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Southern Route Coordinator News – November

Southern Route 2023 "Eyes" Masthead

Welcome to the November Southern Route, RC Newsletter. Let’s see if we can bring you up to date on what’s new and what’s not so new.

What’s Not so New

 Southern Route leadership continues to meet and to plan. The focus this month has been on building the various volunteer teams, these teams are necessary for our safe ride across the country.

State Coordinators have been working with the various hotels to have enough hotel rooms and host hotels for all the riders. The hotel list will be posted on January 1, 2023. Please do not contact the hotels prior to January 1, as the state coordinators have not finalized the hotel contracts.

Our Quartermaster, Ken Ley has been trying to gather the information necessary to order all the needed supplies; hats, brassards, rockers, windshield banners, flashlights and safety vests. It’s a big job and we appreciate the work and time he has sacrificed for the Run.

Yes, we have all been busy and that is not new.

What’s New

Volunteers Needed

 Southern Route Leadership teams still need volunteers, particularly in the staging team and platoon leadership. To perform their duties efficiently, the staging team needs TWENTY volunteers. We currently have 6. If you are a seasoned rider (more than one year) please consider volunteering for the staging team.

Another team with a few vacancies is platoon leadership. I came up through the ranks in platoon leadership. I can’t think of a more rewarding place to volunteer. You meet and get to know the riders in your platoon. You are the face of the run for FNGs. You are in the trenches and can really help the riders. Southern Route operates with approximately FORTY-THREE volunteers in platoon leadership. We are about half-way there. If you are a seasoned rider (more than one year) please consider volunteering for platoon leadership.

Click this link to volunteer

Pre-Paid Fuel

In September we introduced the new PRE-PAID fuel opportunity at a cost of $150.00.  Why are we offering a pre-paid fuel option?

  • No need to dig in your pockets at the pump
  • Gas stops will be quicker, thus allowing riders more time to rest and hydrate
  • Because we can. We have calculated how many stops are donated and how many will be rider funded. All non-donated stops will be $10 stops, totaling $150.00.

If you have any further questions, please see the September newsletter where the pre-paid fuel option is explained in greater detail.

What is new this month, is that we have an on-line pre-paid fuel option.

Following Midway Route’s lead in accepting on-line donations, you may pre-pay for your fuel NOW.

Click here to buy your loved one or yourself, all the out of pocket fuel needs to ride to Washington DC.

Click here for pre-paid fuel

This is a great gift for a Veteran and or a rider. Let’s face it Dad’s and Grandfather’s/Mom’s and Grandmother’s are the hardest people to buy Christmas gifts for. They tend to buy what they want, or they already have everything they want. Southern Route just made it super easy for you to buy your motorcycle enthusiast a Christmas gift. Pass on the message.

SAVE YOUR RECEIPT. When you arrive in Ontario, you will be given a wrist band to wear to show you have pre-paid for your fuel. For the convenience of paying on-line, there is a fee of 4%.

Registration Price Increase – Be sure to register before January 31. After January 31 there is a price increase of $15.00.

Veterans Day – November 11, 2022

 November 11, 2022 marks the day we honor and remember our veterans.

World War I officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.” In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day.

In 1954, after World War II, at the urging of veteran service organizations, Armistice Day was changed to Veterans Day and on June 1, 1954, November 11th became a national holiday, a day to honor American veterans

As Veterans Day got its start from World War I, so did the wearing of the Remembrance Poppy. Lt. Col John McCrae penned the famous poem “In Flanders Field” in the spring of 1915. The poppy spoken of in the poem became a national symbol of hope and remembrance. Today the United States tends to wear a remembrance poppy on Memorial Day while in the United Kingdom the remembrance poppy is worn in November. Why not wear a poppy both, in May and in November?

The simple wearing of a Remembrance Poppy during November shows that you remember the sacrifices made by veterans as well as our active-duty military. It shows that you REMEMBER the 1,582 still missing from the Vietnam War. You also honor the families who still wait for answers.

