Local veterans help escort Fallen Soldier Cart from Seattle through Oregon

Dozens of Patriot Riders and Old Guard Riders helped escort the Fallen Soldier Cart from Seattle to San Francisco, an 807 mile trip. (KTVL/Mike Marut)

Friday morning, dozens of Patriot Guard Riders and Old Guard Riders helped escort a luggage cart into Central Point on its way down Interstate 5 from Seattle.

"We escort this cart down every year in May - different destinations," Patrick Allen, founder of the Old Guard Riders in southern Oregon. "I've been doing it for five years leading the group down from Seven Feathers to Redding."

The Fallen Hero Cart, created by Alaska Airlines, helps memorialize soldiers who have died while serving. It also allows airports to unload soldier caskets from planes on a separate cart instead of with the rest of the luggage on a plane.

"The first year we only had two people when we were in this part of the country," Jim Rea, a Navy Master Chief veteran, said. "Now it's grown to this and it's really making me proud."

Rea has helped deliver the carts since 2012, which came up as an idea in 2011. There have been nine carts delivered around the country, including San Diego, Dallas and Washington D.C. This cart will stay on the west coast and be delivered to San Francisco.

"Anytime it's going to be anywhere that it's symbolic for the military bringing the caskets off is going to be a really good deal," Allen said.

Even though nine have been made, this is only the fifth one that has been formally escorted by the two motorcycle veteran groups. It's something both hope to continue.

"As a retired Master Chief this gives me a chance to get back with fellow veterans and really make a difference in the community," Rea said.

The Fallen Hero Cart will be passed off to another group of riders in Redding and delivered to the San Francisco airport on Saturday. Any airline can use the cart - it's only Alaska's responsibility for maintenance.

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