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2024 Southern Route Coordinator December Newsletter

From myself and our very own Santa Ed, Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays to our RFTW Family and friends! May you all have a Happy Holiday Season!

In previous newsletters, I have mentioned asking yourselves why we ride and what is our mission?

Run for the Wall is 1 Mission, 4 Routes! That mission is:

“To promote healing among ALL veterans and their families and friends,

To call for an accounting of all Prisoners of War and those Missing in Action (POW/MIA),

To honor the memory of those Killed in Action (KIA) from all wars, and

To support our military personnel all over the world.”

As many of you already know, after 50 years, Capt. Ronald W. Forrester, USMC, MIA 12/27/72 has been positively identified. Capt. Forrester is the father of our very own Karoni Forrester. In Karoni’s words from December 6, 2023:

“Yesterday morning I received a call from United States Marine Corps Casualty.  One of the 12 bone fragments recovered in the two excavations of our crash site this year is a positive DNA match to Daddy.

Allow that to settle for a second because I’m still in shock myself.  The government identified Dad’s remains just weeks before the 51st anniversary of his A6 Intruder being shot down over North Vietnam.  I wanted to call so many of you personally before you reading it here.  I’m blessed to have a long list of people who have been supportive and loving to me and my family on this journey, and I failed to complete my list.

THANK YOU to family and friends, and friends who have become family.  Thanks to the League of Families for initially bringing POW/MIA families together to be stronger and bolder as one collective voice demanding accountability.  HUGE THANKS to DPAA (JCRC/JPAC/DPMO – all the iterations!) and to the independent ARC, our own POW/MIA accounting warriors (you know who you are!).  The efforts made by our government, and groups of concerned citizens, to account for Americans Missing in Action is unmatched anywhere in the world, even though it takes a very long time.  Answers do come and we are grateful that it’s our family’s turn. 

Daddy wanted to be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery and already has a Memorial headstone there.  We will be working through details to plan his funeral, though waiting time for a funeral at Arlington can be upwards of six months.  In the meantime, his brothers and I will be planning a Celebration of Life/Celebration for Answers in the Austin area early in the new year for Dad’s Texas family and friends (and our friends too!).  I always love a good Ron Forrester story, and I want to hear many that day!  Uncle Don wants to have it sooner than later, on the heels of us finally getting the long-awaited answer. More details to come.

As today is Mamaw’s birthday in heaven, I know they are all celebrating in a special way; rejoicing together that those of us here on earth finally know what they know.”

This is why we RIDE!

Until they all come home, until they are all accounted for, we must continue to Say Their Names, Tell Their Stories, and Never Forget!

We must also remember to “Live a Life worthy of their Sacrifice”!

The planning and preparation for the RFTW 2024 Mission has continued during this cold season and the Southern Route Leadership teams continue to prepare. Our State Coordinators have been doing excellent work and our Hotel list for 2024 is just about complete. This list is scheduled to be published January 1, 2024. Please remember to mention Run for the Wall to the hotels. Even those who did not provide us with a special group rate may still provide a discount if you mention RFTW. Please be patient and courteous to the hotel folks when you call to reserve your room. We are all Ambassadors for the Run and politeness goes a long way in maintaining our relationships with those that support us along the Routes.

RFTW Southern Route 2024 now has over 164 registered riders and participants with less than 135 days until KSU May 15, 2024. If you have not registered yet, please do so as soon as possible. Early registration ends on January 31, 2024. Beginning February 1, 2024, registration cost increases. Early registration helps us plan for our stops and Hotel accommodations etc.  You can register HERE.

RFTW has a new updated Rider Code of Conduct that every rider and participant is required to read and adhere to. Please be respectful to all riders, participants, and supporters by adhering to this code of conduct while on the Run.

If you are interested in riding the Missing Man Formation (MMF), please send an email to our new Missing Man Coordinator Rick “SpeedBump” Shoaf at Rick will explain the process, requirements, and expectations of riding in the MMF during the run.

We are still looking for a few volunteers in Platoon Leadership positions. CB communications is required for these positions. If you are not an FNG and are able and willing to volunteer for a Platoon Leadership position, please submit a volunteer form. You can also submit a volunteer form if you are interested in volunteering for any other positions.

If you haven’t done so yet please consider donating to the Run before the end of the year so you can claim it on your taxes. RFTW is a 501C(3) nonprofit. You can go to the link below and donate online or you can Zelle directly to the Southern Route at

If you or any supporters plan to donate items to the Southern Route for Auction/Raffle please reach out and send me an email with the details of the item(s), pictures, and where that item will be presented to the Southern Route so I can begin the planning with our Fundraising Team.


Leave no one behind does not end on the battlefield!

Veterans Lives Matter – Give a Damn!

If you or someone you know find themselves struggling with their mental health, please know you can contact the VA Veteran’s Crisis Line by dialing 988 then press 1 or text 838255 and speak or chat with a qualified responder.

Darin “Lurch” Koch

RFTW Southern Route Coordinator 2024

1 thought on “2024 Southern Route Coordinator December Newsletter

  1. I signed up for the 2024 May RFTW and your web site said I couldn’t use my email yet I get messages from you guys on my email, what is up with that. I want a conformation that I signed up and paid.
    Thanks, Lawrence

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