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Sandbox Route RC Newsletter – September 2022

Sandbox Route RC Newsletter

Greetings Sandbox Route riders from a hot, humid, Pearland, Texas, and welcome to the Sandbox Route RC Newsletter for September 2022.

As we all know, the Sandbox Route culminates at the Middle East Conflicts Wall which is dedicated to commemorating the U.S. service men and women who have lost their lives in worldwide conflicts since the 1967 attack on the U.S.S. Liberty in the Eastern Mediterranean. The names on the wall represent our fallen heroes from 1967 to present at various locations such as Panama, Beirut, the Balkans, Grenada, Somalia, Haiti, USS Cole, USS Stark, terrorist attacks in Italy, Greece, Scotland, Bosnia, Kosovo, Fort Hood, Oklahoma City, Chattanooga, and the current conflicts in the Middle East.

This is a month that we have all come to remember, and one that changed generations similar to that infamous day in December 1944. The attacks on September 11, 2001, changed the world and the way of life for many Americans and their families. Names of those military members who lost their lives in the attack on the Pentagon are included on the Middle East Conflicts Wall. Those horrible attacks in 2001 subsequently sent our military into a war that continues to claim Sandbox Era warriors even after our official military withdrawal. We will not forget, we will not give up, and we will continue to support our brothers and sisters in and out of uniform and their families and friends. We will continue to say their names!

This is why we ride!

Middle East Conflicts Wall

Does everyone remember our Mission? – “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.” 

Why do I ask? Because National POW/MIA Recognition Day is September 16, 2022.

“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.”

This is why we ride!


Registration for all 2023 RFTW Routes is set to open on September 11, 2022. The registration process has change slightly for 2023 so be sure to give yourself a little bit of extra time while registering on-line!

The ALL RFTW Riders, past, present, and future, Reunion in Kerrville, TX is coming up at the end of the month. The Kerrville Riders Reunion is taking place from Wednesday September 21 through Sunday September 25, 2022. Go to the RFTW Facebook group or the TX Riders Reunion Facebook pages for up-to-date information, planning, rides, auctions, and more! Thank you to Roger “Cowboy” Mead and Sharann “Sam” Mead for all their hard work and dedication putting this together year after year! I hope to see many of you there!


The Sandbox Route Leadership team continues to work on updating and improving the Sandbox Route through the evaluation of each of our stops to see where we can improve and create a safer environment for all riders and participants. This includes the possibility of combining some stops, eliminating unnecessary or extra stops, and limiting our stops and staging as much as reasonably possible. Potential changes may assist in removing some of the backroads, city, and single lane riding we endured last year.


As Sandbox Route Coordinator, I am honored to announce our Road Guard Captain for 2023 will be Ken “Catfish” Ward. Ken has been associated with RFTW many years and served as the Central Route, Route Coordinator in 2014 and then served as a member of the BOD from 2014-2021. Ken is dedicated to the mission and shares in the vision of making this route great and SAFE! Safety is a primary concern for us all and everyone’s’ safety will be a strong factor in the decisions being made concerning the Route.

Most, if not all, of the primary leadership positions have been selected. Those Team Leaders will be working to identify assistants and volunteers to fill out and complete their respective teams in the coming months. Did you volunteer yet? Your Sandbox Route Leadership team can be viewed on the RFTW Sandbox Route page should you have any questions.

VOLUNTEER’s – Raise your Hands!

I encourage anyone who would like to volunteer to serve in any leadership or volunteer position on the Sandbox Route to go the site and fill out a Volunteer Sign-up form. Even if the position you are interested in volunteering for appears to be filled already, please fill out a volunteer form anyway. Our goal is to fill as many Sandbox Route positions with Sandbox era veterans and volunteers and to provide them with adequate training by experienced volunteers in those positions. The same volunteer form is used for all the Routes, just select the Route or Routes you are volunteering for and the position(s) you are interested in!

And remember, “Nothing Great is ever accomplished alone!” Let’s work together to make the Sandbox Route great! Together we will Continue the Mission safely and successfully!

Darin “Lurch” Koch

Sandbox Route Coordinator

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Sandbox Route RC Newsletter – August 2022

Sandbox Route RC Newsletter

Welcome to the Sandbox Route and my first Route Coordinator’s Newsletter.

I am Darin “Lurch” Koch, and I am honored to have been selected as the next Route Coordinator (RC) for the Sandbox Route in 2023. I am an Air Force Veteran who proudly served during Desert Storm/Desert Shield and during the Kosovo conflict. My wife and passenger, Tina “Hand-Off” Koch is also a Desert Storm/Desert Shield Army Veteran. I have served as a Tail Gunner, Asst. Platoon Leader, and as a Platoon Leader on both the Southern Route and on the Sandbox Inaugural Run. Focus on the Mission and safety of the riders is and always will be my priority.

The BOD has approved and appointed Cornell “Thumper” Penn as the SB Assistant Route Coordinator and together we share the same commitment to focus on the Mission of Run for the Wall – “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.”

I originally learned about the run from a co-worker and Marine Veteran Jim Wright in 2008. He was a prior run participant and easily convinced me to ride with him and Jeff “Breeze” Starks, all the way (ATW) as an FNG in 2008. I never knew how much this “ride” would change my life. Sadly, we lost Jeff in 2021, and we recently lost Jim in late July 2022.

We all have our own reasons for riding and participating in the mission. My wife and I have returned every year since her FNG year in 2016 and we both have our own personal reasons for riding. My reason for riding extends generations, all the way back to multiple great uncles serving in WWII with one, US Army PFC 1st Class Bernard F. Thalken of the 39th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division, paying the ultimate sacrifice on July 31, 1943, while serving in Europe fighting for the liberation of Sicily. Uncle “Benny” never returned home to his family in Nebraska and is buried in the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery in Italy. Never have truer words been spoken, than when one states – FREEDOM ISN’T FREE!

Even today, our fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, family and friends still serving in the military continue the fight for freedom around the world and many in hostile environments. Our mission is to remember ALL those veterans, families and friends who have lost their loved ones while they served in the military or that lost their lives battling from PTSD or other medical conditions derived from their service. This is why I ride!

The Middle East Conflicts Wall in Marceilles, IL is dedicated to those who have lost their lives while fighting in wars and battles across the Middle East from 1979 – the present. As of 2014, there were approximately 6,900 names on the panels. Today, there are more than 8,000 names on those panels and in August 2022, 13 additional fallen heroes were added to the panels. This is why I ride!

The review of the 2022 Sandbox Route and AAR’s has already begun as well as the planning and coordination for 2023. We are looking for volunteers to step up into leadership roles in all positions. If you have any interest in volunteering for any position or job, please go to the site and fill out a Volunteer Sign-up form. The same form is used for all the Routes, just select the Route or Routes you are volunteering for!

Remember, “Nothing Great is ever accomplished alone!” Let’s work together to make the Sandbox Route great! Together we will Continue the Mission safely and successfully!

I would like to personally acknowledge and thank a few individuals for their friendship, support, guidance, and mentoring throughout my years as a leadership volunteer on RFTW. Thank you, Billie “Bugs” Dunlap, Robert “Old School” Reavis, Roger “Cowboy” Mead, Kristine “EYES” Wood, Vic “Big Vic” Killion, and Bob “Captain America” Nelson, and Mike “Bonehead” Kyzer.

Darin “Lurch” Koch
Sandbox Route Coordinator