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Southern Route 2024 SitReps – Day 11 – Run For The Wall

Day 11 – Southern Route; Washington, DC

Day 11 is in DC.  Before going into the Day 11 events, I want to try and say a big Thank You to the so many people that are volunteering to be part of this organization and help this Run to be what it is which is the most organized and, “one of the largest and longest runs in the world”.  There are so many volunteer positions that don’t get as much recognition, but we couldn’t do this without them.  There are the stagers that make sure we are properly staged in our platoons after any stop but mostly a fuel stop.  There is the fuel team that fills 300 bikes in less than 20 minutes.  There are the Road Guards that keep us safe, the Ambassadors that are riding in front of the pack thanking people that are up on the bridges and other locations to cheer us on and the Ambassadors are up there handing out the pins and making it clear we appreciate the support of these locals.  There’s the Platoon Leader, the assistant Platoon Leaders, the Tail gunners, the nurses fixing us up, The Chaplin’s that are helping anyone deal with emotions or problems they have on this journey, I mentioned earlier the Chase Team that is always ready to pick us up if we have a mechanical problem and not stuck in the middle of nowhere waiting for a tow truck, The Hydration Team, we wouldn’t make it without the waters and Gatorades this team is always making sure we’re drinking up.  Of course, there’s the Route Coordinator and Asst RC that work for many months prior to make sure every position is filled and competent people are trained to do what they do.  There are Leadership support people (Bonehead, Double D and others) that are keeping the communications going and materials ready for the run, Fund Raisers to keep finances in the black, Thank You Lisa and Tina, Honor Guard coordinators that make sure memorial stops are respectfully honoring the memorial as it stands for the heros it was created for and becoming teachers to show riders how to march if they didn’t have that practice in the military, Registration people that not only work at it all year and in Ontario, but every morning as we move across the country when people join when we are close to their home.  There’s the Missing Man group so the purpose of our run is closer to our hearts, making it real that we are riding for those that can’t.  The advance team, the Photographer (yea Jerry!), the outreach team that arranges all the outreach opportunities and coordinates who goes on them as they separate from the pack.  Also, the merchandise team to open up the trailer and raise funds for the run, the state coordinators that spend a lot of the year prior setting up the hotels, the events at places we have meals to eat along the way which are always free to the riders.  I’m probably missing some folks here and not describing the roles as well as it should be but it’s a long list of volunteers that are important to this run and doing all of this work for 4 routes.  THANK YOU ALL!!  It was a great run this year and we couldn’t do it without you.

Onto Day 11

We arrived yesterday afternoon and finally had a full nights sleep.  My schedule is different than regular riders as I try to get the posts up at the end of the day.  Today was pretty cool.  It started early as we had a ticket to be part of the group that was going to the Arlington National Cemetery.  Normally, motorcycles are not allowed into Arlington.  RFTW was allowed to bring 75 motorcycles into Arlington so efforts were made to have as many FNG’s as possible to be part of this opportunity.  We were up early, 4:15 AM to get packed, fueled up and in line at the host hotel.  We rode to Arlington without LEO escort but we did have our road guards.  We went to a section where we learned about a group that was shot down and KIA together.  One of our members realized the Bio of the hero he was carrying all the way across the country was one of the guys on this memorial wall.  With as many hero’s that are buried in Arlington, that’s seems more than a coincidence.  After this moving experience, we went to the Lincoln Memorial for the group picture.  This includes all 3 routes and many that will continue on to the 4th route, to Versailles Illinois, the Middle East Conflicts Memorial Wall.  The Sandbox Route leaves Sunday morning.  After the picture was taken, we all went to the Vietnam Veterans Wall to pay our respects to those we know and love.  It’s also a place where the FNG buttons are turned upside down to signify the mission was completed and these folks are no longer an FNG but can refer to 2024 as their FNG year.  I was honored to turn over the button of a good friend that shared hotel rooms with me as we traveled across the country on this run.  It’s been a moving experience with so many wonderful people.  Many we’ve known from previous years and many new friends we’ve made as we traveled together.  It’s an experience like no other.  Again, Thanks for reading.


USAF, ’72 –‘75

Staging for Arlington Cemetery.

Starting to turn over the FNG button..

Turning over the button.

The crowd gathering for the group photo

A larger crowd.

The reflection pool and the Washington Monument in the background.

Inside the Lincoln Memorial.

Inside the Lincoln Memorial.

The statue of Abraham Lincoln.

The wreath Laying at Arlington Cemetery.

Arlington Cemetery.

Arlington Cemetery.

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Southern Route 2024 SitReps – Day 10 – Run For The Wall

Day 10 – Southern Route; Lynchburg, VA to Washington, DC

Day 10 seemed like a long day.  We rode 256 miles and we did have rain for an hour or two but nothing that wasn’t easily handled.  Everyone had rain gear and we all came through just fine.  And, this was the only rain worth mentioning on the whole run.  We had a nice breakfast at the Tree of Life Ministries with some presentations and then on the road.  Lunch was at the Doubletree hotel parking lot before the last leg of 66 miles to the Host Hotel, to the Holiday Inn in the city of Arlington.  That was the highlight of the day, pulling into the Host Hotel.  Everyone was very excited, we were not the first route to pull in so there were greetings from the first route and lots of people greeting and many friends getting together to celebrate.  Gunny piped up to remind the FNG’s “This is Run to the Wall, NOT Run to the Holiday Inn!  Do not turn your FNG buttons over yet! “.  After hanging in the hotel we all meandered to our respective hotel or room to get ready for the next day, Saturday.

There’s a story I wanted to pass on about one of our riders.  It’s not so much a story about soldiers or family members battling the consequences of war but it’s a story of one of our RFTW family members and his working through healing of his emotions and his faith in God as he oversees our lives.  I recorded some of our conversation and will transcribe it. This is about Matt Cobley and his son.

