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Central Route – Day 1 – Ontario, CA to Williams, AZ

It was a great day, sunny, warm weather  and no rain.
All 3 routes meet in the Convention center parking lot. This is truly an organized chaos.  The people holding the numbers are the stagers…this is how it gets organized.

 Check out all the bikes


Breakfast was cooked on what looks like Coleman stoves.  They were have a good ole time.


Here is Dan aka Papi.  He is the Central route photographer.  He always keeps us laughing
…. and is a great photographer


This is Eamon and Terri Tansey.  Eamon served in the Australian army during Vietnam War. He is out route coordinator.

Tom Miller is the Assistant Route Coordinator (ARC) with his with Jan.  Tom has been the road guard captain for at let 3 years.  Maybe more. He always has a great smile!!
 Larry (Leadership Support) and Jean Gault (Sit Rep Reporter)

At the start of every day is morning pray and the Pledge.  Today is no exception, except for they way the colors are presented…..

 Pretty Cool!!!!!
 Singing of the Star Spangle Banner and the 2 girls sign it also.
This women was introduced and a POW mom, The gentleman in the green is the brother of the POW.


 Ok Saddle up!!!!!  All routes will leave at the same time, then split down the road.
 We are rolling out. The parking lot is getting empty.
 Here are a few examples of the bike with trailer just to give you an idea.

Roger , aka Pops, will be carrying the Mayor of Loveland CO cross country. Funny thing is,  I live in Loveland , OH

The flag is flying as we exit the parking lot.  Safe travels, I will be watching over  you.

First bridge as we leave the parking lot.  What a way to start the day!!!
 Little foggy….. that is an understatement…


Yeah finally starting to see blue sky.  FYI for those that have followed my blog before, you will notice I love to take lots of pics of this beautiful country.  I realize many people cannot make a trip like this so I want to show off our country.  Hope you enjoy the pics.

 Amazing. The patriotism.



First gas stop.  The first day on gas stops are always hectic.  There are lots of FNGs and this makes the task interesting.
Here is how it works.  The pumps are turned on and not shut off until everyone is fueled.  We round  up and no one gets change.  If your bill is $7.50, you owe $8.  If you happened to give a ten, you just donated to the chase vehicles fuel bill… thanks

I am going to try timing one tomorrow but normally we can fuel 400 bikes in 20-25 minute.
Never ceases to amaze me!!!

“Heroic Road Guard Save Pack from Gator”
Kirk is one of our many road guards.  One of the tasks  is to try and clear any large debris before the pack comes thru.  Today, the Gator, (that is  a retread tire)  was in the line of the bikes.  He was able to  get a break in traffic and retrieve it off the road…. however as he was throwing it to the side, he lands and slides head first on the side.  Anyone have a pic of this…. I would love to post it.

Kirk “Pretty Boy” Olson and Ken ” Catfish” Ward are on the board for RFTW and are our road guards.  THANKS guys for all you do.   Hope your arm feels better Kirk.

Did you ever sit at a railroad crossing and count the number of cars of a train?  Well I have. Out here you can see the whole train and  these 2 had about 80.


This is “Walrus”.  He is standing at every exit the pack needs to take.  You surely cannot miss him.

Nice surprise by our Outreach and Ambassador teams.


Here is the staging team before anyone gets in the lot.  They have to know how many bikes are in each platoon and then get enough space for them to fit in a lot.  Way before all this, someone has to scout out locations to be able to handle 400 bikes in a lot.  Thanks Steve!!  This is all done way in advance.  Every year you need check with EVERY stop made.  Today we had 5, now multiply this by 10 day.  That a LOT of planning

Look where leadership ended up.  You have to improvise.  And share the lot when necessary.

Hydration team Thanks!!  We are heading into the desert…. so everyone hydrate.

This is Barry and Devine.  They assign the new riders to platoons.  This can be a tricky job since you want to balance them out.  Also people come and go on the Run the platoon get bigger and smaller.  Some can only make it a few day and it could be at the beginning, the middle, or the end of the run.  Devine also helps with the Registration duties.

