Who we are and where we derived from is in great part due to a group of Kansas American Legion Riders. Thankfully, today we have selfless individual Patriots that honor our military and first responders by standing a flag line.
The original "four" North Texas Riders were David David, Sr., ER Stroud, Ed Barrett and John Walker – David David is the only one is still alive. They were all members of the Gold Wing Riders Association and met up to ride on January 2, 2006 to honor 1st LT Benjamin Thomas Britt in Wheeler, TX.
Bonnie (Cutler at the time) Perry was the first State Captain and it's probably accurate to say she served from December 2005 – January 2006 when she moved up to be the first "National Ride Captain." David "Double D" David, Sr. accepted the Texas State Captain from her probably around February 2006. David enlisted the help of two of the other riders from that first ride, E.R. "Wingman" Stroud and Ed "Oldiron" Barrett to serve as the first Assistant State Captains. David established the Texas regions and assigned the first DSCs, implemented the gift of a gold coin to Gold Star Families and established the motto that Texas "Stands Tall and Silent." David established the annual "Gathering of the Texas Guard" at Koyote (now Medina Highpoint Resort) Ranch and on 26 January 2007, formed the PGR of Texas, Inc. and obtained the 501c3 status for the State.
David David was replaced in June 2008 by Hal Horton as interim State Captain who then turned over to George "Snakebit" Raglin in August. George traveled to all of the Texas Regions, developing relationships with the DSCs. Bill Holcomb served as his Assistant State Captain from December 2008 until April 2009. Lou Frietas of The Woodlands took over in 2009 from George and hosted the National Gathering of the Guard in Killeen. After a year, Lou was replaced by Teresa Galloway who named Mike Lambert as her Assistant. Teresa served for two years and then moved up to be the Regional Captain. She was replaced by Mike Lambert 2 January 2013 who named Bobby Stroka as his Assistant. Mike served two years and the first week of January 2015, he replaced Teresa as the Regional Captain. Bobby Stroka moved up to replace Mike as the State Captain, naming Mike Eubank as his Assistant.
As North Texas had so many more Mission than the other regions, John Kammerer and Rick Crabb were asked to be co-DSCs in January 2007 and they served 12 months. John was to coordinate Missions north of IH 30; Rick took those south of IH 30. For the first time, flags were purchased and given to the first support person, prior to that we each brought our own. Support personnel were identified and began bringing both flags and water to all the Missions. After a short time, additional flags were purchased and distributed to Wichita Falls and the Sherman/Dennison area. The Mission Final Itineraries were standardized, prepared by the DSC and given to the RCs to implement. A training program was established to build a Rider up to where he was competent to serve as a Ride Captain. A second e-mail listing was offered and Riders were given the option of receiving e-mail notifications of Honor Missions and Non-Honor Missions. It was also at this time that the North Texas Certificate of Appreciation was developed to give to the families of our fallen Patriots.
Rick and John both stepped down in January 2008 and Bill Holcomb took over and served for 10 months with George Raglin and then Don Massey serving as his Assistant DSCs. During this time Bill put together, with the tremendous help of Don Massey, the first written Ride Captain Manual. Steve Lucas took over from Bill and served for a little over a year. It was during this time Harold Tranter established the North Texas website.
Mike Lambert took over from Steve Lucas in November 2009 and served two years. He appointed Floyd Kammerer as his Assistant Deputy State Captain. During Mike's time as DSC, road guarding was formally discontinued. At a Meet and Greet at the American Legion Post in Duncanville, Mike named Harold "Weatherman" Tranter the first "Patriot Award."
Steve Hirtzel took over from Mike in September of 2011 and established his "team" Assistant State Captains, retaining Floyd and adding Larry Key.
Larry Key took over from Steve Hirtzel in January 2013 and appointed Rusty McNab and Mike Upchurch as his Assistant Deputy State Captains with the addition of Dan Mathys as Chief Ride Captain of RCs and Floyd Kammerer Chief Ride Captain for Support. Larry stepped down 12 October 2013 and Floyd Kammerer, Jack Brandon and Dan Mathys were named as the interim leadership team.
On October 19, 2013, Ken DuBois was named as the new North Texas DSC. Floyd and Dan agreed to remain on assisting Ken, Dan was named Assistant DSC and Floyd became the Chief Ride Captain. Jack Brandon stepped down due to health issues. On January 8, 2014 Garland Raney was appointed as the first Mission Dispatcher. March 1, 2014, Dan stepped down and Garland was appointed ADSC. During his tenure Ken published and distributed the second Ride Captain Manual as well as the financial statement for the Texas 501(c) (3) account. On March 3, 2014 Ken purchased a canopy, table and chairs to support an "Information Booth" for both that purpose and recruiting. Garland stepped down on December 31, 2014 and Rock Malaspina took over as Dispatcher.
On January 1, 2015, Bryan Read took over from Ken as the DSC. Bryan appointed Brian Liberty and Gary Dunn as his Assistants. Gary's appointment was the first non Ride Captain to be directly appointed to a leadership position. Within the first month, Bryan had held a RC meeting, reestablished a RC training team under Brian and placed all of the support folks under Gary. Bryan revised the RC Manual, established a RC training team and revived the Meet and Greets. May 14, 2015 the Information Booth was placed under the management of Howard and Sue Griffiths. Bryan developed and published new marketing tri-fold pamphlets, one for new prospects detailing how to join, the other detailing how to request North Texas PGR, which were distributed to funeral homes. In April, North Texas hosted the Annual TX Gathering of the Guard. Dan Mathys stepped up as project lead and the result was a very successful GOTG. On March 2, 2016 Mark Gravit stepped up to replace Brian Liberty as ADSC. In October, 2016 the leadership team decided to place the NTX PR website under ownership and control of the the NTX Leadership Team. Harold Tranter, who had owned and controlled the previous website, stepped down. The new website was launched and CJ Rowell stepped up to administer the site.
