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Day Two: Flagstaff AZ to Albuquerque NM.  338 miles

What an amazing day to wake up to, in a Free America!  The sun was shining, birds were chirping, motorcycle engines were revving, and there were Patriots all around me!  Every where I looked, people were smiling, laughing, giving and receiving hugs, telling stories, relating experiences, and becoming Family.  It was absolutely a delight to see, and even great to be a part of.  I LOVE my Midway Route Family!

Our beautiful day started with our morning meeting.  This is where we go over any changes to the itinerary, review all of the various hand-signals that we use to communicate, talk about any safety issues (there were none yesterday!), and commend all of the Riders for a job well done.  After the “business” part of the morning meeting, we have a little fun.  There is a 50/50 raffle, and “rabble rouser” raffle, a “lost and found” retrieval ceremony, and a few announcements that are deemed important for everyone to hear.  We do this every morning.

But another tradition with the Midway Route is to read a biography of one of our Prisoner of War, Missing in Action, or Killed in Action.  (When you say their names, they are not forgotten!)  This is the last thing that we do at our meeting, as it reminds us of why we are here and why we do what we do.  It is a sobering reminder of the cost of American Freedom.

Now some of you might be thinking “That’s all well and good, but isn’t it a little bit depressing to start your day this way?”  Absolutely not!  Yes, they are sad reminders, but they also fill our hearts with joy because we CAN say their names, and we CAN tell people their stories, and we CAN console their Families.  THAT is definitely NOT depressing!  In fact, it is quite invigorating and inspirational.  Whenever something “bad” happens to us, like the rain we had today, all we have to do is think back on what we heard this morning and realize that it really isn’t all that bad!  What would any of those Men give to be sitting here with us!  The reading of these biographies keeps us humble.

One of the “perks” of being the photographer is that I am able to ride ahead of the pack to get some pictures.  Over the past few years, I have also worked with the Ambassador and Outreach Teams.  I mean, if I am going to be out in front of the pack anyway, why not stop and say “Howdy” to the supporters that we meet?  Today, I got to do that.  In fact, it was a two-for-one event.

I left Flagstaff a little early and headed for Winslow, Arizona.  Yes, I needed to be “standing on a corner in Winslow Arizona.”  But not for the reason that you may be thinking.  (I have had that picture taken with my bike many times.  I didn’t plan to do it again today.)  Many, many years ago, while I was making repeated trips across the country, I would always stop in Winslow and call my good friend Bill C..  Bill was a pretty good guitar player and a very ardent Patriot.  One day, when I made my annual call, he asked if the statue of Jackson Brown was still there.  I said “What statue?”  That is when he laughed and asked if I had been calling him for all of these years from a random corner in the town.  I had to admit that I had!  He never let me forget that!  So after he lost his battle with cancer, I made it a point to always stop in Winslow and go stand next to that statue.  In this way, I always keep Bill in my thoughts.  And I ALWAYS say his name, just like we do for our fallen Heroes.

Across the street from “Standing on a Corner Park” is a big gift shop.  I met the owner of this shop the same year that Bill died.  He noticed the Patriot Guard patch on my jacket and mentioned that he supported our Veterans.  In fact, a group  called “Run For The Wall” sometimes would parade through town.  I told him that *I* was part of Run For the Wall!  That’s when he got excited and told me that he was on his way to Flagstaff that very day to pick up 500 American Flags that he was going to distribute to the local townspeople for use on Veteran s Day, Memorial Day, July 4, and whenever RFTW stopped by!  So, I make it a point every time I am in town to stop in, remember my friend Bill, and to Thank the shop owner for his patriotism and support.  It is my own little “outreach” mission.

But it wasn’t mine alone.  Last year, I met up with James “Gunny” Gregory and his wife Patti.  They had some scruffy looking Canadian dude with them.  Well, this morning, that same scruffy dude showed up at the same time that I did and we made the trek together.  It was nice to share this “private outreach” with a fellow Patriot.  Yeah, I know that he is Canadian.  But he is just as much an American Patriot as any of us.  What?  You need some proof?  I have several photos of him that I took during the dignified transfer of our memorial flag.  He also is flying an AMERICAN flag on his bike!  He is the Founding Father of Canada’s “Rolling Barrage” which is their version of Run For The Wall.  This Man is a Patriot, twice over.  So I would like to introduce you all to Mr. Scott Casey!  (Please check out

Scott and I were able to catch up with the main pack in time for a peaceful, rainy ride to the Milan Elementary School, in Milan New Mexico.  Notice that I said it was a peaceful ride?  That all ended with 500 screaming children chanting “USA!  USA!  USA!”  The Midway Route has adopted this small school and supports it with a donation every year.  We love doing this, but I think the kids love it even more.  If you have read any of my previous SITREPs, you may remember that I am not overly fond of children.  Well, there is just something about THIS group that gives me hope for our nation’s future!  These kids are polite, educated, energetic, and patriotic!  These kids aren’t growing up, they are being raised properly!  They respect their elders, their country, and their flag!   The sheer look of joy on their faces even makes this grumpy old guy chant with them, run up and down the lines giving out “High Fives”, and even signing the back of their t-shirts when they ask for an autograph.  How could I refuse such eager and bright students?  Yeah, we give them money to help out with school supplies, but they give US so much more.

And I need to give a shout out to Ray “Corn-Man” Cornmesser.  In addition to providing t-shirts for all of the students, he provides a challenge coin to EACH of the graduating sixth-grade students to congratulate them on their achievement, and to inspire the other students to stay in school and continue their education.  He does this all out of his own pocket, not because he is rich, but because he truly cares for these kids.  Good Job, Corn-Man!  We are all proud of you!

Of course I am going to mention the food.  They feed us EXTREMELY well at the Milan School.  They have the nicest “Lunch Ladies!”

After our feast for both body and soul, it is time to leave Milan.  (We promise to come back next year!)  If visiting with the kids wasn’t enough of a treat, we are given one more.  From the time we leave Milan, until the time we arrive in Albuquerque, we are under LEO Escort.  That stands for “Law Enforcement” escort.  We have State Troopers in front of us clearing the roads ahead of us, and even some behind us, protecting our backs.  We really needed the escort today, as there had been a major traffic issue on the main highway, so these Officers found us a very scenic, enjoyable, and traffic-free route to our final fuel stop of the day, just outside of ABQ.  The do a great job, and we thank them for it.

But then it gets even better.  Imagine if you will, five o’clock rush hour traffic in a VERY large city.  Then imagine 286 motorcycles trying to get through it unscathed.  How will we ever manage that?  We don’t!  The Albuquerque Police Department gives us a “Presidential Escort” all the way through town.  That means that they SHUT DOWN all traffic on the highway and keep it clear just for us!  It is an absolutely breath-taking sight to be on a 4-5 lane interstate highway with traffic backed up in the opposite direction, cars at a stand still on all of the entrance ramps, and only OUR RIDERS in the middle lane of the empty road.  WOW!  OMG!  WOW, AGAIN!  I have experienced this a few times with RFTW, and it NEVER gets old!  I really can’t thank ALL of our Law Enforcement Escorts, all the way across the country, for keeping us safe.  Not just today in the rain, but every day.  You, Gentlemen, are Heroes!

