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2024 Southern Route Coordinator August Newsletter and All Riders Reunion – Kerrville, TX

IS IT MAY YET????

No, but we are rapidly approaching the ALL RFTW Riders Reunion in KERRVILLE, TX! And yes, it is very HOT here in Texas!
Registration information is below. Please remember the earlier you register the better! There is a price increase September 20, 2023! (see below)

Place: YO Ranch Resort Hotel, Kerrville TX
Phone: 877-967-3767
2033 Sidney Baker Kerrville, TX 78028

Dates: September 27, 2023-October 1, 2023
Room rates per night: Single/double/Triple/quad rate $99.00

Clink HERE to book your hotel reservation online at the Y.O. Ask for the RFTW – Veterans group rate; this block of rooms at this rate will be held until 12 noon 8/20/23.

The Y.O. Ranch Resort is located off Interstate 10; take exit 508. The hotel is south of I-10, approximately 1/2 mile on the left.

To check out the hotel amenities and accommodations go to www.yoranchhotel.com

For those needing RV accommodations:

  • Kerrville-Schreiner Park 830-257-5392 (closest to the hotel, city park, call for reservations)
  • Buckhorn off I-10 800-568-6458

Wednesday – Early Bird dinner at Los Jimadores Mexican Grill & Bar

Thursday – On your own to ride the Hill Country and visit.

Friday – Arrival day is open for those interested in the Friday rides or catching up with friends. Dinner at VFW post 1480 reasonably priced @ $12.00 Serving at 6pm.

Saturday morning /afternoon – BOYO ride various rides and meetings are being planned. BoD/RC meetings 1600 – 1700 location room TBD

Saturday evening – A buffet dinner is being served in a private room for the group. The dinner will include coffee and tea service. Adult beverages will be available from the lounge.

Sunday morning is open for breakfast and coffee with friends before heading home.

Saturday’s dinner and a RFTW 2023 Reunion rocker are included in the non-refundable registration fee. For first timers (FNG) to YO RFTW Reunion, a reunion patch is included.

Registration cost: Now until September 20 – $40.00

Registration cost: September 20– September 28 – $50.00

Deadline for the registration is September 26th paid in advance. The deadline is required by the hotel to confirm head count for Saturday’s dinner. Prior registration and payment is required.

**************begin registration information*********************************

(Please print clearly)

Name(s)__________________________________________________________

Road name(s)______________________________________________________

Number of Attendees:______________

Full Address:_______________________________________________________

Email:____________________________ Phone:__________________________

First time attendee Yes_______ No_______

Wednesday evening Los Jimadores Mexican Grill & Bar Yes______ No_____

Friday evening dinner at VFW   Yes______No_____

****************end registration information**************************************

Send the above registration information and checks payable to:

R.W. Mead
120 Ridge Grove Rd
Kerrville TX 78028

For more info, contact Sam or Cowboy at: rwmead@hotmail.com cell: 830-928-6634 or 915-422-5547

An email receipt will be set upon payment. The email receipt will be your dinner ticket/confirmation.

SOUTHERN ROUTE NEWS

We have begun meeting with different Leadership to start planning for 2024. The RFTW Executive BoD has decided to make a focused effort to get “Back to the Basics” regarding our Mission in 2024. Changes may be made to Platoon sizes and configuration based on rider registration. We will be looking at all of our stops to maximize our time on station and safety of the riders.

We will begin meeting with State Coordinators in the coming weeks and discussing each state from border to border and identifying areas of concern from 2023 and areas to improve in 2024. If you have not submitted an After Action Report (AAR) for the 2023 run, please do so by clicking HERE. RFTW leadership reads every AAR in an effort to make the Run the best it can possibly be!

As we work on getting “Back to the Basics” in 2024 I will be encouraging all riders to get to know each other better, not just in our Assigned platoons. Get to know your Stagers, Fuel Team, Road Guards, Ambassadors etc. There will be changes made to allow riders to get to know people in these leadership positions so take advantage of the opportunities.

We will be adding more focus to our Outreaches and Memorials to make sure we have as many RFTW riders participating as we can.  I will be publishing multiple monthly newsletters as we continue to prepare for the 2024 Mission. The first newsletter of the month will be the typical newsletter as seen in the past with Route updates etc. I would like to publish a second newsletter each month starting in September 2023 highlighting different aspects of our Southern Route Mission and focusing on the Outreach Missions and Memorials which we visit.