 We Ride – To REMEMBER – Romeo Tango Mike

Kris “Eyes” Wood

Southern Route Coordinator

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Southern Route Coordinator Newsletter – October

Southern Route 2023 "Eyes" Masthead

Over one-hundred RFTW participants gathered in Kerrville, Texas September 23 – 26, for the annual Texas Riders Reunion. Attendees enjoyed gorgeous rides to Luckenbach, and riding the Three Sisters. The Three Sisters is a ride roughly a hundred miles long, encompasses Farm Roads 335/336/337. The ride is known for its sharp turns, steep climbs, deep valleys and scenic views. The route passes through the “hilliest” of the Texas Hill Country. Many riders have the t-shirt to prove they rode the Three Sisters.

The Texas Riders Reunion provides riders’ opportunities to visit with fellow riders, without the hectic pace of the run. It also provides time for face-to-face planning meetings for the 2023 run. Thank you to those riders that have accepted new positions or that have agreed to stay on in previous positions.

A group of unsung heroes on the run are the advance team which encompass the staging team and fuel team. These two groups are up early, getting bikes staged in platoon order and facilitating the fueling of 300 motorcycles in record time. This year we have a new Advance Team Lead, Ken “Tumbler” Gigliotti. We also have a new Fuel Team Lead, Rick “Speedbump” Shoaf and returning this year, Staging Team Lead, Steve “Dragon” Edmonds. Thank you for stepping up to serve in these important roles.

We need volunteers! Both the fuel team and staging team are looking for a few good riders to join their teams!
If you have not filled out a volunteer form, please do so today. Volunteer Here

The prepaid fuel option outlined in last month’s newsletter was presented at the Kerrville Reunion and was well received. Many riders are planning on taking advantage of this option to simplify and expedite fuel stops. I am sorry to report, the paying online option is not possible at this time, maybe next year. Pre-paid fuel payments will be accepted in Ontario when you check-in at the host hotel.

ROMEO TANGO MIKE T-SHIRTS    

Did you know we have a Southern Route 2023 Run t-shirt?
The sale of the shirts will aid in paying for run expenses and will help build our Run community, Route loyalty and pride in each other for spending ten days doing something hard to support what we believe in.

When a team of proud, dedicated
individuals make a commitment
to act as one, the sky is the limit.

The sky is the limit for the 2023 Southern Route – Run for the Wall. We are hoping to touch more veterans with the healing message of the run, to touch more community members, to make them aware of the needs of our veterans and active-duty military. To spread the message of the run and to more fully, REMEMBER THE MISSION.
We are asking all registered riders to wear one of the six, 2023 Southern Route t-shirt on day 1, May 17, when we depart Ontario.
There are six shirt options, 3 men and 3 women, red, gray and navy blue.
Shirts can be ordered through the following link. Don’t wait sales end October 27. Shirts will be mailed to your home address the first week of November.

Order RTM Shirt here

A Little History…

Do you ever look up the history on something you lived through? I did that today, just to see what the internet had to say about POW/MIAs. I felt The History website would be the most factual.  I found it interesting to read the beginning of the POW/MIA flag and National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing Organization.
I hope you find this interesting and that it reaffirms Why You ride with Run for the Wall.

The Paris Peace Accords marking the end of the Vietnam War were signed on January 27, 1973. The U.S. agreed to withdraw all of its troops and dismantle American bases in exchange for the release all U.S. prisoners of war held by the North Vietnamese. That February, Operation Homecomingaired on American television showing the release of American POWs from North Vietnamese prison camps. By March 29, 1973, 591 soldiers would be returned and President Richard Nixon announced, “For the first time in 12 years, no American military forces are in Vietnam. All of our American POWs are on their way home.” At the time, 1,303 Americans were still unaccounted for.

Over the years, rumors about men left behind and discrepancies in the number of missing vs. the number of returned outraged MIA families—as did reports of the mishandling and misidentification of American remains. Action films like 1983’s Uncommon Valor and Rambo: First Blood Part II(1985) fictionalized attempts at rescuing living soldiers from captivity in Vietnam.

