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2024 Sandbox Route SitRep Day 3

RFTW Sandbox SitRep, Day 3, May 28, 2024

Our last morning together and we joined together to sing the Anthem.
We heard from a number of people including the Road Guard Captain, Catfish, who covered our route and hand signals. We recognized the military, POW/MIA, Blue Star and Gold Star families. Then there was silence as Gump spoke. March 23, 2003. He spoke of the attack. Eleven soldiers were killed. Eight were taken POW. One died in captivity. One was executed. More died on this day. He said 35 Americans died for our country that day. This is Gump’s second time to visit the MECW. He said he feels comfort to know he’s surrounded by hundreds of his brothers and sisters. He said, “I ride for,” and he named them all. Say their names out loud. He did. Loudly.
Say their  names. Tell their stories. Never forget.
Gump said a lot know about Vietnam and we lost a lot, including civilians. He talked about a doctor named Eleanor who was there to help those with leprosy. She was captured. Never returned. No remains. He said 59 civilian women were killed in that war. American women. He said we have a tendency to remember the military but civilians were also lost so we ride for them as well. Gump is proud we go to the MECW as it’s a unique memorial.   And he hopes we continue going to it.
This is why we ride.
It’s sad and yet we’re glad to be headed to the completion of the Mission. And so we began the ride on our last day and headed to the Indiana Veterans Home in Lafayette for breakfast and to meet with the residents. The first gentleman outside in his electric wheelchair was a Marine named Kenneth who was in Vietnam in 67/68. He’s from Lafayette and has been in the Indiana home for six years. He came home to Lafayette and worked in the septic tank and sewer businesses. He did that about 40 years and finally retired in 2008. He said he goes to bed at 4 pm and gets up at 4 am. It’s a beautiful place but he said he doesn’t have anything to do. A simple man who went to war, came home and did a necessary job.
This is why we ride.
Then there was Lois, the aunt of one of our riders, Jim. She was quite spiffy. And a cousin, Laurie, was also visiting today.
This is why we ride.
Sandbox folks donated funds to give to the home. While RFTW donates, many times there’s the passing of the hat and today was no exception that showed the generosity of the riders. Top Sarge spoke about the thank you stars from properly retired flags. The stars were handed out and riders were told that this is a tradition started years ago and still continues.
Santa Ed gave a Purple Heart belt buckle to one of the residents. There were 5,000 of these made years ago but hidden away due to copyright concerns. They were found and have been passed down and now are given to Santa Ed who gives them to Purple Heart veterans.
There was a little lady named Bonnie. I didn’t get her history. She was sweet. She eyed a dog that’s with us. I took Honey over to see her and Bonnie’s eyes just lit up. I couldn’t help but hug on her. And just love her. For some reason there was a connection that you sometimes immediately get when visiting one of these facilities. She took my face in her hands. I couldn’t help but do the same. She said to me, you’re crying. So was she. And I cried even after we left. No story told. But her name is Bonnie!!!  This is why we ride.
Veterans homes are so sad. But this is why we ride.
On to fuel and then lunch and presentations in Watseka, Illinois. Go-Go had a flag he is taking to the Angel Fire Vietnam Veterans Memorial in New Mexico. He asked everyone to sign it. A Vietnam vet designed the flag and every part of it means something. Red is for the blood. Black represents mourning. The soldier crossing the battle line is retrieving a soldier. The wavy line is the battle line. The circle is hallowed ground. Below the circle represents the brave and the free because without the brave there would be no free. The final message Go-Go wants to convey is that America remembers.
Blue reminded us that the Mission is bigger than self. And then presented awards and thanked everyone for being so great to work with and she’s is grateful for everyone. Skip, the Fuel Lead, updated us and said the first Sandbox fuel stop took 15 minutes and 42 seconds. The last one was eight minutes and 47 seconds. He said that’s not bad for fueling 275 bikes. Awesome.
Squirt Gun thanked his Ambassador team and the other routes as SB didn’t really have any swag. But the other routes gave him what they had left and so the Ambassadors had plenty to give out. He’s very grateful for that.
The final leg took us to the Middle East Conflicts Wall in Marseilles, Illinois. It would be the completion of the Wall to Wall Mission, the fourth route of RFTW. The bikes rolled in and parked. People got the bios they’d carried from either Ontario, CA, or Washington, DC, and began laying them at the various panels. Some made etchings of a name or names. Others knelt to pay their respects. Some needed hugs. Some needed more than one hug to be able to let go and hopefully begin healing. This is why we ride.
RC Blue made her last presentations and the RFTW plaque was laid. The Mission is COMPLETE!! As a final presentation Taz presented Blue with a flag. As a Mission still in its infancy, it was a fitting finish.
All y’all have a great ride and get home safely.
Peppermint Patti
Where we going?  Wall to Wall. Mission complete.
“These fallen heroes represent the character of a nation who has a long history of patriotism and honor — and a nation who has fought many battles to keep our country free from threats of terror.”  Michael N. Castle

1 thought on “2024 Sandbox Route SitRep Day 3

  1. So glad you ALL completed your “1 Mission – 4 Routes”

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