Veterans Day Salute: Patriot Guard Riders - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Veterans Day Salute: Patriot Guard Riders

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SPOKANE, Wash. – On a chilly morning in Northwest Spokane, a group of people gathered to honor a man they never met.

More than 50 members of the Patriot Guard Riders met on Monday to attend the funeral service of Chief Warrant Officer Niall Lyons who was killed in Afghanistan late last month.

“The whole reason behind what we do is to show the family that people they didn’t even know, support their loved one,” said ride Captain Larry Griffith, a retired Lt. Commander in the United States Navy.

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 Patriot Guard Riders stand at attention outside St. Anthony's Church during a service for CWO Niall Lyons

Members of the Patriot Guard Riders volunteer their time to stand at attention and carry the American flag as members of the military are deployed, return home or are buried.

“One of the mottos of the group is, ‘We stand for those who stood for us,’” said Cal Edwards, a Vietnam Veteran. Edwards rode two hours from his home near Kettle Falls to attend Monday’s service.

“In my words, we have a great country here,” said Stan Handley, a retired Master Chief in the US Navy. “We enjoy freedoms and liberties that no place in the world has and if it hadn’t been for the Veterans in the Country, we wouldn’t have those kinds of freedoms or liberties.”

While the nation pauses to honor Veterans on the 11th day of November, the Patriot Guard Riders accept missions to honor vets any day of the year.

“When I first started riding, I probably didn’t ride a mission without tearing up,” said Kevin Ch’en who served in Vietnam. “I remembered the disrespect that myself and some of the friends received in airports and other public places. I think it was a healing process for me as well as being able to stand with people who are genuine patriots.”

Most of the members served in the military, but service is not required. Most of the members ride motorcycles to the events known as “missions,” but that’s not required either.

“The only requirement is you love your country,” said Griffith.

When the flag draped coffin of CWO Lyons passed, the group stood and held American flags, honoring the man with their formation called a wall of silence.

“It’s very emotional for myself,” said Handley. “I feel great honor to be able to hold that American flag up.”

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