Memorial fishing trip off Plum Island to honor fallen veterans, Patriot Guard Riders

Updated: Jun 14, 2018

JUNE 2017 | By Jack Shea Staff Writer NEWBURYPORT — Dick George remembers standing in the pouring rain during the funeral service for Cpl. John M. Dawson in 2015 when a group of more than 50 motorcyclists rode through, providing an escort for the family of the fallen.

Dawson was a 22-year-old 101st Airborne Division medic who was killed in action in April 2015 while serving in Jalalabad, Afghanistan.

The motorcyclists were members of the Patriot Guard Riders, a nationwide organization of more than 300,000 members who attend military funerals to provide support — and in some cases, protection from protesters — to the families of fallen soldiers.

It was an especially moving scene for George, a retired member of the 101st Airborne Division, or "The Screaming Eagles," as they are nicknamed. The division is an elite modular specialized light infantry division of the U.S. Army trained for air assault operations.

“There must have been thousands of people there in the rain, just soaking wet," said George, 76. "When the riders came out, it was the most impressive thing I've ever seen in my life.”

Since then, George has worked to organize the 101st Airborne Division Association's past two annual Memorial Fishing Trips in Dawson's honor, taking a handful of local and Boston-based veterans for a day of angling on the ocean.

This year, though, George remembered the dedication and loyalty shown by the Patriot Guard Riders, and decided to expand the trip to honor them.

"I thought to myself, these guys are out there helping out military families all the time, and nobody ever does anything for them," George said.

On June 6, the 73rd anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Normandy Beach, members of the Massachusetts Patriot Guard Riders will assemble on Interstate 95 in Rowley and ride through Newburyport en masse on their way to Plum Island.

They will then board the 110-foot Captain's Lady III, owned by Captain's Fishing Parties & Cruises, for the Screaming Eagles' Memorial Fishing Trip alongside a group of veterans. From there, the boat will be escorted out to sea by the Newburyport harbormaster's boat and the U.S. Coast Guard.

The trip will begin with a special ceremony to honor Dawson as well as other fallen U.S. veterans. Afterward, everyone will grab a fishing rod and cast their lines with hope of finding fish, and maybe taking home the prize money for the biggest catch or largest number of fish caught.

Kevin Hunt, director of Newburyport Veterans Services, said the trip is always a valued experience for veterans, who are able to bond over shared memories.

“They get such a huge enjoyment out of it," Hunt said. "It puts smiles on everyone's faces and really unites all of the veterans.”

Source: The Daily News, Newburyport

The Newburyport Coast Guard salutes us by crossing our wake during the 2017 Fishing Trip