I would like your input!

If you have a specific Memorial or Outreach Mission that means something special to you or moved you to want to return every year I would like you to reach out to me so we can discuss sharing your experience regarding that Memorial or Outreach and what it means to you personally. I want you to share with all of us exactly what it means to you. Vietnam Veterans and other Combat Veterans, I know this could be a difficult request for you but now is the time to Say Their Names, Tell their (and your) stories, and make sure we Never Forget!

With each of these newsletters we will include all the details about that specific Outreach or Memorial and what day, time, location that it will occur. If it is an Outreach Mission in which Riders can Volunteer to participate in, we will include a sign-up link for that specific Outreach. The goal here is to make sure riders are aware ahead of time what Outreach they will be participating in and when and where they will need to stage to participate in the Outreach. More details will be posted in the newsletters.

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED

We are still in need of Volunteers (non-FNG’s) for a few positions. We are currently looking for a Raffle Rouser, 50/50 Rouser and Fundraiser Volunteer along with Platoon Leadership positions (PL, APL, TG). Please remember, the Platoon Leadership positions require CB communications. If you are interested in any of these positions, please fill out a Volunteer form. Even if you have previously served on any given team, if you plan to do so again, please complete the volunteer form. If you have any Medical Training and would like to be a part of our Medical Team please complete the volunteer form.

Leave no one behind does not end on the battlefield!

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

I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible in Kerrville!

Darin “Lurch” Koch

RFTW Southern Route Coordinator 2024

 

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2024 Southern Route Coordinator Welcome Message

Run for the Wall

Hello RFTW family from a very hot and humid Pearland, Texas! It is my honor to have been nominated and approved as the Southern Route Coordinator for Run for the Wall XXXIV in 2024! I cannot express how honored and humbled I am to have been selected to fill this position. After completing my role as the Route Coordinator for the SandBox Route this past year, I was definitely not planning to start another year as a Route Coordinator, but here we are. Mission before Self! I am an Air Force veteran, and my wife Tina (HandOff) is an Army combat veteran as well. As veterans, the RFTW Mission is very important to us both and we know how crucial this mission is to so many other veterans out there. We have seen firsthand the healing and magic this mission is responsible for, and we have embraced that mission along with our new RFTW family which grows every year! Make no mistake, RFTW is a family and we do not take that lightly.
I joined the U.S. Air Force after graduating High School in in Norfolk, Nebraska in 1987 and began basic in February 1988. I would ultimately be selected for a career field in Air Force Intelligence, TS/SCI clearance and all! I spent about 9.5 years on active duty with my first duty station at Iraklion AS in Crete, Greece (working as an Intelligence Analyst/Specialist when Iraq decided to invade Kuwait in August 1990). After 2 years in Greece I was reassigned to Key West NAS in Key West, Florida were I re-enlisted for another 6 years and subsequently reassigned to Yokota AFB in Tokyo, Japan. Three years flew by in Japan. I returned to the states with an assignment to Ft. George Mead in Maryland, working at NSA. Unfortunately, I received a Humanitarian reassignment to Offutt AFB in Omaha, Nebraska to help care for my terminally ill father. After his death in 1997, I completed my enlistment, electing to stay in the reserves. In 1999, I was recalled back to active duty due to the Kosovo Conflict. Once my recall to active duty ended, I chose to leave the military for good. I then spent 3.5 years working in Corrections before accepting a position with the government as a Federal Special Agent (Criminal Investigator). I retired at the end of December 2022 after 32 years of total federal service.
Although I spent many years overseas during my military service, I never had to endure or experience people disrespecting me while in uniform or for my service. My family and fellow service members accompanying me were welcomed home and treated to displays of patriotism that our Vietnam veterans did not receive. Part of the RFTW Mission is to “Promote healing among ALL veterans and their families”. I believe the patriotism we experience on RFTW from everyone along all 4 Routes aids in that healing and provides that “Welcome Home” so many did not initially receive.
The Run For The Wall mission is “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 look forward to the opportunity to lead the Southern Route, and together we will safely complete our mission in 2024.
This is why we ride – to support this mission!