And with that, we arrived at Thunderbird Harley-Davidson for our evening meal.  Again, the food was excellent!  (By the way, even as a civilian, I recognized the significance of the STAR on a soldier’s uniform.  What did I discuss with a Brigadier General?  Cookies!)  One of the highlights of the evening was reuniting with a couple of old friends that have been supporters of RFTW for many years.  I didn’t think that I would see the lovely Tina Reeves again, as she stepped down from her role as State Coordinator last year after many years of service.  But she has been replaced by the very capable “G.W.” who is also an RFTW Veteran Rider!  G. W. humbled me by asking if he could have a picture made with me. Of course I said yes, and then he told me why he wanted it.  And this should become a lesson to ALL of us as representatives of RFTW.

In 2019, G.W. was an RFTW “FNG.”  (Fine New Guy).  I am ashamed to admit this, but I don’t remember meeting him then.  But he said that the conversations that we had stuck with him over the years, and since we had some things in common, like hiking and camping, he told some of his friends about me and some of the trips that I have led.  They can’t believe that G.W. knows me!  (Trust me Guys.  I’m not special!)

And here is where the lesson comes in.  When we are representing RFTW, or ANY organization, we will leave in impression, for good or ill.  But we WILL leave an impression.  Simply being kind, courteous, or friendly will have people associate those traits with our organization.  And as a group dedicated to our Veterans and Heroes, we need to be cognizant of the fact that people are watching us.  We need to be at our best behaviors so that people will take our Mission seriously.  The slightest bit of negativity could ruin the hard-earned reputation that we enjoy.  I believe that in my case, my association with RFTW has made me a better person.  I have to be, because people associate me with Men and Women much greater than myself, and if I were to do something that brought dishonor to THEM, then I will have failed at my own mission.

I share this same train of thought with all of my RFTW Brothers and Sisters.  As one of our Chaplains said last year: “We are better when we are together.”  And THAT, my Friends, is the Spirit of the Midway Route of Run For The Wall!


Jim “Hoofer” McCrain
Midway Route Photographer and SITREP Author.




Thanks to Scott Casey for the pictures of our travels together today.  By the way, I will be posting a few photos each day on Facebook.  AFTER the Run is over, I will be posting the thousands of photos that I am taking to a website where you will be able to download them for free.  Please be patient and give me a little bit of time to get this done, as I will take approximately 1100 – 1700 photos each day!


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Day One. Ontario CA to Flagstaff AZ. 435 miles

And so it begins …

This morning, May 16, 2023, at 08:00, the Midway Route Riders set forth to remind our Nation that we owe a debt of gratitude and thanks to the American Veterans, Active-Duty Personnel, and to their Families, Friends, and Supporters.  And sometimes America needs reminding of another group that deserves even more thanks and understanding.  Those would be the people that have given their lives to defend our country.  Just as important though, those brave Men and Women that were taken captive by our enemies, some never to be seen or heard from again.  I am speaking of the American Prisoners of War and Missing in Action, otherwise known as POW-MIA.

To that end, 286 Riders left Ontario California, intent on reaching Washington DC in eleven days’ time.

Howdy!  My name is Jim McCrain, although I am better known to the RFTW Riders as “Hoofer.”  I have been asked to write up a daily SITREP (Situation Report) for the Midway Route that will detail what we did and where we went.  I have accepted this great honor and will humbly try to relate the stories and events that I am privileged to hear and witness while riding with so many Patriots.  I am not a Veteran myself, so to be able to ride next to so many of our nations BEST, and to have them call me Brother is an honor that I do not take lightly.  I will do MY best to represent them.  I thank them for their trust in me.

So lets begin.

Just what is Run For The Wall?  I could tell you all of the little details about why the Run was staterted 33 years ago, how it has grown in numbers, what our official mission statement is, and all sorts of other things like that.  But instead, let me just direct you to our main web page ( where you can read this information at any time.  Instead, let me give you the “short” answer.  We Ride For Those That Can’t.  These would be our Active-Duty military, many of our Veterans, and our (still) Missing In Action.

The Riders of Run For the Wall are intent on honoring all of the sacrifices that have been made by these people, and just as importantly, their Families.  Yes, the Families of our Military serve as well!  This year, the Midway Route Outreach Team (I will tell you a lot more about them later) will be giving our Riders MANY opportunities to personally visit with the Families of our Heroes.  In fact, at several of our lunch and dinner stops, there will be some Gold Star Families there to dine with us.  (For those that don’t know, a Gold Star Family is one that has lost a Family member in the service of our country.)  A distinction that not a lot of people know (until they read something like this!) is that our Missing In Action Families are NOT necessarily Gold Star Families!  If their Family member is listed as Missing, then they are NOT listed as deceased.  So they do not have a Gold Star.  They are kind of just “left out.”

But not by the RFTW Riders.  We make a big deal out of honoring our Missing, and letting their Families know that we still care!  AND we demand a full accounting of all our service members, from ALL wars.  We cannot let the American People or our Government Representatives forget those that have sacrificed for our Nation.  So every day, the Midway Route rides with what we call a “Missing Man Formation.”  Basically this is a six-person “box” formation, except that one of those people is not physically there.  There will be two Riders in the front and two Riders in the back.  In between them is an open space that is being protected by a fifth Rider.  This is the Missing Man Escort Rider.

The Escort Rider is the single-most honored position that AN RFTW Rider can have.  THIS is the person that, for each leg of our daily ride, gets to choose WHO they are riding for, why they are riding for them, and gets to put a biography of that person in a special place of honor for all to come and see.  AND THEY DO!  Already today, I have seen most of our Riders come over to the Missing Man Formation and talk to the Escorts.  I have personally talked to two of them today, and discovered that they are riding in honor and memory of a commanding officer, one that was the victim of an IED explosion and another that died from wounds after returning home.  Our motto is that as long as we say their names, they are never truly gone, and DEFINITELY not forgotten!

Did I mention that we will not move an INCH without the Missing Man Formation?  Yes, it is THAT important to us!

Something else that we do on the Midway Route is called a “Dignified Flag Transfer.”  This year, we have several special flags that we are escorting across the country.  But one in particular is transferred from one Rider to another at each one of our fuel or lunch stops.  The folded flag is taken out of a protective case, handled only by someone wearing pristine white gloves.  The flag bearer holds out the flag, which is saluted by the Outreach Coordinator.  She then takes the flag, turns to the next escort, and the process is repeated.  The flag is returned to the protective case, and the Rider returns with it to his/her bike.  One Hundred miles later, we do this again.  Every day!

Folks, let me tell you: we take this stuff pretty serious!  Yes, we are out here riding our motorcycles, which we all love to do!  But we know that these sorts of ceremonies need to be presented to the public so that more and more people can understand the issues that WE understand.  We are basically Ambassadors for American Patriotism!  (Oh yeah, we have an Ambassador Team, too.  Again, I’ll talk about them later!)  The RFTW Riders, ALL of them across our four Routes, feel the same way.  We don’t just go through the motions.  We mean it!  The phrase “walk the talk” takes on a whole new meaning around here.  We sing the National Anthem every morning.  And I mean we SING it!  Loud and Proud!  We say the Pledge of Allegiance, EVERY DAY!  (Remember doing that back in grade school?)  How do I know that we are serious about this?  I can see it in the eyes of a hot and tired Marine as he salutes our Flag.  I can hear it in the voice of that old Army guy in the tattered hat as he croaks out a few of the words, and chokes up into silence on the others.  I see the tears rolling down the cheeks of the Air Force veteran as he stands at attention as the flag moves by.  And I see the smile of a beautiful young Lady that proudly carries and waves a small American Flag everywhere that she goes.

