ARANSAS PASS, Texas (NNS) -- Rows of glistening, flag-adorned motorcycles owned by Patriot Guard riders were ready to rumble, Feb. 19, for 2nd Lt. Dudley Ives, Army Air Corps pilot and Ingleside native whose B-24 Liberator went down during a storm nearly 63 years ago.
A dozen Naval Station Ingleside Sailors rode alongside veterans and other riders in a 50-bike procession honoring the airman whose remains were discovered in Papua New Guinea in February 2002.
Ives' B-24, named "Here T'is," was in a group of 37 bombers that met their demise during a bombing raid in April 1944 on what has become known as "Black Sunday."
"We (Sailors) enjoy riding together, but to be part of an event like this is really special," said Master Chief Mineman Alan Wilkey of the Afloat Training Group. "This man was one of the 'Greatest Generation.' It's an honor to be here."
The Patriot Guard motorcyclists who have a deep sense of pride, ride to attend funerals of fallen servicemen as part of their service - some say for their country, others for the families, yet others say to honor all vets.
Riding motorcycles is a common thread among the Guard, although neither owning a bike nor liking them is a prerequisite. Rather, the bond is the Patriots' mission to support those who wear (or wore) the American military uniform. The organization's motto is "Standing for Those Who Stood for Us."
"This group is incredible," stated Cmdr. Vernon 'Butch' Nuenschwander, of Mine Countermeasures Squadron 3. "The Patriot Guard rides for the families: to show respect, to honor the sacrifice their serviceman made."
"To be here for this WWII (World War II) pilot, what a privilege," he added.
The Patriot Guard Riders began in Kansas 2005 when a local chapter of the American Legion Riders learned a group was going to protest the war by rallying at the funeral of Army Staff Sgt. John Doles in Chelsea, Okla. They put out the word to other motorcycle groups and were successful in mounting a group in support of the fallen soldier.
The organization doesn't take sides - it makes no difference if those interested in joining are "hawks" or "doves." The only prerequisite is respect for our troops.
"Most of this group are veterans, though I couldn't serve due to a medical situation," Derrick Price, Patriot Guard Ride captain said. "But I've always loved this country, this is one way I can serve these folks."
A member since December, Joe Vollmer, a local businessman, who served six years in the National Guard discovered this was a group of people who "have their hearts in the right place."
"The Riders perform an important mission," said Senior Chief Fireman Dan Creswell of Naval Station Ingleside, ride captain for the Ives' mission. "They make sure the families don't have any outside intrusions as they grieve for the family member."
After dismounting at Charlie Marshall Funeral Home in Aransas Pass, Creswell stationed riders with U.S. flags around the parking area's perimeter and awaited the arrival of the fallen airman's family.
"This is incredible," said Ronald Ives, 68, the pilot's surviving son. "To see these all these men and flags is an impressive site."
"This is a happy event," he added. "Dad is finally home."
After a short memorial, a cavalcade of flags, headlights, bikes and cars drove to the grave site where a large gathering of local Veterans of Foreign Wars members, friends and families assembled.
The Patriot Guard formed a shoulder-to-shoulder Stars and Strips semicircle around the gravesite as the U.S. Army chaplain conducted the final service for Ives.
"I've been in the funeral business 57 years," said Charlie Marshall. "I've never seen anything so patriotic in my life: the flags, the camaraderie -impressive."
After the service, the family and friends attended a reception at the local Veteran of Foreign Wars Hall, named after Ives.
In 1953, according to Lu Arcemont, local historian, Douglas McCarty, a former VFW Post commander worked very hard, knocking on many doors, obtaining signatures to get the post named after Ives.
For related news, visit the Commander, Mine Warfare Command Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cmwc/.