Sybil Stockdale was determined to bring her husband, Vice Adm. James Stockdale, home from the infamous Hoa Lo Prison—also known as the “Hanoi Hilton” where Senator John McCain was held. She joined with other families of MIAs to form The National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia, a non-profit incorporated in May of 1970 with the mission “to obtain the release of all prisoners, the fullest possible accounting for the missing and repatriation of all recoverable remains of those who died serving our nation during the Vietnam War.”

“The greatest motivation for all of these families is uncertainty,” says Ann Mills-Griffiths, chairman of the board & CEO of the National League of POW/MIA Families. “Uncertainty is a killer. It is a great motivator to get you engaged…It’s better to find out what happened to the missing than to endlessly stay in a state of uncertainty and frustration that you can’t do anything about it,” she said. “The families were desperate, there was so much misinformation going around. Nobody wanted to talk about the veterans who had been ignored.”
Read more about POW/MIA Flag & Movement

This is why I ride, for those who can’t and for the families that still seek answers.

ROMEO TANGO MIKE – REMEMBER THE MISSION
Kristine “Eyes” Wood
Route Coordinator
Southern Route

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Southern Route RC Newsletter

Southern Route 2023 "Eyes" Masthead

Welcome September, the first  of the “ber” months. With September comes, cooler temps and the best riding weather of the year. I hope you’re enjoying the weather with many road trips and wind therapy.

Southern Route leadership continues to meet and implement a few changes that will simplify and enhance the 2023 run.  For the 2023 run, we are offering a pre-paid fuel option. If you struggle remembering to stop at the bank for wads of cash or digging in your pocket for gas money at the hectic fuel stops, this might be just the thing  for you. Yes, you read it correctly, a pre-paid fuel option!  What’s the cost to you? The cost of the pre-paid fuel option is $150.00 per bike.

How does it work? When you arrive in Ontario and check-in, you will have the option of pre-paying $150.00 for your ten-day fuel expense. Once you pre-pay for your fuel, you will be issued a wrist band and a receipt. When you pull into the gas stop, show the fuel team member your wrist band and you will not be charged for fuel. Yes, you read that correctly, fill your tank and ride on through. We will all arrive at the staging area quicker, with a little more time for rest, hydration and snacks.

Now for the questions that are surely running through your mind:

  1. How can $150.00 be enough money for fuel? Historically, the remaining fuel expenses are donated stops.
  2. How do I know my bike’s fuel usage will be $150? The stops that are not donated fuel stops will all be $10 stops.
  3. What if you’re not going all the way? This might not be a good plan for you, unless you want to donate your unused gas dollars to the chase vehicles’ fuel expenses, because NO REFUNDS WILL BE GIVEN
  4. What if you lose your wrist band? You will have to show your receipt to be issued a new wrist band.
  5. What if you do not complete the run? There again, you will be making a donation to the chase vehicles’ fuel expense fund. NO REFUNDS WILL BE GIVEN.
  6. Will this impact donated fuel stops? NO, the generous donors on the route will still donate fuel stops.

***We are looking into having an on-line option to pre-pay for fuel. We will keep you posted on this option, as we work through the process.

Mark your calendar!

Registration for Southern Route, 2023 opens on September 11, 2022 at  https://rftw.us, please register early, it helps with the planning of the run.

Announcing 2023 Road Guard Captain

Southern Route is fortunate to have Bob “Captain” Mazzone back again this year as our Road Guard Captain. 2023 marks the fourth year Captain will be serving as the RGC. I am honored to work with Captain this year. Bob is a retired Navy Captain, 1983 – 2014. Bob has a PHD in Physiology. Bob has served his country as a: Qualified Deep Sea Navy Diver, Qualified Submarine Engineering Duty Officer. Significant Navy Tours:  Diving Officer, Naval Medical Research Institute, Mar 83 – May 85, Senior Ship Superintendent and Docking Officer, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Sept 85 – May 89, Diving and Salvage Officer, Commander Submarine Development Group One Jan 92 – Feb 95, Operations Officer, Navy Experimental Diving Unit, Mar 95 – Feb 98, Off-Yard Operations Officer, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Mar 98 – Jun 2001, Chief Engineer, USS DWIGHT D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) July 2001 – Nov 2004, Production Resources Officer, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Dec 04 – April 06, Operations Officer, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Apr 06 – Jun 07, Commanding Officer, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Jul 07 – Jan 2010

I think we can all agree, Bob is well qualified to serve as the 2023 Road Guard Captain. Thank you for stepping up Bob, we look forward to riding with you and thank you for your service.

