PO1 Damon Crooks

American Legion Riders Post 104

Honor PO1 Damon Crooks

18 November 2006, West Palm Beach, Florida

The family of Petty Officer First Class Damon Crooks laid their loved one to rest on Saturday, November 18, 2006. There was a distinct chill in the air as the morning dawned in West Palm Beach, FL. A persistent cloud cover set the mood for this sad occasion.

This family had prepared for a tragedy as they watched their young man train to defend his country. To have to lay him to rest because he attempted an act of kindness, during peacetime, was a blow they had not considered.

Petty Officer Crooks died in an effort to protect a man he didn’t know. This speaks volumes about the type of man he was. He laid down his life to protect another. A true American Hero.

Riders from across the State of Florida gathered to honor and show respect for Petty Officer Crooks and especially to support his family. Their grief was more than any family should have to bear alone.

Various motorcycle clubs were present. Vests and jackets bearing the logos of the American Legion Riders, the Leathernecks MC, and CMA were observed. Members of the Patriot Guard Riders and the Florida Patriot Guard were on hand.

A space for staging was again provided by the Publix Supermarket Corp. Several riders took the time to personally thank the fine people inside the store for the patriotic service they provided.

Sig22 and Daslowpoke, of the PGR held a briefing prior to the formation ride to the church. Thanks were extended for the great turnout and a round of applause was given for all the riders attending their first Mission.

After the safety meeting a prayer was offered by a member of the CMA and riders departed for the United Methodist Church of the Palm Beaches. The Leathernecks MC provided roads guard services and all arrived safely.

Flag lines were established barely 10 minutes ahead of the arrival of the hearse and family. A strong breeze caused the flags to “snap” in unison.

At 11:00 AM the hearse’s doors were opened and a Naval Honor Guard removed the casket and escorted it into the church for the final Services. Many riders saluted the casket carrying PO Crooks as it went past. When all the participants were inside the church and services had begun, the riders stood down to await the conclusion of those activities.

One and a half hours later, the casket was carried past the reformed flag line and returned to the hearse.

The funeral procession to the Royal Palm Memorial Gardens was lead by the riders. An escort of three motorcycle officers, of the West Palm Beach Police Department, was assisted by the Leathernecks MC.

Graveside services, with full military honors, followed after all were assembled. A 21 gun salute was provided by the Navy. Taps was played and a final song was sung by the mourners gathered. All the while the flags continued to fly in the brisk breeze, their snapping seeming to signify the Country’s sorrow at the passing of this sailor.As the family passed by the riders, many stopped to say Thank You. Through their tears they noticed that many of the riders also had tears in their eyes.

America lost a young man who did the right thing. He stood up for his country by joining the Navy. He stood up for his fellow man in a time of need. He paid the ultimate price and should not be forgotten.As America celebrates the Thanksgiving Holiday, it would be proper to give thanks for men like Petty Officer 1st. Class Damon Crooks.

As the Christmas Season approaches, keeping his family in our thoughts would be the right thing to do.

Photos and tribute provided by Tom and Jan of the Starship Ambulance

Lowell St Cyr "Saint"

© 2006 ALR Post 104