10 July 2017
This morning, with my fellow N.H. Patriot Guard Riders, I stood in a flag line at the N.H. Veterans' Cemetery for the late Commander Robert Bergeron of Holderness, the next town south of Campton, New Hampshire, where I live.
Commander Bergeron was a U.S. Navy carrier pilot from January, 1942, until the end of the Korean War. He served in the Navy a total of 28 years, and then became a volunteer and a board member at the Plymouth Area Senior Center for 33 years! He died at 96 years of age.
As we withdrew from the chapel in single file, still holding tall flags at our right sides, Paul Baptiste, our ride captain, had me lead the procession, because with my limp, I had not been able to keep up the pace as we had marched in. I got about 2/3s of the way back to the parking area, when I stumbled and fell onto the concrete sidewalk, dropping my flag to the ground, which shamed me greatly.
I was helped to my feet, and kindly escorted by a comrade back to my car, making sure that my flag had been retrieved and kissed. I suffered only skinned knuckles and a wrist, but as I take a blood thinner to ward off clots, and thus strokes, both bled freely.
I was able soon to stem the bleeding, and drove safely home to Campton, stopping only at the Senior Center, to give a lady there the red carnation that I'd been given by Commander Bergeron's daughter, after the close of the service.
Tonight, I received this wonderful message from our Ride Captain, Paul:
Just want to touch base with you to make sure you got home okay. You almost fell the last time we stood a flag line. I think maybe from now on we should have someone carry a flag for you to and from the line. That way you would be able to concentrate on your walking without the added distraction of the flag. I can make sure this happens when I'm the Ride Captain; but when I'm not there, we'll have to work up a protocol where all the other Ride Captains will know that you'll need a little extra assistance.
I sure hope you don't get discouraged and stop attending the flag lines because we can't afford to lose someone with your dedication to our mission.
Thanks for all that you do.
Photo is of an F4U Corsair, a magnificent carrier fighter that served both Navy and Marine squadrons in both WWII and the Korean War.