Local Supporters of Patriot Guard Riders stand atop a tow truck, waiting for the bikers to pass.
Nine Wyoming Patriot Guard Riders (PGR) passed through Campbell County last month on their motorcycles as they escorted a veteran’s ashes from South Dakota to Montana last month, one leg on the cross-continental journey home from Florida to Washington. Many in Gillette waved flags and decorated signs as the cyclists passed through.
In the crowd that day was Gillette resident Kelly Olsen, who cheered alongside the highway with her son and boyfriend to watch her father and the other motorcyclists help deliver the fallen veteran home. The mission of the group is to provide free transfer services for the remains of veterans and first responders across the United States.
That day, Olsen was sitting on the back of their tow truck waiting for the group to arrive when they were approached by GPD Officer Kris Hunter, who asked what was going on. After hearing details, Hunter decided to hop on the truck and wave his own flag.
“It was amazing that he joined us when he was just driving by,” Olsen said Friday. “We all felt great when we left, that day.”
Since this event, Olsen said that her life has significantly changed. She’s traveled to several towns throughout Wyoming to “honor veterans” by holding flags during funeral ceremonies, planning gatherings to help fuel conversation about the riders and lending a hand however the organization needs it.
“You feel this sense of pride,” she said. “This is the best way to give our veterans one last thank you.”
Following her recent involvement with PGR, Olsen decided to jumpstart a chapter of the organization locally in Gillette, inspired in part by her father who joined the group a few years ago after he retired. Olsen said the chapter is currently focused on building connections with families who could seek their services and individuals looking to volunteer.
Since Olsen would “never get on a motorcycle,” she encourages those in the community who do not ride bikes to join the riders, anyway.
“There’s so much we can do to show support to our troops,” Olsen said. “You don’t have to be a veteran and you don’t have to own a motorcycle to be a member.”
To become a member or to learn more about PGR call Olsen at (307) 797-1406.