Honoring Sky Mote
The roar of motorcycle engines idling quickly quieted and the riders of about 100 motorcycles began unfurling flags, taking their place between two hangers at McClellan Air Field. In all, around 200 people lined up to pay respects as the body of fallen Marine Staff Sgt. Sky R. Mote was brought home on Aug. 16.
A Dassault Falcon jet taxied to the hangers, bringing with it the the casket, soon transferred to a hearse by Marine pallbearers. Members of the El Dorado Hills Honor Guard conducted a solemn color guard ceremony, complete with bagpipes.
At 5:25 p.m., the procession began. A half dozen CHP motorcycles sped into place, leading the motorcade. It was followed by a CHP cruiser and limousines for Mote’s family. Vehicles from the FBI’s bomb squad, the Air Force’s Explosive Ordinance Disposal and Butte County’s bomb squad were joined by fire engines from regional departments including El Dorado Hills, Cameron Park Fire, Diamond Springs Fire and Sacramento Metro Fire and other regional law enforcement cruisers. The final car represented the American Red Cross. Next came the motorcycle guard, streaming through the game from the tarmac.
As they left the former Air Force base, the procession rode under the extended arm of a Sac Metro fire engine flying the American flag.
The motorcade made its way down Interstate 80, its end destination Green Valley Mortuary and Cemetery. Overpasses featured fire engines and supporters waving flags. The procession made a detour to pass by Rolling Hills Middle School in El Dorado Hills, where Mote’s father Russell teaches science. Trees lining the roads to the school were decorated with posters and ribbons. Along the long street the school is on, the motorcade was met a crowd of thousands waiting to honor a life given in the line of duty.
“It was a pretty moving and powerful experience,” Rolling Hills Assistant Principal Dustin Haley said. “There were so many people lining the entire Silva Valley Road. Our community really showed up in a big way when it counted.” He also noted that “the staff came together” to support the family.
Phil Kellogg, a member of the Marine Corps Legion and whose children were taught by Russell Mote, said he was also “really impressed with the turnout. It was great. They were lined up and down the street, with banners and flags.”
Although the original plan of transferring Mote’s casket to a caisson fell through, the procession made its way to the mortuary without incident.
Mote, a 2003 graduate of Union Mine High School, died at approximately 2 a.m. local time on Aug. 10 in the Helmand province of Afghanistan. He was part of Operation Enduring Freedom.
He, along with Capt. Matthew P. Manoukian, 29, of Los Altos Hills, Calif., and Gunnery Sgt. Ryan Jeschke, 31, of Herndon, Va., were killed by an Afghan policeman after the three were invited over for a pre-dawn meal to discuss security.
Service for Mote will be held at Faith Episcopal Church in Cameron Park on Sunday, Aug. 19 at 6:30 p.m.