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Central Route 2020 “VIRTUAL” Sitrep Day 8

May 20, 2020 – Day 8 to DC – Corydon, IN to Hurricane WV

Day 8 is a great day because of the stops we make.  But before we leave there is always the pledge and a prayer. Platoons break out for their morning meetings.  Because there are always new people joining, we go over all the rules to keep everyone safe on the road.

 

We cross the Ohio River into Kentucky.  We are Almost to DC.

 

Our first stop is Robley Rex VA Hospital.  We are greeted with open arms.  They love when the Run comes thru.  The patients love it and cannot wait until we get there.

The Robley Rex  VA Medical Center is an active, affiliated acute care and outpatient facility located on a 47-acre hilltop near downtown Louisville and overlooking the Ohio River. The medical center also operates three community based outpatient clinics in the greater Louisville area. These clinics make VA services more accessible for veterans residing in the Kentucky area.

Rex Robley was born in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, and enlisted in the military in May, 1919, six months after the Armistice date. He severed for 3 years.  He was the last Kentucky World War I era veteran, and the last known World War I era veteran of the United States.

In 1986, Rex turned to volunteerism, lending support to fellow veterans at the Louisville Veteran’s Administration Medical Center. Rex logged more than 14,000 hours of volunteer time while at the Center. He dedicated his life helping his fellow veterans, both through the veterans service organizations and activities at the Medical Center.  He continued to volunteer there three days a week, even at age 105.

Hugs all around from the staff.  Next year I hope we get all the hugs again. 

 

The Pledge of Allegiance is said. Oh my gosh the number of veteran that go on the Run is amazing.  We see this every day. 

 

 

We are able to visit several of the patients. They are always so excited to see us come in and love to hear the sound of the motorcycles as we pull in.

Here is one example from last year:

This gentleman served in Navy from 1964 to 1967.  He was on the USS Yorktown.  He put the aircraft on the elevators to get to them up on deck.  They put inappropriate notes on the bombs. He just smiled from ear to ear.  I can only imagine what they wrote. 😁😁😁

We all love to hear the stories of the lives of these veterans that they gave for our country.

 

Before you leave, you have to see Popcorn Billy.  He is famous in the hospital, and he love the girls, just ask him.

 

 The gentleman to his left served with “Popcorn” Billy.  He gave me the story on Billy.  The 2 here and Billy’s twin brother served in the same unit from 1968-69.  They were in the 57th Assault Helicopter Company. It was the first attach on a helicopter unit. Billy’s brother died in this attach and Billy was wounded.  Ever since he has been helping all the people can.  The name “popcorn” came because he makes popcorn and sells it then donates the proceed. He buys all the supplies.  Always smiling and likes hugs!!

 

Next stop Frankfort KY at the Vietnam Memorial.

Vietnam War Sundial

The Kentucky Vietnam Veterans Memorial was designed with a unique approach to honor the military dead from one of America’s most troubled conflicts. A 14-foot high steel sundial stands at the center of a granite plaza. Its gnomon casts a shadow on the chiseled name of each fallen Vietnam war veteran — 1,103 of them — on the anniversary of when they were killed.  Thus each individual is honored with a personal tribute.

Kentucky’s 23 MIAs are listed behind the sundial so its shadow never falls on their names.  Some have been found since this was build. Those are the ones with a date.  We never forget and we will not stop until we bring them all home.

 

The Memorial is one of the largest granite memorials in the nation and contains 327 cut stone panels weighing more than 215 tons. The stone came from the Pyramid Blue quarry in Elberton, GA. The lettering of the names and dates are the same style used for official government grave markers throughout the nation, including Arlington National Cemetery.  

If you ever get a chance to go see it, go.  It is amazing and an engineering marvel.

 

Lunch is at Mt. Sterling.  We come into Mt. Sterling and what a reception. The schools always have the kids out.  I am sure they would all like to be in school to see us instead of dealing with the Pandemic.  Hang in there kids, we will be back next year. Here all the kids are out waving flags and screaming.  So neat. 

 

 Many years this leg is very hot.  Coming into the center, the air conditioning feels soooo good.

 

After lunch, the roads thru KY into WV are always so beautiful. Here are a few pics from last year.

 

 

 The last leg is to Hurricane WV.  What I remember about Hurricane is that for several years we got an escort from a Huey.  Pics do not do it justice.

