Ride Report by Lutz

To the families of the fallen, America shares your sorrow.

Yesterday the Warriors’ Watch Riders of SouthEast Pennsylvania stood at the funeral for U.S. Army Sgt. Louis Fastuca, of West Chester Pa. The young soldier, only 24 years old, was killed on July 5th by our enemies. I am grateful for the lives of men and women like Sgt. Fastuco, who in every generation take onto themselves the responsibility of maintaining the ideal of human liberty around the world, and who do so knowing what the cost might be. I am also grateful for the response of the American People when the ultimate price is paid.

It was brutally hot on the day of Sgt. Fastuca’s funeral. The bikers began to assemble at 0900 and by the beginning of visitation hours we had accumulated over 50 bikers, most members of Warriors’ Watch, augmented by members of the Vietnam Veterans MC, and non-riding members of other veteran’s organizations, most from the Vietnam Era. Despite the heat and lack of shade, these rugged-looking men, faces creased by their years and hair (if any) tied back into gray ponytails, stood holding American Flags in a line of respect around the church. By the time the service began at noon, hundreds of people had arrived to show their sorrow, filling the large Catholic Church to capacity.

Outside were not only bikers but a sight to break your heart, a growing crowd of complete “strangers” holding their little American flags, crying for a family who they don’t even know personally, but sharing with that family their grief, so that they need not carry the weight of that grief by themselves.

The East Goshen police department and other first responders were everywhere, ensuring peace and safety for the family. Then came the military honor guard. These U.S. Army soldiers were all spit-and-polish and sharp creases despite the late morning heat. The “Old Guard” had come up from Arlington to provide the military honors for Sgt. Fastuca. I watched during the ceremony, and later at the cemetery, as these impossibly disciplined soldiers stood stock-still and without flinching, in their dark dress-blue uniforms, for long periods in the direct sunlight of a hot July day. The dignity of it was beyond expression.

The procession to the cemetery was one of the most moving experiences of my life. It was lead by two motorcycle police officers, then three police vehicles, a fire engine flying the large American Flag. Then immediately behind the fire engine was this writer, my blue-and-sliver Heritage Softail flying two 3 X 5 flags – the American and POW/MIA. Following me were 50 motorcycles ridden by some of the truest patriots you will ever meet and flying American Flags big and small. We were in front of the family because they wanted to see the bikes, so we led the hearse and family limousine.

The ride from church to cemetery was four miles, and it was the most moving, proud four miles I’ve ever ridden. The entire four miles of this mostly residential area was lined with Americans – old, young, black, white, in business suits or overalls, shorts and t-shirts, jeans or uniforms. Hundreds upon hundreds of Americans. They had learned that a young man had fallen, a young American soldier was dead, and a family needed their support.

Block after block, mile after mile, the people of West Chester stood holding flags – children holding small flags, two people holding a very large flag between them, flags planted in lawns. Stores with marquees had changed the signs to bless the Fastuca family and show their love for the sacrifice of a young hero. Homes and businesses with flag poles had lowered the flags to half-mast.

As I passed each group of patriotic, sympathetic Americans I mouthed “thank you,” and my vision blurred. I am a very proud American, but rarely have I been so proud to be an American as I was during that ride – seeing the 50 bikes behind me and the people lining the streets around me and knowing what this sight would do for the family that was in so much pain.

At the graveside the presiding Priest spoke of the outpouring of love and support from the community that he had just witnessed. This elderly cleric said that he had never seen that before in his life, and that the family had reason to be very, very proud.

And they were. The outpouring of support from the community (and a bunch of grizzled bikers) had given comfort and sorrowful pride to this stricken family, and that is the greatest result that we could possibly have hoped for.

We are blessed to have Heroes like Sgt. Luis Fastuco serving our nation, and to have people so willing to share sorrow. In America, no family of a fallen warrior will ever mourn alone.


Photos courtesey of the Daily Local Newspaper of West Chester, Pa.

Click Here for Warriors’ Watch Photo Gallery Courtesey of Sean Carpenter, WWR Photographer