Saturday, August 20, 2016

Honoring a 20th Maine veteran on his long journey home

Mark Brundage Sr.  of Wolcott, Conn., a Connecticut Patriot Guard Riders member, holds a 
post-war image of Civil War veteran Jewett Williams. Other members of the Guard are  below.
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Ninety-four years after a can of his cremated remains were put on a shelf and forgotten in a shed at an asylum in Salem, Ore., Civil War veteran Jewett Williams is finally almost home. On Saturday morning, a group of bikers stopped with the ashes of the 20th Maine private for a brief ceremony in New Britain, Conn., en route to the final destination at Togus National Cemetery in Maine.

The old soldier's cremains are being taken across country by motorcyclists in the Patriot Guard Riders, a non-profit organization that performs services for fallen military heroes and deceased veterans. "It's an honor," said Mark Brundage Sr., a member of Connecticut Patriot Guard Riders on his 100th mission with the group. Another Rider transported the American flag-drapped porcelain urn of Williams' ashes on a short leg of the journey early Saturday to Central Connecticut State University.

Williams' well-chronicled cross-country trip included a stop in Gettysburg, where dozens of bikers were joined by Civil War re-enactors on Friday morning. When Jewett's journey is over, he will have traveled more than 3,200 miles through 19 states. Williams, 78 when he died in 1922, will be buried at Togus National Cemetery with full military honors on Sept. 17. (Update: Williams' descendants want Jewett buried in a family plot in Hodgdon, Maine, instead of in Togus National Cemetery with his 20th Maine comrades.)

It didn't take much to persuade Patriot Guard Riders to pose for this gallery before and after the event. Good people.

Biker Dan Regan of Cheshire, Conn., holds the image of Jewett Williams, who enlisted 
in the 20th Maine in 1864. Williams died in Oregon in 1922.
John Butler, Windsor Locks, Conn.
Don Duplessis, Augusta, Maine
Wilfred Lagasse, Greene, Maine
Debbie Miller, Wolcott, Conn.
Mac McArthur, Haddam, Conn.
The back of  Brundage's motorcycle vest. He said it's an honor to be part of 
Jewett Williams' long motorcycle journey from Oregon to Maine. 

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