National POW/MIA Recognition Day is September 16, 2022

How will you recognize our POW/MIAs on September 16th?

“National POW/MIA Recognition Day was established in 1979 through a proclamation signed by President Jimmy Carter. Since then, each subsequent president has issued an annual proclamation commemorating the third Friday in September as National POW/MIA Recognition Day. A national-level ceremony is held on every National POW/MIA Recognition Day. Traditionally held at the Pentagon, it features members from each branch of military service and participation from high-ranking officials.In addition to the national-level ceremony, observances of National POW/MIA Recognition Day are held across the country on military installations, ships at sea, state capitols, schools and veterans’ facilities.No matter where they are held, these National POW/MIA Recognition Day ceremonies share the common purpose of honoring those who were held captive and returned, as well as those who remain missing.

Since 1999, the POW/MIA Accounting community has created a poster commemorating National POW/MIA Recognition Day. The 2022 edition of the poster continues to honor this tradition.”

 Please share the poster on your social media sites.

This is why we ride! Romeo Tango Mike – Remember the Mission

Until next month…

Kristine”Eyes” Wood
Route Coordinator
Southern Route 2023

 

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Southern Route Coordinator – August Newsletter

In the heat of the night, many thoughts come to mind. Last night, for me it was what to share with Southern Route riders in this newsletter, and so let us begin.

The Southern Route spends ten days riding from California to Washington DC. We pass through; Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Virginia and let’s not forget the dip into Georgia. The Southern Route is known for its warm weather. If you like warm weather riding, this is the route for you.  As we travel through these ten states, it is a time for personal reflection and a time to REMEMBER THE MISSION (Romeo Tango Mike) and why we ride.

One of many Welcome Home Events


The first Run for the Wall left San Diego in 1989, to raise awareness for those left behind in Vietnam. The mission has not changed!

“Currently, there are nearly 1,600 Americans still unaccounted-for from the Vietnam War, hundreds are believed to be in a “non-recoverable” category, meaning after rigorous investigation DPAA has determined that the individual perished but does not believe it is possible to recover the remains. On rare occasions, new leads can bring a case back to active status. We ride for these 1,600 Americans.”

“At present, more than 81,500 Americans remain missing from WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, and the Gulf Wars/other conflicts. Out of the more than 81,500 missing, 75% of the losses are located in the Indo-Pacific, and over 41,000 of the missing are presumed lost at sea, many presumed to be “non-recoverable”.

Current POW/MIA Information 

We ride for these 81,500 Americans

The logistical planning for 2023 is in full swing and WE NEED YOU!!! If you have not filled out a volunteer form, letting us know you will be riding in 2023, we need you to do that. If you do not fill out the volunteer form, we might think you’re sitting this year out and not riding. Click on the link below to access the volunteer form. Please volunteer today.

Southern Route – Volunteer Form

Stonewall

It is my distinct pleasure to introduce the Southern Route Assistant Route Coordinator, Michelle “Stonewall” Phelan. I am so grateful she has agreed to serve as the 2023 ARC. Stonewall first joined the run with her husband Roger E. Phelan in 2009 as a participant. Michelle has this to say about her and Roger’s first year on the run.

“My husband, Major Roger E. Phelan, Jr. served in the USAF from 1970 – 1997. He flew C-130-H in Vietnam, Gulf War, Grenada, Panama and other theaters. His Welcome Home experience left him feeling that his military service did not matter. On May 13, 2009, Roger left Rancho Cucamonga on the Southern Route, Day 1 of All The Way. Meeting him on Day 5, I received back to me a career pilot who understood that his service to his country did matter to thousands of people he just hadn’t met prior to the run.