Assistant Route Coordinator and Road Guard Captain
I am proud to announce that the RFTW Executive Board approved my nominations for Assistant Route Coordinator and Road Guard Captain (RGC) for 2024. Please join me in congratulating Ken “Radar” Ley as the Assistant Route Coordinator and Bob “Captain” Mazzone as our Road Guard Captain for RFTW XXXIV. Both are extremely qualified for their respective positions, and I have no doubt each will continue to support the RFTW mission with the attention, detail and respect required for these positions. Thank you both for accepting these positions.

AFTER ACTION REPORTS
Each year we look to the After Action Reports (AAR) for suggestions to improve the Route and the overall mission. If you participated in RFTW in 2023 on any Route, we want to hear from you! Please complete an AAR and tell us about your experience, whether you were a new rider (FNG) or a returning rider to RFTW. We value everyone’s input and the RFTW BOD and Route Coordinators (RC) review each AAR for suggestions on ways to improve the mission.

VOLUNTEERS
We need volunteers to help continue this mission. Please consider volunteering for a leadership position by completing a Volunteer Form here. Even if you were a volunteer last year, please take the time to complete a new volunteer form as early as possible to let us know your willingness to volunteer again! We need volunteers in many positions so please indicate all positions you may be interested in.

2023 FNG’s (Fun/Friendly New Guy/Gal)
If you were an FNG in 2023, we would really love to hear your story, in your own words, on what the RFTW mission and experience meant to you. Please consider submitting and sharing your FNG story with others. What was your experience like? Please share your story here.

ALL RFTW RIDERS REUNION – Kerrville, TX
If you are so inclined, the ALL RFTW RIDERS REUNION (not an officially sanctioned event by RFTW) will be taking place in Kerrville, TX from September 27-October 1st, 2023. For additional information please see the TX Riders Reunion Facebook page or contact Sam or Roger “Cowboy” Mead at: rwmead@hotmail.com cell: 830-928-6634 or 915-422-5547.

Darin “Lurch” Koch
RFTW Southern Route Coordinator 2024

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SandBox Route RC Newsletter – June 2023

Welcome to my last SandBox Route RC Newsletter June 2023.

Link to SandBox Route Hub on the RFTW website.

First, I would like to thank every rider and volunteer on the SandBox Route this year for allowing me the honor of leading you from Wall 2 Wall! You all did an outstanding job and together we successfully completed our mission at the Middle East Conflicts Wall.

During this “off-season” please Remember the Mission! Run for the Wall is 1 Mission, 4 Routes! Our mission is:

“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.”

Is It May Yet?!?!?

Congratulations!

At the June 8, RFTW Executive Board meeting, the Exec BoD voted and approved this year’s Assistant Route Coordinator (ARC) Cornell “Thumper” Penn as the new SandBox Route Coordinator for RFTW XXXIV in 2024. Everyone please congratulate Cornell on his selection! Working with Cornell has been great, and I know he will continue to make the SandBox Route even better!

Both Cornell and I would also ask that each of you take the time to complete an After Action Report (AAR) on the RFTW website to help make improvements to this route. We read each AAR and take them seriously. Many of the changes to the SandBox Route this past year were the result of suggestions made by AAR’s.

Don’t let our loved ones die a second death, Say Their Name! Tell Their stories; Never forget!

This is why we ride!

Please take the time to visit the Middle East Conflicts Wall Memorial page here,

https://middleeastconflictswallmemorial.org/ and become more familiar with the history of this memorial and the names included on this Wall.

Leave no one behind does not end on the battlefield!

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

Darin “Lurch” Koch

Outgoing SandBox Route Coordinator 2023

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SandBox Route RC Newsletter May 2023

Click here for a link to the RFTW SandBox Route Home Page

Is it May yet? Yes, it is and currently we have 304 participants registered for the SandBox Route!

By now, many of the RFTW riders and participants of the Central Route, Southern Route and Midway Route have already begun making their journey to Ontario, CA for the start of Run For the Wall XXXIII. No matter where you join us or what route you plan to participate in, please travel carefully and safely.  And remember – HYDRATE, HYDRATE, HYDRATE!!!!

Remember the Mission! Run for the Wall is 1 Mission, 4 Routes! That mission is:

“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.”

