GOSHEN — The crew at D&T RV Repair have honored an Indiana veteran who was killed in Afghanistan in 2012 by helping another veteran.
Scott Allen, of Monticello, a ride captain for the Indiana Patriot Guard Riders, uses his 18-foot utility trailer to support veterans during the organization’s motorcycle events. The trailer features hundreds of signatures in white marker ink of Indiana veterans who served from World War II to the present. One of those signatures is by Robert Tauteris Jr., an Army soldier from Hamlet who was killed in Afghanistan Jan. 6, 2012.
Tauteris signed the trailer before deploying to Afghanistan. After his death there his white signature was copied and then duplicated in red on the front of the trailer. The new color denotes Indiana veterans who have died in the line of duty.
“My brother was Robert Tauteris,” Tom Tauteris said. “That is why it has some value to me. He had signed this trailer before he passed away.”
Tom is co-owner and vice president at D&T RV Repair.
Robert Tauteris Jr., 44, was a member of the Indiana National Guard’s 713th Engineer Co., and was killed along with three other Guardsmen by a roadside bomb. Robert Tauteris had re-enlisted in the Guard when his son, also Robert, was set to be deployed to Afghanistan. The father wanted to deploy with his son to look after him, according to Tom.
Instead, it was the son who took the long plane ride back from Afghanistan to return his father’s and the other Guardsmen’s bodies to Indiana.
“His son walked right beside him,” Tauteris said of his painful memory of watching his brother’s body being returned. “It was a heart-jerking moment.”
The Indiana Patriot Guard Riders honor veterans who have died in the line of duty by attending their funerals if invited by their families. The riders also support those families.
The first time Tom noticed Allen’s trailer was when the riders attended his brother’s funeral. Then, a few months ago the group presented an American flag to the family and the trailer was at that event.
“We started talking about tires,” Allen said of his first conversation with Tom. His trailer had snow tires mounted on it and needed new, trailer-specific tires.
After that Tom went to co-owner Dave Grossman to talk about offering to renovate Allen’s trailer, which had other issues beyond worn tires. Grossman agreed they should help.
“I go to a couple of places in Syracuse,” Grossman said. “There’s a guy over there who has no limbs. Life is not so bad for the rest of us.”
He added that he is aware that others have made tremendous sacrifices to protect the nation’s liberties and to help others around the world. That puts him in a charitable frame of mind.
“You get and you give and you should give back,” he said.
The workers at D&T RV, in partnership with Lippert Components, Forrest River and Starcraft, added LED interior and exterior lights, an electronically-driven awning, a powered roof vent, a tie down for motorcycles, stainless steel corner guard panels, electric brakes and new tires and rims. The exterior wasn’t touched, according to Tom, because of the veterans’ signatures.
“Everything was donated as far as materials and we donated our time and materials,” Tom said. “It has been for a good cause.”
Allen dropped the trailer off at D&T RV on Firethorn Drive June 20 and returned Tuesday to pick it up as the finishing touches were being put on the trailer.
“I am very happy with it,” he said as he looked over the improvements.
Shortly after that, Allen, a hulking Marine Corps veteran, who was not very talkative, went up to Tom and said, “Thank you,” and then wrapped him up in a bear hug.
Follow Roger on Twitter @rschneider_tgn