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Central Route Coordinator Newsletter November 2022


Registration update
:  Nearly 400 patriots have registered for RFTW XXXIII since 11 September 2022. As I mentioned in the October newsletter, the sooner you register (CLICK HERE TO REGISTER TODAY), the sooner RFTW (and Central Route) planners will be able to accurately assess (and arrange for) the needs of the Run across the country. But there’s another reason you should consider registering early – saving money. To encourage early registration, the RFTW Board of Directors (BOD) has decided to establish a sliding scale for registration costs:

RFTW Route Fees 2023

We understand that many riders participating in RFTW are operating on a budget – most of us are. So, register early and save yourself some money. And, don’t forget to complete the Emergency Information Form while you’re registering online (more on that form later). Be sure to make copies of your registration and emergency information documents, and bring them with you (along with your driver/motorcycle license, motorcycle registration and proof of insurance) to Ontario, CA in May 2023.

In Ontario, all your documentation will be verified during the check-in process, and you be assigned to a platoon. Later, probably on Tuesday 16 May, you will attend a platoon meeting where you will meet your platoon leadership team, and receive a comprehensive briefing about the mission upon which you are about to begin. It is in this meeting, I’m convinced, that you will begin to establish an important relationship, one which will last far beyond your arrival in Washington D.C. Let’s talk briefly about these platoon leadership teams;

 

Platoon leadership:  Platoon leadership teams consist of a platoon leader, an assistant platoon leader, and two tail gunners. These teams are made up of women and men, veterans, and non-veterans – patriots all. All are dedicated to the RFTW mission and committed to the safety of the riders in their platoons. All have completed a RFTW mission at least once by riding all the way on one of the routes. Many have been in a leadership role for several years. These volunteers have decided to come back to RFTW, to help others complete their (your) own mission. You will recognize members of platoon leadership teams by, and hear them referred to as, orange hats.

After departing Ontario, CA, your platoon leadership team will continue to guide you on your mission across this country. They will be your direct and daily source of the information and guidance you will need to be safe and successful on this ride. You will be required to attend platoon meetings every morning, during which your platoon leadership will reinforce important safety tips, recap the previous day’s events, and brief you on the destination and expectation for that day’s ride. At these morning meetings you will also have the opportunity to hear from road guards and chaplains, who will offer their observations and encouragement.

This process is repeated every day. As I said before, by the time you reach D.C., you will get to know your platoon leadership team intimately, and likely develop a close relationship (and friendship) with each one of them. This special relationship, moreover, often leads to an invitation to come back the next year to participate in some RFTW leadership role – in the platoons or in some specialty team like fueling or staging. Having said that, if along your way to Washington, D.C. you begin to entertain the idea of coming back and volunteering to help RFTW the next year, just let your platoon leadership know – they’ll be compiling a list of potential leaders as we cross the country.

Planning continues:  We recently met with all state coordinators to discuss where they were in their respective state planning efforts. These are the “planners” we introduced in the October Newsletter. At this point, all state coordinators are reporting that there will be little or no changes in the Central Route itinerary for RFTW XXXIII in 2023. So, if you can find an itinerary from a previous Run (e.g., 2022), it may help you get a sense for what to expect in 2023.

As some of you may know, or have heard, during the last Run (RFTW XXXII, 2022), Central Route experienced some significant route planning challenges. Confronted with massive fires in New Mexico, heavy snows in Colorado, and major construction at the West Virginia state capitol, Central Route leadership, supported (or “rescued”) by state coordinators, managed to re-route, re-fuel, re-stage and re-house about 350 riders, plus support vehicle operators. These changes were successful, and may have appeared seamless to most riders. However, I can assure you that in a very short span of time there were a great many urgent phone calls and map reviews, forward scouting missions and radio transmissions (and hair-pulling), before things finally fell into place. So, as I mentioned in the October newsletter, during the next Run, find a state coordinator and thank them for their planning efforts, and their dedication to RFTW and its mission.

