PARKERSBURG - Numerous mourners gathered in south Parkersburg Saturday to pay respects to Pfc. David Alan Hess.
Hess, 25, stationed at Fort Campbell, Ky., died Oct. 10 while serving as a U.S. Army paratrooper with the 101st Airborne in Afghanistan. He died from injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his patrol unit.
Members of the Patriot Guard Riders were invited by the family to provide an escort from South Parkersburg Baptist Church to Fairview Cemetery near Sandyville, in Jackson County.
PFC. Hess Funeral Procession
Buddy Palla, Patriot Guard Riders assistant captain for West Virginia South, said the group was at the funeral at the invitation of Hess' wife, Diane. He said the riders only appear at funerals when they are invited. Palla said they had a large turnout of members from West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky.
"We counted and we stopped at 252 bikes," he said.
"We have about 275 bikes here and 400 members. Some bikes have two riders and others came in cars for the escort."
Photo by Jeffrey Saulton
Holding flags along Blizzard Drive on Saturday were, from left, Mark Gabbert, John Sturm and Kira Durasoff, all of Parkersburg, Corey Rutter of Marietta, Kim Malone of Parkersburg, and Valerie Jefferson and Jennifer Efaw, both of Belpre.
Many who came to pay their respects along Blizzard Drive carried flags of different sizes. Jennifer Efaw and Valerie Jefferson, both of Belpre, said the flag they displayed was one that had been used to drape a coffin of a fallen soldier near the start of Operation Enduring Freedom.
A flag carried by Corey Rutter of Marietta and Kim Malone and Kira Durasoff, both of Parkersburg, also had significance to the current conflicts.
"This was a flag that was flown on many missions with a regiment in the first Gulf War and was signed by the troops," Malone said.
Wood County Commissioner Rick Modesitt said there were several calls from individuals about groups they thought were protestors gathering in areas between Parkersburg and Sandyville.
"Law enforcement checked them out and it was only folks setting up to pay respects as the funeral motorcade passed by," Modesitt said. "There were no known protests and no known issues."