It was Pretty Low

Always a nice reception here.  Ladies and Gentlemen thanks for service.

 

Here is the Huey the flew over us.

 

Day 9, we visit the kids at Rainelle. Since the begin of the Run we have been collecting money for the schools in that town.  It was one of the first school “Gunny” Gregory stopped at on his first run from CA of DC in 1989.  I am told that these bikers gave the kids a ride on their bikes.  Really, bikers, black leather … and kids.  This friendship has been there for many years and thru many generations.  This would be year 32.

Quote:

            The price of freedom is written on the wall

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Central Route 2020 “Virtual” Sitrep Day 4

May 18, 2019 –  Day 4 to DC – Eagle Nest, NM to Goodland, KS

Brrrrrrr………….Eagle Nest is always cold in the morning.  We travel down the mountain and the temps increase about 20 degrees.  Need to know how to layer.   Thank goodness it was not snowing.  Yes, a few year ago it was.

 

 .

Raton is our next stop. This is only a fuel stop but the people of  Raton are ready for us. We always have a treat with the junior ROTC.  These kids really work hard.  Keep working boys we will be back next year.  They are very proud of what they are doing.  Our future!!

 

 Check out the sendoff.  We lose the escort as we cross in go Colorado.

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Fountain, CO was one of the new stops. 

 

They had lunch set up inside the fire station.  It is always nice to thank those that support us.

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You never know what kind of weather we will run into.  Rain is never good.  Pretty UGLY!!

 

 This one had a lovely light show…. lots of lightning.  I am sure the team was watching this one.

 

Flags and people are always along the streets as we enter the towns. 

 

Goodland KS is our destination for the night.  Dinner at KS Tech College. The tables usually have place mats that kids made.

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                                       I especially like these two with the motorcycles

 

The thing I remember about Goodland is this table that is set.

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As we ate dinner, this is what was read:

POW and MIA REMEMBARANCE TABLE

It is set for one, symbolizing the fact that members of our armed forces are missing from out ranks.  They are referred to as POWs and MIAs.

We call them brothers and sisters.

They are unable to be with their loved ones and families, so we join together to pay humble tribute to them and bear witness to their continued absence.

This table, set for one, is small, symbolizing the frailty of one prisoner, alone against his or her suppressors.

The tablecloth is white, symbolic of the purity of their intentions to respond to their country’s call to arms

The single red rose in the vase, signifies the blood the many have shed in sacrifice to ensure freedom of our beloved United States of America. This rose also reminds us of the family and friends of our missing comrades who keep the faith, while awaiting their return.

The yellow ribbon on the vase, represents the yellow ribbons worn on the lapels of the thousands who demand with unyielding determination a proper accounting of our brothers and sisters who are not among us tonight.

A slice of lemon on the plate reminds us of their bitter fate.

The salt sprinkled on the place reminds us of the countless fallen tears of the families as they wait.

The glass is inverted – they cannot toast with us this night.

The chair is empty – they are not here.

The candle is reminiscent of the light of hope which lives in our hearts to illuminate their way home, away from the captors to the open arms of a grateful nation.

Quote for the day:

 Some made the ultimate sacrifice

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Southern Route 2020 “Virtual” Sitrep Day 4

Day 4, May 16, 2020 — Odessa, TX, to Grand Prairie, TX, 348 miles

Dark thirty and we’re surrounded by lightning. But I can see the moon and it’s beautiful. It’s nearly worth getting up early for. And the RFTW certainly is worthwhile.

We met at an American Legion in Odessa and a patch and pin awaited us. Everyone treats us so well and are so welcoming. It’s heartfelt and makes us feel good and worthy of the journey.  We get pep talks, a safety moment and briefings every morning, along with a prayer for a safe day, the Pledge and the National Anthem. We visit memorials, we have ceremonies. We also have after-ride briefings. It’s no wonder the days are 12-14 hours or more.

This morning we also heard from a man whose father was killed in Vietnam. They know how. They know where his remains are but won’t give them up or tell. That’s one of the reasons we’re riding, to bring attention to it. To get answers.

I’ve mentioned the hydration station that travels with us.  The snacks, water, Gatorade, fruit and so much more that waits for us at each stop is pure gold. The cold neck snakes are certainly welcome. There’s a place to put your old one and then you can pick up a fresh one. They continue to be very welcome when it’s triple-digit heat, or close to it.

