11 Panhandle veterans to travel to Washington D.C., honor guard to escort veterans

Members of the Patriot Guard Riders have provided 11 escort missions for veterans traveling to Denver for Honor Flights to Washington, D.C.

SCOTTSBLUFF — Several Korean and Vietnam War veterans will be in Scottsbluff on Nov. 1, on their way to Washington, D.C., as part of the Veteran Honor Flights.

The group of 11 veterans, their guardians and two overseers will leave Chadron that Thursday morning. Also along for escorts will be local law enforcement and members of the Patriot Guard Riders.

The route takes the veterans south through Alliance, then west on Highway 26 through Bayard and Minatare on the way to Scottsbluff.

Steve Thomlison with the Nebraska Chapter of the Patriot Guard Riders said they will escort the veterans group down East Overland to Fifth Avenue and north to 20th Street.

From there, the convoy heads west to First Avenue and south to the Elks Lodge for lunch at noon.

“The Patriot Guard has 150 flags to hand out the public,” Thomlison said "We’d love to see a big crowd of people along First Avenue in honor of these veterans as well as veterans from their own families.”

Thomlison recalled that two years ago, he witnessed both sides of the First Avenue parade route were lined with flag-waving citizens to welcome the veterans to our community.

“Those veterans were absolutely blown away by the reception they received,” Thomlison said. “It was an awesome sight for them to see.”

He said members of the Nebraska Patriot Guard Riders will escort the veterans group from Chadron, through Scottsbluff and on to Kimball at 1 p.m.

Another group of riders take over in Kimball and escort the veterans to Fort Morgan, Colorado. From there, the Colorado Chapter of Patriot Guard Riders takes the last leg of the journey to Denver International Airport.

On Friday morning, the veterans are in flight to Washington for a meet-and-greet with their fellow veterans.

An all-day tour of the monuments at the nation’s capital is scheduled for Saturday and they return home on Sunday.

“It’s also been a life-changing experience for anyone with veteran relatives to come along as a guardian,” Thomlison said. “They get to witness how the country actually responds to these veterans. It’s phenomenal to see.”

He added that everyone, not just veterans, should have the opportunity at least once to witness the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery.

Nov. 1 will be the 11th mission for the Patriot Guard Riders. In addition to riding escort for Veterans Honor Flights, they stand the flag line for funerals of fellow veterans.

Residents that would like to welcome the veterans are encouraged to stop by the Elks Lodge on First Avenue to pick up a flag at 11:30 a.m., and then join the crowd outside to welcome our veterans.

We're always interested in hearing about news in our community. Let us know what's going on!

Jerry Purvis is a reporter with the Star-Herald. He can be reached at 308-632-9046 or emailed at jpurvis@starherald.com.

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