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2024 Southern Route Coordinator Welcome Message

Run for the Wall

Hello RFTW family from a very hot and humid Pearland, Texas! It is my honor to have been nominated and approved as the Southern Route Coordinator for Run for the Wall XXXIV in 2024! I cannot express how honored and humbled I am to have been selected to fill this position. After completing my role as the Route Coordinator for the SandBox Route this past year, I was definitely not planning to start another year as a Route Coordinator, but here we are. Mission before Self! I am an Air Force veteran, and my wife Tina (HandOff) is an Army combat veteran as well. As veterans, the RFTW Mission is very important to us both and we know how crucial this mission is to so many other veterans out there. We have seen firsthand the healing and magic this mission is responsible for, and we have embraced that mission along with our new RFTW family which grows every year! Make no mistake, RFTW is a family and we do not take that lightly.
I joined the U.S. Air Force after graduating High School in in Norfolk, Nebraska in 1987 and began basic in February 1988. I would ultimately be selected for a career field in Air Force Intelligence, TS/SCI clearance and all! I spent about 9.5 years on active duty with my first duty station at Iraklion AS in Crete, Greece (working as an Intelligence Analyst/Specialist when Iraq decided to invade Kuwait in August 1990). After 2 years in Greece I was reassigned to Key West NAS in Key West, Florida were I re-enlisted for another 6 years and subsequently reassigned to Yokota AFB in Tokyo, Japan. Three years flew by in Japan. I returned to the states with an assignment to Ft. George Mead in Maryland, working at NSA. Unfortunately, I received a Humanitarian reassignment to Offutt AFB in Omaha, Nebraska to help care for my terminally ill father. After his death in 1997, I completed my enlistment, electing to stay in the reserves. In 1999, I was recalled back to active duty due to the Kosovo Conflict. Once my recall to active duty ended, I chose to leave the military for good. I then spent 3.5 years working in Corrections before accepting a position with the government as a Federal Special Agent (Criminal Investigator). I retired at the end of December 2022 after 32 years of total federal service.
Although I spent many years overseas during my military service, I never had to endure or experience people disrespecting me while in uniform or for my service. My family and fellow service members accompanying me were welcomed home and treated to displays of patriotism that our Vietnam veterans did not receive. Part of the RFTW Mission is to “Promote healing among ALL veterans and their families”. I believe the patriotism we experience on RFTW from everyone along all 4 Routes aids in that healing and provides that “Welcome Home” so many did not initially receive.
The Run For The Wall 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.”
I look forward to the opportunity to lead the Southern Route, and together we will safely complete our mission in 2024.
This is why we ride – to support this mission!

Assistant Route Coordinator and Road Guard Captain
I am proud to announce that the RFTW Executive Board approved my nominations for Assistant Route Coordinator and Road Guard Captain (RGC) for 2024. Please join me in congratulating Ken “Radar” Ley as the Assistant Route Coordinator and Bob “Captain” Mazzone as our Road Guard Captain for RFTW XXXIV. Both are extremely qualified for their respective positions, and I have no doubt each will continue to support the RFTW mission with the attention, detail and respect required for these positions. Thank you both for accepting these positions.

Each year we look to the After Action Reports (AAR) for suggestions to improve the Route and the overall mission. If you participated in RFTW in 2023 on any Route, we want to hear from you! Please complete an AAR and tell us about your experience, whether you were a new rider (FNG) or a returning rider to RFTW. We value everyone’s input and the RFTW BOD and Route Coordinators (RC) review each AAR for suggestions on ways to improve the mission.

We need volunteers to help continue this mission. Please consider volunteering for a leadership position by completing a Volunteer Form here. Even if you were a volunteer last year, please take the time to complete a new volunteer form as early as possible to let us know your willingness to volunteer again! We need volunteers in many positions so please indicate all positions you may be interested in.

2023 FNG’s (Fun/Friendly New Guy/Gal)
If you were an FNG in 2023, we would really love to hear your story, in your own words, on what the RFTW mission and experience meant to you. Please consider submitting and sharing your FNG story with others. What was your experience like? Please share your story here.

If you are so inclined, the ALL RFTW RIDERS REUNION (not an officially sanctioned event by RFTW) will be taking place in Kerrville, TX from September 27-October 1st, 2023. For additional information please see the TX Riders Reunion Facebook page or contact Sam or Roger “Cowboy” Mead at: cell: 830-928-6634 or 915-422-5547.

Darin “Lurch” Koch
RFTW Southern Route Coordinator 2024

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