In the 1954 movie “The Wild Ones,” a small town was besieged by a motorcycle gang, led by the leather-jacket-wearing Marlon Brando.

This Fourth of July, a motorcycle group with a different goal in mind — to honor America’s fallen heroes — will converge in Claremore, for a weekend of camaraderie and patriotic activities.

From Saturday, July 2 through the Fourth of July on Monday, the Claremore Expo Center will play host to members of the Patriot Guard Riders in their first annual “Gathering of the Guard.”

Members like Jeff “Twister” Brown.

A veteran himself, the 59-year-old Broken Arrow resident had all but given up riding motorcycles until a few years ago.

“I grew up riding motorcycles but hadn’t ridden one for years until about five years ago,” Brown said. “What drew me into this was last summer, when I did the cross-country ‘Run for the Wall’, in which, we rode our motorcycles from California to Washington, D.C., where we visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. Seeing that many motorcyclists united for a common love of country was phenomenal — it was literally a life-changing trip for me. After that, I had a newfound patriotism.”

The impetus for the formation of the PGR as a group came in August 2005, when members of the American Legion Riders Chapter 136 of Kansas learned of a group of protesters who were disrupting funerals for American soldiers.

When the group heard that protesters were expected at the funeral of Sgt. John Doles of Chelsea, they drafted a mission statement wherein they agreed to “show their sincere respect for fallen heroes, their families and their communities.”

“In the beginning, our main goal was to shelter soldier’s families from these idiot protesters and honor our heroes, but in time, we also began attending funerals of other heroes killed in the line of duty — firemen, policemen, etc., “ Brown said.

Patriot Guard Riders only attend funerals when invited and they do not use violence when serving as a “buffer” between any possible protestors and family members of fallen soldiers.

In the past seven months, the organization has grown from only a few hundred to more than 40,000, with members spanning across the country, as well as in Canada, Germany, England, and other countries.

“You have to understand that we’re not the only country with casualties in this war,” Brown said. “Our overseas members attend the funerals of their fallen servicemen in their countries.”

But next weekend, there will be no funerals — just fellowship for these road-weary patriots.

“I have no idea how many members are coming to Claremore for the Fourth — maybe 3,000, coming from all across the country,” Brown guessed. “It will be good for us to get together for something that isn’t a funeral for one of our fallen heroes for a change.”



For more information about the Patriot Guard Riders, visit their Web site at www.patriotguard.org.







Patriot Guard Riders

Schedule of Events

Members of the Patriot Guard Riders will be spending Fourth of July in Claremore. So, what will they be up to all weekend?



Saturday, July 1:

•8-10 p.m. Early Bird meet and greet at Redneck Country in Catoosa



Sunday, July 2:

•8:30-9:30 a.m. Safety Class

•9 a.m. Open Doors

•9-9:30 a.m. contest

•9:30-2:30 p.m. Robert Lee Clark Memorial Ride — Long Ride

•4-8 p.m. Parade through town (starting at Verdigris Schools and ending at Expo Center)

•6-10 p.m. Opening Ceremonies at Claremore Expo Center

•10:30 to midnight, Ride #2, Night ride to Skiatook Lake for fireworks



Monday, July 3:

•9 a.m. Open doors

•9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Marble Run (9 a.m. first bike out, 10:30 a.m., last bike out, 4 p.m., last bike in)

•11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Picnic at Totem Pole

•1-3 p.m. Horse Shoe match

•7-10 p.m. Barbecue at Expo Center

•10 p.m. to midnight, Dance at Expo Center



Tuesday, July 4:

•7:30-9:30 a.m. Pancake breakfast at Claremore Vet Center

•9 a.m. Open doors

•9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Flag placing at Fort Gibson National Cemetery

•4-6 p.m. National and State officers meeting

•6-7:30 p.m., Hot dog fund-raiser

•6:20 p.m. Patriot Guard Grand Entry to Claremore Lake

•10:30 p.m. to midnight, Fireworks at Claremore Lake