Our “Nurse Ratchit” (as I call her lovingly) practically force feeds us fluids. So far about 19 have gone down with heatstroke because they didn’t pay attention. Some will not be going “all the way.”

More bagpipes.  A great way to start the day is to have a piper escort your group to their bikes. It just can’t get any better, can it?

Our first stop this morning was to do a wreath-laying ceremony at the Permian Basin Memorial. I paid close attention because I was signed up to be an honor guard for a wreath-laying ceremony in Big Spring, Texas, a place Hobbs, my Vietnam vet, and I visited together.

There was a Native American there in full regalia who would bless you with a large feather and burning sage. It can never hurt. And as I wandered and listened to the ceremony I watched as the smoke from the sage wafted up and away.

One of our support crew’s father has his name on the wall at Permian Basin.  I asked if she would like a RFTW 2019 rock I’d painted and she did. She laid it at the memorial. It was a teary time with the young lady known as Hoops.

From there we headed to Big Springs and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. This was where I’d volunteered to participate in an honor guard.

We donned white gloves and black baseball hats. Then we were given vests. Mine was the POW/MIA vest. We were given our commands. I marched in step. I marched in half-step. I did all that was asked and didn’t embarrass myself. It was an honor to be a part of an honor guard. Our group placed two wreaths. Every one of these ceremonies is different and the same. Each is emotional for those who served and those who didn’t. We’re riding for a cause. A mission. A story that needs to be told and never forgotten. A ride for those who can’t.

And then we had to be gone. But needed to watch out for prairie dog holes.

We went to Colorado City and the Railhead Building for lunch. The town was out to greet us … waving flags and saluting. Shouting. Even a little old lady was brought out to wave from her home. She could barely walk but she was there.

It was a fabulous lunch. There was a band with some great old-time music and they even played all the military songs.

My bike would start but not go once shifted. Crap!!!!  I flagged down our folks and we got it loaded into a chase truck. I joined Gary and Gwen in the vehicle and off we went. I called Longhorn HD to let them know we were heading there. Along the way we picked up a trike. The rider had gotten something in his eye and couldn’t ride. So we had more company in the vehicle.

We arrived at the shop and my friend, JGayle from Mesquite, met me. Turned out to be a sensor problem. Longhorn got it fixed and off we went to the dinner place at the Dubiski Career High School where there were more fire trucks and flags. There’s so much love for the RFTW in these towns.  We were a little late so went to find my friend, Verlie, and go grab a bite. It was great as we all had a nice visit.

I cannot say enough about this ride. What it means to participate. What it means to be able to do it. I will say if you think you know everything about riding, this ride isn’t for you. If you aren’t willing to take orders, this ride isn’t for you. If you aren’t ready to change your riding style to conform to the mission style, this ride isn’t for you. All I can say is I’m doing my best to do exactly as our leadership requests to make the ride safe for those around me. And I think I will be better for it … as a rider and a person. I think my patriotism has notched up a bit.

 

Peppermint Patti

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Message from Nick “Richboy” Hentges, Director of Public Relations/Communications

Run for the Wall - We Ride For Those Who Can't

Aloha and Greetings Run for the Wall Family,
As I am sure everyone has figured out by now, we had to make the tough decision to cancel RFTW 2020. We have put together a Virtual Run Section on our Website (www.rftw.us). This site should be up and Running by the end of the day, Monday, May 11th 2020. Here you will find Daily Virtual Sit Reps from each Route as well as photo galleries from last year’s Run.
We will also be adding Video content to the area, so if you have good videos of the Run, Send them to nick.hentges@rftw.us and we can try and get them up on our YouTube page and our website. ). Be sure to Visit the RFTW Store while you are there and check out some amazing deals on 2020 Merchandise. https://rftw.us/run-for-the-wall-merchandise-shop/

Just because the Run has been cancelled does not mean our Mission of Healing and support (https://rftw.us/mission-and-history/) must be cancelled. There are many ways to “Charlie Mike”. There are some ideas below on how to do that in addition to many great ideas our riders have had on their own.