And this was important. In 2001, 2004, 2005 and 2007 Roger was diagnosed with 4 different cancers due to his extensive Agent Orange exposure. He received treatment from 2001 until his death on February 7, 2010. His exposure to a grateful nation, while on the Run provided a foundation that allowed him to conclude his career mattered.”

 Stonewall has worn many hats on the run. Her favorite being the red hat of a Road Guard, where she has been riding every year since 2013. She has also worn the hat of the medical team and merchandise team 2010 – 2012.

It’s going to be a great Run, but not without you!

 Believe it or not, it’s almost time to register for 2023. Registration will go live on September 11, 2022 at 8:45 am EST. Please register early, it helps tremendously with our ability to plan, and to make leadership assignments. We are looking forward to the Texas Rider’s Reunion and visiting with many RFTW family members in September.

Until then…

ROMEO TANGO MIKE

Kristine “Eyes” Wood

Southern Route Coordinator

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Southern Route RC Newsletter – July 2022

RFTW Southern Route

Welcome to the first XXXIII Southern Route Coordinator’s Newsletter.  Please allow me to begin this first of many newsletters by introducing myself. My name is Kris “Eyes” Wood. I recently moved to Wilder, Idaho, where we live on a small farm with the dogs, chickens and wildlife. My husband Don “Doc” Wood and I raised eight children together and currently have 16 grandchildren.

Run for the Wall Southern RouteI learned about the run from participating in PGR missions. I felt the travesty of RFTW being mostly an unknown event that involved hundreds upon hundreds of veterans. I decided to write a book, Run for the Wall – A Journey to the Vietnam Memorial.  My goal in writing the book was to raise awareness of the run and the need for Americans to actively support veterans.

As I have traveled across the country speaking about the run and sharing the book, The many veterans that have been given a copy, share how seeing the photos and hearing the testimonials have helped them come to terms with their combat experiences. Even if they are not able to ride with RFTW, the healing power of the run is there for them.

After the first year on the run, we were hooked and have returned year after year. I have held many positions on the Southern Route, including; 50/50 rouser, tail-gunner, assistant platoon leader, platoon leader, quartermaster, sit-rep writer and a three-year stint as the assistant route coordinator. I am honored to have been appointed as your Southern Route Coordinator for 2023.

The Southern Route has many devoted and hardworking volunteers. Michelle “Stonewall” Phelan has been appointed as the SR Assistant Route Coordinator and together we will plan and execute a safe, meaningful, MISSION FOCUSED Run for the Wall.

The mission is why I ride and why every rider that registers and shows up on the run should be riding:

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.

We each have a different and unique reason for riding. I recently contemplated why I ride. When I was 15 years old, my Dad, a World War II veteran drank himself to death, did he suffer from PTSD, or shell shock, I will never know.  The brother-in-law that took my Dad’s place, went off to Vietnam. Upon his return, he was not the same young man that left. Two years ago, he succumbed to Agent Orange related cancer. Freedom is not free and there is never enough that Americans can and should do for our veterans, hence I ride.

As we prepare for RFTW XXXIII, I encourage you to mentally prepare for the run. In your heart and mind, answer the question; Why do I ride?

If you are interested in a leadership position on the XXXIII run, please go to the Run for the Wall website and complete the volunteer form. If you were on the run last year, please complete an After Action Report (AAR), also found on the Run website. If the run is to continue, we need devoted, mission focused volunteers, if you are able, please volunteer.

I am honored to have been mentored and befriended by the Southern Route Family. I wish to thank those that have held this position before me, that have reached out to me with advice and encouragement; Roger “Cowboy” Mead, Billie “Bugs” Dunlap, James “Stoney” Stone, Laurie “Airborne” Clay, Reid “Pops” Choate, Raymond “Ghost Rider” Wyatt, Bob “Captain America” Nelson.