Jim Rooth was the first Texas Contact Coordinator, and also served on the National HOTH Program. He turned it over to Ronny "Bear" Awtry, who turned it over to Matt Waters, who turned it over to Mark and Wendy Ingersoll. Hal Horton built the list server that replaced individual e-mails that were previously used for Mission notification. Hal also served on the National IT Team and was the Operations Officer for the National HOTH Program.
Other North Texas PGRs who have been involved at the National level were Ronny Awtry, who served on the Board of Directors as the first Treasurer and founded the HOTH Program. Tom Hoffman served as the National Secretary. In January 2014 Rick Crabb and Herb Parsons were selected to co-manage the National Patriot Guard Riders Store.
On September 1, 2008 the current North Texas Website, developed by Harold Tranter, went live, still utilizing the list server that Hal developed. In September of 2009, the Mission Builder for standardized Final Itineraries and the Mission Reports template were implemented. On September 1, 2010, use of the new list server for Mission Notifications and for member registrations was implemented. It is through this website that the North Texas Riders receive Mission notifications and other information from the Deputy State Captain.
In October 2016 the new North Texas website northtxpgr.org was launched.
The first "official" photographer in the State of Texas was Gary Hill. After receiving permission from the family, he quietly shot hundreds of photos and a few weeks after the Mission would present his work as a gift to the family. Bobby Short, in addition to his flag duties, began photographing the Missions. James and Erna Carlile have photographed the majority of our Missions. Many other Riders and Ride Captains regularly contribute Mission photos as well.
In the beginning, we all brought our own flags to Missions, most taking the poles off or our bike or out of cages. ER Stroud prepared about 20 3 X 5 flags on two-piece PVC pipes and began to bring them in the trailer behind his trike. In 2007, we purchased our first 10' poles and attached flags to them. Many Riders would take them occasionally, but for historical purposes, we want to honor the men and women who hauled them on a regular basis. The first dedicated "Flag Man" for North Texas was Mr. Jimmy Jones of Irving, who started in 2007. He and Steve Inmon assembled and hauled them all over North Texas to every Mission. In an effort to cut down on the miles they were driving, 50 were given to the Wichita Falls area and 50 were given to the Sherman/Dennison area. After Jimmy and SteveO stepped down, Ralph Choate took them from him for a time as did Dewey Dyer, Jim Bird and Bobby Short. James Carlile built a trailer that could carry the 10' poles and pulled it behind his trike.
In 2010, with the dramatic increase in the number of Missions, there was a need for flags to be prepositioned around the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex. Over the years Bill Mayo, Larry Insinna, Gregory Carr, John Watts, Anita Tauzin, BJ Fields, David Smith, Mike Johnson, Jimmy Murphy, Ray Calvert, Randy Livingston, Randy and Nicki Smith, Randi Grissom, Mike Gobel, Mike Grove, Ted Foster, Gary Dunn, Terry Carr, Ric Breen, Mary Smith and CJ and Brenda Rowell all stepped up, hauling flags and water to support the Flag Line. Ride Captains who did double duty by serving as RCs and support were Garland Rainey, Char Arndt and Brian Liberty.
Sam Rainey has been faithful from the very beginning to provide drinks and snacks – and many a hungry and thirsty Rider have refreshed themselves out of the back of his Explorer. Donna Underwood and everyone's favorite "Mom" Cookie Lambert, have also been great for providing both water and fresh baked cookies at DFW National Cemetery. Sue James and Linda Tinnerman have also been there for us so many times with lots of cold water.
Of all of the Riders who have carried the title, "North Texas Patriot Guard Rider," these men and women have given, and continue to give, more than any of us – financially and of their precious time in order to provide "The Face Of The Patriot Guard Riders." Without them, we'd still show up at the Missions, bringing our own water and various sizes of flags displayed on whatever we could attach them to. They make us look good!
The North Texas PGR Store was first opened in 2006 by ER and Glynns Stroud, funded by the Texas PGR, Inc. They operated out of either the trunk of their "staff" car, a Mercury Marquis, or the trailer they pulled behind their trike – that also carried a set of break-down flags. Those were the first flags used that were not brought by the individual Riders. They turned the store over to Bill Watkins, who ran it out of trunk of his Goldwing.
On 26 April 2009 the current North Texas PGR Store opened. Harold Tranter managed the store, acquiring and pricing merchandise, and doing the accounting until February 1, 2010. Bill Mayo agreed to operate the store and make the merchandise available to the Riders at Missions. Erna and James Carlile picked it up from Bill and operated it for several years. On May 28, 2013, they turned the store over to Jim and Marsha Yaw. In January of 2014, Jim and Marsha moved and Erna and James took it back until Mike and Karen Gobel accepted it for a short time until CJ and Brenda Rowell took it on July 27, 2015 and have operated it since then.
Freedom isn't free, but joining the Patriot Guard Riders is! Our common bond is an unwavering respect for those who risk their lives for America's freedom and security.