Robert Waples & Grandson Troy Bystrom
From the Colorado Patriot Guard Riders website:
“We don’t care what you ride, what your political views are, or whether you’re a “hawk” or a “dove”. It is not a requirement to be a veteran. It doesn’t matter where you’re from or what your station in life is. You don’t even have to ride. All we require is that you show respect for those who have served our country.
We do many types of missions and have many opportunities for people to become involved in our organization. Come see us in action, and we guarantee you’ll experience the same feelings that have brought us all together to honor our troops.”
The Waples Family has a tradition of serving their country, both military and civilian alike. After hearing from Robert, no age is too young to participate. The following article is Robert sharing in his own words his experience with the Patriot Guard Riders and Honor Flight.
“Five years ago, my wife Nancy and I were out for a motorcycle ride and pulled into the gas station at Morrison & C-470 to stretch our legs. There were approximately 40 motorcycles parked at the gas station. As we stretched, a very large man approached Nancy and me and asked if we were joining them. I asked, “Joining them for what?” He told us they were riding to Conifer for the funeral of Sergeant First Class Ronald Aaron Grider, a soldier in Special Forces killed in Afghanistan. Proudly having a US Marine Corps son-in-law, we agreed to participate without hesitation.
Upon arrival to the church where the ceremony was to be held, we were met by hundreds of Green Beret soldiers. As Nancy and I walked through the group, thanking them for their sacrifices and service, we noticed a soldier taking care of a dog. The dog bore the visible scars of the battle in which SFC Grider was killed. The dog’s shoulder proudly displayed his own service ribbons, including his Purple Heart.
Since that first encounter with the Colorado Patriot Guard Riders, I have participated in many PGR events. My favorite are with Honor Flight, a non-profit organization. Honor Flight is a program that takes World War II, Korea, and Viet Nam Veterans to Washington DC to see their memorials.
I had the privilege to visit the WWII memorial with my father, Robert Waples, a World War II US Navy Veteran. He enlisted at the age of 17, joining his four older brothers also serving in the Navy.
My way to thank Veterans for their service is by attending Honor Flight send offs and welcoming home events at DIA with my camera. I offer these photos free of charge for the Veterans and their families. At this time, I have provided approximately 1,000 photographs.
My memorable Patriot Guard Rider events include having my seven year old grandson, Troy, joining me in the flag line. Troy has been participating with me and the Patriot Guard Riders for two years now. At first, he would help me hold the flag. Eventually, Troy expressed his independence and insisted in holding his own flag. He shakes the hands of our service members and thanks them for their sacrifices. I am quite proud of him!”
For more information on Patriot Guard Riders: http://www.coloradopgr.org/index.htm
Rocky Mountain Honor Flight: www.rockymountainhonorflight.org
“Hopefully, this message will inspire you to join with me and the Patriot Guard Riders or at an Honor Flight event. On Saturday, October 24, 2015, Honor Flight has a return celebration scheduled at 7:30pm in the main concourse. Join me, my grandson, and my camera in taking part in the welcoming home of these Veterans from DC. Do one event, and you may be hooked.”
My father, Robert Waples, the man who inspired the importance of service in all of us!