As the SR-RC, I am available to you. If you have an issue, something to share, do not hesitate to contact me; Kristine.wood@rftw.us.

IS IT MAY YET?

Kristine J. Wood “Eyes”
Route Coordinator, Southern Route

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20th Anniversary Southern Route T-Shirts

Southern Route is pleased to announce pre-orders for the 20th ANNIVERSARY SOUTHERN ROUTE T-SHIRT.
✏️📚✂️All proceeds go to the SR Education Fund ✏️📚✂️

It’s easy to order:
Print the Order Form
Fill out name, shirt sizes and where you will pick up your shirt
Write a check made out to Run for the Wall, Inc. REMEMBER to write on the memo line, SR 20th Anniversary shirt
Mail to Bob Nelson
Your shirt will be waiting for you in Ontario or in whichever city you will be joining the run.

Captain America would like all southern route riders in maroon shirts for the group photo at the Lincoln Memorial.
🏍💚🏍💚🏍ORDER YOURS TODAY! 🏍💚🏍💚

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Southern Route – Day 12 – Rolling Thunder and Vietnam Veteran Memorial

The day dawned early for participants in Rolling Thunder. Staging began 5:45 am in the underground parking garage. SR road guards were responsible for escorting RT participants to the Pentagon parking lot this year. The responsibilities rotate every year.

After a quick ride over to the Pentagon, it’s a long wait for the ride to begin. The first rider rolls out of the Pentagon parking lot at 12:00 pm. It makes for a very long day. Disclaimer, I did not participate in the actual Rolling Thunder ride this year. I did go down to the mall to Thunder Alley (row of vendors) and walked around the mall during the event. Things get a little crazy down there. Nothing like Sturgis crazy, every one is respectful, and kind. Looking at the vests, most riders are veterans or supporters of veterans.

We walked over to the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial. I did not go with RFTW yesterday, it was a little too crowded and I needed a little space. As you can imagine, I am a little tired and my emotions are a little raw. We had a pleasant visit at the wall tonight. Lots of people paying their respects but there was a little breathing room.

A few photos from today and yesterday:

I ended up with the “Mission Accomplished” plaque in my room. We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to snap a couple photos with it. To all my fellow DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) members. Thank you for your support and encouragement. The plaque is right next to the DAR patch on my vest.

Yesterday, the “mission accomplished” plaque was laid at the apex of the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial.

This year I carried tributes of three KIA from the Vietnam Conflict. Two of the soldiers, I have POW/MIA bracelets for. I purchased them from Alice Kraatz, Michigan CAR (Children of the American Revolution) project. Alice is raising funds to send Vietnam Veterans on Honor Flights to Washington DC, to their memorial. If so inclined, please visit her webpage and purchase a bracelet. All proceeds go to Honor Flight.

home

The other tribute I carried, Richard Swayze, he is the Uncle/brother-in-law of my California DAR friends. He is not forgotten!

In Memory if the Men & Women that served in the Vietnam War and later died as a result of their service. We all know many of these and continue to honor them and remember them.

A beautiful statue and reminder of the soldiers that served, boots on the ground in Vietnam.

I thought this “Boots on the Ground” tribute from American Legion Post 1, out of Jacksonville, Florida very powerful. More reminders of “why we ride”.

Well this wraps up the 2019 – Run for the Wall, sit-reps. This has been my third year serving as the Sit-Rep writer. I am not sure what next year will bring, if I will have this job or if it will be given to another rider. I’ve enjoyed sharing the run with you and hope you will tune in next year as we continue the mission of riding for those who can’t.

