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Central Route Coordinator Newsletter August 2022

As I’ve said before, it’s not too early to begin planning for RFTW XXXIII, both for riders and leadership. For leadership, planning actually began as soon as we returned from DC in June. One of the first things to change was the central route coordinator (RC) positions. In June, I succeeded the central route coordinator for 2022 (Tom “Boomps” Miller). Shortly thereafter, I nominated a new assistant route coordinator (ARC), Nick Hentges, who was then confirmed by the Board of Directors (BOD).

Other leadership changes have also occurred, mostly in the state coordinator positions, due to pending retirements from RFTW. California (outside Ontario, CA) has been masterfully led by Bud “Rebar” Phillips for years. Bud’s role will be filled by his former assistant, Larry Medcraft. Curt Gilman will assume the role as state coordinator for Indiana, succeeding Bill “Oz” Chaney. And, in Illinois, where we’ve always been treated to great lunch at the Mount Vernon airport, Angela Schrum is stepping down as state coordinator, and David Parkhill will assume that role. Leadership roles in other teams continue to evolve, and will likely do so until just before our departure from Ontario, CA, in May 2023.

Several preliminary (but vital) planning meetings for RFTW XXXIII have already occurred. We met with state coordinators in June to get their thoughts on RFTW XXXII. Next, we met with platoon leaders in July to hear their observations and suggestions. And, we met with another group which included the fuel team leader, the staging crew leader and the road guard captain. Finally, the entire BOD (including all RCs and ARCs) met at the end of July.

Central Route (CR) leadership has also been working on a number of other matters we believe will assist platoon leadership, and make the ride better for all. First, we are reviewing several after action reports (AARs) to review rider comments, and to assess what observations may have a bearing on route execution. Where feasible, and relevant, we may consider implementing some AAR recommendations. Second, we are in the process of developing standardized platoon briefing notes, containing “minimum” instructions that address route safety matters. This should help platoon leadership provide guidance to new RFTW riders in a consistent manner.

We are continuing to build a list of potential leadership personnel, developed from information derived from volunteer request forms submitted by many riders in 2022. As vacancies occur in platoons, fueling and staging crews, and other leadership positions, we will consider volunteer requests in filling these positions. If you are planning to return to RFTW in 2023, and you have ridden “All the Way” on any route at least once (in 2022 or a previous year), consider submitting a volunteer request form. You can find the volunteer request form on the RFTW website.

On another subject, riders who participated in RFTW XXXII, 2022, may recall from their CR itinerary that we were scheduled to stop at the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial in Angel Fire, New Mexico on day three of the run. We all remember, however, that that scheduled stop had to be scrubbed due to the gigantic fires burning in the area. CR riders had to divert around Angel Fire (and surrounding mountains), and overnight in Raton, New Mexico instead. It was an unfortunate set of circumstances that forced us to bypass the memorial in Angel Fire – easily one of the most beautiful and moving memorials RFTW riders will to see on the run. Fortunately, we will be returning to the Angel Fire memorial as part of RFTW XXXIII, in 2023. In the interim, consider attending the CR Angel Fire Service Mission and Bricklaying Ceremony in September, which was recently announced in a “special” CR newsletter.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial State Park

Finally, have you checked out the information posted on the RFTW website regarding new riders (e.g., what to pack)?

Click here for FAQ

And, have you been riding, and keeping up your skills? It is important that you continue riding your motorcycles regularly between runs. Riding not only helps maintain skills, but enhances physical fitness. Ride distances. Practice your shifting and throttle control. If you ride with friends, practice riding side-by-side; first at low speeds, then riding side-by-side at increasingly higher speeds.

So, get out and enjoy the ride. Get ready for your RFTW experience.

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Central Route Coordinator Newsletter – Special Angel Fire Edition

Vietnam Veterans Memorial State Park

As has happened since about 2007, the Central Route (CR) will host a bricklaying ceremony and RFTW reunion at the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial in Angel Fire, NM. Since this ceremony began, thousands of bricks have been laid at Angel Fire (I personally had two bricks laid for my brother and myself). Last year, after nearly two years of COVID health restrictions barring visitors at the memorial, RFTW Participants laid over 1300 bricks. This year we will be laying nearly 500 bricks. Bricks laid at the memorial represent veterans from most wars, including WWII, Korea, Vietnam and the Gulf conflicts. Special areas have also been set aside for the founder of the memorial, Doctor Westphal and family, and for several Medal of Honor recipients.

Bricks at Angel Fire Memorial
Setting Bricks at the Angel Fire Memorial

This Workday and RFTW reunion is attended not only by families of veterans, RFTW leadership, Board members, and dignitaries, but by many RFTW riders who come to Angel Fire to volunteer for bricklaying preparations, and the ceremony itself. Whether you have already participated in the RFTW mission, or you plan to do so in the future, you are invited and welcome to attend this event. We believe that future RFTW riders will find this bricklaying ceremony to be a particularly stirring event. In addition, future riders will receive a preview of the amazing, patriotic experiences they will encounter while participating in the RFTW mission.

NOTE: This is not an official Run for the Wall event. This is a gathering of individuals to support the Brick Laying and to get together. Riders and supporters from all Routes are Welcome.