We have added a link to Bios of fallen Service Members (compiled by Midway Route personnel). Ken “Sixstring” Dugas has challenged everyone (if safe and Legal) to download and Print a Bio and ride to a Veteran’s Memorial or Veteran’s home and get a photo of you with your bio and submit it (See website for info on how to submit).
There is also a Challenge/Quest that Bob “Captain America” Nelson came up with. See more information on the website.
Another great idea from Kris “Eyes” Wood is to simply do “Buddy Checks” on friends and neighbors during this trying time.

Below is a Message from the President of the BOD for Run for the Wall as well as a bit of information concerning the Store and Pre-Registration for 2021.

From Les “Easy” Williams

As I write this today, I am profoundly sad that Connie and I are not on our way to Ontario for the 32nd annual RFTW. Each year we have left on the Friday before kickstands up to enjoy the pre-run activities and experience the rewards of hundreds of folks who plan Run for the Wall for an entire year. It has always fascinated me to watch how well this complex mission works. But yet here we are, postponed until RFTW 2021.
I have come to realize that we are not in control of the invisible enemy which has caused our postponement. For our veterans and supporters who endure freezing temperatures, blazing heat, dehydration, snow, wild thunderstorms, hail, lightning, and tornadoes to accomplish our mission – this is a hard pill to swallow!
We do these things because our dedication to mission is heartfelt and bone marrow deep in each and everyone one of us. I know and you know Run For The Wall’s 32nd annual mission will be accomplished because your dedication to this mission is steadfast and enduring.
While we wait for another year of, “Is it may yet” the Board of Directors and Route Coordinator’s wanted to create a virtual RFTW to keep the mission ideals close to your hearts. With the hard work of Communications Director, Nick Hentges and Webmaster, Ted Kapner that vision has been completed. We know this will not be a substitute for the actual Run, but it should make your hearts lighter while bringing a smile to your faces. Cheer up we have many more ideas that will lift up everyone’s spirits coming your way throughout the summer. God Bless you all and stay safe.

Les “Easy” Williams
President, RFTW, Inc

Pre-Registration
Pre-Registration for 2021 will be opening back up later this summer. Save Money by Registering and Paying online. This also assists greatly in planning for next year. If you already registered and Paid for 2020, this will roll over to 2021. More info below.

All riders that have pre-registered for 2020 will automatically roll into the 2021 pre-registration database, whether you pre-paid or selected to pay at your sign-in location.
Changes that need to be made on your existing form (new bike, updated expiration dates on license, insurance, route change, etc.) should be directed to the newly established Contact Form category “RFTW 2020 – Registration Revisions.”    ONLY CHANGES TO YOUR FORM should go this category. The registration team will monitor these contact emails, revise your existing form and re-send it to you. We will do this until the cut-off date in April 2021.
If you see that you will NOT be participating in the 2021 Run, please complete a “Contact Form” under the same category and advise us.   We will then delete your registration, so that accurate participant numbers can be obtained.   This is critical information to the Route Coordinators, so please contact us if you are unable to go.
Refunds—because of the PayPal time limit for issuing refunds, many registrations cannot be refunded.  We are asking that you NOT request a refund if you know for sure that you’re unable to go in 2021.   If you are outside the time window, then there is nothing we can do through PayPal.
Donations—the monies that have been paid towards registration will stay as such for 2021.   Many of you have already stated that you want to donate the registration money for this year and pay, again, next year.   Those who would like to donate to the 2021 general fund to offset the 2020 expenses, can do so by the “Donate” button on the website: https://rftw.us/donate/.   We truly appreciate the support we’ve already seen

One final note

The RFTW store is offering a 25% discount on all 2020 Dated Merchandise. Please support the Run by helping us sell this dated inventory. It will make for a great collector’s item. https://rftw.us/run-for-the-wall-merchandise-shop/

Last but not least, My personal Thanks to the BOD, Route Coordinators, State Coordinators, and all of our volunteers for dealing with the cancellation of the Run for 2020 and their continued work to make 2021 better than ever. Special Thanks to Ted “Boots” Kapner (RFTW Webmaster) for all of his expert help during these difficult times.

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Bill and Sharon Akins (Wings and Nav)

Name:  Bill and Sharon Akins

Road Names:  Wings and Nav

FNG Year: 2016

How man Runs have you participated in? All the Way: 1 Participant: 2
Always Central Route

 

What is your favorite Run for the Wall memory?

