Mayor Cal Sheehy once dubbed Lake Havasu City as the most patriotic city in America.
On Saturday morning, Havasu lived up to that billing once again as Thomas Szczepaniak, a submarine nuclear operator in the Navy, was honored with a patriot ride, beginning at Lake Havasu High School just after 10 a.m. and ending at American Legion Post 81.
The riders consisted of local veterans who adorned their motorcycles and cars with American flags and other banners.
Once the riders arrived at the post, the crowd gathered in a circle as “God Bless the U.S.A.” by Lee Greenwood played on a loudspeaker. After the playing of “Star-Spangled Banner,” those in attendance signed a Navy flag for Szczepaniak and entered the post for a reception.
Szczepaniak is a native of Parker. He just completed his second year in the Navy and was welcomed home with the ceremony. He was presented with gifts and acknowledgements from various local veteran legions and groups, including a key to the city from the mayor.
Cindy Ritter, the president of the Lake Havasu City Military Moms, was on hand and presented Szczepaniak with the flag signed by all in attendance.
“It just warms my heart and it makes me want to cry,” said Ritter about seeing the support given to military veterans. “I just want to make sure these kids know their service and sacrifice is appreciated.”
Jed Kohler, the assistant state captain of the Arizona Patriot Guard Riders was the man in charge of organizing Saturday’s events.
“I put this whole thing together. From the mayor, to the city council, all the way down,” said Kohler. “It’s my honor to do this and recognize them. They allow us to live our lives the way we do.”
Szczepaniak, who is stationed in Charleston, S.C., will be deployed in December, although he is unsure of where he will be sent.
Wherever he goes, the LHC Military Moms will ship a care package to him.
These packages include essential everyday items, such as toothpaste and a toothbrush, a shaving razor, socks and deodorant.