Ride Report posted for Snap

On April 24, 2008 SSgt Shaun J. Whitehead, 24, died of wounds he suffered when he encountered an IED while on patrol in Iskandariyah, Iraq. We had the honor to escort this hero upon his airport arrival home and to be with the family the day he was laid to rest. We told Rebecca, Shaun’s mother, and Janie, Shaun’s wife, that day, that Shaun’s service to his country would never be forgotten. We did not forget.

A year later we had the opportunity to show that Shaun was not forgotten. On Friday, April 24th, we staged about 15 minutes away from Rebecca’s home. We had a short briefing explaining what were to be our plans for the mission. We were to ride to the family home to meet with Rebecca, Janie and the rest of the family as well as members of Shaun’s unit who were with him when he was killed and escort them to the cemetery where Shaun rests.

The ride to the family home through the gentle north Georgia farm country with flags waiving was a site to behold. Full sunshine and temperature around 85 made it an ideal day. When we encountered the occasional car or tractor they all pulled over and showed their respect for the flags. A county sheriff even pulled over and lit up the blues for us. We pulled in the driveway and made our way back to the family home and were met by the family with a lot of hugs, tears and laughs. This was not a sad day but a day to celebrate Shaun’s life.

snap2After about and hour of socializing under the shade of a large oak tree we formed up for the short ride over to the small church and cemetery where Shaun was laid to rest. Most of the immediate family jumped at the offer to ride with us with Rebecca riding up front with me. When we got out onto the road I told here to look back and see all the bikes and flags behind us. She said “oh my god, it is beautiful, Shaun would love this”. We arrived at the cemetery for some words to be spoken about Shaun, the person he was and the soldier he was. Shaun’s favorite music was playing in the background. A poem written and read by our own poet “Wordsmith”, was framed and presented to the family. Each person there placed a flower on Shaun’s marker, with a hug from Rebecca and Janie, a very emotional time. As we were leaving, Shaun’s fellow soldiers, and his CO that escorted him back from Dover, fired a three round volley as a tribute to Shaun.

We completed our mission with a short ride back to the family home. Again there were lots of hugs as we were leaving. A year ago we promised Janie and Rebecca that Shaun and all of our fallen that paid the ultimate price for our freedoms will always be remembered. The Whitehead family all stated that we kept our promise.

We will remember, always…