The bricklaying ceremony will occur on Saturday, September 3, 2022. Many RFTW riders chose to arrive on the Friday (Reception at the Laguna Vista Saloon) before the ceremonies to help with bricklaying preparations.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial State Park
Boomer at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Angel Fire
Jess Setting Bricks at the Angel Fire Memorial

While it has not yet been scheduled, the State Coordinator (Kenny Keelin) has offered the possibility of a 2 hour ride in the Angel Fire area on Sunday Morning after church services (time and interest permitting).

The actual ceremony takes place on Saturday, which is capped off with a wonderful dinner. During and after dinner there will be a “Riders Forum” where Board Members and Route Leadership will provide updates on the upcoming year’s planning and a brief Q&A session.

Dinner in Eagle Nest

On the sign-up sheet you will find a tentative schedule of events. Please make sure to register and pay as soon as Possible (Before the deadline) so we can tell our supporters and caterer how many of us to expect. Any questions or concerns please contact Nick.hentges@rftw.us

NOTE: This is not an official Run for the Wall event. This is a gathering of individuals to support the Brick Laying and to get together. Riders and supporters from all Routes are Welcome.

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Central Route Coordinator Newsletter July 2022

Run for the Wall Central Route

My name is Paul Marshall, and I have been honored by the Run For The Wall (RFTW) Board of Directors by being appointed as the 2023 Central Route Coordinator. This will be my first newsletter, with many more to follow, until we complete our mission for RFTW XXXIII.

Besides riding with RFTW for several years – sometimes in the pack, sometimes riding my own ride, and sometimes riding multiple legs – I’ve worked on the fuel team, and served as platoon leader for several years. For the past two years, I served as the Assistant Route Coordinator, working with Tom “Boomps” Miller, the 2022 Route Coordinator.

I joined the US Army in 1969. I served in Vietnam as an MP (1971-72), and in the Korean DMZ as an artillery surveyor and MP (1970-71).

After leaving the US Army in 1972, I joined the Sacramento Police Department in California. Over the next 30 years, I worked in two other police departments, and retired as a police captain from a police department in Southern California in 2004.

I was introduced to RFTW in 2002 by a fellow Vietnam veteran. Until that time, like many Vietnam veterans, I flew under the radar, seldom acknowledging my service, let alone my time spent in country. To say my first year on RFTW changed my way of thinking is an understatement. However, while it was an awakening of sorts – almost a rebirth of faith in Americans if you will – there remains a lingering feeling of guilt and loss.

Now, when I think of the mission of the RFTW (to promote healing among all veterans, their families and friends, to call for an accounting of all prisoners of wars and those missing in action to honor the memory of those killed in action from all wars, and to support our military personnel all over the world), I understand why two Vietnam veterans, James Gregory and Bill Evans, established RFTW in 1989 – to give all veterans a chance to find meaning in their service, and heal the deep scars left by that service.

In my first year (2002), I rode in the pack all the way from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. In those days, we rode in one long, continuously line of motorcycles, riding side by side next to riders we’d never met before. Fueling our motorcycles, and “staging” in preparation to leave a stop, was chaotic at best. When we left a fuel of meal stop, we shuffled into a side-by-side line as we entered the freeway. On the freeway, we often saw brake lights popping on, gradually making their way back through the pack – a very beautiful thing actually, until they got to one’s position. Things have seriously changed since 2002. RFTW is a well-practiced, and cross-country motorcycle ride.

When we launch RFTW XXXIII from Ontario, California on 17 May 2023, I will be joined by Assistant Route Coordinator, Nick Hentges, Road Guard Captain, Kirk Olson, and many more volunteer leaders.

Planning for the RFTW mission is underway. Since we completed the mission of RFTW XXXII in May 2022, state coordinators have been in constant contact with their supporters in eleven states. Several leadership teams are meeting to discuss the last run to Washington, D.C. Other volunteer leadership teams include road guards, fueling and staging crews, chase and last man crews, ambassadors, outreach volunteers, chaplains and medical personnel, to name a few.

Riding across this country, you will represent RFTW as we stop at VA hospitals, memorials, schools and community centers. And as a RFTW representative, you will be asked to be on  your best behavior by being courteous, showing respect and appreciation to the communities that support us on our ride to Washington, D.C.. After a day or two you will realize that RFTW is truly something special, and unlike anything you have ever experienced. By the end of this run, you will find that you have become part of the RFTW family.

As a new RFTW rider, you will be supported by a very large, and very experienced leadership teams that seek to maintain a safe, supportive and private atmosphere in which all participants can reflect and heal on your journey to the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. – “The Wall”. Regardless of your level of experience, you will find this ride to be very challenging, and well worth the effort. That said, it is not too early to begin your preparations.

You are encouraged to go to the RFTW website (RFTW.us). There you will find a number of resources to help you plan your ride, including suggestions on how to pack for the run. New riders can also check out the “Forum” to see what other riders are saying in their chats, and read after action reports that will describe previous rides. Next spring, as planning progresses, new riders will be able to read about activities in Ontario before we launch, as well as the day-by-day itinerary for the Central Route.

Get curious. Ask questions. And, get ready!

I look forward to seeing you all in Ontario, California.

Paul “Brush” Marshall
RFTW Central Route Coordinator 2023