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NOFTSGER, Morris Henry

NOFTSGER

Posted By: Sharon R Becker (email)
Date: 10/11/2017 at 10:17:31

Tulsa World
Tulsa, Oklahoma
June 12, 2015

Patriot Guard Riders escort duty often somber
By Ralph Schafer

Patriot Guard Rider members enjoyed being part of activities and serving as part of the escort for the Oklahoma Honor Flight. It is good duty.

They were able to interact with the 83 World War II and Korean War veterans making the trip to Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.

They eagerly spent time with them as they assembled at Bixby High School late in the afternoon and evening. They and others proudly held American flags as they stood in line as each veteran was escorted to the auditorium to be singularly honored.

At least a dozen riders turned out at 3:30 a.m., the morning of departure. They, along with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol and Tulsa Police, served as escorts to Tulsa International Airport. They were also at the airport at 9 p.m. to welcome the weary veteran travelers and their guardians home. It is their way of honoring members of the Greatest Generation and those from the Forgotten War.

Honoring America’s Heroes is the volunteer organization’s purpose, said Morris “Pike Pass” Noftsger, Senior Ridge Captain for northeast Oklahoma.

The retired office manager from the Doerner, Saunders, Daniel & Anderson Law Firm, said about 1,200 Patriot Guard riders in Oklahoma are part of a national organization comprised of about 400,000 members.

“It’s fun to be involved with the Honor Flight,” he said. “We can talk to the veterans, express our appreciation for their service and exchange stories.”

That opportunity is a sharp contrast to the Patriot Guard’s primary function to serve as a funeral escort to the cemetery and the veteran’s final resting place.

That is a role the guard performs almost daily.

Noftsger said he and fellow guard members had a Sunday and Tuesday off during a recent week. The other days they were on duty.

All are veterans and proudly wear vests reflecting their military branches, rank and theaters where they served.

Service at funerals can go beyond escort duty. They stand silently, at attention, as the deceased is carried to his or her final resting place. There is no banter among ranks, no extending a hand to the family in sympathy.

“We always have a bugle and can play taps to honor the deceased veteran if no one is available,” he said. “We are also trained to fold the flag and present it to the family.

“We are respectful and honor the veteran and the family.”

The Patriot Guard is a voluntary organization, not a club, Noftsger said. No one is charged for the escort duty.

Noftsger retired seven years ago and has two Harley Davidson motorcycles. One, that he still rides, is 10 years old and has 120,000 miles on it, mostly from Patriot Guard duty. One year he rode 35,000 miles to help pay final honor to veterans somewhere in Oklahoma. His wife suggested that he get a new bike because of his involvement with the Patriot Guard.

“We do this because of our love of our fellow veterans and our country,” he said. “We pay our own expenses and gas money can sometimes get expensive, but that is part of our service.”

Transcriber's note: Morris was a 1971 graduate of Grand Valley Community School, Kellerton, Iowa, and a U.S. Army Veteran.

Transcriptions by Sharon R. Becker, September of 2017


 

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