Yeah, we take this seriously.  It’s what we do!

Amidst all of this serious stuff though, is a little levity.  Without the ability to let off a little steam, or to decompress a bit, this Mission could quickly become emotionally overwhelming.  So we DO have some fun!  (Motorcycles equal fun!  Remember?)  We stopped to sing Happy Birthday to one of our favorite Road Guards.  (Happy Birthday, Papa Mike!)  We laugh and tell stories at each of our hydration and fuel stops.   We eat REALLY well!  THANK YOU to all of our supporters for the meals!  The burgers at lunch, from “Mother Road Harley Davidson in Kingman Arizona were fantastic once again.  And the pulled pork sandwiches served to us by the Boy Scouts of Flagstaff Arizona (at the VFW #1709) were delicious!  (I am not going to mention the incredible brownies, because my wife might read this and she knows that I don’t need any more brownies!)  We simply enjoy being in each others company!

Speaking of that, most of us were strangers yesterday.  I am already seeing friendships being built that are going to last a lifetime.  As the SITREP Author and the Route Photographer, I get to flit between all of the different platoons and “ease drop” on a lot of conversations.  (Actually, I get invited into these conversations, and they ALL seem to be about ”stuff” that only good friends would know about.)  We talk about the weather (of course!), and some sports, and the jobs or careers that we have had.  We joke with each other, and take the crayons away from the Marines.  (Don’t want them to spoil their appetites!)  We use the phrase “Has anyone seen a black Harley?” a lot.  We just like being around each other!  We have already become a Family.  I look forward to seeing how tight this Family will become over the next ten days!  Bonds are being forged that will be unbreakable.

There is just so much that I want to tell you, but there isn’t enough time tonight.  We rode for about 8 hours today, in HOT sunshine (104 degrees), had a rain shower that washed a “few” of the bugs from my windscreen, felt the temperature drop to 57 degrees, … and rode with dignity and honor.

That’s why we are here.  We want to reaffirm our own Patriotism.  We want to tell others about our experiences, good and bad, and how they have shaped us into the people (and Nation) that we are.  We want to console each other over losses or hardships that we have endured, and we want to remind each other that we CAN get through ANYTHING as long as we stay true to each other.

I can promise you, we will!

Thanks for letting me ramble a bit today.  Tomorrow, I will start explain more about “how” the Midway Route works, and all of the various Teams that it takes to get us safely from California to DC.  But in the meantime, I will leave you with one of our favorite sayings: “How far are we going?  ALL THE WAY!”


Jim “Hoofer” McCrain
Midway Route Photographer and SITREP Author

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Getting Ready! Run For The Wall, Midway Route: 2023

Motorcycle maintenance!

In just two weeks, the Riders of Run For The Wall will be rolling across our great nation, honoring Veterans and Active Duty personnel, and bringing awareness that we still have people that are Missing In Action.  We will be riding for them, and will be on our way to completing our annual Mission.

I know that each and every one of us has been making all sorts of preparations.  From booking hotels or camping places, to selecting our clothes, checking any needed medications, and (for some) getting time off work. We have planned our route out to California.  We have all checked our tires, brakes, oil, and everything else needed to keep that motorcycle running in top form for the duration.  Many have already packed everything on their bike and are ready to roll!  For me, part of getting ready is checking that my cameras are in good working order, making sure that I have enough memory cards and hard drives to hold all of the photos that I will take.  I am even typing this letter on a new laptop while sitting at a coffee shop, to make sure that all of the wireless connections work.  It is the attention to these little personal details that we are ALL working on right now.

But that is only a small part of getting ready for the Run.

Stephen J Geist: He is more than just a name on The Wall.

What have you been doing to get your mind ready for this Mission?  Have you thought about the impact that we make on the American public?  Have you thought of ways to say Thank You to all of our supporters?  Have you read the biography of a POW or MIA?  Have you visited any Veteran Memorials recently, or visited a VA Hospital?  Have you done any of the myriad of things that we do during Run For The Wall, to put yourself into the proper frame of mind?  This, to me, is even more important than packing my “things.”

We can always stop at a store to get something that we have left at home.  But we need time to “get our focus” on our Mission.  That is why I highly urge you to spend a little time this week and next to do something “Patriotic.”  Go to a National Cemetery and meet our nations Heroes.  Go to a VFW or American Legion Post and just say “Howdy!”  Watch the new documentary “All The Way” on YouTube.  Go back and read the SITREPs from previous years for ALL of our Routes.

Start your 2023 Run For The Wall experience now, so that you will be ready to render honor and respect to all of those that so richly deserve it.  Put yourself into the right “frame of mind” to completely absorb all that The Run will offer you.

Hoofer’s Hooligans

As a side note, I want each and every one of you to BE SAFE as you head to Ontario.  PLEASE!  I want to see you there!  For those that haven’t ridden with a group before, or at least since last May, find a few friends to ride to California with.  If you don’t have a group, and will be traveling through the southern half of the country, I invite you to ride with “Hoofer’s Hooligans.”  The Hooligans ride is the oldest continuously running “Run To The Run” having seen close to three decades (in one form or another.)  We stress safe riding, first and above all else.  We then practice group riding skills and ease ourselves into the RFTW riding style.  We get into the needed mental state by stopping at various memorials, museums, and Veteran posts along the way.  Oh yeah, I always find really good places for us to eat, as well!  Send me a note at and let me know if you will be joining us.  You can get the details/itinerary at

No matter how or when you get there, I look forward to seeing you all in just a few short weeks!

It’s May!

Jim “Hoofer” McCrain
RFTW Midway Route Photographer and SITREP Author, 2023

Ps: “Hoofer’s Hooligans” is NOT an official part of RFTW.  We are simply a group of like-minded individuals heading towards a common destination and goal.  RFTW takes NO responsibility for what we do.

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Two Months Later:  WHAT WAS IT ALL ABOUT?


The last time you heard from me was the day AFTER the Midway Route completed our annual Mission.  At that time, I promised you a “wrap up” of all our “adventures.”  But then I got very sick.  In fact, I contracted Covid!  I rested in DC for two days before riding to Cookeville, where I rested another two days.  At that point, I knew that I could not ride any more, so I called out for help.  The last 500 miles of my trip home were a blur, as I sat in the back seat of my truck while trailering my motorcycle back home.  It would be almost three more weeks before I felt “normal” again.

And then ”life” resumed.  There were church obligations, client work, photos to edit, family visits, and just general “stuff” that makes life worthwhile.  And I never got around to writing that “wrap up.”

Well today, I am sitting in my living room with my little boy puppy at my side.  My wife is on the other couch with our little girl puppy.  We have just finished going through the thousands of photos that I took during Run For The Wall, and I have been telling all sorts of stories and anecdotes from our Mission.  And it made me wonder: What was it all about?

WE all know our Mission Statement, and it condenses to “We ride for those that can’t.”  To this end, RFTW has created FOUR Routes: three of which are primarily for our Vietnam Veterans and Families, and the newest route, The SandBox, which is aimed to wards our newest Veterans.  Our goal with each of these Routes is to provide emotional healing for the Veterans, Family Members, Patriots, and Participants of Run For The Wall, along with all of the thousands of public that we encounter each and every day.

