The rain did not dampen the spirits of the 1,500 motorcycle riders who came out to Ham Lake Lions Park on Flag Day, June 14, for the ninth annual Minnesota Patriot Ride.
Although the numbers were fewer compared to recent years, likely due to the prospect of heavy rain, ride captain and Ham Lake resident Jeff Good said the fact that so many people still came for the 50-mile ride through northern Anoka County and southern Isanti County, “shows their patriotism and what this day means to them.”
It meant a lot to Ken Drevnick, who came all the way from Woodbury to talk about his son and the Daniel Drevnick Memorial Fund that he started after Daniel was killed in Iraq.
Ken was among the Gold Star family members who released balloons during a pre-ride ceremony in remembrance of the fallen soldiers.
The wind quickly took the balloons and a gust later took former Navy-Seals parachute jumpers off course, forcing them to land in a church parking lot instead of in the park as planned.
All proceeds from the ride are split between the Minnesota Patriot Guard and the Minnesotans’ Military Appreciation Fund. Both organizations take on multiple projects to assist men and women who have served or continue to serve in the U.S. armed forces. They also help the families of deployed soldiers.
Drevnick said Dan was a senior in high school when he enlisted in the Army National Guard in 2005. He said his son told him, ‘Dad, I’m walking crooked lines. I need to straighten myself out.’
After completing basic and advanced individual training at Ford Leonard Wood, Missouri, Dan became a military police officer. He took courses at Century College with the intent of becoming a Minnesota State Trooper and he repaired cars at a mechanics shop.
He was deployed to Basra, Iraq March 2, 2009. On July 16, 2009, an enemy combatant launched a rocked into Dan’s compound. James Wertish and Carlos Wilcox were killed. Dan Drevnick died at 12:03 a.m. July 17, 2009.
Drevnick will never forget the Minnesota Patriot Guard and Tribute to the Troops riders shielding his family from outside distractions at the funeral and how 98 riders came to his home one day to give him a hug and let him know they were there for him.
In the years that followed, he developed new friendships and has stayed active trying to help military veterans, current service members and their families. The Daniel Drevnick Memorial Fund (www.HeroAtHome.org) has donated 25 $1,000 scholarships to service members who are going to school to become law enforcement officers.
Drevnick and his family often heard the words, ‘We’ll never forget’ after Dan died.
“The Patriot Ride is a true reflection of these words,” he said.
Eric Hagen is at [email protected]