The Kansas American Legion Riders (ALR) mission is primarily focused on supporting all veterans, and secondarily on supporting our community. The official ALR mission statement is 'Promote and support the American Legion and its programs; to call for an accounting of ALL Prisoners of War and those missing in action and to honor the memory of those killed in action.'
Some of our activities include the following:
Our newest mission is to protect the families of fallen soldiers from the Fred Phelps’ Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) group's harassment at military funerals. This mission evolved after we learned in July 2005 that the WBC had picketed and protested the funeral of Army Specialist Jared Hartley, in Newkirk, Oklahoma. I discussed this with the membership at our August meeting and suggested that we ride to soldiers' funerals to honor the soldiers, support their families, and protect them from the WBC harassment. We determined that if the funeral was within 200 miles of Wichita, and scheduled for noon or later, it was a mission that could be accomplished in a day's ride. Our ALR director Chuck Barshney appointed Cregg Hansen and me (Terry Houck) as leaders of the mission. I drafted Steve McDonald, Bill Logan, Dennis Scuffham, and Greg Hansen as additional committee members.
- Send phone cards to soldiers serving overseas
- Visit VA hospitals with a quarterly 'Rolling Thunder Banana Ride' (with flags on our iron horses)
- Participate in Toy Runs
- Provide 'Welcome Home' rides for returning soldiers
- Participate in patriotic parades
- Provide funeral escorts for soldiers
Each ALR member who rides for this mission will be known as a 'Patriot Guard.' We provide this support by invitation from the families and with permission from the local law enforcement. We provide a human barrier to isolate the WBC protestors and their vicious signs, the goal being to protect the family from seeing and hearing them. If the family requests it, we will provide Thunder using our iron horses to drown out the WBC chanting and singing. We provide an avenue of flags during the funeral procession. Our military-service flags and American flags are our banners, blocking the anti-American messages displayed by the WBC. Some of the most offensive WBC signs bear the slogans 'Thank God for Dead Soldiers,” 'Thank God for Body Bags,' 'Thank God for IEDs,' 'Thank God for 9/11,' 'God Hates America,' 'God Hates the USA,' US=FAG,' 'Soldiers are FAGs,' 'FAG Troops,' and 'Semper Fie, Semper Die.'
This mission is personal because the WBC is located in Topeka, Kansas, our state capital. They are an embarrassment to our state. We are getting the message out to every motorcycle and veterans organization across the U.S. We want the WBC to stop protesting military funerals and show respect for the people who have sacrificed their lives to ensure that we all have the freedom that WBC is exploiting. We want the WBC to show respect for our soldiers who are protecting their freedom. We believe if the WBC is so unhappy with the United States, then they should move to Afghanistan, Iraq, or North Korea, and enjoy the good life outside the United States.
As of now we have completed two missions. The first was SSgt. John Doles' funeral in Chelsea, Oklahoma. The second was Army Spc. Lucas Frantz in Tonganoxie, Kansas. Both soldiers were killed in action. Each mission has included the support of other motorcycle groups, including ABATE, BACA, CMA, CVMA, CCMA, Kansas City chapter of Southern Cruisers, Oklahoma ALR, and Missouri ALR. (I apologize if I've omitted any.) These groups consist of veterans from the Korean War, Viet Nam, Desert Storm, Desert Shield, and the current war in the Middle East. Extended membership includes wives, sons, and daughters of veterans. Our efforts have resulted in the civilian community taking up the cause with us.
AMERICA - LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT.
Terry (Darkhorse) Houck
Cregg (Bronco) Hansen
Editor’s Note: The following is a personal account written by Mike Foote, a participant at the mission in Tonganoxie, Kansas for Spc. Lucas Frantz.
