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Sandbox Route RC Newsletter – January 2023

Happy New Year and welcome to the Sandbox Route RC Newsletter for January 2023.

Visit the RFTW Sandbox Route webpage here.

I hope this first newsletter of the new year finds everyone in good health and good thoughts!

With the beginning of a new year, many of us find ourselves looking forward to new beginnings while others are just hoping for a better or easier way to cope with their current struggles. With the new year, we should also have a renewed focus on the Run for the Wall 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.”

We may have made it through another Holiday season but for many the struggles within can remain an overwhelming force in their daily lives. I place a very high emphasis on the portion of our mission statement that reads “To promote healing among ALL veterans and their families and friends”. This emphasis does not make the rest of the mission statement any less important; but I like to place added emphasis on the “healing” portion of this statement. We can and do remember and honor the memory of our fallen and POW/MIA each time we say their names; but I believe we can make an even greater impact by helping, supporting and promoting healing among those veterans, families and friends that are still with us. The 2nd most common cause of death among active service members is suicide and unfortunately those numbers do not go down after separation from military service. These suicides have a direct impact on the mental health of the surviving family and friends. To anyone struggling I want you to know I’ve got your 6 and you can contact me at any time. I ask everyone to share the information below and possibly help save a life!

If you or someone you know find themselves struggling, please know you can visit the VA Veteran’s Crisis Line website, or contact them by dialing 988 then press 1, or text 838255 and speak or chat with a qualified responder.

Gulf War

The Gulf War was a 1990–1991-armed campaign waged by a military coalition in response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. The invasion of Kuwait was immediately met with international condemnation, including by the United Nations Security Council. British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and President George H. W. Bush deployed troops and equipment into Saudi Arabia and urged other countries to send their own forces to the scene. In response, an array of nations joined the American-led coalition, consisting of 35 countries forming the largest military alliance since World War II. Spearheaded by the United States, the coalition’s efforts against Iraq were carried out in two key phases: Operation Desert Shield, which marked the military buildup from August 1990 to January 1991; and Operation Desert Storm, which began with the aerial bombing campaign against Iraq on January 17, 1991 and ended with the American-led Liberation of Kuwait on 28 February 1991.

Operation Desert Shield

Iraq invaded the country of Kuwait in August of 1990 and had fully occupied the country within two days. Within hours of the invasion, the Kuwait and US delegations requested a meeting of the UN Security Council, which passed Resolution 660, condemning the invasion and demanding a withdrawal of Iraqi troops.

Acting on the Carter Doctrine policy, and out of fear the Iraqi Army could launch an invasion of Saudi Arabia, President Bush quickly announced that the US would launch a “wholly defensive” mission to prevent Iraq from invading Saudi Arabia, under the codename Operation Desert Shield. The operation began on August 7, 1990, when US troops were sent to Saudi Arabia, due also to the request of its monarch, King Fahd, who had earlier called for US military assistance. This “wholly defensive” doctrine was quickly abandoned when, on August 8, Iraq declared Kuwait to be Iraq’s 19th province and Saddam named his cousin, Ali Hassan Al-Majid, as its military-governor.

A series of UN Security Council and Arab League resolutions were passed regarding Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. UN Resolution 678, passed on November 29, 1990, gave Iraq a withdrawal deadline until January 15, 1991, and authorized “all necessary means to uphold and implement Resolution 660”, and a diplomatic formulation authorizing the use of force if Iraq failed to comply.

Operation Desert Storm

Operation Desert Storm began on January 16, 1991 (early morning hours of January 17 in Iraq), with a massive air campaign consisting of the aerial bombing and destruction of Iraq’s Air Force and anti-aircraft facilities. The air campaign’s third and largest phase targeted military targets throughout Iraq and Kuwait: Scud missile launchers, weapons research facilities, and naval forces. About a third of the coalition’s air power was devoted to attacking Scuds, some of which were on trucks and therefore difficult to locate. US and British special operations forces had been covertly inserted into western Iraq to aid in the search for and destruction of Scuds.

