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CHIPPEWA (KDKA) — Randy Ruff is one of many Patriot Guard Riders, who are all volunteers, that joined a procession to honor U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Dylan Elchin on Thursday afternoon. They escorted the family to Impact Christian Chapel in Moon Township for a memorial service.
His motorcycle was adorned with the the flag of the U.S. Air Force, the American flag and the flag of the Patriot Guard Riders for the special ride.
It’s what Ruff calls a privilege and an honor.
“Our hearts bleed for the family of this soldier and everybody else involved,” said Ruff.
Ruff said there’s a lot of planning before an escort like this one.
“We’ll do a staging. That is when everybody arrives. We stage motorcycles, vehicles, whatever,” Ruff said.
Ruff said the hardest part of the job will be meeting the 25-year-old soldier’s family at their home in Chippewa. He and another Patriot Guard member escorted the family back to the staging area, where the rest of the riders gathered, along with state police and local police.
“I can’t imagine having to bury a son, or even a daughter, and these people fight for our country. We should stand up for them and show honor,” said Ruff.
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A sacrifice Elchin made when he lost his life in Afghanistan last month.
“I got a knock on my door, and there was two uniformed people at my door, and I knew. I didn’t want to let them in. I knew right away what it was. They didn’t even have to say a word. I knew what it was,” said Elchin’s mother, Dawna Duez.