Staff Sgt. Jonathan Turner was a true American hero. He volunteered to serve in the United States Marine Corps and did an excellent job while with the organization. He endured seven tours of Iraq and later relocated to California, where he died from a combat-related injury at the young age of just 41-years-old. Because the Staff Sergeant died thousands of miles from his family, who lived in Georgia, the United States military planned to send his remains in a brown UPS box via ground shipping.
One veterans’ group heard about the military’s plans and decided that Staff Sgt. Turner deserved better than to be shipped across the country in a brown UPS box. They gathered their group of bikers and decided to do something that no one asked them to do but was very much appreciated. Their network of bikers found a way to carry Turner’s remains from where he died in California to his family’s home in Georgia, so his loved ones could receive the honorable veteran in a way that was becoming of such an American hero.
The Patriot Guard Riders were the group that offered to help. The group invites everyone to join their clan – not just veterans and motorcyclists. However, members of the group have a “deep respect for those who serve our country.”
“We don’t care what you ride or if you ride, what your political views are, or whether you’re a hawk or a dove,” the group wrote on their website. “It doesn’t matter where you’re from or what your income is; you don’t even have to ride. The only prerequisite is Respect.”
PGR was born out of Westboro Baptist Church. However, the church has a reputation for protesting veteran’s funerals, so PGR worked to combat that hatred by being there to support veterans and others who served the United States of America.
When they heard that Turner’s remains were going to be shipped in a UPS box, they knew they had to intervene and get him home the right way. The PGR members in California banded together and launched their mission to carry Turner’s remains from California, where he had a funeral, to his hometown in Georgia, where he had his family.
“The California Patriot Guard Riders contacted all of the state captains from California to Georgia and explained the situation, that it wasn’t proper to ship this war hero home via FedEx,” Jeff Goodiel of the Georgia Patriot Guard Riders told Fox 5 Atlanta. “Within days, a convoy was assembled with each state’s Patriot Guard Riders driving Turner’s cremated remains across their state and then passing those remains off to the next group of riders.”
Turner’s mission proved to be the longest ride in PGR history. Hundreds of volunteers worked together to transport Turner’s remains 2,000 miles across the country.
“It’s heartwarming to see all these people here,” said Annie Glanton, Turner’s mother. “I know that he was loved by a lot of people.”