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Wounded Times

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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Patriot Guard Riders and a soldier's solemn, honorable return home

A soldier's solemn, honorable return home
Tampa Bay Times
By Weston Phippen, Times Staff Writer
Thursday, December 5, 2013

The bikers gathered in a circle outside the funeral home. Some with beards and bellies — looser frames than when many of them were young and serving their country.

They bowed their heads and said a prayer.

A man in a leather jacket asked God to watch over the night escort from the funeral home in Clearwater to Tampa International Airport and back. He asked to ease the family's pain, and he thanked young men everywhere who leave home for overseas and return in cargo holds.

An older woman walked near and disappeared into the arms of Thomas Brown, the assistant state captain for the Patriot Guard Riders.

After the embrace she thanked him.

"It's an honor for us to be here," Brown said.

Only hours before many of the Patriot Guard Riders had watched as a soldier who'd lost his legs in war was handed keys to a new home; now they were here.

The family of Spc. Justin Kyle Adams loaded into a black hearse. Police escorts flipped on their lights, followed by the riders on motorcycles. The procession headed into the night and turned east onto Gulf to Bay Boulevard.

They rode staggered, with American flags secured to their machines, a flapping line stretching over the bridge toward the airport.
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