The North Dakota Patriot Guard made a stop in Hettinger this past weekend
By COLE BENZ | Record Editor
The North Dakota Patriot Guard made a stop in Hettinger this past weekend. On Saturday, Sept. 17, four members of the group presented seven war veterans living at the Western Horizons Care Center with ‘challenge coins’ honoring their time serving the United States. Those honored were Albert Weaver, Gene Anderson, Ernie Kari, Clarence Schaible, Durwood Ohm, Verne Milliren, and Allan Kromarek.
North Dakota’s branch started in about 2006, the Patriot Guard is a 501(c)3 that strives to honor those who serve and protect the freedoms of America. They raise funds at their annual rally and continue to do recognition work throughout the state, including honor current veterans and riding in funerals for those who have fallen. Riding motorcycle is not a requirement to join the group, they only ask that you have the utmost respect for the military. The four members of the Patriot Guard that visited Hettinger included Arlen and Nancy Halverson, and Tom and Cindy Bakken.
Challenge Coins date back to the Roman Empire when soldiers were awarded the coins for recognition of their achievements.
The North Dakota Patriot Guard had three coins struck. One honoring the World War II anniversary, another honoring the Korean War and Vietnam, with the third and final coin called ‘Defenders of Freedom’ coins to honor those who spent time in the service outside of the three conflicts.
“They’re [coins] meant to make a statement, so they’re heavy, they’re not just a piece of aluminum,” Arlen Halverson said.
Arlen said that the hope is to get the entire state of veterans honored with the coins. According to him, most areas within a 90 mile radius of Bismarck have been covered. Arlen asked if there was a nursing home in Mott, and the group was scheduled to arrive in Bowman later that day as they make their way around the western side of the state.
Arlen’s motorcycle has turned into sort of an honor bike, donning the names of fallen North Dakota soldiers. So as part of the presentation, he brought his bike inside the care center for the residents to admire, many of whom wanted their picture with it.
“They enjoyed it, they were just fascinated by the motorcycle and many of them asked to have their picture taken with it,” Debi Christman of the Western Horizons Care Center said.
Christman was very complimentary of the four individuals, saying that they took time with the residents to listen to their stories and share their feelings on the group and the military.
“The members of the Patriot Guard that came were extremely friendly and kind to the residents,” Christman said.
The care center appreciated their presence and thought it was great that the four members take their own time to honor those who served, according to Christman.
“I thought we were very honored and privileged to have members of the North Dakota Patriot Guard take time, and spend time with our residents, and honor our veterans, I think they deserve that recognition, they’re extremely special members of society our vets, and I just think it’s a great thing these people do on their own time,” Christman said.
Betty Svihovec was on hand to play piano for the residents. The event culminated with some patriotic sing-a-longs in the activity room before the residents ventured out into the hall to take a gander at Arlen’s motorcycle.