I am shamelessly going to plug the book I wrote, Run for the Wall – A Journey to the Vietnam Memorial. I wrote the book to raise awareness for the Run, for POW/MIAs and to support our veterans that feel so despondent that they are taking their own lives at the rate of 22 a day. The book can be ordered through the RFTW.us store and on my website at RFTWthebook.com or through Amazon. The book sells for $39.95, a fraction of what it cost to create the book. It’s a beautiful coffee table, pictorial of the run. If you know a veteran that needs the healing ride of the mission, I encourage you to send him a copy of the book Run for the Wall – A Journey to the Vietnam Memorial.

https://www.rftwthebook.com

In closing: “The Bible says the angels of heaven are God’s army; When you stand in Arlington, you know God has a damn good one.” Anonymous

“CHARLIE MIKE – CONTINUE THE MISSION!” Jim “Stoney” RFTW XXVII SR RC

See you in 2020, May 13 – 22, 2020

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Southern Route – Day 11 – Mission Accomplished – Washington D.C.

Today began early with staging in the Holiday Inn underground parking lot for the ride into Arlington National Cemetery (ANC). Run for the Wall is the only organization that is allowed to ride motorcycles into ANC. We are given permission for 400 motorcycles to ride in. All bikes must enter together and exit together. The FNG’s are given first priority to ride in to ANC. I am allowed to go as the social media rep. I am live on Facebook as we ride in and for the wreath laying. The videos are available on the official RFTW facebook page.

The ride into Arlington

Four selected riders are given the honor of laying a wreath at The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This year, Shirley Scott, long time supporter of RFTW was selected as the wreath layer for the southern route. I wrote about Shirley in an earlier post. She is a long time RFTW volunteer and works tirelessly all year long in support of veterans.

RFTW lays the wreath at Arlington

Every year when I visit ANC with RFTW, I sit on the same park bench. Every year a veteran comes and sits by me and I have the opportunity to make a new friend. This year, I met Hacksaw, he met his Army buddy this year on the run. They haven’t seen each other or spoken in 50 years. Through tears he shared what a grand reunion they have had. He was in a motorcycle accident a few years back and never thought he would be able to ride again. How grateful he is to be at ANC and to be on the run. What an honor to meet such an American Hero.

After the laying of the wreath, riders return to their bikes to ride over to the Lincoln Memorial for the group photo of all three routes.

The southern route riders were asked to sign the “Together we Ride” banner. Pictured here holding the signed banner, are Southern Route leadership; Bugs, Captain America, BigVic and Slacker . Thank you for your service, gentlemen.

After the photo, riders walk over to the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial for the laying of the mission accomplished plaque and to pay tribute to those whose names are engraved upon the wall.

2019 Mission Accomplished🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸

If you’re interested in learning a little more about the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier… https://www.arlingtoncemetery.mil/Explore/Tomb-of-the-Unknown-Soldier

In closing this Memorial Day Weekend:

“They do not need our praise. They do not need that our admiration should sustain them. There is no immortality that is safer than theirs. We come not for their sakes but for our own, in order that we may drink at the same springs of inspiration from which they themselves drank. Woodrow Wilson, 1914

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Southern Route – Day 9 – Wytheville, VA to Lynchburg, VA

The day dawned beautiful and dry in Wytheville. I think it rains more in Wytheville than the sun shines so it was a welcome sight.

The “Why we ride” moment was shared by “Cobb”. He met the sister of Gregory Benton in Ontario and he carried him to the wall for his sister.

At the end of the rider’s meeting it was shared that a couple left their jacket on their bike. The jacket blew off the bike when they pulled out. The jacket was recovered but the $600 cash in the jacket pocket was not. A hat was passed to recoup at least some of the funds so they could get home. Guess how much was raised??? Yep, EXACTLY $600! Generous riders, looking after their family. Do you believe in coincidences?

As we were lining up on the streets in Wytheville, “Bugs” asked if I would like to ride at the front of the pack, next to him, in the Assistant’s position. Duh, YES!

Back to that coincidence thing. The ride out of Wytheville is my favorite leg of the entire mission. Riding through the Shenandoah Valley is breathtaking. Too many personal ties to share… just trust me to say, it was an experience I will never forget. Thanks Bugs.

After visiting with the children in Wytheville, we hop on over to Montvale Elementary School where we have lunch and watch a music program put on by the students.

