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War stories

Postal veteran helps shield families of the fallen

Doug Lehman, who recently retired as a data collection technician in Kansas, honors fallen soldiers and their families.

Doug Lehman is still moved when he recalls how he and more than 100 fellow Kansas Patriot Guard members, riding U.S. flag-decked motorcycles, led a miles long funeral procession for a fallen soldier.

“We were in a rural area — the farmers and the kids stood along the road and waved flags,” Lehman said.

Lehman, who recently retired as a data collection technician in Wichita, was among the veterans who founded the Kansas Patriot Guard in 2005, responding to a group that disrupts the funerals of fallen soldiers.

“With all the families are going through, they shouldn’t have to deal with disturbances at that solemn moment,” said Lehman.

At the cemetery, Patriot Guard members form a barrier between protesters and the grieving family.

Lehman, who served 22 years in the Air Force, said he’s driven by “a little bit of guilt” because he didn’t experience combat.

“A lot of those guys who lost limbs or lost their lives don’t get to do all the things I’ve done through the years,” he said. “Any comfort we can give the family to help them get through this tough time, I just feel that I owe it to them.”

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