As the Northwest Indiana Senior Ride Captain for the Indiana Patriot Guard, Dale "Doc" Ready, is always on call. From his innumerable kind, selfless acts of generosity, time, and efforts, he stands guard ready to assist members of the military, law enforcement, firefighters, and their families.
Dale has been an active part of the Indiana Patriot Guard Riders for six years and describes it as, "Some of the happiest times of my life and some of the worst, depending on what I'm called to do."
The Patriot Guard, originally established by a group of Vietnam Veterans in Mulvane, Kansas, in 2005, was incorporated in Oklahoma by its' founder members in 2006. The organization serves all branches of the military through financial, physical, and emotional support.
An avid motorcycle rider for more than 50 years, Dale initially became involved with the Indiana Chapter through an organized ride benefiting soldiers' children.
"I wanted to do anything I could that would help benefit our soldiers and their families," Ready said.
His first act as a member was holding the American flag at soldiers' funerals.
"I felt that if I could make a small difference by standing there holding the flag, to give the family something else good to remember about their soldier, that's what I wanted to do."
He was often asked by the family, "Why are you doing this? Did you know my son or daughter?"
He would gently reply, "Your son or daughter signed on the dotted line for service to our country, up to and including their life. We owe them a debt that can never be repaid."
He quickly ascended the leadership ranks of the Patriot Guard. After his time spent in the flag line, he was then offered, and accepted, a Ride Captain position. He held this position for several years, but bigger things would lay ahead. It took several years as Ride Captain, and a number of conversations and research, to accept the assignment as Northwest Indiana Senior Ride Captain.
"I've never worked so hard in my life," he said.
Even though it's a lot of work, he wouldn't have it any differently. His jurisdiction includes nine counties in Northwest Indiana, and along with the help of his three Assistant Senior Ride Captains, serve the largest group of veterans in the state.
"I have some of the finest people, from all walks of life, on my crew. Without them, this would never work. They do so much to help promote our organization and support our troops," Ready said.
He also shared that the members of his team graciously volunteer their time and efforts to their missions.
Born and raised, along with his 3 siblings, in Whiting, Indiana, he graduated Hammond Technical High School, at the tender age of 17, and persuaded his mother to complete the paperwork allowing him to join the United States Army. Following in the footsteps of his older brother.
"I volunteered right out of high school," he said. "There was always a competition between me and my older brother. My brother enlisted in the Army Airborne division and I had to do one better,"
As he spoke of his three years of service as a Ranger and Medic, affectionately earning his nickname, "Doc". He completed his medical training at Womack Army Medical Center in Fort Bragg, NC before moving on to Fort Hood.
In 1962, the Army was arranging for the first group of medics to be sent to Vietnam. On April 17, 1962, he was deployed to Tan Son Nhut Air Base, near Saigon, Vietnam. He first served as a medic, then later a ranger, during his eight months there. Upon returning to the states and exiting from the military, and learning of the sudden death of his fiancé, he spent the next 15 months touring the country, doing odd jobs along the way, making it to all but six states.
A few years later, he met and married his wife of 42 years and raised three children. He is the proud grandpa to four grandchildren, and great-grandpa to two great grandchildren.
In addition to the Indiana Patriot Guard, Dale is also actively involved with the Lake County Indiana Veteran's Build, Habitat for Humanity, and American Veteran Motorcycle Riders Association.
"It never has been, nor will it ever be, about us or what we do. It's all about the soldier. We do what we do out of honor and respect to the fallen soldier and his/her families," he said.
For more information regarding the Indiana Patriot Guard, please visit their website at http://www.inpatriotguard.org.