Patrot Rider Responds to
Support Seen In Northeast Texas
For Fallen Soldier
The following letter was sent to us, by Mr. & Mrs. Leon Higginbotham, of Cumby, as they are freinds of Patriot Rider, Jim Ray, and he expressed the awesome response he saw in Northeast Texas as Fallen Soldier, Tanner Higgins, was returned to his native soil.
A Hero Returns…….
Monday morning, April 23, 2012, Sgt. Tanner S. Higgins, United States Army Ranger, was returned to his family. Sgt. Higgins was killed April 13, 2012 in Afghanistan during his fourth tour. His wife of six months, mother, father, brothers, plus many other family members, and hundreds of other folks weere there to bring him home. The caravan of mourners and escorts left the Greenville, Texas airport to travel 84 miles to Winnsboro, Texas. These are a few observations from that mission. As one of over 200 PGR riders I was given the honor of riding at the left rear of the hearse. The pace was slow, never over 45 mph but usually slower. The journey took us from the airport through the outskirts of Greenville. We passed hundreds of people lining both sides of the streets holding flags and standing silently with their right hand over their heart or saluting. All the streets weere lined with small flags and red, white, and blue ribbons tied to any post available. We passed at least ten schools where the classes were turned out to stand along the curb. I saw an older gentleman in a wheel chair struggle to stand and render a salute as the hearse passed. He made it. We had to travel 28 miles of I-30E to exit at Sulphur Springs, Texas. Law enforcement shut down the east bound lane of the freeway during our passing. In the west bound lane, many cars and 18 wheelers pulled over to the side of the road, exited their vehicles, and rendered honors as we passed. To our right was a farmer working his field that stopped his tractor, stood on the back wheel, and saluted. We passed by Cumby, Texas. The town folks lined the side of the freeway with flags and signs in silent tribute. One lady tossed a bouquet of flowers under the hearse as we passed. Overpasses weere lined with people and flags. We exited the freeway at Sulphur Springs. There it seemed the whole town had turned out. Folks were lined up two and three deep all the way through town. The same happened in Yantis, Texas. The 50 or so miles of East Texas two lane roads we traveled had small flags about every 20 yards and ribbons tied to everything. Every intersection had folks waiting for our passing. We passed over Lake Fork on a long bridge and there in the lake, several boats waited with large flags flying. One boat escorted us the length of the bridge. We arrived in Winnsboro and again had the curbsides full of folks with flags and signs.
I have attended many PGR missions for our military men and women but this one will be with me for the rest of my life. This is the country that I love. This is the country that Sgt. Higgins fought and died for. This is the country that he loved and that loves him and will dearly miss him.
East Texas PGR Ride Capt.