Volunteer Positions:  Finally, we have received a very good response in our call for volunteers. And as mentioned in that newsletter platoon leaderships positions are filled. However, the fuel team and staging team are still in need of volunteers. So, if you have completed the RFTW mission by riding all the way on one of the routes, please consider submitting a volunteer form. We will forward your request to the appropriate team leader, and someone will reach out to you and discuss the opportunities. And keep in mind that some volunteer positions do not require that you ride a motorcycle (e.g., the registration team, hydration, etc.). Keep the volunteer request forms coming. (CLICK HERE TO VOLUNTEER)

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Central Route Coordinator Newsletter October 2022

As you know registration began for all routes on September 11, 2022. The response has been incredible. As of the first of October, nearly 250 patriots have registered for the RFTW XXXIII, and it’s more than eight months before kick-stands-up in Ontario. If you have not already done so, please register as soon as you can, and invite your friends and fellow patriots to register as well. The sooner you register, the sooner RFTW (and Central Route) planners will be able to accurately assess (and arrange for) the needs of the Run all across the country.

 

                   CLICK HERE TO REGISTER NOW                      

 

As you plan to participate in RFTW XXXIII, keep in mind that we ride in formation. Central Route (CR) platoons are made up of side-by-side and staggered riders. Experience has shown us that many first-time riders initially request to ride in a staggered platoon, but that after day three or four, after building confidence in themselves, many riders ask to ride side-by-side. Unfortunately, you are not currently able to make your preference known during online registration. Based on previous Runs, CR leadership will do its best to make initial platoon decisions – how many of each are available. And, at check-in in Ontario, CA, the folks on the Registration Team will do their best to accommodate your riding preference.

Now, back to our RFTW planners – who exactly are they? Well, just about everyone holding a leadership position is involved in the planning process, and that is a whole lot of people. There is so much to say about these “volunteer planners” that it’s just not possible to describe all their efforts in a single (or probably several) monthly newsletter. It is important for all RFTW participants to understand the tremendous efforts that go into making the Run a huge success year after year.

 

State Coordinators:  This month, I want to introduce you to a group of planners – the State Coordinators – who work literally all year round to make this Run happen. State Coordinators have cultivated supporters and donors in each of the states through which we ride on our way to Washington, D.C. And, with the help of these supporters and donors, State Coordinators arrange for virtually all the needs of RFTW participants, including hotel lodging, community-provided meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner), donations to assist with many fuel stops, community events, and visitations to VA hospitals and veteran memorials.

 

So, take a look at the CR website – you’ll find a listing of State Coordinators there. You will also find our State Coordinators listed daily in the CR itinerary. And, as we make our way across this great country, remember to seek out and thank our State Coordinators. In many cases, you can recognize the State Coordinator by their brown hats. But that’s not always the case as many State Coordinators also serve in other (sometimes multiple) leadership positions such as platoon leadership, road guards, and even the RFTW Board of Directors (BOD). When we make stops in each state, if you cannot quickly identify your State Coordinator, ask a member of your platoon leadership, the Assistant Route Coordinator, or me – one of us will point out that state’s coordinator. You may also find the state’s coordinator riding at the front of the pack with me.

Volunteer Positions:  Following the announcement of open volunteer positions in last month’s newsletter, we have received several volunteer request forms. As mentioned in that newsletter, while platoon leaderships positions were filled, other team positions remained open. We have received several requests for positions on the fuel and staging teams, which have been forwarded to the team leaders. Also, keep in mind that some volunteer positions do not require that you ride a motorcycle (e.g., the registration team). Keep the volunteer request forms coming.

 

Click Here to Volunteer!!

Itinerary Change:  Development of the CR itinerary for RFTW XXXIII is ongoing in October, with preliminary planning meetings to review, confirm and modify current route plans as necessary. At this point, CR does not anticipate many changes from the previous itinerary (for RFTW XXXII) – CR will still depart Ontario, CA on Wednesday, 17 May 2023. That said, a major change has occurred with one of the other routes leaving Ontario, CA in 2023. The BOD has decided to permit the Midway Route (MR) to add an additional day to its Run, making the MR an 11-day journey across the US to Washington, D.C. To accommodate this additional day, all RFTW participants in Ontario on Tuesday morning, 16 May 2023 will be required to attend the MR send-off that morning. For those who have not witnessed a RFTW departure from Ontario, CA, you will find the event quite moving, as well as an exciting preview of what you can expect the next day when the central and southern routes depart Ontario.

