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Patriot Guard expects big turnout for Medina paratrooper

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 June 2014 at 12:00 am

Shaina Schmigel

MEDINA – When Shaina Schmigel is escorted home through Medina later today she will likely be accompanied by at least 100 motorcyclists in the Patriot Guard Riders.

The group provides a presence for a soldier’s homecoming, during calling hours at funeral homes, during services and at the burials in cemeteries.

“It’s all about the men and women who wear the uniform,” said Bill Blainard, a ride captain with the Patriot Guard.

Schmigel, 21, died in a training exercise at Fort Bragg on May 30. Her body is scheduled to arrive at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport at 5 p.m. The Patriot Guard Riders will be at the airport and will lead her back through Medina, coming up from Route 77 to Main Street in Medina at about 6:30 p.m.

“I’m expecting a great turnout with 100 to 150 motorcycles,” Blainard said about the ride later today. “There will be a lot of people who want to come out and honor this young lady.”

After being escorted through Medina, Schmigel will be taken to Batavia at The Michael S. Tomaszewski Funeral & Cremation Chapel. The Patriot Guard will be outside the funeral during calling hours on Tuesday from 2 to 8 p.m.

Tomaszewski’s is located at 4120 West Main Street Rd. The site also will be used for Schmigel’s funeral at 11 a.m. on Wednesday. After the funeral, Schmigel will be buried with full military honors at Evergreen Hill Cemetery in Corfu.

Blainard said many of Patriot Guard Riders will use vacation time to provide a presence for Schmigel and her family.

“We’ll do it with as much honor and respect for her,” Blainard said. “It’s not about us. We want people to see the flags and know there are patriots out there who care about the military.”

Debbie Johnson is another Patriot Guard ride captain. She lost her son Aram Bass, a staff sergeant, in the Iraq War in 2005. She joined the Patriot Guard in 2006.

“We do it to honor those who protect our freedom and the families who have lost someone doing so,” she said.