Emotions ran high today as the community said good-bye to a man who made it easier for families to say good-bye to their loved one before leaving to military.
It started 12 years ago for Ben Patten, the Founder of Armed Forces Support Ride.
“A friend of mine came to me and said that his son was leaving to Marine Corp boot camp and asked if we can put together a ride for him and I said, ‘okay,’” said Patten.
A ride that has sent over 3,000 men and women from Bakersfield to the military and a ride that Patten says is deserved.
“These young men and women are not stupid. They know what’s going on in the world, they see it on their phones everyday, and yet, they’re raising their right hand and saying ‘yeah, I’ll go do that for you,”’ said Patten.
Ben and his team support those who choose to serve. Patten said that support leaves a lasting impact.
“He said to me, ‘Mr. Patten you sent me off in 2008. In 2010 I was at an operating base in Afghanistan and I was convinced that nobody cared, and then, I remembered there’s about 50 bikers in Bakersfield that care,” recalled Patten.
Patten is an Army veteran and Sunday morning was his last ride.
“You know this ride has made me a better man. It’s made me appreciate not just my own kids, but every veteran in this country,” said Patten.
Patten’s family, friends and veterans honored him Sunday morning and thanked him for the impact he has on many lives.
“I have enjoyed this for the last 12 years. It is just time to step away and let somebody else do it. Let me have my Sundays to spoil my 3-year-old granddaughter,” said Patten.
Patten said the group would continue to ride without him.
On Sunday, the escorted five future marines: Collin Suarez, Issacc Lopez, Eddie Zazueta, Humberto Rodriguez and Nick Pruitt.