Day is looking good but still a little hazy.  BEAUTIFUL!!  Pics just do not show the full picture.



This is Wild Bill another one of our road guards and a Vietnam vet.  Before we left Ontario, the Run is always trying to raise money.  Someone donated 2 cows to be auctioned off.  Bill got one of them. Bill did you get T-bone or Sirloin?  This is a little cow mascot he has on the back.

What a great reception heading into Needles, CA for Lunch.

Rick is another one of your veteran road guards.  I will show lots of these pics.  It captures the respect that the Run has.

Wow only our 3 gas stop and you guys look like pros.  Way to go Fuel team

Bud is the CA state coordinator.  Each state has one.  They have a big job.  All the gas, lunch , dinner….stops need to be organized.  The  state coordinators do this to make he Run go smooth.  I will not hold it against  you Bud that you are a Pittsburg fan.  (He was born and raised there, then move to CA).

Here is one  of the table clothes in Needles.  Kids do a great job

Now a few more of the leadership team.  Bernadette is the 50-50 person , Cookie is part of registration, and Dabo…. he is not leadership.. he is a road guard.

Lance is our raffle rouser…. Dadbo, photo bombed us again.

People of Needles are always working hard to give us a great lunch.

And today we got ice cream.   It was 101 in the shade today and this was sooo good.  The gentleman in the center of the pic is a Vietnam vet.  Several thanked him for his service.  Remember, is  only takes a few seconds to thanks them!!!


Head out over the Colorado river into Arizona.



Next fuel stop.  Check this out.  We are only thereabout 45 minutes and look at all the support


See the pine trees.  This is how we know we are getting close to Williams AZ.  They smell so good.
Great reception in town.  Love to see the kids engaged. This is our future.


The day was long and I was a little disappointed  there was no table to work at.  NO big deal, we make do.  I may need help getting up… LOL

Staying at Williams AZ

Temps:  65,105 (thru the desert), 57
Route: I-15E , I-40E
Miles: 402

Quote for the day:

Freedom is not free

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Central Route – Day 0 – In Ontario

Welcome everyone!!  My name is Jean Gault and I will be your Sit Rep report for the Central Route.  I come from Loveland Oh and this is my 5th year on the Run.  I ride with my husband, Larry.  I will try my best to make you feel like you are riding with us. 

Let me give you a short summary of our mission:

Mission Statement of RFTW : 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.

Philosophy: We strive to maintain a safe, supportive, and private atmosphere in which all participants can reflect and heal on their journey to the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC in the hope that they can return home to a new beginning.

Goals: 1) To guide the participants across America.  2) To educate future generations as to the importance of accountability in wartime actions emphasizing that no one should be left behind.

History (from the website)

Run For The Wall® (RFTW) was started in 1989 by James “Gunny” Gregory and Bill Evans, two Vietnam Veterans who traveled across the heartland of America on motorcycles. They talked to local radio, TV and newspapers about the thousands of men and women still unaccounted for from in all wars. The Run gives Vietnam Veterans and all Veterans the opportunity to receive their own “Welcome Home” and start their healing process. The need for this awareness continues today and we carry on this tradition every May.

We had another beautiful day today!!  Lots going on. It is out  final day to prep for our departure tomorrow.  It was very exciting for me as I have met so many new people.  We welcome them to the RFTW family.

