Patriot Guard to Be Part of Local Memorial for Fallen Greene County Soldier

MARCH 24, 2006 - Posted at 9:07 a.m. CST

PARAGOULD, AR - A memorial service is set for Saturday afternoon in Paragould, to honor the memory of Army Staff Sergeant Kevin Jessen of Oak Grove Heights.

Jessen was killed in an explosion in Rawwah, Iraq on March 5, while on assignment with the 22nd Chemical Battalion (Technical Escort).  Funeral services for Jessen were held last week in the small upstate New York community where his wife was from, but tomorrow's ceremony on the lawn of the historic Greene County Courthouse will be for local friends and family who were unable to attend the New York services.

K8 News learned this morning that members of The Patriot Guard Riders have also been invited by Jessen's family to participate in the ceremony.  The Patrtiot Guard is described as a "diverse amalgamation of (motorcycle) riders from across the nation" with an "unwavering respect for those who risk their lives for America's freedom and security."  The organization was founded last year as part of an effort to "shield" the families of fallen soldiers from members of the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church, who now go from state-to-state picketing and protesting the funerals of fallen soldiers.

The Patriot Guard was featured last week in a report on ABC's Good Morning America program.

Local Patriot Guard spokesman Craig Monette of Paragould said picketers are not expected at tomorrow's ceremony, but that Patriot Guard riders will be on hand merely as a show of respect for Jessen and his family.