 

Iraqi anti-aircraft defenses, including man-portable air-defense systems, were surprisingly ineffective against enemy aircraft, and the coalition suffered only 75 aircraft losses in over 100,000 sorties, 44 due to Iraqi action. Two of these losses are the result of aircraft colliding with the ground while evading Iraqi ground-fired weapons. One of these losses is a confirmed air-air victory. In the early hours of January 17, 1991, US Navy LCDR Michael Speicher was flying an F/A-18 Hornet fighter when he was shot down by Iraqi Air Force (IQAF) aircraft 100 miles west of Baghdad. His plane crashed in a remote, uninhabited wasteland known as Tulul ad Dulaym. He was the first combat casualty for American forces in the war. On August 2, 2009, Captain Speicher’s remains were found in Iraq by US Marines and he was finally brought home.

On January 29, Iraqi forces attacked and occupied the lightly defended Saudi city of Khafji with tanks and infantry. The Battle of Khafji ended two days later when the Iraqis were driven back by the Saudi Arabian National Guard, supported by Qatari forces and US Marines.

Both sides suffered casualties, although Iraqi forces sustained substantially more dead and captured than the allied forces. Eleven Americans were killed in two separate friendly fire incidents, an additional 14 US airmen were killed when their AC-130 gunship was shot down by an Iraqi surface-to-air missile, and two US soldiers were captured during the battle. Saudi and Qatari forces had a total of 18 dead. Iraqi forces in Khafji had 60–300 dead and 400 captured.

The US service members lost during Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm are engraved on the Middle East Conflicts Wall in Marseilles, Illinois.

Don’t let them die a second death, say their names, say them out loud. Never forget!

This is why we ride!

Registration

Don’t forget to get registered! Beginning February 1, 2023, through April 30, 2023, we will enter the Regular Registration time frame and the registration fee increases for all routes; so be sure to register early and save some money! Currently, we have 207 registered riders/participants for the Sandbox Route. Great job to all those registering early!

RFTW Registration Link is here.

Current Sandbox Route Status

The Sandbox Route Leadership team is making great progress on the planning of the upcoming run in 2023. The logistics and changing of couple stops are still ongoing in an effort to improve the overall Route. Our State Coordinators continue to do excellent work on getting our stops confirmed and have done an excellent job preparing our overnight stops and hotels and camping accommodations for those camping. The Hotel and camping list has been posted and published. If you have any difficulties with making reservations, please let us know so that they can be addressed promptly. Please be patient and courteous with hotel staff when making reservations and remember you represent RFTW even while making those reservations.

RFTW Sandbox Route Hotel List Link is here.

Sandbox Leadership

Let’s meet some more of our new Sandbox Team Leaders! Our Platoon Coordinator is Paul “G-Rex” Steigleder. G-Rex is actively looking for Platoon Leaders, Asst. Platoon Leaders, and Tailgunners. Remember, you must have Comms installed on your bike for these positions. Our Ambassador Team Lead is James (Jed) “Squirt Gun” Gilman and his Asst. Ambassador is Jeff “Mug” Atchison. If you’d like to join the Ambassador Team, reach out to Jed to find out if you can join them. A big thank you to them all for volunteering for these challenging positions and their hard work.

To reach Paul or Jed visit the Contacts Page on the RFTW Website here.

VOLUNTEER’s – yes, we still need you!

The Sandbox Route continues to be on the lookout for volunteers, especially for platoon leadership positions as mentioned above. If you have questions about any specific team, please reach out to those Team Leaders to get some insight into what each team does and how you can help! Remember, 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! If you volunteer on one of the 3 cross country routes, please consider bringing your experience to the Sandbox Route!

RFTW Volunteer Link is here.

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!

Ride safe!

Darin “Lurch” Koch

Sandbox Route Coordinator

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Sandbox Route RC Newsletter – December 2022

Welcome to the Sandbox Route RC Newsletter for December 2022.

Visit our RFTW Sandbox Route web page here.

From a warm and NOT cold and snowy Pearland, Texas. I want to wish the entire Run for the Wall family a Merry Christmas and a happy holiday season. This time of the year finds most of us spending time with family, friends and loved ones and is something I look forward to every year. Hopefully you have the majority of your shopping and holiday preparations completed! Also, happy Birthday to all of the other December babies like myself!

