Veteran honored and escorted on his final ride

By Thomas Nelson,

The Patriot Guard stood by stoically as family and friends of Shane Wiltse came to St. John Lutheran Church Thursday afternoon.

A relatively clear sky accompanied the motorcade that took Wiltse from the church to the cemetery.

Wiltse, a United States Marine, died along with Jacob Mahnesmith and Douglas Mack in a traffic accident last Friday evening east of Charles City.

Tim Houts, ride captain, and the Patriot Guard were at the celebration of life service and the inurnment at Riverside Cemetery Thursday.

About 14 Guards held flags outside the church as Wiltse’s friends and family arrived. Several of the Guards wore leather vest showing the Marine Corps emblem of the eagle, globe and anchor.

The Guards stood in a flag line at the church, escorted the remains to the cemetery and then stood in a flag line there as well.

The Patriot Guard, which has members all across the United States, first formed during the second war in Iraq when the Westboro Baptist Church would protest the funerals of fallen service members.

“We shielded the family from some of the protests,” Houts said. “Our original intent was to show our respect to the family. We still do that, we just don’t have protesters anymore.”

Houts was a combat veteran who served in Vietnam and got into motorcycles about 15 years ago.

“The camaraderie is really good and gives us a purpose,” Houts said. “I want to support other veterans and their families.”

The Patriot Guard works with families of law enforcement, firefighters and military veterans.

Peace officers of the Floyd County Sheriff’s Office and the Charles City Police Department lined up outside the church and marched in about 15 minutes prior to the funeral service. After the service, city police provided traffic control as the Sheriff’s Office patrol vehicles helped escort family to Riverside Cemetery.

Wiltse’s mother, Minessa, is part of the Floyd County Sheriff’s Office.