The men and women who protect our freedom deserve the utmost honor and respect, even more so when they make the ultimate sacrifice and give their own lives in the line of duty.
Staff Sgt. Jonathan Turner is one such hero. After seven tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, he died in California from combat-related injuries one year after he retired.
The 41-year-old veteran’s family lives in Georgia and wasn’t able to attend his funeral in California. The military planned to send Turner’s remains to them once the ceremony was over, but that’s when the Patriot Guard Riders (PGR) stepped in.
PGR is an organization of bikers who attend the funerals of military members, firefighters, and police officers and protect those funerals from protestors and harassment. They also fill out the attendance at funerals for indigent and homeless veterans, perform volunteer work for veteran’s organizations, and host homecoming celebrations for troops coming home from overseas.
When PGR found out Turner’s remains were going to be shipped home in a FedEx box, they knew they couldn’t let that happen.
“The California Patriot Guard Riders contacted all of the state captains from California to Georgia and explained the situation, that it wasn’t proper to ship this war hero home via FedEx,” explained Jeff Goodiel of the Georgia Patriot Guard Riders. “Within days, a convoy was assembled with each state’s Patriot Guard Riders driving Turner’s cremated remains across their state and then passing those remains off to the next group of riders.”
Event organizers say this was the longest trip of its kind, with hundreds of volunteers transporting the remains more than 2,000 miles across the country.
To Turner’s family, the respect and honor that PGR showed him meant the world.
“It’s heartwarming, to see all these people here,” said Turner’s mother, Annie Glanton. “I know that he was loved by a lot of people.”
The riders say honoring Turner in this way was well worth the effort.
“Turner was a great leader who inspired his fellow Marines, both in the Corps and in daily life,” their website reads. “You were his friend if you knew him for five minutes or five years. He would give you the shirt off his back.”
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