My experience accompanying Brandon home
I must say when I heard of the passing of Brandon, I was deeply saddened. Here was a young man who was so proud to serve his country that he wanted to wear his blues to his graduation from high school. Then to hear he was from Greenfield just floored me, because I am a former resident of Peterborough. Nothing more was said about it in the news or otherwise until my superintendent at work, who is a member of the N.H. Patriot Guard, came to me and said that Brandon was flown into Dover AFB, Del., and that they were waiting for the family to fly down there to make arrangements on where they would like to take him — Arlington, Va., or Peterborough.
It wasn’t until Friday night at approximately 7 p.m. on the 27th that we knew where he was going. They had decided New Hampshire and that he would be arriving the following Saturday to Manchester. It was at that moment I knew I was going to ride up and help escort him home to Peterborough.
The bikers started arriving about 9 a.m. Saturday morning and by 10:30 a.m., we had about 80 motorcycles lined up and ready for duty. At 10:45 a.m. we had our briefing and right at 11 a.m. the jet with Brandon landed. We were all able to walk over to the fence and observe the jet taxi to the staging point where he was to be off-loaded. A detail of Marines, as well as the Marine who flew with him at his side, carried his coffin to the vehicle and ever so gently placed him in it. At no time was he ever alone! We then all proceeded to our bikes and got ready to depart.
Our route took us to 101A in Nashua where we then proceeded west. As we rode by the cars, people would stop and get out and either salute or put their hands over their hearts as we went by; some crying or bowing their heads, not moving from their spot until everyone had passed by. There were fire trucks and ambulances as well as police cars from every town we passed through with all the men and women standing at attention and saluting as we passed.
The closer we got to Peterborough, the more people you saw standing on the roadside — young, old, men, women, children and grandparents alike. There were even veterans standing at the end of their driveways with their old uniforms on. You could tell they had just dug them out of the closets to wear and show their respect for him, saluting! Again all this time oncoming traffic was stopping and the people were standing by their cars.
When I was at the “Welcome to Peterborough” sign, it was then the emotions started to hit me and it was at this time that it was hard to keep the tears from running down my cheeks. Finally we turned onto Route 202 on our final leg of the journey. As I came up to the library, I saw the hats of the Post 5 American Legion members and a sense of pride came over me, knowing that a brother vet from the Peterborough post was there for Brandon’s journey home.
Wayne Robinson is a member of Rolling Thunder, N.H. Chapter 2, and American Legion Post 5, Peterborough.