The month of December is not just one of the longest months of the year, but many years, it’s the month with the longest and coldest nights. While many of us are looking forward to a well-deserved winter break, many others are struggling with their own mental health. From holiday stress to winter-related anxieties and negative thoughts, December and the holiday season as a whole is a time many struggle the most.  There are many things we can do to help our mental health such as staying active, getting plenty of daylight, keeping a consistent sleep schedule, eating healthy, avoiding alcohol, and even volunteering!

Many of our fellow veterans and friends fall prey to their own mental health year-round, but the holiday season can amplify those issues. If you or someone you know find themselves struggling, please know “I’ve got your 6” and you can contact me at any time if you wish. You can also contact the VA Veteran’s Crisis Line by dialing 988 then press 1 or text 838255 and speak or chat with a qualified responder.

If you know of any other mental health hotlines or contacts, please share that information in a comment for all of us to see, use, and share!

Most importantly, please stay safe and enjoy the holidays. We really do want to see you in May!

Operation Just Cause

Operation Just Cause was the name given to the U.S. invasion of Panama in December 1989 for the purposes of removing General Manuel Noriega from power and extraditing him to the U.S. to face charges of drug trafficking and money laundering. Foreign relations between Panama and the United States had grown increasingly strained during the 1980s. Following the death of Panamanian leader Omar Torrijos in 1981, Lieut. Col. Manuel Noriega, who had participated in the military coup that paved the way for Torrijos’s rise to power, consolidated military and then civilian power in the Central American country. For decades Noriega had served as a paid informant for the Central Intelligence Agency. He also was a supporter of the contras, the counterrevolutionary force that sought to overthrow Nicaragua’s left-wing Sandinista government. It became known, however, that, in addition to monopolizing power in Panama, Noriega had lined his pockets by smuggling illegal drugs into the United States. Moreover, in the mid-1980s, allegations grew regarding Noriega’s involvement in the brutal murder of an outspoken opponent, Hugo Spadafora. In 1988 Noriega was indicted on drug trafficking charges by a U.S. grand jury. The administration of U.S. President Ronald Reagan offered Noriega a deal: if he agreed to relinquish power and depart Panama, charges against him would be dropped. Noriega wanted no part of the bargain.

Despite the presence of international observers, Noriega annulled the results of the May 1989 Panamanian presidential election when it appeared that it had been won by a wide margin by Guillermo Endara, the opposition civilian candidate. In addition to overturning the results of the election and installing a former classmate, Francisco Rodríguez, as a puppet president, Noriega had Endara and his supporters beaten in the streets. U.S. Pres. George Bush dispatched 2,000 troops to U.S. bases in the Panama Canal Zone. In the meantime, having survived a coup attempt in October, Noriega persuaded the Panamanian National Assembly to name him “maximum leader” on December 15, 1989. At his behest the Assembly also declared that a state of war existed between Panama and the United States. Within days an unarmed U.S. Marine officer dressed in civilian clothes was ambushed and killed by Panamanian soldiers.

On December 21, 1989, President George H.W. Bush reported that he had ordered U.S. military forces to Panama to protect the lives of nearly 30,000 American citizens living in Panama, protect the integrity of the Panama Canal, help establish democracy, neutralize the Panamanian Defense Forces (PDF), and bring General Noriega to justice. The total number of U.S. troops, 27,000, was more than double that of the PDF, and they had the advantage of additional air support—in the first 13 hours, the Air Force dropped 422 bombs on Panama. The U.S. gained control in just five days. On December 24, the true winner of the May 1989 elections, Guillermo Endara, was officially named president and the PDF was dissolved. By February 13, 1990, all U.S. forces were officially withdrawn from Panama.

Twenty-three brave U.S. soldiers were killed; in addition, it was estimated that 200 to 300 Panamanian combatants (soldiers and members of paramilitaries) and more than 300 civilians were killed in Operation Just Cause. Hundreds on both sides were wounded.

These 23 service members lost during Operation Just Cause are engraved on the Middle East Conflicts Wall in Marseilles, Illinois.

Don’t let them die a second death, say their names, say them out loud. Never forget!

This is why we ride!

Remember the Run for the Wall 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.”