And the Midway Route did this so well in 2022!

This was not an easy year for the Midway Route.  With our two-year hiatus, we lost several key and crucial contacts with our supporters.  We had to reestablish these connections “on the fly.”  Our State and Local coordinators did not let us down!  They stood up, did the extra last-minute work, and made our presence in the communities something that BOTH sides could be proud of.

We had to prove (again) to Law Enforcement Agencies across the Nation that we DO know what we are doing, and that we can do it safely.  Thanks to our Road Guard Captain and his incredible Team, our reputation is not just “intact” but has been bolstered to the point of professionalism.  Our relationship with some of these agencies has even become that of “friends.”  (When the Sergeant of the North Carolina State Police asks me to “Ride really fast and catch up” so I can get a specific picture of their escort, you know that we are more than just a business relationship!)

Our fund-raising committees did an absolutely AMAZING job of supporting us.  Each Rider’s out-of-pocket expense during the Run was so minimal as to almost be negligible.  I don’t know how they did it, but it was REALLY appreciated.  Especially when you consider what happened to prices (for everything!) right before we started riding.  Not only were most costs covered for the Riders, but we were still able to give out scholarships at two schools and help some of our local supporters cover THEIR costs.  We had 50/50 raffles everyday with some pretty good payouts!  We had so many raffle items donated that almost every Rider could have gone home with “something.”  You guys did an awesome job!

Our Outreach Coordinator did several wonderful jobs, most of which our Riders know nothing, or very little, about.  The most obvious was the daily reading of a lost Heroes biography.  These aren’t just random names that are chosen, but each one has been researched and “prioritized” as to when and where they will have the most emotional impact when read.  (They ALL have importance, but some have direct connections with what we are doing each day.)  The other more visible “jobs” were the “dignified transfer ceremony” for a flag that was carried across our country by volunteer Riders.  Four times each day, this “simple” ceremony was conducted with reverence and solemnity.  I was able to witness several of these events, and I could feel the respect and honor of each participant.  You could see it in their eyes!

These flag transfers took place at the Missing Man Formation as often as possible.  Our Missing Man Coordinator was doing double duty this year.  Not only was she organizing the Riders so that EVERY leg of the Mission had a Missing Man Escort, but she was also in charge of our special Missing Man Biography Banner.  This banner is laid on the ground in the position of the Missing Man.  It has a sleeve where the Escort Rider may put a biography, photo, name, or small memento so that everyone that walked by would know WHO our honored Missing Man is.  That Honoree’s name would also be written in chalk on the road, so that for weeks after we had departed, people could still “read a name.”  Hopefully, that name will make them stop and ask questions.

Our Fuel Team and Advance Team are true unsung and seemingly “invisible” heroes!  They are always out in front of the pack, and they are always working when we arrive.  They eat fast and leave before everyone else.  They are like “ghosts.”  But because they do not ride WITH the pack, they often do not get to see and enjoy the “parade” we present when we arrive in a town.  Instead, they are often the ones that are welcoming US, even while they are working.  Only a couple of times during our Mission were they “with us” as we arrived.  I just hope that they all know how much we truly appreciate all of their hard work!

There is a Finance Team that pays for the fuel, a Logistics Coordinator that makes sure all of our awards of Thanks for our supporters is on hand, an Honor Guard Coordinator, a Platoon Coordinator, a Merchandising Team, a Registration Team, and our Ambassadors.  There are so MANY people that make this Mission possible that I just can’t name them all.

This year, our Chaplains and Medical Corps got a real workout.  We can all see the “physical presence” of these two teams.  They were there keeping a watchful eye over us, even when we don’t think they were watching!  In addition to their daily care, keeping us spiritually fit and physically hydrated, they were on standby for any emergency.  And on one day, they had to work overtime.  While no RFTW Participant was hurt during our Mission this year, we WERE witness to a devastating event in Arkansas.  One of our local supporters had a sudden cardiac arrest right after we were served lunch.  Our Chief Medic (“Chief”) was there in a split second to start administering CPR, while our Chaplains began comforting the Riders that witnessed this event.  Their professionalism was surpassed only by their compassion.  Everything was handled with care and concern for ALL of the people there.  Having survived a cardiac arrest myself, I can only thank our Chaplains and Medics for the way that they handled not only their patient, but our Riders and supporters.  God held their hands, while they held ours.

And then there were the Riders themselves.  We had everything from our seasoned RFTW veteran Riders, to some brand new FNGs!  And a couple of these Riders were TRULY brand new, having only ridden motorcycles for a few months prior to our Mission.  (They did fantastic!)  We had a couple of Gentlemen join us from Canada, where they have their own cross-country Mission called the “Rolling Barrage.”  I saw so many smiling faces from our Riders each morning that I was SURE would fade before lunch time.  Boy, was I wrong!  Those smiles only got bigger as the day progressed.  A few of our Riders weren’t too keen on being hugged so much on Day One.  By Day 10, they were leading the “Hug Brigade!”  I saw rider skills develop at an incredibly fast pace, even for our Road Guards.  (And Man, can they RIDE!)  Our Midway Route Riders carried themselves with dignity and respect at all times, and showed honor everywhere they went.  I was SO proud of them, and honored that they would let me walk among them.

As you can tell, there were a LOT of things going on during our “ten day Mission.”

The responsibility and accountability for all of this rested squarely on the shoulders of our Route Coordinator.  Ken “Six String” Dugas not only stepped up and volunteered for this role, he excelled at it.  Because of his Leadership, Role-Model, and Friendship, the 2022 RFTW Midway Route Mission was a total success!  He was able to “adapt and overcome” each obstacle with grace, style, and a little humor.  He made all of the hard work look effortless.  Thank You, Six String, for ALL that you have done!

I have been a part of Run For The Wall for eight years now.  I have enjoyed (almost) every minute of that time, and look forward to many more years of service, in whatever role that I am needed or wanted.  I know that my association with RFTW has made me a better Man and Patriot.  So I urge each and every one of YOU to volunteer, even if you don’t think you have the skills needed.  We can find a place for you, just like they found a place for me.  You won’t regret it, as the benefits and honor far out way the hard work.

And NOW, with that very lengthy “wrap up” of our 2022 Mission, I have to get back to my original question: WHAT WAS IT ALL ABOUT?

And THAT is the million dollar question, because the answer lies within YOU.  I know what we say we are going to do, and we did it.  But that was for ten days.  There are a lot more days during the year that are unaccounted for!  It is my hope that each of you will carry on with the RFTW “spirit.”

Spend some time each day giving honor and respect to our Veterans.  It isn’t hard.  Start by saying “Thanks for your Service” to that old guy with the Veterans cap on.  Do the same thing for our Police and Fire Fighters!

Stand up whenever you hear our National Anthem, and say the Pledge of Allegiance!  Place your hand over your heart or give a hand salute, whichever is appropriate for you.  Do this in public!  And take the time to explain WHY you are doing this to those that don’t understand, especially the young children.  Do your part to educate our next generation of Patriots.  You have heard me say it before and I repeat it now: I don’t like kids.  But I WILL do what I can to help them learn about the sacrifices that our Veterans and their Families have made for our Freedom.

