American Legion Riders Chapter 509 answered the call for an Angel Flight that was inbound to Visalia, Calif., on Aug. 5, 2014. The flight was carrying KIA PFC Keith Williams, 19, of the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. He joined the U.S. Army and after his boot camp and training was transferred to Afghanistan.
On July 24, 2014, Williams was killed by an IED. Williams was a Native American descendant and was active in practicing the Native American customs and culture.
Nine American Legion Riders from Chapter 509 and six Patriot Guard Riders left Fresno to make the 40-mile drive to Visalia. Arriving at the airport they were met by an additional 75-80 motorcycles to escort this hero. The riders formed two flag lines when the Angel Flight arrived. The Comanche Indian Tribe performed a small ceremony for the fallen.
Lined up, they escorted the hearse to the mortuary. The city streets were lined with thousands of people, taking pictures, waving flags and weeping.
On Aug. 9, 13 American Legion Riders from Chapter 509 met up with 65 American Legion Riders from various chapters plus Patriot Guard Riders and arrived at the mortuary. A flag line was formed while pallbearers loaded the hero in the coach.
Nearly every motorcycle flew colors in parade formation to the church. Flag lines formed while entering and exiting the church. Two 10-person limousines and eight vehicles transported the family to the football stadium and were joined by 75 motorcycles. Again the streets were lined with people throughout Visalia.
Services were held at El Diamante High School in Visalia and not only was it a funeral with full military honors, taps, 21 gun salute, flag presentation and honored by a U.S. Army brigadier general but a full traditional tribal ceremony conducted by American Indian Veterans Association.
The service lasted over an hour with more than 1000 people in attendance. One rider stated “I was very proud to observe this military and Native American ceremony. I never witnessed such an elaborate display of honor and respect. Events like this is the reason I joined The American Legion. After all it is a great way to give back a little something to our country.”
-- Bob Protzman, adjutant, reporting