CURRENT SANDBOX ROUTE STATUS

The Sandbox Route Leadership team continues its monthly meetings and continues to work on updating and improving the Sandbox Route. Logistics of stops is still ongoing in an effort to improve the overall Route. Our State Coordinators continue to do excellent work on getting our stops confirmed and have done an excellent job preparing our overnight stops and hotels and camping accommodations.

HOTEL LIST

The 2023 Sandbox Route Hotel list should be posted on the RFTW.us website January 1, 2023. The list will include hotel names, date, and contact details. Please be polite and patient when you contact the hotels to make your reservations. We want to preserve the great relationships our state coordinators have developed with them.

SANDBOX LEADERSHIP

Let’s meet some more of our new Sandbox Team Leaders! Our Advance Team Leader is Anthony “Goombah” Cercone and his Asst. Advance Team lead is Mikal “No Drama” Brevig. I want to thank them both for volunteering for this challenging position and their work to keep our group safe! I’d also like to introduce our Mission Man Coordinator Ray “Cornman” Cornmesser. Ray will be working to find volunteers and eligible riders to join us in the Missing Man formation.

VOLUNTEER’s – yes, we still need you!

The Sandbox Route continues to be on the lookout for volunteers for all positions. If you have questions about any specific team, please reach out to those Team Leaders to get some insight on what each team does and how you can help! Remember, 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! If you volunteer on one of the 3 cross country routes, please consider bringing your experience to the Sandbox Route!

Volunteer Link on the RFTW web page is here

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 – November 2022

Sandbox Route RC Newsletter

Middle East Conflicts Wall
Welcome to the Sandbox Route RC Newsletter for November 2022.

Operation Urgent Fury

The situation in the Caribbean nation Grenada had been of concern to American officials since 1979, when the leftist Maurice Bishop seized power and began to develop close relations with Cuba. In 1983, another Marxist, Bernard Coard, had Bishop assassinated and took control of the government. Protesters clashed with the new government and violence escalated. There were approximately 1,000 Americans in Grenada at the time, many of them students at the island’s medical school. 

Citing the danger to the U.S. citizens in Grenada, Operation Urgent Fury was hastily thrown together; U.S. President Ronald Reagan ordered U.S. troops to the island, where they soon found themselves facing opposition from Grenadan armed forces and groups of Cuban military engineers, who were there to repair and expand the island’s airport. The new airport under construction in Grenada was deemed a transfer point for weapons destined for Latin American revolutionaries. Marines and paratroopers, supported by air strikes, led the invasion on October 25, 1983. Fighting was fierce, especially around the airport defended by the Cubans—and, unexpectedly for the U.S., the Grenadan militia put up a stout fight. U.S. helicopter gunships, naval gunfire, and reinforcements were deployed until, after three days, resistance ended. U.S. losses totaled 19 dead and 150 wounded out of approximately 7,000 who participated in the invasion. November 21, 1983, marked the official end of the Grenada campaign.

These 19 servicemembers lost during Operation Urgent Fury are engraved on the Middle East Conflicts Wall in Marseilles, Illinois.

This is why we ride! 

Remember the Run for the Wall 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.” 

 

Registration

Registration for all 2023 RFTW Routes opened on September 11, 2022. Based on current registration numbers, the Sandbox Route is already up to 147 registered riders and participants including 18 FNG’s! Remember, the Early Bird Registration time frame began September 11, 2022, and runs through January 31, 2023. Beginning February 1, 2023, through April 30, 2023, we will enter the Regular Registration time frame and the registration fee increases for all routes; so be sure to register early and save some money!!!

Register Here

After registering, even returning riders are encouraged to go to the Rider Guidelines and familiarize themselves with the RFTW rider responsibilities. These Guidelines also include a standard of conduct expected of RFTW participants as well as RFTW Fueling guidelines and a RFTW Safety Briefing.

Rider Guidelines

If you have questions after reviewing the Rider Guidelines, please visit the Frequently Asked Questions page to find the answers to many of your questions about registration and general questions about preparing for the Run for the Wall.

Frequently Asked Questions

And finally, please take the opportunity prior to departing home in May to download and complete the Emergency Information Form (in duplicate if possible). A completed Emergency Information Form is a requirement while participating in RFTW; but is also a great way to assist emergency responders in case of any emergency while traveling to and from RFTW.