SandBox Route meetings
For those who have volunteered for positions on the SandBox Route, our meeting schedule in Ontario, CA is from 1300 to 1500 on Monday, May 15 in the Elks Roper Room. For some (me included), this may conflict with meetings for those of us on Southern and Midway Routes. The cross-country route meetings will take priority for anyone who has a conflict.
The SandBox Route will still have pre-run meetings on Saturday, May 27, in Arlington, VA from 1500-1800 at the host hotel. Meetings in Arlington will be for SB Leadership @ 1500, SB FNG’s @ 1600, and SandBox All Hands meeting @ 1700. Meetings, times, and location (large meeting room at the host hotel) will be posted in the lobby of the host hotel.
If anyone has questions about the SandBox Route while participating in one of the cross- country routes, they can contact any of the SandBox Leadership team listed on the RFTW website who may also be on your Route or you may contact myself, Darin “Lurch” Koch (Southern Route); Cornell “Thumper” Penn (Central Route); or Mary “Cupcake” Pittman (Midway Route) just to name a few of us.

SandBox Fuel Stops

W will have a total of 6 fuel stops during the day throughout our three-day mission. Unless otherwise notified, each of these gas stops will be $10 stops for all riders. ALL riders MUST fill or top off their fuel tanks before staging each morning. Whether you fuel up each night or each morning prior to staging is up to you. As on all 4 Routes, all riders MUST go through the fuel line and not bypass any of the daytime fuel stops.

With data we obtain this year, combined with data from our Inaugural Run last year, the incoming SandBox Leadership Team may be able to devise and implement a prepaid fuel plan for next year’s run!

Pennsylvania Turnpike Toll

On Day 1 of the SandBox Route, our journey includes travelling along the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Last year our tolls were covered by a third-party company as a test of their new app; that is not the case this year. If you have an EZ-Pass transponder (east coast) you will be billed electronically through your account. Otherwise, the rest of us will be billed by “Toll by Plate” and each of us will receive a bill in the mail based off our license plate and registration. This toll (w/o an EZ-Pass transponder) should be around $11.10 per bike/car. Expect to receive your Toll invoice via mail approximately 40 days after we transit the turnpike. You’ll be able to make payments online, by phone or through the mail. A due date will be included on the invoice. Each vehicle is responsible for their own toll costs.

(for more details see https://www.paturnpike.com/toll-by-plate)

RFTW Guidelines, FAQ, and EIF

Everyone please take a moment to review the rider guidelines, frequently asked questions, and emergency information form (EIF).  Every participant will be required to complete the EIF and have at least one copy “on their person” during the mission.

https://rftw.us/rider-guidelines/

https://rftw.us/frequently-asked-questions/

https://rftw.us/emergency-information-form/

Fundraising

The SandBox Route has multiple fundraising items being offered to riders, participants, and supporters from all Routes. Some of these items include those pictured below. Items will be available for viewing along with details of each fundraiser at the SandBox Registration table in Ontario, CA and Arlington, VA.  All funds go directly to RFTW SandBox Route in support of the mission.

 

Don’t let our loved ones die a second death, Say Their Name!

Never forget! This is why we ride!

Please take the time to visit the Middle East Conflicts Wall Memorial page here,

https://middleeastconflictswallmemorial.org/ and become more familiar with the history of this memorial and the names included on this Wall.

Leave no one behind does not end on the battlefield!

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

 

Darin “Lurch” Koch

SandBox Route Coordinator

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Sandbox Route RC Newsletter – April 2023

Sandbox Route RC Newsletter

Welcome to the SandBox Route RC Newsletter for April 2023.

Link to the Sandbox Route Home Page

Is it May yet? No, but we are less than 60 days from KSU for all routes!

May is just around the corner and many of the RFTW participants are ready, while others are still busily preparing for their journeys to Ontario, CA for the start of one of the 3 cross country routes. The Southern Route (SR), Central Route (CR), and Midway Route (MR) depart Ontario, CA on May 16th (MR) and 17th and travel cross country arriving in Washington DC on May 26th.  The SandBox Route (SB) follows the 3 cross country routes, departing Washington, DC on May 28th and arrives at the Middle East Conflicts wall on May 30th.

We are 1 Mission, 4 Routes! Our Run For The Wall mission for all 4 Routes is “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.”