Here's my take on the day.... I rolled in to Tonganoxie about 9:30. I'm not sure how I felt about this. All I knew was that I had to be here. The sign on the bank said 44 degrees. Big deal, I lost feeling in my fingers 20 miles ago. The original meeting spot was at Casey's, but our ranks were quickly outgrowing the parking lot, so we were relocated to a grocery store parking lot that could handle the 120+ bikes that showed up. We were grouped up and had a briefing, a prayer was said, and we started lining up waiting for the call to head out. Our leader reminded us that we were there to show support for this family and community and we will not allow his memory to be desecrated (and I think he looked at me when he said 'No Profanity').
At 11:40 we got the call, two abreast we rolled in, BIG flags in front. First were the American flags, followed by POW, American Legion, USMC, Navy, Air Force, Army and Coast Guard. Flags lined the streets and flags were on every bike. As we're pulling out, I think about my kids. My kids that are the same age as this kid I've never met, never even heard of until two days ago. I think about his 20-year-old widow. I feel for his parents whose son was shot on his birthday, and I think about how disgusted I am that these vermin-scum are here to taunt these grieving people. I have a huge lump in my throat, and my vision's getting blurry. I wonder why this is necessary.
We arrived, parked and got off our bikes. We can see their signs. Now I'm mad again and, at this point, all I want is one swing at the bastards. The 200-plus of us gather across the street and for the first time I get a close look at the dickweeds. There are maybe eight of them and most of them are freaking KIDS!! A couple were college age, most were younger, there's a young girl maybe 8 years old, and she looks like she's dancing, but there's no music...big smile, dancing, laughing and jumping around. I watched her for a bit before I realized, she's stomping on the AMERICAN FLAG (insert massive expletives here)! I'm shocked! I can't F*CKING BELIEVE THIS! (for those who know me, you know how hard it was for me to go this far into the story without the 'F word').
As a group, we turned our backs to the vermin-scum, they're not worthy of our time.
I'm quietly reminding myself that I didn't come here to fight; I'm here to try to help. I glance up on the roof...police sniper watching those freaks, cool!
About that time a woman starts singing. I can't tell who it is, and I can't hear her very well, but it sounds like 'God Bless America.' It got kind of quiet and I realized that she's singing 'God HATES America'!! ARE YOU F*CKING KIDDING ME?? I can feel my face getting red; I spot a tire iron lying on the ground (just in case). Our group drowns her out with the Pledge of Allegiance.
My mind is kind of in a daze at this point. To me, it's very ironic to think that the man in the casket died protecting the FREEDOM of the low-life scumbags standing at his funeral STOMPING on the flag!
That freaking lump in my throat is back and my vision is blurry again. I'm thankful for dark sunglasses.
I'm telling myself (again) that I'm not here to fight, but I can't stop feeling disgusted. It's one thing to express your opinion and/or religion, but this guy is exploiting this freedom of expression in some backwards-ass attempt to piss on the grave of someone's child. If that wasn't low enough he sends CHILDREN, little KIDS, to do his dirty work.
Why are 8-year-olds holding signs that say 'God hates Fags'? What does someone tell an 8-year-old to validate this kind of behavior? What kind of reasoning are you using to tell your 8-year-old that she needs to hate fags and 'today we're going to drive to a funeral and when we get there, you're going to hold up this sign and 200 angry grown-ups are going to yell at you!'
There is something obscene here, something so surreal that my feeble mind cannot fathom.
Stupidity breeding hate. Kids holding signs preaching hate. His stupidity is obvious, his hate is contagious; he must be eradicated. I'd be happy to handle the task.
I left home this morning on my bike with the sole purpose of lending a hand. I came to pay homage to 22-year-old Spc. Lucas Franz. I somehow hoped that my being there would provide some amount of comfort to his young widowed wife, his parents and family. I never met him, but I'll remember him and this day for a long time. I've never had a day like today where my emotions were run through the gamut. It's 3 a.m., and I still can't stop the tears.
To get a real grasp on this sick individual go to www.godhatesfags.com (BE ADVISED: DISTURBING).