SOUTH KINGSTOWN - An Operation Desert Storm Veteran honored the lives lost in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars by taking an approximately six-month walk across the United States.
The journey began about 18 months ago, when Joe "Tiger" Patrick II, veteran and volunteer at Ground Zero in 2001, wanted to recognize those fallen in the world trade center by walking from Washington, D.C., to the site in Shanksville, Pa., where the plane went down on Sept. 11, 2001. Patrick then decided that he needed to do more than the approximately 450 mile walk he had completed, and chose to walk across the country.
Before his approximately 3,500 mile trip, Patrick came up with a banner that he would carry with him, that was 25 feet long by eight feet high that featured the names and pictures of the 6,722 men and women who lost their lives serving the country in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Patrick's journey started in San Diego, Calif., a location he chose to be near the Navy Seal base, where he wanted to honor Navy Seals who were killed and wounded during the war. During May, June, July, August and September of 2013 Patrick walked about 20 miles to 30 miles a day heading east toward Rhode Island.
Patrick took a short break from walking when he flew back to Rhode Island to coach the Special Olympics, something he has been doing for years.
Patrick soon returned to walking. The whole journey he carried a backpack, and other articles that weighed at least 100 pounds. Patrick continued to walk, stopping at numerous places, including homes of families who lost loved ones, fire houses, and Elks lodges, where he was given true hospitality and honored for his dedication.
"Everybody was just wonderful to him,"said Richard Clarke, banquet manager at the South Kingstown Elks Lodge. "And [it] turned out they provided all kinds of moral support."
Now, about two weeks after his return, the VFW Post 916 Ladies Auxiliary and the South Kingstown Elks Lodge 1899 will honor Patrick at a ham and bean dinner at the lodge this Saturday.
"I for one am very very proud to have known the man and be a part of his life," said Clarke.
The dinner will be held at 60 Belmont Ave., Wakefield, on this Saturday, Nov. 9. All who wish to honor him are welcome.
To acknowledge the selfless, patriotic acts of Joe Tiger Patrick, the South Kingstown Town Council has prepared and will present a proclamation to Patrick at the dinner this Saturday. The proclamation designates Nov. 9 as "Joe Tiger Patrick Day."