Would a Marine’s ashes really have to be mailed? No, said these bikers

Staff sergeant Jonathan Turner was a United States Marine who demonstrated his devotion to duty by serving fully seven tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Unfortunately, injuries he sustained eventually claimed him and he died at the age of 41. Veterans we’ve lost deserve to be treated with the highest respect, and they usually are: flag-draped casket, twenty-one gun salute, Taps, and a folded flag handed to the bereaved.

Sergeant Turner had been living in California but his hometown was all the way on the other side of the country, in Georgia. The problem was that there was no friend or relative in California who could bring his cremated remains across the country for the funeral. It looked like Sergeant Turner’s ashes were going to have to be mailed! Yes, the post office will ship cremated remains: Express Mail only and be sure to affix label 139 (this can be used for human or animal ashes, by the way).

When one group of veterans heard that Sergeant Turner’s remains were going to be transported in this totally undignified manner, they decided to do something about it. These were the Patriot Guard Riders, motorcycle-riding veterans who’ve formed a “non-profit organization which ensures dignity and respect at memorial services honoring fallen military heroes, first responders and honorably discharged veterans.” They’re available to fill empty seats in churches, preside at interments, and more.

The Patriot Guard Riders organized a “Pony Express” relay system to get Sergeant Turner’s remains transported across the country. As necessary, the box containing the fallen Marine’s ashes was handed from one group of bikers to another in a dignified ceremony. In all, over 100 Riders participated. Annie Glanton, Sergeant Turner’s mother, greatly appreciated their effort: “It’s heartwarming to see all these people here. I know that he was loved by a lot of people.”

A video of one of the handover ceremonies is posted below. Let us know what you thought about this story in the Facebook comments. Be sure to like and share, too!

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