Always a favorite of the riders. Enjoy the video clip:

“Chrome” is blowing the horn to alert rider’s that they have 10 minutes to get to their bikes, to prepare to pull out. Beautiful back drop to a beautiful day.

Our next stop took us to the D-Day Memorial. A beautiful memorial! Platoon pictures were taken and a wreath laid.

IMG_2680

Down for the night in Lynchburg, VA. On to Washington D.C. tomorrow.

NATIONAL POPPY DAY IS TOMORROW! MAY 24, 2019 –
🌺🌺🌺BE SURE TO WEAR A #RemembrancePoppy🌺🌺🌺
On September 27, 1920, the poppy became the official flower of The American Legion family to memorialize the soldiers who fought and died during the war. In 1924, the distribution of poppies became a national program of The American Legion.
Poppy Day is celebrated in countries around the world. The American Legion brought National Poppy Day® to the United States by asking Congress to designate the Friday before Memorial Day, as National Poppy Day.
On May 24, wear a red poppy to honor the fallen and support the living who have worn our nation’s uniform.
#NationalPoppyDay #AmericanLegion #Veterans

In closing:
“We sleep safely at night because rough men (women) stand ready to visit violence on those who would harm us”. Winston Churchill

While I am sleeping safely at night. I am not sleeping enough. Sorry about the typos, bad grammar and spelling. Tomorrow night and into the weekend will be better. There is so much I would like to share that I might have to continue posting until well into next week. Good night, see you all in D.C. tomorrow.

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Southern Route – Day 8 – Chattanooga, TN to Wytheville, VA

The riders’ meeting began as usual. “Santa Ed” was invited to the sound stage. He shared his experience of saluting the pack from the overpass as they rolled in.

Let me preface this by saying Santa Ed is a huge supporter of the run and has been a platoon leader and camping coordinator for years. With his declining health, due to issues from Agent Orange he hung up his platoon leader sleeves and became an Ambassador. Santa Ed is well known and well loved on the southern route.

The video is a little long but well worth watching.

https://www.facebook.com/RunForTheWall/

THIS IS WHY WE RIDE!

Upon completion of the meeting, riders walked behind the Harley dealer to the Silverdale Cemetery. An old Confederate cemetery from the Civil War. There are 155 soldiers buried in the cemetery, 39 remains have been identified due to the donations of RFTW riders. “Wookie” and “1st Nav” have been the driving force behind the efforts.

When asked, 1st Nav explained, “There should be no ill feeling because they were confederate soldiers. They were obeying orders. Whether your government is right or wrong they served their country. We honor them as unknown dead. Let’s find out who they are.”

Wreath laying at the Silverdale Confederate Cemetery, Chattanooga, TN

Wookie & 1st Nav

The first leg out of Chattanooga took us through the beautiful hills of Tennessee. I have a feeling the lush green hillsides are due to high humidity and lead to lots of mosquitos. I am not fond of either.

On the way to Knoxville, I saw first hand why road guard “Stonewall” is named such. A car tried to go around her as she was blocking an on ramp. She put that driver right in his place, she was like a stone wall and there was no way he was getting around here. Way to go Stonewall!

We were stuck on the 81 interchange for about 30 minutes. The gauge on my bike said 110 degrees. I am calling it 200 degrees on the black top. Needless to say, it was sizzling!

Pulled into much pomp and circumstance in Wytheville. Dinner was held at the Wytheville Moose Lodge. Delicious steak and baked potato dinner.

Every year, the southern route-road guards hold a ceremony in the parking lot to present the RGITs (road guards in training) their second sleeve. This has always been touted as a rather, private, secret meeting. Well, since my husband was being awarded his second sleeve, I was invited to the meeting.

Road guard captain, “Captain” did a very nice job, presenting the new road guards with patches and sleeves. Congratulations “Doc”, “Mario”, “Recon”

It was a late night, I fell asleep before hitting the post button. Sorry about that. Each passing day, it gets more difficult to stay awake on the bike, I had to get a little more sleep.

In Closing:

“I am more afraid of an army of 100 sheep led by a lion than an army of 100 lions led by a sheep.” Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand