Spotlight - Gene Eaton


This week’s spotlight is on Gene Eaton of the Patriot Guard Riders of South Carolina. Eaton is a retired marine serving 21 years and the State Captain of the Patriot Guard Riders.

You might have seen the Patriot Guard Riders, escorting Funerals and placing American Flags at memorials. Eaton explains the Guards mission, “The Patriot Guard stands for fallen veterans, first responders and honorably discharged veterans at the family’s request. We cannot just show up. We must be requested. And we must verify that the veteran is honorably discharged to so that we can render honors. You don’t need to ride a motorcycle. You don’t need to be a veteran. And all we ask is that you pay honor and respect.”

This past Thursday the Patriot Guard Riders were in town to escort the American Veterans Traveling Tribute to the Veterans Victory House.

Eaton says, “We have all kinds of folks. Some never served and they had family members of may have served and this is their way of serving. Some guys only did four to six years. Some of them were career guys and like me. We have women veterans as well. We have non women veteran to stand we would like to see some youth come along to help us you know a lot of these guys are Vietnam aera that want to honor and respect for the ones coming back to make up for what they didn’t get when they came back.”

The Patriot Guard was formed in 2005 out in the Midwest. The Westboro Baptist Church was protesting at the funerals of servicemen and women killed in action. Members in one of the American Legion Chapters said, “Hey, we need to stop this.” They put out some information and organizations from American Legion, VFW and numerous motorcycle groups came out and participated to show support to the families of the fallen.

In addition to memorials the Patriot Guard escorts Wreaths Across America. They also support Hoth missions to ass Wounded Warriors. Another mission is to welcome service members returning home from overseas deployment. They have sent off South Carolina National Guard and welcomed them home. In Beaufort, they are there for the Marine Corps units when they deploy and return. Another part of the Hoth mission is working with blue star moms that tell us, who’s coming home and a couple of ladies with from the Air National Guard or the South Carolina National Guard. Eaton says, “We don’t get names or anything like that. Were there at the airport. And when they come down that escalator and see those American flags. Its very powerful. I’ve been on the other end of that.”

The Guard provides honors for veterans at the National Cemetery in Beaufort. Eaton explains. “The cemetery they have a committal shelter, we face the road that they’re bringing the veteran in on and when they get to where they’re making the left turn will render honors. Once they get out of sight, we do an about face and wait for him to unload from the hearse and bring the casket into the committal shelter. And then at that time, people will the at cemetery will make an announcement the military is going to provide military honors. Those that can, stand for taps, the American Flag is folded. If the veteran was retired, they get full military honors and a 21-gun salute.”

The Patriot Guard is part of the snowball Express. The Gary Sinise foundation provides Goldstar Family Children four days at Disney and last year was the first year they did it for first responders. This year is the first year that Patriot Guard will be involved with the Goldstar families and the first responders and give support to the Florida Patriot Guard which plays a big role in that program.

Eaton adds, “There’s no borders with Patriot Guard, no meetings, no fees, no dues, it’s come when you can. If they come on their day off, once a month, once a year. We’re glad to have them they’re for honor and respect.

It’s an honor and privilege to be part of Patriot Guard.