Where am I?
Andy Wilson - Patriot Guard Riders
When and how did you get involved with the Patriot Guard Riders?
My wife and I have been involved with the Patriot Guard for about 4 or 5 years now. We heard about it through some other riders and decided to get involved. We both have family in the military and thought this would be a great way to give back to military families.
What have been some of your most memorable service projects you’ve done with the group?
Each ride has touched us and humbles us. Cpl. Phillip Vinnedge was killed in Afghanistan by an I.E.D. after only 16 days of deployment. He was 19 years old. He was hoping to restore a classic pick-up truck when returning from his deployment. So, when his body arrived at the airport that night he was taken to the funeral home in the back of a classis truck escorted by the Patriot Guard. Each overpass, from the airport to St, Charles, had fire trucks waving flags and flashing lights. His mother presented us with pins with her son’s picture which I wear proudly on my vest.
Sgt. Dennis Kisseloff died May 14, 2010 at the age of 45. He was a widower with 2 young children. We were honored to escort him to his final resting place in Jefferson Barracks. After he received the 21 gun salute they began to play Taps. When we heard a thump of helicopter blades, 3 attack helicopters rose up from the river valley and did a fly over tribute to honor Sgt. Kisseloff. These are just a few memories I will cherish. These memories have brought tears to the eyes of the toughest looking bikers including mine.
What is the snowball express?
The Snowball Express’s mission is to honor America’s fallen military service members who have made the ultimate sacrifice since 9/11 by humbly serving the families they left behind. We champion their children’s future success by creating opportunities for joy, friendship, and communal healing, by connecting these families to one another.
So the children of the fallen loved one receive a vacation to meet up with other to bond and find support. All expenses are paid. So, the Patriot Guard was lucky enough to stand flag line and bring them gifts for their trip. I even got to hand out a few candy canes.
Why do you get involved in the community?
My involvement in the community probably comes from my parents and family. We never had a lot, but I had seen my parents always help anyone they could. So, I just want to honor them and pass it down the line.
How can others get involved?
Anyone can get involved. There are many out there in need. It’s not always money or material things that are needed. Sometimes it’s just pitching in or just being there. Just find your cause and you will never look back.
How do you see the mission, vision and values of the Fontbonne community reflected in what you’re doing to serve others?
Fontbonne helps me to do many of these things I am involved in. My bosses and co-workers have had to pick up my slack while I am out on some of these escorts or charities. So, the Fontbonne Family is there with me even if it is behind the scenes and for that I am blessed.
I know you are a man that likes to be behind the scenes, but what would you like people to know?
I would like people to know that is does not take much to bring a smile to someone and for just a minute to help them bear their burdens and let them know the world is really a pretty good place.