(Locator: Girard, Kansas)
The small town of Girard, Kansas prepares to say goodbye to a fallen
Resident: “Corporal Bennett’s a hero.”
A helicopter crash in Iraq took the life of Corporal Richard Bennett,
just 25 years old. As family and friends gather to grieve, a small group
gathers to protest his funeral.
Jacob Phelps/Protestor: “They should have left this carcass right on the
The words and the signs are meant to shock. This radical group claims
soldiers die because God is punishing America for tolerating
homosexuality. But the family of Corporal Bennett won’t see or hear
Nat: Motorcycles arriving
…because the Patriot Guard has arrived. Bikers by the hundreds, many of
them veterans, converge on military funerals as invited guests.
The Rev. Kenton Van/Cheney United Methodist Church, Topeka, Kansas:
“Because my faith says we can’t operate in a vacuum, that faith has to
As a veteran and a pastor, United Methodist Ken Van attends these
funerals as often as he can.
Nat: “We’re all going to line up there.”
With their bikes and their bodies, they form a shield between protestors
and grieving families. Their engines and patriotic music drown out the
The Rev. Kenton Van/Cheney United Methodist Church: “No family should
have to face this type of hatred on the day that they’re putting their
loved one to rest.”
Van says even if protestors stop showing up, he and fellow Patriot Guard
members will continue to come; to stand together as a show of support.
The Rev. Kenton Van/Cheney United Methodist Church: “Not only from a
patriotic standpoint, but also for the people to know that those in the
church care about them, love them and God is standing there with them.”
The Patriot Guard Riders began in Kansas in 2005 as a response to
protestors attending military funerals. Van was one of the original
members. The group now has an estimated 40,000 members nationwide.
For more information about the Patriot Guard, log onto their website at