Emergency Information Form

CURRENT SANDBOX ROUTE STATUS

The Sandbox Route Leadership team is meeting monthly and continues to work on updating and improving the Sandbox Route. We are still working out the logistics of changing some stops, in an effort to improve the overall Route. Our State Coordinators continue to do excellent work on getting our stops confirmed.  

SANDBOX LEADERSHIP

Let’s meet some of our new Team Leaders! Our Staging Team Leader is Steve “Depends” Berniklau and our Fuel Team Leader is Steven “Poppop” Rishel.  Both “Steve’s” are doing a great job planning out each of our stops, but they need your help! We need volunteers to join both the Staging and Fueling Teams, no experience needed! Those of you interested in assisting on the Sandbox Route by volunteering to be a member of the Staging or Fueling Teams please go to the volunteer link below and submit your volunteer form!

VOLUNTEER’s – Raise your Hands!

The Sandbox Route is continuously looking for volunteers for all positions. If you have questions about any specific team, please reach out to those Team Leaders to get some insight on what each team does and how you can help! Remember, 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! If you volunteer on one of the 3 cross country routes, please consider bringing your experience to the Sandbox Route!

Volunteer Link

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!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Darin “Lurch” Koch

Sandbox Route Coordinator

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Sandbox Route RC Newsletter – October 2022

Sandbox Route RC Newsletter
Middle East Conflicts Wall

Greetings from Pearland, Texas and welcome to the Sandbox Route RC Newsletter for October 2022.

With most riders now safely home following the All Riders Reunion in Kerrville, Texas, I want to send out a big thank you to Sam and Cowboy and everyone who worked to make the reunion a success. A special thanks to Robin “Wildcat” Conques Perry and her annual presentation of the Quilts of Valor to RFTW Combat Veterans for their service. Overall, I think a great time was had by all and we even managed to honor at least one rider with a new road name! Congratulations Lederhosen!

Why do we Ride? Let’s remember that even after our official military withdrawal we continue to lose 22 a day! Not everyone who returns home, returns home 100%. Many of our brothers and sisters who have served, suffer from depression after leaving the service. In 2021, research found that 30,177 active-duty personnel and veterans who served in the military after 9/11 have died by suicide – compared to the 7,057 service members killed in combat in those same 20 years. That is, military suicide rates are four times higher than deaths that occurred during military operations. An even newer study in September 2022, suggests that number is nearly twice that due to uncounted drug overdose suicides. This is unacceptable and we all need to do a better job looking out for our fellow veterans after they come home. What’s the first part of our mission statement? To “promote the healing among ALL veterans and their friends and family!” This is also one of the reasons why RFTW has developed the Sandbox Route. We need to look after our military brothers and sisters, and we need to do everything we can to stop the 22!

This is why we ride!

SAVE THE DATES!

Registration for RFTW Sandbox Route 2023 along with the 3 cross country routes officially opened on September 11, 2022. To date, the Sandbox Route has approximately 97 participants registered which puts us ahead of any other route! Let’s keep that momentum going and get registered!

https://rftw.us/rftw-registration/
Lurch Rolling

CURRENT SANDBOX ROUTE STATUS

The Sandbox Route Leadership team continues to work on updating and improving the Sandbox Route. We are working to update our itinerary and look forward to making changes that will improve and create a safer environment for all riders and participants. These changes take time, and we will announce those changes in upcoming newsletters once we have them completed.

We will still be departing DC on May 28, 2023, and arriving in Marseilles, IL on May 30, 2023, completing our Wall to Wall mission.

VOLUNTEER’s – We need you!

Interested in volunteering for a position on the Sandbox Route? Please go the RFTW.us site and fill out a Volunteer Sign-up form now and help make this Route successful.

https://rftw.us/volunteer-sign-up/

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 – 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!

SAVE THE DATES!

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!

https://rftw.us/rftw-registration/

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!

CURRENT SANDBOX ROUTE STATUS

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.

SANDBOX LEADERSHIP

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 RFTW.us 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!

https://rftw.us/volunteer-sign-up/

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 RFTW.us 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