For us is was the 2018 Run.  I invited a wonderful friend of mine to do the run with us.  He road a Harley trike so we couldn’t be in the same platoon.  Don was a Bronze Star recipient and had never been to the Wall.  I knew this was going to be special when we got to Junction City KS.  Don was so moved by the crowds and the welcome that he was brought to tears.  At the end of the ceremony, I found him standing at attention saluting, with tears streaming down his face.  I could tell that the magical healing process was well underway.

When we finally arrived at the wall, I was able to capture a picture of Don with his hands spread out leaning against the Wall.  Tears were dropping to the ground as he had me read the 5 names between his hands.  He then turned to me and said, “There were only two of us that survived that day”.  My heart ached and the tears flowed freely and unashamedly.  We hugged and the healing process that comes to those of us that know that pain was well underway.   That moment captured all the stress, planning, expense and pain and made it all worthwhile.

We’ve never talked about that moment again and we both know that we will never have to.

Positions held as a volunteer on the Run.  None officially, Platoon Chaplain (unofficially) Looking forward to being an Asst. Platoon Leader for 2021.

Military Background if any or relationships with Military:  23 years United States Air Force: Father was 20 years USAF.  3 Brothers USAF with a combined time served of 72 years.  2 Sons USAF (Both KC-135 Stratotanker Pilots)

Gold Star or Blue Star family member?  Double Blue Star mom and dad.

What got you to do the RFTW the first time?  An invite from a fellow vet.  He couldn’t stop talking about why I should go.  Glen Bucholz a former Ambassador for the Run.  I knew I had to ride for those that I knew who can’t. 

What brought you back?  Family.  Plain and simple.  I love my platoon.  We missed a year, 2017 and when we joined up in 2018, we were greeted like long lost family.  When we were hit last year, the platoon rallied around us to get us back up and going.  These folks are just great people. 

Also, between my two sons, they have deployed 21 times.  The war is not over……  I WILL NOT FORGET.

Have you ever participated in Rolling Thunder?  Yes (2017) with my brother Col. Brian Akins.

Are you planning on Rolling to Remember:  Unfortunately, no.  I’m not quite retired and duty calls.

Brief synopsis of why you ride:  Sharon and I have been moved by our companions that partake in this ride.  We also have had the honor to hand out homemade blankets and socks and other items to the Vets at the VA Centers that we stop at.  Last year we went straight to the Hospice ward at one of our stops and I had the amazing opportunity to pray over many of those that were there.  I was an emotional wreck but knew that I had been blessed far more than I could have blessed.  We are collecting blankets for this year’s Run and now have our entire neighborhood involved in the process.  Sharon and I have committed to ride the Run as long as we can and will continue to serve as Unofficial Chaplains as long as you will let us act in that capacity.  Anything to add:  Yes, just do it.  It is an emotional rollercoaster ride that I hope I never have to miss.  It is therapy, pay homage to those buddies that didn’t come home, and to those that did but were forgotten.  It will help future generations of America remember that All gave some and some gave ALL.

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Edwin “Thumb” Musto

Name: Edwin Musto

Road Name: THUMB

FNG Year: 2016

I was on the yellow Goldwing on my FNG year – 2016

How many times have you been All the Way? Three times all the way.        

On Which Route (Routes) did you ride? All three times on Central Route – 2020 would have been my 4th time on Central Route as well as Sandbox.

What is your favorite Run for the Wall memory?  On RFTW there are so many memories made. However I must say that arriving at Ontario CA on my FNG year I was blown away of the camaraderie and the Brotherhood shown to me being a boy from South Africa and now living in New Zealand. The other memory is after my accident in Topeka KS and catching up with the pack at Rainelle and then being offered a ride into Arlington. Not only was this just a ride but a ride being in the Missing Man Formation. I will never forget the tears seeing all the white markers and then going to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall and being assisted to find the name of RICHARD FRANK MUSTO whom I had ridden for. These memories I will cherish forever and I will NEVER forget. Another memory is my wife riding with me on RFTW and us both going to the wall together, and many more!


Me at the wall on my FNG year 2016
Janet (Thumbelina) and I at the wall together in 2017

Have you held any positions as a volunteer on the Run?  Yes.

