Photos Courtesy Dan Cox and Zoe Martino-Cox
We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Boulder City residents, Dan Cox and Zoe Martino-Cox, of the Nevada Patriot Guard Riders, Southern Nevada Chapter. The Southern Nevada Patriot Guard Riders were recently the Gold Medal Recipient of the Governor’s Points of Light Award. This award ceremony, now in its twentieth year, recognizes volunteers from across the state for their charitable work in our communities.
Who are the Southern Nevada Patriot Guard Riders? They are a special volunteer organization that is part of the Nevada chapter of the national group. Their original mission was to protect veterans’ families from protestors at their loved ones’ funerals. They would form a protective shield around the families with flags and their motorcycles, so that grieving families didn’t need to contend with seeing the protestors. The protestors have stopped attacking these funerals, but the missions of the Patriot Guard Riders have evolved into so much more.
In our conversation with Dan, Assistant State Captain for the Southern Nevada group, we learned the group has two mottos “Standing for Those Who Stood for US” and “Riding With Respect”. They apply these mottos to honor military heroes, first responders, and honorably discharged veterans. In Southern Nevada, they are faithfully present when called upon by surviving family members or when, unfortunately, there is a burial of a veteran who has no next-of-kin. The Patriot Guard Riders will accompany the veteran’s cremains from the mortuary to the cemetery, in this case, the Southern Nevada Veterans Cemetery located at 1900 Buchanan Boulevard. They provide a processional to the cemetery, and in some cases, also do a bridge flagline. A bridge flagline is when members stand along a bridge along the processional route with flags and they salute the processional as it passes by.
For the unaccompanied services, Patriot Guard Riders line the perimeter walls of the chapel during the service. At the conclusion of the service, they accompany the deceased veteran to the graveside location and wait quietly as the final arrangements are completed. For the veterans without immediate family, the cemetery includes an imprint of an eagle with the veterans name, branch of service, important dates, and the memoriam “Rest in Peace”, on the headstone of each of these veterans.
The group has partnered with Calvary Chapel Church here in Boulder City to provide Scripture Quilts for survivors. These cherished items are sewn by members of the church and given to the widow or widower or other next of kin.
The SNVPGR has participated in a number of Pony Express Missions. These missions ensure that a veteran is never alone as the cremains are transported from one part of the country to another. They coordinate with other state groups to ride – sometimes across several states – to make sure the veteran finally makes it “home”. Recently, the Southern Nevada Group transported a veterans remains from Boulder City to Jackpot Nevada, where another Patriot Guard Rider group met them and continued this mission into Oregon, where the cremains were later placed.
These amazing volunteers number nearly 300 in Southern Nevada. In addition to the solemn duties at the cemetery, they also work with Honor Flights, Homes for Our Troops, Help on the Homefront, and Blue Star Mothers. Last year, they were made aware of a couple of active military families who were struggling during the holiday season. Dan put out the word to his group and they came through – delivering truckloads of gifts to the surprised and delighted families.
This year, they will be riding in the Veterans Day Parade in Las Vegas. That parade is in Downtown Las Vegas today from 10:00AM to 12:00PM. You can find out more about attending the parade HERE. It is the largest veterans parade west of the Mississippi.
This amazing group of volunteers is well-deserving of their recent award from the Governor. Boulder City is lucky to have many of the members living here in our city. Be sure to thank them when you see them. The work they do is difficult but so important to veterans, first responders, and their families. We salute you Patriot Guard Riders! Happy Veterans Day!