Take the time to replace a tattered American Flag that you may see flying somewhere.  I know several people that keep a “spare” flag with them at all times.  I have NEVER known one of them to be turned down when they explain that they would like to replace and retire a worn out flag.

Go visit a Veterans Home or hospital.  Shake the hand of a hero, and listen to his stories.  Learn from him, about the cost of Freedom.

Fly and display a POW-MIA flag!  JUST DO IT!  Tell everyone that you meet about our Missing in Action.  Let them know that for every one of them, there is a Mother and Father that want them to come home.  There are brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, grand-parents, and friends that wonder “what happened?”  And when you meet a Wife or child of one of our MIA, give them a hug and let them know that their loved one is NOT forgotten.

Wear a POW-MIA bracelet.  Show it and explain it to EVERYONE!  Don’t even take it off to go through an airport x-ray machine.  (Except under extreme protest!)  Use that bracelet to make people think about our POWs.

These are all things that we do as part of Run For The Wall during our ten-day Mission.


It has been my extreme honor to chronicle YOUR Midway Route experience.  I hope that through my photos and poor attempt at writing that I have been able to convey the stories and events that you would want people to know.  Your faith and trust in me to do this is something that I think about all the time.  I have tried to keep that faith and trust, and to honor YOU the way that you have honored ME.


Jim “Hoofer” McCrain
Photographer and SITREP Author
Midway Route 2022

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Day 11. Midway Route.  Washington DC.  “We will never forget”

As I stand here in our Nations Capital, surrounded by a thousand Patriots, Heroes, Brother and Sisters, I have to reflect on what we have just done for the past ten days.  To many, it would seem foolish.  WHY would we go to such lengths to “remember” those that have fallen in the defense of our country?  The short answer is this: Without their sacrifices, we would not have the Nation and freedoms that we take for granted.  WHY would we go to such great lengths to “remember” our Missing In Action?  After all, they have been missing for 50 years or more.  For this there IS no “short” answer.  For each of those MIA, there is a Family still waiting for an answer.  They still hold out hope.  Maybe not that their family member will come home alive, but just as importantly, that there will be closure as to their fate, and maybe, their remains can be brought back home, to American soil, to rest in honored glory.

I am finding it hard to put into words just how important events like Run For The Wall are for our nation.  If we can raise just a little bit of awareness about the plight of our Veterans, and if we can be a “wake up call” to our nation’s Leaders to finally do SOMETHING for our MIA, then everything that we have done is worth it.

For the past ten days, I have seen grown Men hold each other and weep.  I have witnessed WWII Veterans salute Vietnam Veterans.  I have seen school children run up to our Riders and hug them, saying “Thank You!”  I have personally experienced an incrdible love and brotherhood.  I have stood shoulder to shoulder with true Heroes, and been honored that they would seek me out just to ask “How are you today?”

In a few days, when I have rested and can adequately process all that the Midway Route was this year, I will write a bit more.  There are so many little stories that I have not had the time to tell that I think are important to understanding this Mission.  But for now, I will simply close with a Thank You to our Midway Route Leaders, support staff, and of course our Riders.  I have tried my best to tell YOUR stories, and I am honored that you would trust me with this task.

So for today, I will leave you with one final image.  This is our entire RFTW Family.  But we have grown so close over the past ten days that I am sure that all of our Midway Route Riders will be able to identify each other.

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Day 10.  Friday May 27, 2022.  Ashland, VA to Arlington, VA.  95 miles.  “Final Days”

This morning, we awoke to gray skies.  Gray was more than the color, it was our mood.  Sure, we were still happy to be together and to be supporting our Mission, but we knew that our time together was drawing to a close.  You could tell that this emotion was held by all, because the hugs were a little longer, the conversations were a little more meaningful, the prayers just a bit more deeply stated.  I could see people hold out a hand just to touch the shoulder of someone that they were passing.  I saw smiles thrown around like Christmas candy: “Here’s one for you, one for you, and one for you, too!”  The deep affection that we have fostered for each other over the past ten days is greater than I have seen in the past eight years of RFTW.

And I think this is because we had to “adapt and overcome” so many adversities.  The two-year hiatus due to the Covid pandemic hit us hard.  From losing some of our regular stops, hotels, meal spots, and fueling stations, we also lost a lot of our Leadership Team as well as our “regular” Riders.  But we made up for it.  Whenever a problem or an “opportunity” would arise, we would face it head on and take care of it.

We had FNG Riders in Leadership roles this year.  Normally, we don’t do that.  We want our FNGs to have a unique experience on the Run.  Well, some of them certainly DID!  We had parking issues, so the Road Guards and Staging Crews worked together to immediately find places to put all of the bikes, cars, trailers, and in one case two semi-tractor trailers!  We had weather delays.  Or more accurately, a weather “dispatch.”  While visiting the Marine Corps Museum, an announcement was made that cut our visit short.  A severe Storm Warning was imminent, and the storm was about 20 minutes from hitting us.  So we left the Museum and raced the final 35 miles to our final destination.

I know that these things sound trivial, but in reality they aren’t.  We are dealing with several hundred motorcycles, dozens of other vehicles, logistics for feeding and housing close to 300 people, keeping time-lines and deadline commitments, and so much more.  But every time something happened, we would “adapt and overcome.”  It brought us all closer, and it did it in a way that I haven’t seen before.  This years “Run For The Wall” was different.  In some cases it wasn’t quite what we wanted it to be, but in most cases, it was so much more.

And this morning all of that was heavy on our minds.

The National Anthem was sung with a little more feeling than before, and with a few more tears in our eyes.  The Pledge of Allegiance was both shouted and whispered, depending on how much voice our Riders could manage.  The “Folded Flag” ceremony was explained again and performed in front of the entire Route instead of at the Missing Man Formation.  And as our Senior Chaplain “Chief” lead us in our morning prayer, every head was bowed, the Riders stood hand in hand, and we gave thanks for each other.

And then our fearless Leader “Six-String” put on the red panties.  No, I am NOT going to explain this!  You just had to be there!

Needless to say, our mood brightened, even though it hadn’t really been dark.  (Just somber.)  We mounted our bikes and road in perfect formation through some pretty hazardous traffic.  But this is exactly what we had been preparing for.  I was so proud to see the tight formations weave through the traffic.  We showed just how skillful our Riders had become by moving effortlessly and gracefully.  My one regret was not having a video camera to capture the sheer beauty of motion that this group of Riders performed.

On other years, I have tried to get one last photo of our Pack rolling down the highway;  A photo “just for us” so that we could remember how great our journey has been together.  But the weather wasn’t cooperating and one photo can’t have all the bikes in it anyway.  There are just too many of us for that.  So I made a very last minute request of “Six-String” and he graciously said “Yes!”  At the Marine Corps Museum, I jumped up on a barricade and asked all of my Midway Route Family to stop, turn around, and face me.  And just like one of our traffic maneuvers, they all turned to me in unison.

So as MY gift to YOU, for allowing me the privilege of taking so many photos of you over the past 10 days, I present to you the first MIDWAY ROUTE All-Family Photo!

