The mission alert went out for a military funeral for an Army combat veteran of the Korean War, the oft-described “forgotten war.”
Staging was on a Thursday morning (January 21) at the VFW hall in the center of La Mesa, across from city hall and the police station. Due to the day of the week and time, turnout was not expected to be great.
A little in advance of the designated staging time, numerous bikes were parked in the lot. Over the next 30 or so minutes, more riders arrived, many of the bikes flying the American flag. As the mission commander stated, far more riders were in attendance than were expected.
Looking at the men who were giving of their time, the patches on their jackets and vests spoke to their service to their country: Marines, soldiers, sailors, airmen, and coastguardsmen. They turned out to help honor Charles Weeks.
Like countless of his fellow citizens, Charlie (as he was known) answered the call to duty and served twice in combat in Korea with the 1st Cavalry Division and 25th Infantry Division. As his son Robert Weeks commented, Charlie was proud of his service to his country, but his service did not define him. He had simply done his duty. After serving his country, he had returned home, gone to work, and raised a family. Now he was being laid to rest.
And what of the bikers who came together on this morning? They were not Charlie’s friends. In fact, none had ever met him. And only one knew anyone in his family. The bikers, some from the Patriot Guard Riders and American Legion Riders, came together as volunteers to honor a fellow veteran and hero.
Eventually, there were more bikers in the staging area than family members. As folks drove past the busy intersection of University Avenue and Baltimore Avenue, they noticed dozens of bikers saluting the flag outside the VFW hall while reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and then doffing their caps as a prayer was said for Charlie and his family.
Shortly after pictures were taken, including a photo board of Charlie’s life, the rumble of dozens of motorcycles filled the air. The bikers then escorted Charlie and his family from La Mesa to Miramar National Cemetery.
At the cemetery, the bikers formed a flag line, coming to the Present Arms to honor Charlie as his remains were brought to his final resting place.
After the military honors provided by the U.S. Army Honor Guard and the playing of “Taps,” Robert Weeks thanked the bikers, telling them his dad wouldn’t have wanted anyone to go out of their way for him, but he would have been thankful.
The author is a member of the Patriot Guard Riders