Community Builder: Couple honored for dedication to troops through Patriot Guard Riders
COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - If you've been through the Columbia Metropolitan Airport, you may have also seen the SC Patriot Guard faithful standing guard.
"We have to be invited, It's not just that we show up," said Ron Kelly who is a ride captain for the SC Patriot Guard Riders.
The guard often gathers at the airport to send someone off on a deployment or to welcome them home, and their reason for showing up is always the same.
"We do it out of love and respect for our service men," added Kelly.
"The only requirement to join the Patriot Guard is respect for veterans, and anybody can be a member," added Johnette Jeffcoat.
For the chance to pay those respects, sometimes it means waiting around for long periods of time. But every time, it results in a moment like the one our cameras captured of the Patriot Guard honoring members of the SC Air National Guard as they deployed.
In addition to holding large American flags, members of the guard cheered, applauded and shook the hands of those who were leaving behind all they know to protect our freedoms.
"To repay that respect for what they're headed to, and what they've been through when they come back, you can't do that enough," said Ronnie Jeffcoat, a veteran, and member of the SC Patriot Guard Riders.
For Ronnie's wife Johnette Jeffcoat, her reason for standing guard is personal.
"My father was killed in Korea in action a month before I was born," said Johnette. "So I've always had the desire to be a part of something patriotic."
Johnette and Ronnie have been a part of the guard for 3 years now. They participate in any mission they can from the send-offs to the welcome homes and veterans funerals.
"I ride a motorcycle, and we're a part of the riders," said Johnette. "I do that for my dad because I never knew him, but I think he'd be proud."
One would think her dad would also be proud of the moment his daughter and her husband were surprised with the news that because of all of their continued efforts to honor our troops, they were nominated and chosen as our latest Community Builders in partnership with Mungo Homes.
The couple was given their hard hats by one of Mungo Homes' Vice Presidents Jon Buzzell. He is also an Army veteran. "This is just a wonderful thing to witness, and it's very wonderful for us to be able to honor you in this way, given the way that you honor our service members who are such a wonderful part of the community," Buzzell said.
Shocked and honored, the Jeffcoats maintain like their fellow Patriot Guard members, they're just doing what they're called to do.
"You can't really describe it," said Ronnie. "It takes very little and the only thing you have to have in this organization is respect."
And that's certainly what those who know the Jeffcoats have for them, as well.
"It's their heart and their soul," said Kristi Coggins, who nominated the Jeffcoats. "Of course, Ronnie is a veteran, but it's an everyday lifestyle and I admire them so much."
The Jeffcoats say their $1,000 donation from the Michael J. Mungo Foundation will go to a Veterans' Legacy Foundation fund. If you'd like to learn more about the SC Patriot Guard Riders by clicking here.
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