A few hours after we arrived in Arlington, Virginia, the Southern and Central Routes began rolling in.  Our complete RFT Family was coming together again.  Of course, being the good and responsible people that they are, several of the Midway Route Road Guards helped to escort the other Routes in.  (You do what you have to do with the tools at hand!)  Soon, there were more hugs and laughs as we began telling each other about all of our adventures.   Screams of delight could be heard as old Friends found each other.  Toasts were made and glasses raised to commemorate our travels and Friendships.  We love to have a good time together.  It was a very good reunion!

There is one day left for us on our 2022 Mission.  Tomorrow morning, at 09:00, we will gather at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial for our annual RFTW group photo, and then begin the long slow walk to the National Mall.  There, we will visit the names of over 58,000 Heroes that gave everything for their country.  We will place a wreath at the apex of this Wall in their honor.  Then, our Mission be over.  It won’t be fully accomplished, though, until we can account for every name on that Wall and bring them home.  It won’t be completed until every Veteran is offered the sincere Thanks that they are owed by our County.  It won’t be finished until every Combat Veteran is given the peace that they need to overcome the horrors of war that plague their minds.

Then, and only then, will our Mission be truly completed.

But all of that is for tomorrows SITREP.

Jim “Hoofer” McCrain

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Day 9. Thursday, May 26, 2022. Smithfield, NC to Ashland, VA. 193 miles. “Together, Alone”

Today is a day that I both anticipate and dread during Run For The Wall.  I look forward to this day because it signifies that we are nearing our goal of safely crossing our Country while bringing awareness to the needs of our Veterans and our MIA Families.  For nine days, we have told America that we are proud of our fighting Men and Women.  We have asked, no … We have DEMANDED that our Government do everything that they can to find our Missing In action.  We have talked to school children, trying to educate them on the importance of Patriotism, Loyalty, Duty, and Honor.  THEY have reminded us of those very same things!  We have grown extremely fond of each other, making familial bonds that will last for a lifetime.  We have become close, as close as family, because that is what we are.  We are the Midway Route Family.

Everything that we did today was yet again a reminder of all of these things.  We have an Active Duty Air Force Rider in our midst.  He asked if he could sing our National Anthem this morning.  We sang with him!  (But MAN, does he have a great voice!)  We had a young Man of the age of twelve lead us in the Pledge of Allegiance.  He did an outstanding job!  We read cards that were sent to us by the children of Milan Elementary School and the Falcon Children’s Home, and we promised to take them to the foot of The Wall, where they can be seen by thousands.  And we heard the welcome news that our own “Bruzer” will become next year’s Route Coordinator!  (Bruzer is a Vietnam Veteran that was shot down six times, captured by the South Vietnamese, and held in a jungle prison camp only to escape after six months.  Who better to lead us next year?)

We were given the gift of hundreds of well-wishers and supporters lining the roadways, streets, and over-passes.  We were greeted with shouts of glee and encouragement as we entered a Veterans Park in Weldon, NC.  We were invited to place Flags in honor of ANYONE that we wanted to honor.  We were asked to help place the photos of young Soldiers that were lost during the Middle East conflicts on the “Trees of Valor.”  And we were giving the time and space to literally “reflect” on an American flag composed of Red, White, and Blue “dog tags” that had the names of our lost Military Personnel inscribed on them.

We took time to recognize our own Leaders, and to Thank Them for their gifts of time, encouragement, and support.  We had a few laughs as some people earned new “Road Names.”  (Be careful of what you do and say around this group!  Wouldn’t you agree Gaiter Bait, Queen Elsa, and Cookie Dough?)  We said “farewell” to our out-going Route Coordinator and thanked him over and over for his dedication to the RFTW Mission, having worked for THREE YEARS just for this one “ride.”  We were sad to know that our tireless Road Guard Captain has decided to retire from his role.  But we also rejoiced in the knowledge that we will be in extremely capable hands with our new Leadership Team next year, and we have promised them our OWN dedication and support.

All of these things are things that I look forward to each year.  Today is always the epitome of what Run For The Wall is all about.  It is a true physical testament to the ideals of Duty, Honor, Integrity, and  Loyalty.  It is a re-affirmation of our promise to “Never Forget” those that have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our Country, and to honor the Families and Friends that they left behind.  This day, Day nine, is a good day.

But it is also a day of dread for me, because I know what tomorrow brings.  The2022 Midway Route will cease to exist as an autonomous entity.  We will join up with the other two Routes in Washington DC tomorrow afternoon.  We will not lose our bonds of affection for each other, but we will instead share them with our other Brothers and Sisters.  But our Midway Route Family will not be the foremost thought on our minds.  And that makes me a little sad.

But tonight, I will head down to the hotel lobby and visit with my Family.  We will share our stories, laugh together again, and maybe cry a little bit.  We will offer each other a shoulder to lean on, an ear to listen with, and a hug to assure ourselves that we are all going to be okay, and that what we have been doing matters.  Not just to ourselves, but to the Nation as a whole.  We need Run For The Wall.  AMERICA needs Run For The Wall.  And Run For The Wall needs us, the Midway Route Family.  We can’t have one without the other, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Goodnight, my Family.  I will see you in the Morning.

Jim “Hoofer” McCrain

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Day 8.  Wednesday May 25, 2022.  Asheville, NC to Smithfield, NC.  307 miles.  “Well THAT was interesting!”

Several times today, one particular phrase kept popping up in my mind.  It was: “Well THAT was interesting!”  And I don’t mean that in any sort of negative way.  Today truly was interesting!

I guess that I should start from the beginning.

It rained a bit last night.  Not hard, but enough to make everything nice and damp this morning.  And it was fairly cool.  And there was a TON of humidity in the air.  All in all, it wasn’t a great morning for riding, but it could have been bad.  We were lucky to be right in the “sweet spot” when it came to bad weather.  But did I mention that it was DAMP?  When I started up the bike this morning, I immediately noticed something was wrong.  The on-board computer froze.  The bike ran, but I had no gauges, warning lights, tire pressure, not even a radio.  So I immediately shut off the bike, completely turning off the entire electrical system … … but the computer screen stayed on.  NO electricity should have been running, because the bike was turned OFF!  But that screen just stayed on!  I tried starting and stopping the bike several times, but it didn’t change anything.  I had no choice but to ride over to our staging area and see what happened.  As I was riding down the road, here came that phrase for the first time.  “Well THAT was interesting!”  I guess this is what happens when you joke about Harley’s breaking down all the time!  Karma bit me!

When I arrived at the staging area (a few minutes late), I heard someone playing the flute.  “Well, THAT was interesting!”  So I get up to the stage and there is one of our Riders playing the anthem for each Branch of Service, while the members of that branch sang along!  After the songs were done, someone remembered that we have a few Canadians that are riding with us this year, so we asked them to come up and sing “Oh, Canada!”  Trust me, THAT was interesting, too!

The Morning meeting went along as usual.  We said the Pledge of Allegiance and sang the National Anthem.   The “folded Flag” was transferred to a new Rider again.  Lane Flynn displayed a BEAUTIFUL quilt that is going to be auctioned off tomorrow evening.  Someone is going to go home with an AMAZING souvenir!