The SandBox Route may be the newest route, but our mission remains the same and we look forward to adding new RFTW members to this Route. If you are brand new to the RFTW family and this will be your first time participating in RFTW, welcome home! We look forward to seeing you in Arlington, VA; St. Clairsville, OH; Lafayette, IN; Marseilles, IL or wherever you will be joining us!

Thus far, the percentage of Veterans registered for SandBox Route and listed as having served in the Persian Gulf and Middle East Conflicts is way up over last year – 49.6% vs 33.2% and 38.4% vs 21.7%, respectively. Our goal is to increase the participation of veterans, families, and friends of those who served during the War on Terror, the Persian Gulf, or the Middle East Conflicts on the SandBox Route each year.

We currently have 281 participants registered for the SandBox Route. Of the 281 participants, 222 of us will be riding all, or a portion of, one of the cross-country routes (SR, CR or MR) and an additional 59 of you will be joining us for the SandBox Route. I want to ask everyone to please be safe in your travels leading up to our departure for the SandBox Route. If you haven’t already, please begin your pre-run checklists and begin getting your bikes and bodies ready to include hydration. Beginning proper hydration does not begin the day before your departure, it begins weeks, if not months prior to your departure for this mission!

If you are brand new to RFTW and have not ridden all or part of one of the RFTW Routes prior to the SandBox Route this year you will indeed be an FNG! As that “Funny New Guy/Girl” please take the time to review the RFTW.us web site and review the rider guidelines, frequently asked questions, and emergency information form.

Link to the RFTW Registration Page

Link to the RFTW Rider Guidelines

Link to the RFTW Frequently Asked Questions

Link to the RFTW Emergency Information Form

OPERATION EAGLE CLAW

Operation Eagle Claw was a failed operation by the United States Armed Forces ordered by U.S. President Jimmy Carter to attempt the rescue of 52 embassy staff held captive at the Embassy of the United States, Tehran, Iran on April 24, 1980.

The operation, one of Delta Force’s first, encountered many obstacles and failures and was subsequently aborted. Eight helicopters were sent to the first staging area called Desert One, but only five arrived in operational condition. One had encountered hydraulic problems, another was caught in a sandstorm, and the third showed signs of a cracked rotor blade. During the operational planning, it was decided that the mission would be aborted if fewer than six helicopters remained operational upon arrival at the Desert One site, despite only four being necessary. Field commanders subsequently advised President Carter to abort the mission, which he did.

As the U.S. forces prepared to withdraw from Desert One, one of the remaining helicopters crashed into a transport aircraft that contained both servicemen and jet fuel. The resulting fire destroyed both aircraft and killed eight US servicemen and wounded 4. Additionally, the operation left 1 helicopter and 1 transport aircraft destroyed and 5 helicopters abandoned.

OPERATION PROVIDE COMFORT/PROVIDE COMFORT II

Operation Provide Comfort and Provide Comfort II were military operations initiated by the United States and other Coalition nations of the Persian Gulf War, starting in April 1991, to defend Kurdish refugees fleeing their homes in northern Iraq in the aftermath of the Gulf War, and to deliver humanitarian aid to them.

On April 5, 1991, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 688, calling on Iraq to end repression of its civilian population. On 6 April, Operation Provide Comfort began to bring humanitarian relief to the Kurds. A no-fly zone was established by the US, the UK, and France north of the 36th parallel, as part of the Iraqi no-fly zones. This was enforced by US, UK, and French aircraft. Included in this effort was the delivery of humanitarian relief of over an estimated 1 million Kurdish refugees by a 6-nation airlift operation commanded from Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, involving aircraft from the US, UK, France, Germany, Canada, and Italy. Soviet aircraft participated in logistical aspects of the operation. During the 31-day airlift, more tonnage was delivered, and more air miles flown, than in the entire Berlin Airlift. Operation Provide Comfort officially ended on 24 July 1991; Operation Provide Comfort II began the same day and was military in nature with a mission to prevent Iraqi aggression against the Kurds. On 14 April 1994, two USAF F-15 Eagle fighters on patrol mistakenly downed two US Army Black Hawk helicopters carrying 26 Coalition citizens, killing all aboard. Operation Provide Comfort/Provide Comfort II claimed the lives of 5 U.S. service members (25 WIA) and 26 coalition citizens.

