic took us to the turnpike, PA State Trooper took us to New Jersey, and a New Jersey State Trooper took us the rest of the way, effectively leapfrogging ahead to block intersections so that we never needed put our feet down.

At Fort Dix, the Company Commander got out and spoke to the gate guard for a moment, then we were all waved through the gate and onto the base. We were therefore able to go with them to their destination and slap some more backs, shake smoe more hands, give some more hugs to our brother soldiers as they departed the buses and began to gather their gear.

We then departed as a group to let them get to the business of training for their deployment.

I have to make a personal comment here – as I scanned the faces in the bleachers, the young soldiers and their parents or equally young spouses, the “older” soldiers and their own children,  I felt like I could cry. The sacrifices that families make when so many of our citizen soldiers are called to war, the agonizing months of worry and hardship and of missing those they love, is more reason than anyone could ever need to to everything in our power to support them.  Visible signs of support really do give comfort, small comfort perhaps but comfort nonetheless, to those families and the soldiers they love.

Don’t ever stop doing what you are doing for them. After all, they have our backs over there. So we have their backs, here at home.

Men and Women of the 131st Transportation Company – we support you, we honor you, we love you – and we will be here for your families while you are away, and for you when you come home.

(The photos accompanying this report were taked by New Jersey rider and photog Tom “Boozer” Beitz. For all of his photos, click here.)