After the meeting, I was trying to find an Indian Motorcycle dealership to take my bike into to have the system looked at.  But it was too early to call anyone, and the bike WAS running, so I thought I would just sit at the back of the pack to be safe.  Nope!  Not Going To Happen!  When the Road Guard Captain comes up and asks me to leave now and get ahead of the pack to get photos of the LEO Escort, this Photographer says “Okay!”  But to make sure that there were no surprises for the Officers, I told their Sergeant that I would be standing on the side of the road to get the pictures as they went past.  He said “There is a rally good overpass about 10 miles down the road, but you can just pick anywhere you want to be.  It’s okay with me.”  “Yes Sir, I will find a good spot.”  And THEN he asked “Can you catch up with us and get a shot of the entire squad before we break away?”  To which I answered “You mean you WANT me to ride fast and catch up, and it will be okay?”  He just grinned and said “Yeah!”

“Well, THAT was interesting!”  And I got the shot!  (Sometimes I just LOVE being the Route Photographer!)

I had hoped that the bike would start acting normal once it warmed up.  I was thinking that maybe some of that damp air had caused some sort of electrical short.  But it was still acting the same when we reached our first fuel stop.  I was able to contact a Dealership that would be willing to work on my bike.  When I told them that I was with RFTW they said “Get here as soon as you can and we will get you back on the road.”  “Fantastic!” I said.  “Where are you?”  “Charlotte, North Carolina.  Where are YOU?”  “I am not sure, but if you will send me your address I will find my way there.”  THAT ride was interesting because I had no idea where I was or really where I was going.  I just followed the GPS.

So, I have to leave the Pack and ride all by myself, all alone in a strange town, knowing that I am going to miss the BEST meal on our entire trip! The Siler City Pentecostal Holiness Church feeds us every year.  And I mean THEY FEED US!!!  Steaks, potatoes, sweet green beans, homemade peach cobbler with homemade ice-cream!  I was so sad!  The thought of those juicy, tender steaks, and that hot cobbler with cold ice-cream continued to run through my mind.  All through my ride to Charlotte I could just taste that delicious imaginary meal, and with every bite of my ACTUAL meal, I cried just a little bit.  Stale Fig Newtons just can’t replace a good steak lunch!

But then I got to the Indian Dealership in Charlotte, North Carolina.  As I walked in, I thanked Jackie (the Service Manager) for helping me out.  She said “Oh, I know all about Run For The Wall.”  Her Husband had spent five tours in Iraq.  He hasn’t ridden with us, but he has thought about it.  So I spent some time talking with her about the RFTW Mission, and especially the new Sandbox Route.

After a few minutes of talking, she started telling me about the dealership we were in.  She casually mention that this was Loyd Greer’s shop.  “Loyd Greer, from Lloyd’z Racing Garage?”  “Yeah, you want to meet him?”  Well THAT was DEFINITELY interesting!  For those that don’t know about Lloyd’z Garage, this is the place that is turning out super high-performance engine tunes for Indian motorcycles.  These are the people that are setting up the winning bikes for the national flat track and sprint races, and have been revolutionizing these races for about five or six years.  So here I was in THE premiere high-performance tune-up shop, just having an electrical issue solved.  (Oh yeah, I got an oil change as well.)

Presently, Loyd Greer came out to say Hello.  I told him “Thanks” for helping me get back on the Road so that I could continue to support our Mission.  He wasn’t familiar with RFTW, so I got to spend some time explaining it to Him.  He likes our Mission!  He asked me if I would like to check out the racing garage, and I said (You guessed it) “THAT would be interesting!”  So I got to go into the back and look at all of the projects that they are working on.  I promised not to take photos of the “good stuff” though.  After all, I was in a room with a lot of corporate secrets!

All in All, missing that fabulous lunch in Siler City wasn’t too bad, because I got to meet a racing legend AND talk about the Run For The Wall Mission.

As I looked at my watch, I realized that if I rode just a little “aggressively” that I could possibly meet up with the Midway Route about the time that they reached the Falcon Children’s Home in Falcon, North Carolina.  It took some “interesting” riding to get there, but I made it with five minutes to spare.  (For the record, I did not have to use any excessive speed, but I DID have to take a LOT of twisty backroads and detours.  It seems that no roads lead directly to Falcon!)

This stop is very special to both the Midway Route and the Children’s Home.  This is a school for Kids that are having a tough time in life.  It may be financial, it may be a bad home-life, it may be that they just didn’t “fit in” anywhere else.  The Falcon Children’s Home gives these bright young Men and Women a second chance to make something of themselves.  The Midway Route supports this with all of our hearts.  They have a Graduation Ceremony that we attend each year, where they receive a special certificate from RFTW along with a check to help them out financially.  It isn’t much, but every little bit helps, and the Kids truly appreciate it.

From Falcon, it was just a short ride to our dinner stop, provided by the Bizzell Grove Church.  This is our “Spaghetti Church!”  We have all seen a big pot of spaghetti in our lives.  But have you ever seen a dozen Coleman Coolers FILLED with spaghetti and meat sauce?  I mean to tell you, each of these coolers must have held 20 gallons of spaghetti!  EACH!!!  AND it was GOOD, too!  (It definitely got the taste of those stale Fig Newtons out of my mouth!)

But more important than the food was the people that served it to us, and the people that we ate with.  ALL are part of our Midway Route Family!

Okay, I know that this was a weird SITREP.  But in my defense, I DID have to miss most of it because of my bike issues.  (By the way, it WAS caused by the excessive moisture in the air.  It shorted one of the circuits.)  However, I was assured that the day was pretty much exactly the way I have described it.  Interesting events, interesting roads, and interesting conversations.  I have been promised pictures of the scenic roads that they Pack used, so I will post them when they come in.

Tomorrow will be interesting, too.  It is our last full-day as the Midway Route 2022.  We still have a lot to do, but our time together is getting short.

JIm “Hoofer” McCrain

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Day 7.  Tuesday May 24, 2022.  Cookeville, TN to Asheville, NC.  “Family Time


It’s not just who you are related too by birth.  It is who you choose.  It is who you associate with.  It is who you would die for.  It is who you would kill for.  It is who you have shed your blood with.  It is RFTW.

Today, my Midway RFTW Family really started to draw closer together.  I attribute this to several factors, chief amongst them is that our Mission is starting to be forefront in our minds, even when we are having fun.  From the very start of our day, with “Snax” and “Curly” singing and signing our National Anthem and with “Pin-Up” leading us in the Pledge of Allegiance, I noticed a palpable change from just yesterday.

I saw people hugging each other just a little tighter and a little longer.  I saw people holding hands in a prayer circle.  I overheard whispered conversations about lost Brothers in Arms, and saw the speaker get enveloped in a crowd to protect him and offer him support.  I saw a Chaplain walk up to a Rider that was near tears, and saw that same Rider about 10 minutes later with a wonderful smile on his face.  I saw a recently widowed 2019 Midway Route Rider bring her young Son out to our lunch spot, just to get him used to being around motorcycles, and also to remember the good times she and her Husband had on their own Mission.  She and her Son are Midway Route Family!

But let me start from the beginning of our day.  As I mentioned, we started, as usual, with the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem.  Have you noticed that I mention this every day?  Are you getting tired of it?  I can PROMISE you that our RIDERS aren’t tired of it!  In fact, today the singing was a little louder, and the pledge was almost boisterous.  The deep-seated emotions connected with these words are immense, and the commitment of our Riders to honor those words gets stronger and stronger every day.