If you have, which Positions have you held? In 2017 I was on the Ambassador Team and in 2018 I was on the Communications Team. 2021 I will be on the Communications Team and an Ambassador on Sandbox Route.

Riding with Janet (Thumbelina) on her FNG year and as an Ambassador – 2017

Are you a Military Veteran, or do you have a military background or a relationship with a member of the Military? Yes. I served in the South African Defense Force (Army) 1980-1982 as a Corporal.

Me as a young Corporal back in about 1981

Are you a Gold Star or Blue Star family member? I lost my cousin Edward Leslie Mayo on 17 January 1977. He was accidentally shot by friendly fire at Kwando in the East Caprivi which is the far North Eastern corner of what is now called Namibia.

What inspired you to participate in the RFTW the first time? I had read about Run for the Wall while doing research on a book I am writing about my family history. I first discovered the name of Richard Frank Musto on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall and after that found out about the run and wanted to ride in honor of him. I have found no trace of any links to our direct Musto family.

What brought you back? Like many FNG’s I was only going to do this once. As for me the cost and logistics to do this Mission is way out my reach. However, with a supportive wife and a very supportive Brother from another mother aka Kevin (Speedbump) Bowman I have been blessed to return to do the run and ride for those who can’t.

Have you participated in Rolling Thunder? No.

Are you planning on participating in Rolling to Remember (the AMVETS event that replaces Rolling Thunder)? Unfortunately not as will be participating in Sandbox Route.

Give us a few words about “WHY YOU RIDE.” I ride for those who can’t who have given the supreme sacrifice so we can enjoy the freedoms we have today. I also ride for many Brothers who I served with in South Africa who gave the supreme sacrifice.

Anything else to Add??

I am passionate about Run for the Wall and share about the Mission where and when I get the opportunity. I hope I can do the Run a few more times in the future. Thanks to the BoD of RFTW and all the many volunteers who work tirelessly year-round so that we can continue to RIDE FOR THOSE WHO CAN’T.

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Edward “Santa Ed” Holterman

Name: Edward Holterman

Road Name: Santa Ed

FNG YEAR: 2010

HOW MANY TIMES ATW: 10

WHICH ROUTE: SOUTHERN ROUTE

Positions HELD: 6 YEARS AS PLATOON LEADER,CAMPING COORDINATOR for 4 years?, And 2 years as an AMBASSADOR, Tail gunner 1 year.

MILITARY VETERAN: Army Vietnam AUGUST 66 – August 9th 67 wasn’t as tough as coming home. That was when I went in a holding pattern for 42 years. I was very angry and felt the survivors “Guilt”.

Gold or blue star: no

Participate in rolling thunder: yes 9 years except 1 year when my bike was running poorly.

Will you participate in rolling to remember: yes

What inspired you to ride for 1st time:

After attending a patriot guard mission in southern California I met “Top Sarge” and her husband. They told me about RTFW. Upon returning home I talked with lifelong Vietnam friend. He had been reading about RFTW on the internet. We both have had a lot of issues since serving in Vietnam. In fact, hardly ever talked or mentioned it for 42 years. No patches or hat. So, one day I purchased 2 Vietnam hat, took one for him and told him it is time we wear these and we have ever since. So, he meticulously planned out the trip in 2010. We agreed if either of us couldn’t go All The Way, the other one would. His bike broke down in Las Cruces and was unable to get it fixed. So as promised, I continued on. I really wanted to quit and go home feeling alone and not knowing anyone. I did make it to DC and finally after all the RFTW was over. I tried to go to my panel at around midnight, still not able to. I had been to the wall four times prior to this but could never go to the panel. While waiting to ride in Rolling Thunder, I set over on the grassy knoll and met some very good friends, and to this day we have become close “brothers”.  I did Rolling Thunder and rode right out west and home.

