Gary “K’huna” Yocum
Gary served in The U.S. Army at the end of the Vietnam Era. He served with the 84th Engineers 25th Infantry, stationed at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii. Because the conflict was ending at the time of his enlistment start date, he was never deployed to a war zone. But have it on good authority, that he spent hundreds of hours patrolling and guarding the many beaches of Oahu. This, of course on his own time.
Gary never planned on making military service his career after growing up as a Navy brat. He served a short enlistment time and got out with his honorable discharge papers in hand. He never felt his time served during peacetime conditions ever came close to the duty and sacrifice his father, step-father, uncles, and many friends endured. In years to come, his appreciation and respect for those who served grew and he felt he needed to do more. Gary got a job at Hill Air Force Base as a civilian in January of 1985. His 30+ year career with the Department of Defense has only added to his appreciation of military members and their families.
In 2006, Gary read about a hate-group out of Kansas that highly disrespected our veterans that paid the ultimate sacrifice at, of all places, their funerals. From there, he learned of the Patriot Guard Riders PGR), began by American Legion Riders that attended the funerals at the request of the families to shield the families from this ugly group. He, and his wife Kelly began to participate in all the local PGR escorts and flag lines. One of the funerals they stood for was SPC Daniel G. Dolan. Gary soon became the Utah State Captain for the PGR and spent the next couple of years, with the support and help of his wife and many fine ride captains, leading the 500+ member strong, Utah PGR.
During this time, Gary got to know many Utah Gold Star families, Gold Star families are defined as “a family who had lost a loved one in the service of the country in a time of war.”
The Utah PGR was selected by the national staff to host the 2009 Gathering of the Guard (GOTG). This was the national gathering of the PGR. With the help volunteers from the PGR and a couple of Gold Star families, Gary and Kelly spent a very long year putting together the largest and most successful GOTG in the history of the organization.
Three month after the GOTG, Gary stepped down from the Utah State Captain position to allow for new blood to continue the leadership of the group.
A couple months later, Gary and Kelly had dinner with Tim and Fay Dolan, the Gold Star parents of SPC Dan Dolan. Gary proposed putting together a charity motorcycle ride in Dan’s honor, to raise money for Veterans. The 1st Annual Daniel G, Dolan Memorial Ride was held on the last Saturday of July, 2010 and raised over $8,000 for Mike’s Guardian Eagle Foundation.
When discussion of creating a fund for veterans in Dan’s name, Gary and Kelly were immediately on board.