The names of the US service members lost during Operations Eagle Claw, Provide Comfort/Provide Comfort II 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!

Please take the time to visit the Middle East Conflicts Wall Memorial page here, at https://middleeastconflictswallmemorial.org/ and become more familiar with the history of this memorial and the names included on this Wall.

Sandbox Route Status

The 2023 SandBox Route itinerary has been posted on the RFTW website. Please download and review the itinerary and become familiar with the route prior to our departure. All FNGs to RFTW will receive a printed copy of the itinerary during check-in. It is strongly recommended that all participants also upload a copy of the itinerary on their smart phone for easy access at your fingertips. Having a copy of the itinerary easily accessible will assist participants in managing their time at stops. The last thing anyone wants is to be left behind when it’s time for the pack to depart.

Link to the Sandbox Route Itinerary

The SandBox Route hotel list was published in January and can be found at the link below. Please keep in mind that some of the hotels on all 4 Routes may have cutoff dates to be able to reserve rooms under the RFTW negotiated prices. This is the case for the Hampton Inn and Homewood Suites in Lafayette, IN. The cutoff date is currently set for April 29, 2023, so if you haven’t already, please make your reservations ASAP!

Link to the Sandbox Route Itinerary

Fundraising

The SandBox Route has multiple fundraising items being offered to riders, participants, and supporters from all Routes. These items include those pictured below. Additional photos and items will be posted on the RFTW Facebook page as they become available. Items should be available for viewing along with details at the SandBox Registration in Ontario, CA and Arlington, VA.  All funds go directly to RFTW SandBox Route in support of our mission.

 

Volunteer’s

The Sandbox Route still has some openings for Leadership Teams such as the Ambassador Team and a few Platoon leadership positions! If you are qualified to volunteer and are looking for a way to continue your commitment to the Mission please complete the volunteer sign-up form using the link below!

Link to the RFTW 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!

Leave no one behind does not end on the battlefield!

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

Darin “Lurch” Koch

Sandbox Route Coordinator

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Sandbox Route RC Newsletter – March 2023

Welcome to the SandBox Route RC Newsletter for March 2023.

RFTW Sandbox Route Home Page

Is it May yet?

We are rapidly approaching May and the official start of our Mission. Our Run For The Wall mission is “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.”

OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM

March 20, 2003, marked the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) with preemptive airstrikes on Saddam Hussein’s Presidential Palace and military targets followed by approximately 67,700 “boots on the ground” with 15,000 Navy personnel on ships in the region. OIF was authorized when Iraq was found to be in breach of U.N. Security Council adopted Resolution 1441 which “prohibits stockpiling and importing weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).” Iraqi forces were overwhelmed quickly, and Baghdad fell a mere five weeks after the invasion began. With the invasion complete, an insurgency and influx of al Qaeda inspired fighters poured into the country which sparked guerilla warfare tactics against U.S. troops and civil war between the Sunni and Shia tribes.

On 15 December 2011, The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other top U.S. military leaders observed the official end of U.S. Forces Iraq’s mission after nearly nine years of conflict that claimed the lives of 4,419 U.S. service members (3,481 KIA, 938 non-hostile) and 31,994 wounded in action (WIA).

OPERATION INHERENT RESOLVE

After U.S. forces withdrew from Iraq, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) invaded areas of Syria and Iraq causing widespread causalities, destruction of the country’s infrastructure and barbaric practices against citizens. In response to the terrorist group, Operation Inherent Resolve began 17 October 2014. Operation Inherent Resolve claimed the lives of 86 U.S. service members (17 KIA, 69 non-hostile) and 80 WIA.

OPERATION FREEDOM’S SENTINEL

U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan ended on December 31, 2014. As part of Operation FREEDOM’S SENTINEL (OFS), U.S. forces remained in the country to participate in a coalition mission to train, advise, and assist Afghan National Defense and Security Forces and to conduct counterterrorism operations against the remnants of al Qaeda. Operation Freedom’s Sentinel claimed the lives of 80 U.S. service members (60 KIA, 20 non-hostile) and 471 WIA.

The US service members lost during Operations Iraqi Freedom, Inherent Resolve, and Freedom’s Sentinel 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!