What Brought you back:

On the 3000-mile ride home, I was able to think about the past few weeks. Still very bothered by the WALL. My friend who broke down decided to bring his brother, wife and a pickup pulling a toy hauler. So, we made plans for one more try. We both made all the way on Southern Route. Still no change at the wall.
I was pulling my tent trailer, so when I was placed in “wagon train” or “trailer trash” PLATOON they needed another Tailgunner. Now I knew a few people from previous year, but pretty much still a loner. Still no change at the wall.
After riding back home 3000 miles, I decided I would try one more time. I rode with a friend from Patriot Guard Riders in Oregon. We went all the way southern route again. This was the year I met a person who spent a lot of time with me in Rancho. He and I talked about everything. This man later became a Southern Route Coordinator. Having those conversations with him is one of the reasons I continue doing RFTW. On my 6th time to the wall, I was finally able to resolve some of those problems. All because of an angel named “Raven”, who took a picture of me leaving my hat with a letter. She started the healing process. Five others came over to where we were standing. All but one of them are still with us. A chaplain told me, ” We will stay with you here for however long it takes”. I needed to understand why I was here, and they were on THE WALL. After a very long time I started to feel the release of all the guilt and anger. He told me that I needed to tell their story and show that we haven’t forgot them. Now I can go that panel and tell the story. In fact, each year for the past three years we do a “got you 6 at 6” after the run is over on Saturday evening. Many veterans have been there and all because of a special brother we started this.

Favorite Memory:

Without any doubt it was the year I was chosen to help place the wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier.

Additional Comments:

I do believe RFTW would never have happened if not for Rolling Thunder. We need to show our respect and try to bring everyone home. “Let us never forget”. Like I have told many I would do the “Sandbox Run”, but first the protest ride on Sunday. So, I guess I will be at the Midwest Conflict Wall again for the 4Th Time, but suppose will ride alone again.

After 10 years I have been fortunate to be able to keep participating and now know many brothers and sisters who are some of the best family I’ve ever had. I was visiting with Stoney in Ontario prior to the run a few years ago. I told him if it wasn’t for the FNG’S the run would end. He said “If it wasn’t for the returning participants there wouldn’t be a RFTW. How true “Charlie Mike”. So, I make it my mission now to try and talk to and get to know every FNG. RFTW HAS become the best part of each year. “Den Mother” has been on several runs. She has inspired many to come on the run and several are now in leadership roles.
Thank God for keeping me healthy enough to continue and I love all RFTW participants…

IS IT MAY YET!!!!!!

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Kevin “KT” Maner

Name: Kevin Maner                       

Road Name:  KT

FNG Year:  2016

How many times have you been All the Way?  Twice all the way, 2020 (Southern Route Fuel Team) will make 3!   And how many times have you been a Participant?  Twice

On Which Route (Routes) did you ride? I have done the Southern Route all the way and as a participant.  I have done the Midway Route all the way and as a participant.

What is your favorite Run for the Wall memory?  My favorite RFTW memory was my FNG year.  I rode out to Ontario via a stop in Albuquerque where my oldest son lived.  He was moving back to Virginia and decided to make the trip across with me on the RFTW.  It was amazing to be an FNG with him that year.  Really made me proud to have other riders compliment my son’s dedication and attitude toward the mission.  I also rode in memory of a Rescue Swimmer brother that lost his battle to his demons and took his own life that year, he is one of the 22.  Seeing the outpouring of support and patriotism crossing the country was amazing. 

My Son and I the Morning we left Albuquerque.

Have you held any positions as a volunteer on the Run?  Not yet, Southern Route and Sandbox Fuel Team in 2020.

Are you a Military Veteran, or do you have a military background or a relationship with a member of the Military?  I spent 26 years in the Navy as a Helicopter Crewchief and a Rescue Swimmer, retired in 2006 as a Senior Chief Aviation Warfare Systems Operator.

Are you a Gold Star or Blue Star family member?  Blue Star dad x 3; USAF son, Navy and USAF son-in-laws.

What inspired you to participate in the RFTW the first time?  A Rescue Swimmer brother of mine has been all the way numerous times, he kept bringing it up and I kept putting it off.  Now that I have done it, I wish I had never hesitated. 

What brought you back?  Family, Patriotism, and Friendship

Have you participated in Rolling Thunder?  Yes, several times

Are you planning on participating in Rolling to Remember (the AMVETS event that replaces Rolling Thunder)?  Sandbox Route begins the morning of Rolling to Remember otherwise I would be there!