As we rode down the highway, sometimes under LEO escort again, I noticed something.  The pack looked a little tighter.  The Riders were sitting a little taller in the saddle.  As we passed under bridges that were covered in Supporters, the Riders started honking their horns AND waving, just a little bit more.  When we got to out stop in Knoxville, at the Veterans Memorial Park, MANY more Riders participated in the tradition of walking through the fountain.  Peter Green (an AUSTRALIAN PATRIOT!) always leads the way.  He says it symbolizes (to Him) the Brothers that march off to war together, and also those that come out on the other side.  I don’t take this walk with them, as I am not a Veteran.  But I have been asked to join them.  Now THAT is Brotherhood!

At this park there is a series of granite walls that has the name of every Tennessee Boy that went off to War inscribed on them.  The significance of this location is that it is where the old railroad terminal used to stand.  For 80 percent of the names on these markers, this is the last place that they stood on Tennessee soil.  It is a solemn location, and as our Riders walked through it, a hush fell over them all.  It wasn’t planned: it just happened.  They were visiting with their un-known Brothers.  And when they exited the memorial, the conversations started again.

As with all Families, we came together over meals.  (Okay, one of these “meals” was at an ice-cream stop, But it still counts!)  While noshing on a “salted caramel and butterscotch” cone, I saw someone put down a $20 bill and say “This is for my Sister.”  And She did the same for the next person in line.  And when a very tired Rider walked in looking like he REALLY needed to cool down, he was offered a place at the front of the line, where someone paid for HIS ice-cream!

At our actual dinner, people that really wouldn’t have much in common with each other “back home” were sitting beside each other, talking about their lives and experiences.  They told funny stories that we laughed at even though we didn’t know the person they were talking about.  But they told the story as if we DID, and now, we kind of DO!

Bikers are all Brothers and Sisters.  We kid each other about the type of bikes that they ride.  (“Let me guess: Black Harley?”)  We give them a hard time when their engine makes such a cute little “WHEEEeeee” sound instead of a deep-throated roar!  But we don’t leave another Biker on the side of the road.  We take care of each other.  We help each other.  The “Midway 2022 TRIBE” (Indian Motorcycle Riders) even took a picture of “the BEST” bikes in front of the Harley Davidson Dealer in Asheville, NC, as a way to say Thank You for supporting the Midway Route for the past seven years.  We may not ride a Harley, but we support YOU the way you support US!

Our Family grew today when we arrived for dinner.  The people that served us were so gracious and loving that we just had to hug them!  We had three “FNG” Motorcycle Law Enforcement Officers that helped escort us into town for the first time.  They were given an official “FNG” badge, and added to our Family.  There was a 102 year-old Veteran sitting at a table, but not alone.  When it was announced that he was one of the FIRST Soldiers to cross Utah Beach during WWII, he got a standing ovation from HIS new Family of RFTW Riders.

The whole day was like this.  I saw people drawing closer together than they were just a day before.  I saw “friendships” grow and become a bond of Brotherhood.  I said that the change was palpable.  That isn’t really the right word, though.  We didn’t “feel” the change.  WE LIVED the change.

And our bonds will only grow stronger over the next few days.  We may only have three days left on our journey, but our Family Time has just begun.


Jim “Hoofer” McCrain

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Day 6. Monday May 23, 2022. Forrest city, AR to Cookeville, TN. “CELEBRATION!”

There’s a party going on right here
A celebration to last throughout the years
So bring your good times and your laughter too
We’re gonna celebrate your party with you!

Today we are heading to COOKEVILLE!!!  This is our “key” stop along our entire route.  Up to this point, we have been getting to know each other, learning each others stories, finding out about our shared pasts, and becoming Family.  Today we laughed and cried together.  The laughter was from the heart, but so where the tears.  And here is why:

At our morning meeting, one of our BRAND NEW FNGs asked if she could do something for our Riders.  She hadn’t met many of us yet, but she still had a gift for us all.  “Curly” got up on the stage, and in front of 250 strangers, she SIGNED the words to “Proud to be an American!”    We couldn’t believe it!  She was so passionate in her signing that we were all singing and clapping along with her!  She is going to fit right in with our little group!

Right after that, we had one of our Active Duty Personnel lead us in the Pledge of Allegiance.  I have never heard it lead with such gusto and determination.  It was a fantastic start to our day, and definitely put us all in the mood to start our Celebration!

We were a little concerned about the weather this morning.  It was raining ahead of us AND behind us.  But being the Midway Route, we were right in between the storms.  We are the “Goldilocks” route: We are “just right!”  AND we made it through the entire day without getting wet.  ANOTHER reason to Celebrate.

Two Platoons of our Trike Riders got to go on a breakout Mission this morning to the Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery in Parker Crossroads.  These People are always in the back of the Pack, so they don’t get chosen for a lot of programs.  Well not on the Midway Route!  It was my honor to get to accompany them, especially since I was on two wheels.  We participated in a wreath laying ceremony which was followed by “Echo Taps” and a rifle salute.  The Flag we were standing under was HUGE!  And the wind was blowing it hard enough to make it look like the Flag was at attention.  It was a great Outreach!

We just barely returned from THAT outreach when it was time to head out on another one.  This time, two different platoons went to Lebanon, Tennessee to visit the Veterans Museum.  This is a very unique museum, as it has displays primarily about the uniforms and arms for each branch of the Military, for the past 200 years.  They have a “wall of Honor” where they feature a local veteran from each branch of the Service, with a picture and a short biography.  Today, we MET William Seay, standing next to his own photo.  “Welcome Home, Sergeant!”  It is a really interesting place to visit, and I look forward to coming back when I can spend more time.  We performed a wreath laying ceremony here, as well.  And I must mention something else: As a Texan, I know that BBQ is BEEF.  But that pulled pork sandwich really deserves this Texans “Seal of Approval!”  I would ride back up here just for that sandwich!

Did I mention that we had LEO Escorts through all of the major cities AGAIN today?  Folks, let me tell you, it is an amazing site to see an entire FREEWAY shut down just so we can ride through!  It wasn’t easy to get, but I DID take a photo that shows a little bit of what this looks like from OUR perspective.

And then we rolled into Cookeville!  This place is phenomenal!  They cheer us as we roll down main street.  The wave flags WITH us when we arrive.  They hug us all, over and over and over.  Then they FEED us!  AND they provide some musical entertainment!  AND they auctioned off a super-delicious cheese-cake made by Sarah Winfrey.  How do I know it was delicious?  Right before the auction started, I ran to the front of the room to get some photos.  I just happened to grab an empty chair, and then that table bid on the cheesecake.  WE WON!!!  WooHoo!

So you see, Cookeville is a Celebration for us.  Yes, we had a lot of fun today, but we also participated in several very meaningful outreach programs.  (We have another one first thing in the morning!)  Cookeville is sort of a “turning point” in our Mission.  We have had a LOT of fun along the way and experienced some amazing emotions.  But today was Day Six, and that means we are more than half-way to our destination.  Every day from now on, as we draw closer to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in DC, our emotions are going to get a little more raw.  The joy will still be there, but it is going to be tempered with the solemnity of our Mission.

So today we partied and celebrated our Family.  Tomorrow, it all becomes more serious.

There’s a party going on right here
A dedication to last throughout the years
So bring your good times and your laughter too
We’re gonna celebrate your party with you!


Jim “Hoofer” McCrain