I encourage everyone to visit the Middle East Conflicts Wall Memorial page HERE,

and become more familiar with the history of this memorial and the names included on this Wall.

Sandbox Route Status

Currently, there are 1022 total registered participants on all 4 Routes! The SandBox Route currently has 276 registered participants with 252 of those on motorcycles!

Many of us are less than 60 days from KSU marking the beginning of our Runs to the Run. Please remember that anytime you wear your Run for the Wall vest, you are representing Run for the Wall and our mission to the public and potential supporters. Please be kind, courteous, and respectful to everyone on your journey to Run for the Wall no matter where you may be joining us.

The Sandbox Route Leadership team continues to meet monthly and has pretty much finalized our 2023 itinerary. We have managed to incorporate a few changes to our schedule and stops. On day 1, our lunch stop has been changed to the American Legion Post #257 in Stoystown, PA.  Our coordination with the Flight 93 National Memorial is ongoing and they are welcoming us as one of the largest groups to visit on a very busy weekend for them at the memorial.

Although we have been able to make some changes to our itinerary, the fact remains that we have a long distance to travel to our destination at the Middle East Conflicts Wall in Marseilles, IL on May 30, 2023. Even with the new changes to our itinerary this year, our first two days will still be fairly long days covering 300+ miles each day. Now is the time to start preparing your mind, body, and bike for the mission, especially if you are participating in one of the 3 cross country routes prior to the SandBox Route!

Our full itinerary is expected to be published soon with a targeted on-line publication date of March 15, 2023. The SandBox Route Itinerary can be found here:

Sandbox Route Itinerary

The SandBox Route hotel list was published in January and can be found here:

Sandbox Route Hotel List

Registration

Don’t procrastinate, now is your time to register for the SandBox Route!

RFTW Registration Link

Fundraising

The SandBox Route has multiple fundraising items being offered to riders, participants, and supporters from all Routes. These items include the knife shown below along with 2 quilts, jewelry, wall hangings etc. Additional photos of the items will be posted on the RFTW Facebook page as they become available. Items should be available for viewing at the SandBox Registration in Ontario, CA and Arlington, VA.

All funds go directly to RFTW SandBox Route in support of our mission.

Volunteer’s

The Sandbox Route still has some openings for Leadership Teams! If you are qualified to volunteer and are looking for a way to continue your commitment to the Mission please complete the volunteer sign-up form using the link below!

RFTW 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!

Romeo – Tango – Mike

I encourage everyone to visit the Middle East Conflicts Wall Memorial page HERE and become more familiar with the history of this memorial and the names included on this Wall.

 Leave no one behind does not end on the battlefield!

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

Darin “Lurch” Koch

Sandbox Route Coordinator

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SandBox Route RC Newsletter – February 2023

Welcome to the SandBox Route RC Newsletter for February 2023.

Visit the RFTW SandBox Route home page by clicking here.

I want to take this opportunity to again welcome everyone to the SandBox Route, especially all our FNG’s. I encourage everyone to visit the Middle East Conflicts Wall Memorial page at  https://middleeastconflictswallmemorial.org/ and become more familiar with the history of this memorial and the names included on this Wall. The names of our fallen listed on the Middle East Conflicts Wall actually date all the way back to 1967 with the attack on the USS Liberty during the Six-Day War, also known as the Arab-Israeli War of 1967. The attack on the USS Liberty resulted in the loss of 34 crew members and wounded an additional 171 crew members. This Wall also includes names from the 9/11 Pentagon attack; the Ft. Hood attack in 2009; Bosnia and Kosovo. The Middle East Conflicts Wall and the names listed on it are not exclusive to the Middle East conflict areas; but encompasses the entire “War on Terror” since 1967.

The Run For The Wall mission is “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.”

This is why we ride – to support this mission!

Operation Desert Storm

In last month’s newsletter I discussed the build up to and the beginning of Operation Desert Storm in January 1991. February 1991 marks the beginning of ground combat operations in Iraq.

On February 15, 1991, US Army Task Force 1-41 Infantry became the first coalition force to breach the Saudi Arabian border, and conduct ground combat operations in Iraq engaging in direct and indirect fire fights with the enemy on February 17, 1991.