Give us a few words about “WHY YOU RIDE.”  I ride to remember, to honor, to ride for those who can’t.  I ride for my older brothers who are Vietnam Vets and to remember their brothers they lost

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Bob “Captain” Mazzone

Name: Bob Mazzone

Road Name: Captain

FNG Year: 2014

How many times have you been All the Way?  This will be my seventh time  

And how many times have you been a Participant? None

On Which Route do you ride? Southern

What is your favorite Run for the Wall memory? My FNG year. We were in the middle of the country and off to the side of the highway, I saw a truck with an American Flag and an old man. He was standing there holding onto the truck and saluting. I have no idea how long he had been there but when I mentioned it to some of the other riders, they said he was there every year.

Have you held any positions as a volunteer on the Run? Yes. Road Guard 2015 – 2017 and then Road Guard Captain 2018, 2019 and this year.

Are you a Military Veteran, or do you have a military background or a relationship with a member of the Military? Yes, 27 years in the Navy. Navy diver, Submariner, and a tour as the Chief Engineer on USS DWIGHT D. Eisenhower (CVN 69)

Are you a Gold Star or Blue Star family member? Blue Star. My son is in the Navy.

What inspired you to participate in the RFTW the first time? My father had served in the Navy through World War II and Korea and then retired after 30 years. Plus, I have relatives through my mother’s side that served all the way back to the American Revolution.  I was in college at the time of Vietnam and did not have to go. But lots of friends did.  I felt that I owed all of them something and maybe I could also help someone who just needed to talk to someone else about their demons. 

What brought you back? I have been a Road Guard with my local HOG Chapters over the years. So becoming a Road Guard seemed like the right thing for me to do.  It is an extremely rewarding experience when you pull into DC with all of your pack safely. So for me, it was a chance to give back to our riders and to support our Mission.

Have you participated in Rolling Thunder? No

Are you planning on participating in Rolling to Remember (the AMVETS event that replaces Rolling Thunder)? No

Give us a few words about “WHY YOU RIDE.” We still have thousands of people missing and unaccounted for from every war.  We can never let them be forgotten.  I ride so that this country never forgets.

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Nancy “Miss America” Schwartz

Name: Nancy Schwartz

Road Name:  Miss America (given to me by Jarrod Gerbitz)

FNG Year:   2018

How many times have you been All the Way? Once

And how many times have you been a Participant? Once, from Corydon, IN         

On which Route do you ride?  Central

What is your favorite Run for the Wall memory?  Like others that have been writing their stories, there are so many. First, in our FNG year, we were honored to ride the Missing Man Formation in remembrance of our friend’s son Pfc Nils Thompson. Second is participating in the Circle Dance with our brothers and sisters of the Black Creek Gourd Society. It is the “Gathering of Veterans” ceremony in Gallup, New Mexico. Third, would be visiting the Angel Fire Vietnam Veterans memorial a very spiritual and moving place.

Have you held any positions as a volunteer on the Run? No

Are you a Military Veteran, or do you have a military background or a relationship with a member of the Military? I am not a veteran. My Father served in WWII, his brother in the Korean War, and members of my Father’s family that have been in the military back to the Revolutionary War.

Are you a Gold Star or Blue Star family member? No. My best friend is a Gold Star Mother

What inspired you to participate in the RFTW the first time? The Mission Statement says it all,  “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.”

What brought you back? The feeling that we ARE making a difference by promoting healing, calling for the accounting of all POW/MIA, honoring the memory of those we have lost, and supporting our military. Visiting VA hospitals, memorials, and talking to those in the towns we stop in that support us has moved me to tears. Also, seeing the Patriots on the highway overpasses saluting us, waving flags, and standing in bad weather at times yet they are always there. Getting back in with Platoon 9, shout out to Squid and Pops.

Have you participated in Rolling Thunder? Yes, many times, when I rode my own motorcycle. I rode with my husband in 2019.

 Are you planning on participating in Rolling to Remember (the AMVETS event that replaces Rolling Thunder)?     It is still undecided.

Give us a few words about “WHY YOU RIDE”.  I ride for Nils my friend’s son that was killed in 2005 in Mosul, Iraq. We always visit his grave in Arlington for Memorial Day. I ride for those in our RFTW family that have a family member that is still a POW/MIA/KIA. I ride for the 22 a day that we lose to suicide. Witnessing the healing of our Vietnam Veteran brothers and give them the Welcome Home that is long overdue. Lastly, to see the joy of the children when we arrive at Rainelle, W VA Elementary School, getting the hugs is so very heartwarming.