Gold Star Dad

The thoughts of a father who has lost a son to war

A great and chance meeting:

Posted by fozzynok on 08/19/2009

Saturday I had decided to drive up to Northern OKC to pick up a old awesome Kirby vacuum that I bought for $25.00 off and ad on Craigslist. On the way back, I decided to stop in Purcell. OK and have a quick lunch. As I was nearing the counter to order those damned addictive McChicken Sandwiches, I noticed the local paper with the Patriot Guard logos all over the front of it. It seemed that the Oklahoma Chapter was having their annual get together there that day. There was a local policeman standing in line so I asked him where this place was. It urns out that the place was less that a mile from there. Cool!  I ate my addicting Chicken Sandwiches and read further about the event. There was a parade there earlier in the day that I missed, but the activities after the parade were just about to get started. The paper also showed the grand marshal who was WW2 101st Paratrooper Jake McNiece. A veterans, veteran who survived four combat jumps into “Fortress Europa” I finished lunch and drove to the site of the event and as I approached the building a car stopped at the front door and as the car door opened, I saw an old gentleman wearing a WW2 era paratrooper uniform, getting out of the car. I walked up and shook his hand and told him what an honor it was to meet him. The next thing he asked was if I wanted to carry some books into the building.. I told him again that it would be an honor. So I carried the box of books into the building and began to walk around and see the sights. I saw Mr.McNiece sitting at a table resting and walked up to shake his hand again, we talked a bit and I told him of my son and his love of being with the 101st Airborne. We talked a bit more but I realized that I was probably taking up too much of his time and moved away so others there could visit with this great bit of American history.

I walked around the hall looking at the pictures and the items up for bid in the silent auction, I looked at the beautiful chopper that was made in honor of  fallen 3rd Infantry Division’s Cody Carver. The bike is awesome and you can tell that there is nothing but respect and love that went into the making of that machine.

I wandered down the hallways to the two vendor rooms and there were a few folks selling items for motorcycle riders, Patriot Guard gear and Military mementos like patches and buttons. At one of the tables I noticed a couple whom were wearing riding gear and matching t-shirts with picture of their son and dates of the day they lost him in Iraq. He was Navy Petty Officer 3rd class Doyle W. Bollinger who was a Sea Bee who lost his life 6/6/2003 in Iraq. I introduced myself and offered my condolences to them and told them about my son. The strange thing is that I could really feel the same pain from them that I feel at times like this. The wife made the comment that I was still pretty fresh at this and I agreed but told her that I could tell that this doesn’t get easier, just a little easier to deal with. I thanked them for talking with me and moved off to see more of the things there. It was nice to meet these people, but the changing of emotional gears was wearing me out.

I walked into the next room and had breathed deep enough a few times to recover and done my best to get my mind off that for the time being. I noticed a lady selling and sewing patches on vests for the biker folks there, I looked at the patches on the different boards and came to one that made me a little angry. There are various traditions in bike clubs from the outlaws to the club racers folks. In the hobby of motorcycle riding, you are going to lose friends. It’s inevitable and a fact of life when running on two wheels down tracks, trails and the highways. These friends are sometimes remembered with memorial patches or even painted names on the bikes themselves. There was a patch there bearing a headstone that said “ In memory of all you dead fucks”. Just reading that took the wind right out of me and I had to leave the area before I got mad. Getting mad would not have been respectful at the venue, but the patch should really never be in a place for a group that does what this club does. In your own little motorcycle clan, hanging out and the club house or on a private run somewhere fine. I get the intent and in another venue, it could be humorous. In an event for a group that escorts these military men and women coming home to be laid to rest and their families, its just rather crude. I do not say this like I’m saying anyone did this on purpose. I do think however that they did not put a lot of thought into the people who would be there that day.


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