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Central Route Coordinator Newsletter September 2022

Registration Begins September 11, 2022 at 8:45 am EST. Changes have been made to the registration process. Registrants will be able to complete the entire registration process online. This includes completing the liability waiver and emergency contact forms, and choosing the preferred method of formation riding – side-by-side or staggered. The actual “check-in” for Run for the Wall XXXIII will take place in Ontario, California or one of our Evening stops. Be sure to bring your current driver license (endorsed for motorcycle), Proof of Insurance and registration.

With another month of planning under our belts, we are yet another month closer to kick-stands-up on 17 May 2023. In August, meetings were held with the Board of Directors and Route Coordinators from all four routes). A separate meeting with Central Route (CR) leadership included volunteers from the Registration Team, Medical Team, the Quartermaster, and other key members of CR leadership, such as our chaplains. And this month, we’ll begin developing  the CR itinerary for RFTW XXXIII.

If you’ve been following the CR Newsletter, you’ll know we just completed another mission at the Angel Fire Vietnam Memorial in Angel Fire, New Mexico, on 3 September 2022. This CR Service Mission and Bricklaying Ceremony, while not a sanctioned RFTW event, is important in the lives of many veterans and their families. This year alone, Riders from Central Route Riders (with welcome assistance from Midway and Southern Route Riders) installed another 500+ named bricks, 12 Medal of Honor Bricks and over 500 blank spacer bricks at the memorial. From all accounts, the bricklaying ceremony was a tremendous success. The riders also had the chance to catch up and “talk story” about past experiences on the Run as well as attend a “rider’s Forum” on Saturday Night. A hearty thank-you to all volunteers.

Why do we ride with RFTW? We realize all participants have their own reasons for joining the Run. Some of us served in Vietnam. Some served in subsequent conflicts, including Iraq and Afghanistan. We also realize that families and friends, in large measure, served right along with us. Which makes it all the more important that participants remember how the RFTW mission statement begins; “to promote healing among ALL veterans and their families and friends”.

Chaplains are here to help:  Keeping the RFTW mission in mind, as well as the individual needs of participants, our CR Chaplains dedicate themselves to fulfilling this part of the mission by providing crucial services to those in need. You might not yet realize it, but your (and our families’) decision to join RFTW is likely the first step in accepting the need to begin the healing process.

You will find our CR Chaplains, walking through the platoons at each stop, making themselves available if someone needs to talk. Should a participant become upset or uneasy, Chaplains are there to listen, to comfort and to console – to get us back on track to complete our personal mission. And, should a participant experience an illness or injury, a Chaplain will be there to assist in any way they can. Everyone wearing a Chaplains brassard is actual clergy, trained to listen, and everything you say to them is confidential. You may find that once you get things off your chest, you won’t have to go any further and the healing has already begun.

Calling all volunteers! We’ve had a great response to requests for volunteers. While most CR leadership positions are currently filled, experience has told us that changes can occur several times before we begin the Run, and even after the Run begins. If you don’t get picked up for your desired position, consider helping out on one of the other teams such as the fueling team, staging team, road guards, registration, medics, or chase vehicles. If such an assignment appeals to you, contact me or Nick Hentges as soon as possible, and we will forward your request on to the appropriate team leader.

Finally, have you checked out the information posted on the RFTW website regarding new riders. For example, how do you pack efficiently for a 10 day cross country ride? Take a look at the RFTW website. There are many Frequently asked Questions on the website (with answers) such as suggestions on what to pack.

I make it a point to pack small, light and portable. If you have questions, try blasting it out on the RFTW Forum.

And, while you’re thinking about what to pack, get out and ride your bike – now!

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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