The subsequent ground campaign in Iraq consisted of three or possibly four of the largest tank battles in American military history. Some consider the Battle of Medina Ridge the largest tank battle of the war. Other sources consider the Battle of Norfolk the largest tank battle of the war and the second largest tank battle in American history. The tank battle at 73 Easting is also considered among the largest tank battles in history. The US Marine Corps fought the biggest tank battle in its history at the Kuwait International Airport.

One hundred hours after the ground campaign started, President Bush declared a ceasefire, and he also declared that Kuwait had been liberated. By the end of the ground campaign and combat operations on February 28, 1991, U.S. VII Corps (the primary combat formation of the coalition forces) had driven 260 kilometers, captured 22,000 Iraqi soldiers, and destroyed 1,350 Iraqi tanks, 1,224 armored personnel carriers, 285 artillery pieces, 105 air defense systems, and 1,229 trucks.

The primary combat vehicles of the American divisions were the M1A1 Abrams tank and the Bradley Fighting Vehicle. The primary American artillery system was the self-propelled M109 howitzer. The primary American attack helicopter was the Boeing AH-64 Apache (Army) with the Bell AH-1 Cobra (Army and Marine Corp) also being in theatre. The USAF A-10 Thunderbolt II (commonly referred to as the “Warthog”) ground attack aircraft would distinguish itself during the Gulf War, inflicting significant damage on Iraqi ground forces. USAF A-10 “Warthog” crews would destroy 900 Iraqi tanks, 2,000 other military vehicles and 1,200 artillery pieces during combat operations.

By the end of combat operations, US Forces had suffered a total of 148 battle-related deaths (35 to friendly fire). A further 145 Americans died in non-combat accidents. The largest single loss of life among coalition forces happened on February 25, 1991, when an Iraqi Al Hussein missile hit a US military barracks in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, killing 28 US Army Reservists from Pennsylvania.

The US service members lost during 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! By the time you read this newsletter, the registration fee will have increased. Don’t procrastinate, now is your time to register for the SandBox Route!

Click here to go to the RFTW Registration Page.

Current SandBox Route Status

The SandBox Route Leadership team continues working out final changes to the 2023 itinerary. There will be some minor changes, but that’s the case with all 4 Routes. The hotel list has been published since early January and can be found here:

Click here to be redirected to the most current SandBox Route Hotel List.

 

SandBox Leadership

The new Missing Man Coordinator for SandBox Route this year is Ray “Cornman” Cornmesser. Ray is currently soliciting volunteers to ride in the Missing Man formation. If you are interested in riding a leg of the SandBox Route as a member of the Missing Man formation, please reach out to Ray directly (cornman88@hotmail.com) and discuss the opportunity with him!

Fundraising

The SandBox fundraiser and 50/50 rouser is Lynette “Sleepy” Handleson. Lynette has already started one of the SandBox’s fundraising initiatives by selling raffle tickets to a Knife/Sheath set donated by a SandBox rider and participant from Philips Blades.

It has a 5″ antler handle, with a 7″ Damascus Steel Blade. Plus it comes with a Leather Sheath. We will draw for the Knife in Ontario at 4pm on Tuesday, May16th at the host hotel. You do not need to be present to win. Tickets will be: 1 – $10.00; 2- $20.00; or 3- $25.00.

You can enter by the following ways:

Cash App – $LynetteHandleson

Paypal – lynettehandleson@hotmail.com

Check – made out to RFTW SANDBOX, sent to Lynette Handleson P.O. Box 1624, Springtown, TX 76082

Please identify SandBox Knife in the subject line.

We will have more items coming soon! Be sure to share this with all your friends and family as it is available for everyone to participate in. All funds go directly to RFTW SandBox Route in support of our mission.

Click here to visit the FaceBook page for this fundraiser.

Also, you can click here to see more of the amazing work by Philips Blades.

Volunteer’s

The SandBox Route has had an excellent turnout of volunteers for leadership positions, and I want to thank each one of you who has already volunteered. Although many of our positions have already been filled, please don’t let that stop you from submitting a volunteer request form. We are working to compile a list of stand-by volunteers to be able to call upon should the need arise!

If you have questions about any specific team, please reach out to those Team Leaders to get additional information on that team.

Click here to go to the Volunteer Sign-Up webpage.

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!

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

Darin “Lurch” Koch

SandBox Route Coordinator

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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