As I write this every day, I thought I would give you definition of roles people play to get us cross country.  I have also listed a number of how many for each.  Here is a list you may want to reference.  Remember these are all volunteers.
TEAMS (ahead of the pack)
Advanced road guard – 10 = first to go out and confirm
there are no issues on the roads. Ex: detours, traffic issues, … even have been know to clear some debris off the road to keep us safe.
Staging– 30 = Get to the next stop ahead of
the pack and set up for each platoon to be staged 
Fuel- 24 = They get to the gas station and
clear all pump for the platoons to come in.  There is no one at the gas
pump when we arrive.  They also direct the pack how to get to the pumps
and leaving the pumps
Ambassador – 15 = Thanking the people on the bridges or
in the towns for coming out and supporting the Run.
Hydration – 6 – They carry water, gatorade, snack and are
at every gas stop.  All donated by someone or organization
Registration – 8 = In every city, they are there when we arrive,
and every morning before we leave.   Since not everyone can ride 10 days,
many ride only a few day.  This team gets them signed up.
Merchandise team – 2 = travels with the Run
selling t-shirts and other trinkets
State coordinator – Total 20 for the length of the
run. Usually 1 -2 per state.
The Pack Formation:
Missing man– Route Coordinator (RC) , state
coordinator, person representing the missing man, missing man coordinator,
Road guard – 30-35 = they have many jobs: stop traffic on all
entrance ramps, guides us thru towns at each intersection, help direct at fuel
stops……you will see more through the blog.
6 pack – 6-8 = Assistant Route coordinator (ARC), mentor
(this is the RC from last year), leadership (Jenny, Lee Larry and
Jean), any dignitary, …. this changes daily. Could be the mayor, POW… we
never know who will be there leg to leg.
Platoons – 15-25 = each platoon has a platoon
leader, assistant platoon leader and 2 tail gunners.  In the middle are
all the participants.  There are usually 10-12 platoons
Communication team – 3 – talk to truckers and 1
in back of the pack. 
Medical team – 6 – there for any injuries or illnesses
Chaplains – 8 = this is a very key role.
 Many are on this for healing.  Many remember comrades lost in war.
This is a very emotional trip for everyone.
Last man – 1 – conveys to RC when the last bike is on the
road/ expressway
Sit Rep Reporter – 1 – This person give a summary of the day (this is me this year 🙂  )
Chase vehicles – 4 to 5 = They have trailer and
will pick up anyone running out of gas (yes this does happen) or break downs.
If you add all this up, it is around 160 people that have roles
Participants = 15-25 per platoon -so 200-250 
At any given time, we are at 350-450 riding as a unit.

Additional Terms: 
Blue Star Family – a family with a member currently serving  in the Armed Forces of the United States
Gold Star – family member that has died during a Military Operation
We start our day in the lobby of the hotel.  Lots of people seem to be scurrying around.  As I walk around I notice a gentleman and see that is he a Medal of Honor recipient.  He is John P Baca.
On February 10, 1970, Specialist John Baca dove on a grenade thrown near his firing position in Phuoc Long Province, South Vietnam, saving his fellow soldiers. Baca received the Medal of Honor on June 15, 1971. He returned to Vietnam in 1990 and worked alongside former enemy soldiers to build a United States–Vietnam friendship clinic.

  I went over gave him a hug and a kiss on the cheek. I whispers to him “Thank you very much for your service, and welcome home.”  He hugged me back and gave me a Challenge coin.

Very humble man.

I was just walking around and  saw a WWII veteran.  This is Royce Williams.  He served in WWII, Korea and Vietnam.

As we sit at a table for lunch, we meet these 2 gentleman from Tuscan AZ.  They are FNGs.  They said they better do the Run this year before the get too old.  A comment made by one of the men was “when we arrived in California after our tour, people were lined up and as the walked from the plane, they were spat on.”   I have hear this before, but still hard to hear that Americans would treat our service men  and women this way.  Welcome home gentlemen!!
Had to show you another beautiful paint job on one of the bikes.  WOW!!
I ran in to “Gunny” Gregory (Founder) and his wife “Patty-o”.  Great couple!!!
Every year there is a Bike Build.  Combat Hero Bike  Build is an organization that builds a bike for a service man or women that have lots a limb.  This year it was for Jed Morgan, USMC. He was blown up by an IED in Afghanistan.  He is a double amputee and has lost much of the function of his right hand.
Prior to the unveiling of the bike we say the Pledge of Allegiance.  All service man will salute and other place their hand of their heart.  This is an amazing site.  You will see lots of these pics throughout the run.
Jed and his wife are introduced….
   …. and welcomed and thanked by the Colonel.
A comment by him really hit me:
Those that have lost limbs, did not lose them…. the gave them for our freedom.
Then a big surprised.  The corpsman that saved his life came for the event.  What a neat reunion.  Several tears among the crowd.  Where are the tissues?
Larry got a chance to thank him for his service
WHAT A BIKE!!!  and Jed was grinning from ear to ear!!!
He gets instructions….
 ….and he is off.  Smile never left his face.

