For many people, a group of guys on motorcycles might look scary. We often associate these groups with people who commit crimes and incite violence. Yet most of these biker groups are friendly—and many even do charity work.
Since 2006, The Patriot Guard Riders has helped thousands of war heroes get the respectful funeral services they deserved. Yet, in 2015, they really went the extra mile for Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Jonathan Turner.
Turner had just passed away, one year after retiring. He had served seven tours between Iraq and Afghanistan throughout the course of seventeen years—but he died shortly after due to combat-related issues.
Turner passed away in California, yet his mother lived in Georgia where he had grown up. Unable to afford a plane ticket to the funeral service, Turner’s mother would have to wait for her son’s remains to come via the mail.
When The Patriot Guard Riders heard this news, they were outraged and believed that Turner deserved better. So they took it upon themselves to personally escort Turner across the country.
“The California Patriot Guard Riders contacted all of the state captains from California to Georiga and explained the situation, that it wasn’t proper to ship this war hero home via FedEx,” said Jeff Goodiel of the Georgia Patriot Guard Riders, according to Fox 5 Atlanta.
Soon a convoy of each state’s Patriot Guard Riders assembled to drive Turner’s cremated remains each state to then be passed off to the next group of riders.
The group made frequent stops between states to hold a ceremony for Turner. One particularly notable ceremony occurred after Turner’s ashes had gone through Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. The riders stopped at a rest stop on Interstate 40 just over the Arkansas state line from Oklahoma to pay their respects.
“The Arkansas Patriot Guard Riders are proud to receive Staff Sgt. Johnathan Turner, United States Marine Corps. It will be an honor and a privilege to escort him on his journey home,” said Norm Breth, Road Captain of the Patriot Guard Riders of Arkansas, during the ceremony, according to 5 News. “And thank you, Oklahoma. We appreciate your service.”
With Turner’s remains on his bike, Breth was now ready to ride.
“We will do it. We will accomplish the mission,” Breth said. “Because that is what it is. The mission is to get Staff Sgt. Turner from California to his mother’s arms so that she can be at ease that he is home.”
Breth and his fellow riders held to their promise. After five days, hundreds of volunteers, and 2,000 miles, Turner was delivered to his mother, Annie Glanton, in Georgia where they held one final ceremony.
“This means everything,” Turner’s friend, Debbie Doolin, told Fox 5 Atlanta with a tear in her eye. “It means everything to see all these people honoring him.”
“It’s heartwarming, to see all these people here,” Glanton told Fox 5. “I know that he was loved by a lot of people.”
Turner and his mother were finally reunited, though, Glanton wishes her son could have made it in-person. Still, the lengths The Patriot Guard Riders went to deliver him in a respectable manner are commendable.