“Package” is the term the Warrior Watch Riders (WWR) veterans motorcycle group uses to refer to the service members they honor with escorts and welcome home celebrations. The Northern California State Coordinator for the WWR, Schau last week surrendered his customary spot at the front of the convoy and assumed the place of honor after being named Veteran of the Year for Assembly District 15 by Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan.
It was largely because of his work honoring other veterans that made Schau a natural choice. “In a way, we’re honoring them all,” Buchanan said as the 30 flag-bedecked bikes surrounding Schau rolled into the parking lot last Thursday. Although many veterans are eligible for the honor, she said, “I can tell you, it didn’t take very long (to decide on Schau). I don’t think there’s a better patriot in our country than Spike. He loves the country, he loves people, and he understands service.”
Boatswain Mate 2nd Class Petty Officer Schau, an active Navy reservist, has accumulated nearly 20 years in the Navy during three hitches. In addition to the welcome-home ceremonies, Schau has coordinated funeral escorts for fallen service members of any era. He also performs military honors at other funerals, oversees nighttime security for East Bay Standdown veteran outreach efforts, and has assisted myriad other organizations and programs for veterans.
“My military service is one thing, but it’s what we do together today that’s the important thing,” Schau said. “We do better (appreciating military service) than we’ve ever done in this country, and its getting better every day.”
With shouts of “Go Navy, baby!” and “Roger that!” – Schau’s signature phrases – bouncing around the packed room, Schau thanked the individuals and groups he and the WWR had worked and ridden with. Then, in a most uncharacteristic turn of events, he ran out of things to say.
“I am appreciative, and I am honored,” he said. “And that’s all I got.”
Schau’s “missions” – as many as four per week – plus the time he spends on his Harley often keep him away from his wife, Julie, and daughter, Heidi. Both are often seen at Spike’s side at events, and both are proud to support him.
“I’m very blessed to be married to such a wonderful, dedicated man,” said Julie.