Ok off to the next meeting. On our way I spot one of the Chase Vehicle trailers.  Thought you may like to see how this one is set up.  You never want to be on one of these.  But last year we ended on one.  Thanks goodness these guys were there.

 Next meeting of the day  is the All Hands meeting.  This is mandatory for EVERYONE.
We meet up with Scooter.  He is the road guard for the Central Route that is way out front.  He will let us know of any road issues and keeps us informed for all the turns.
 I true fashion, we start with the Pledge.
 President of  RFTW Welcomes everyone especially our FNGs.
Check out the participant!!

The men here are the Route Coordinators.  They have worked all year and put in 1000s of hour to make this happen.  Currently there are 3 routes to DC: Central, Midway and Southern.  This year there is a fourth, the Sandbox.  More on that one in a bit.

For those of you that followed me last year, Shanna was our staging person for the leadership platoon.  Since last year, she got married and has had a baby.  Her and her husband drove over 3 hours to meet up with her Run family and wish us well.  Flo is in the blue hat and will replace her.  Flo I hope you are ready to do some jumping around like Shanna do for us to find you.  Congrats Shanna.

The day seems to get better and better.  After the All Hands meeting, Little Big Mike is all anxious to  find me.  He introduced me to Tony Cordero (oops forgot to get his pic).   He is a Gold Star son.  His father was killed in Vietnam. Most of the time, gold star would be given to a wife or mother.  But what about the kids of those killed?
Tony, with others, has an organization called “Sons and Daughters in Touch”. Goal  Sons and Daughters In Touch is an all-volunteer, national support organization committed to uniting the Gold Star sons and daughters of American servicemen who were killed, or who remain missing, as a result of the Vietnam War. In addition, our membership includes family members and many military veterans who served with our fathers — all dedicated to furthering the mission of SDIT.

About every five years, this organization has a Father’s Day at the Wall. This is to help with the emotions of all family members.
In 2003, 50 of the Vietnam gold star kids along with 20 Vietnam Veteran as chaperons, took a trip to Vietnam.  They broke out into groups to visit where their father lost his life.  The people in Vietnam were extremely happy to see them and treated them with great respect.  For some it was a life changing event and it put some of the demons to bed.

Tony found this medal.  It is the Gold Star Pilgrimage Medallion.  It was given to Gold Star mothers and wives. If you look closely at  it, there is the Statue of Liberty and the Eifel tower with a ship in between.  The government at the time would sail the member to Paris. All expenses paid.

If you look a this side, is says “…the world war”.  When this was made after WWI, they never dreamed of a second world war.  These medals were made by Tiffanys.   you need a magnifying glass to see it.  It is at 5:00 postion.

Tony has this pin on his shirt.  It is a Gold Star pin that is easily worn on  a shirt collar.

As we were finishing up, he made a comment ” when you start out as a blue star family….you do not what to be a gold start family”
Thanks Tony for sharing.
The day is not yet over.  Remember I mentioned about a 4th Route.  Well this route will be from DC to Marceilles, IL.  This is where the Middle East Conflict Wall is.  It will take place after we reach DC.  It will be a 2 1/2 day ride. We are trying to get the younger generation engaged.

The WWII veteran made a comment “We need the Vietnam vets to hand of the baton to those in today’s conflicts. We need to continue to fight for our freedom. We need to keep the wall running.”

Those going on this recon mission were all here: platoon leaders, tail gunners,……

 Then the word was given:  Man the mission and bring it to life.

With that said, they all started their bikes and revved the engines. Sooo cool to hear that.

 This is called “Wall to Wall”, aka W2W.  It is now commissioned!!!!
This flag is on the Scouts bike for the ride to Marseilles.
It has been one heck of a day.  And it is now getting late.  Cannot wait for tomorrow!!
Quote for the Day:
You are not forgotten