The Patriot Guard has a special place in East Texans' hearts and one group pays honor to them.
We've seen them welcome home soldiers, escort hero flights, and form flag lines at our veteran's funerals. They give their time to honor those who serve and ask for nothing in return, but today the roles are switched.
At Leon's steakhouse in Longview, Patriot Guard members were honored for their service.
"They operated out of their pocket. I decided to put a deal on for them for appreciation. I felt that as they rode in the sun and snow and heat to funerals and stuff to support family then somebody needed to step up for them," says D.W. Rodgers, a friend of Leon's steakhouse owners Jerry and Suzy Simmons.
They have done countless missions ranging from standing a flag line in ceremony to the solemn job of escorting the coffin of a fallen soldier. They do these things as volunteers.
"My son was in the marines and the Patriot Guard welcomed him home not once but twice from Afghanistan," says Lori Gaston.
"All these guys, men and women, do these things out of their heart. We bring them home for their families. We stand for them," says Patriot Guard rider Mike Eubank.
Supporters have held this appreciation day for three years to help the riders who spend their own money to go on as many as four missions a week.
"I think something like this where they're all able to come together and have a good time and at the same time get a pat of the back, I think it renews their spirits a little bit," says Deborah Norman.
"Makes us feel like our efforts have not gone unseen," Eubank says.
Most are veterans themselves, but for guard riders, it's never been about their own recognition, but dignity for for those they honor.
"We have really poured our hearts out to East Texas and these folks understand that," says Eubank.
The event also raised money to help Patriot Guard members pay for fuel and flags for future missions.
Monday, September 1 2014 2:00 AM EDT2014-09-01 06:00:48 GMT
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