CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa -- Last weekend, a second Iowa Marine stationed at Camp Pendleton in California lost his life.
Corporal Andrew West, 22, died in a motorcycle accident, but on Saturday it was motorcycle riders who escorted his body back to Cedar Rapids.
For the second time in two weeks, the Iowa Patriot Guard had a mission to carry out. Last weekend, they escorted the body of 20-year-old Marine Lance Corporal Cody Haley. This Saturday, it was West.
“It’s tough, when you have two young men lose their lives essentially needlessly, close together like this, it's real tough on the families and it’s tough on our people, too,” said Patriot Guard State Captain Steve Cox.
Started in 2006, the Iowa Patriot Guard is a group of motorcycle riders. Like Cox, many are veterans themselves who volunteer their time to ride as escorts with military funeral processions.
“There’s a camaraderie or brotherhood, if you will, between veterans, and so if we lose someone that’s in that brotherhood or that family, it does impact you," said Cox. "I always tell everybody that this experience of being in the Patriot Guard is heart-wrenching and heartwarming at the same time, and obviously the family is distraught about what happened to their son, and, you know, it has a big impact on the family that there are people here that did not know Andrew and yet come out to support them and to support him."
A ride of support that strikes a personal cord for Cox.
“This is my way of giving back, showing respect and honor for this generation of veterans, if you will. Obviously in my generation we weren’t treated as well as we should have been and we’re here to let these young men and women know that’s never going to happen again,” he said.
A visitation will be held on Tuesday at Stonebridge Church in Cedar Rapids. His funeral will be held at the church the following day.