My name is Matt, they call me SuperDad.  My son is Matthew Allen Cobley II, he was hit by a car while riding his bicycle on August 12, 2022.  In the hospital, in surgery, they had to remove two sections of his skull, his eyes were fixed and dilated, they told me he was brain dead, and never coming back.  I didn’t want to live, I walked in hell for 2 days until I saw God speak to my son and say he will recover.  Since then, I stayed with him for the last 22 months, I lost my home and property and possessions, and I sleep in my truck outside the facility and I stay with him every day.  And, he is recovering, slowly but surely.  I’ve been there to help him, make sure gets everything he can, I advocate for him, I’ve saved him from unnecessary surgery, it’s been quite a run. And, I know God is with him every day and that’s the only thing that keeps me going, is Jesus Christ.”  There are some pictures of Young Mathew below who was a good kid, a cool kid and once again will have a life in front of him.   An interesting part of Matt’s story is with his cat, Big Sweet Billy.  The story is:  “Big Sweet Billy is my cat.  He stays with me every day.  He has opened a lot of doors for me.  Because of him, they know me.  I’ll go in there for my son, but he (Billy) meets everyone outside.  He comes in to visit also, but before it was all hospitals and Mathew was on a respirator for 5 months and then Trach’s for another 9 months so that means you’re in a sub-acute facility and most kids are on vents so they don’t let animals in, they worry about infection etc.  But now, he’s in a step down.  Now, I’ve become friends with, well everyone that I can but the person in charge, she’s been texting me and telling me my son has been doing well but one of the staff members was giving me a hard time telling me you can’t bring that cat in here!  And, I already had permission so she went to file a report and some other stupid stuff but she just didn’t like cats.  I even have Service Cat designation and she tried to make a big deal of it but the person in charge shot the reports down and Big Sweet Billy is allowed to come into the room and sometimes he sleeps on the bed with Mathew and I while I read to Mathew so it all worked out.  Without him, Billy, I would be alone, except for the Lord, but it’s nice to have that little companion.  He worries about me more than I worry about him.  And, he’s my best friend.  The person that’s watching him now, sends me pictures of him and yesterday, he was sitting there staring out their window waiting for me to come back.  And for Mathew, one of the staff members sent me pictures of him yesterday and he’s looking real good.  We’ll get there, one of these days, I’ll bring him here on this run.  You have to share this miracle with the world because he is a miracle and people need to believe in miracles.

So, we have a miracle story of healing on this ride and we will all be pulling for Matt and his son, Mathew.

Thanks for reading.



USAF – ’72 – ‘75

Finally at the Host Hotel in Arlington!

Some rain in Virginia – this was at the Sheetz Gas Station in Fisherville.

A few folks at the Hilton Host Hotel celebrating.

More arrivals to the Host Hotel in Arlington.

Fueling in the rain – Sheetz.

Some presentations at the Doubletree Parking lot.

More presentations at the Doubletree Parking lot.

Big Sweet Billy in his motorcycle cat carrier. No, Billy wasn’t on the run with us but he does get to go for rides. One time Matt checked on Billy during a ride and he was batting a ball around while rolling.

Mathew II playing guitar before the accident.

Matt, Mathew and Big Sweet Billy.

Mathew II getting some fresh air.

Matt Conley on the Run for the Wall, 2024.

Billy the cat, a unique cat that follows Matt around like a dog.

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Southern Route 2024 SitReps – Day 9 – Run For The Wall

Day 9 – Southern Route; Wytheville, VA to Lynchburg, VA

Another good day!  Some rain threatened towards the end of the day and during dinner at the Harley Davidson of Lynchburg dealership, it did start raining but it didn’t last very long.  Tomorrow is supposed to be pretty good weather wise.  Today we started at Wither’s Park in Wytheville.  There were good breakfast sandwiches and the entertainment was outstanding.  The entire elementary school came down with a large group singing to us.  Being a grandparent, you learn how important these things are and how hard it is for kids to be taught and cajoled into putting on shows like that, but they did very well.  Typical Wytheville, it seems like the whole town came out to greet us and wish us well.  I had the honor to ride side by side with the Former Mayor of Wytheville, Mayor Crewe, from Wytheville to Montvale.  We had a discussion, once we got to Montvale, about the difficulty of explaining what it’s like to be part of this run to people that have not participated.  We agreed, you have to experience it to really get it.  If you’re reading this and have not joined us, please consider riding with us for a day and become part of the RFTW family.  We cross the entire country with 3 routes to choose from so chances are, you’re not that far away.

Then, we were off to Montvale for fuel and on onto the Montvale Elementary school.  This school is an amazing school.  There’s a new window privacy covering to the cafeteria that was added recently with the assistance of RFTW donations.  Today, a good-sized check was given to the school from RFTW and they treated us very well.  There’s something about the patriotism displayed by the kids that is heartwarming.  Along with greetings, we had a nice lunch, we had a show put on for us with the kids singing beautiful songs and they all knew the words!  There was a presentation from the local ROTC Honor Guard doing a funny bit from the old movie “Stripes” with Bill Murray.  In case you don’t remember, here is a link to the original movie version:  It was well done and fun to watch.  The school kids were great, they are learning the importance of patriotism.  That’s something other countries are teaching their children, but it seems to be fading in ours and it’s refreshing to see it here and in Wytheville and Montvale.  From Montvale, we went to the Bedford Virginia D-Day Memorial.  This is one of the most significant memorials along the route and I never heard of it prior to my RFTW experience in 2019.  D-Day was a significant turning point in World Wat II.  The Allied forces stormed the Beach and accomplished what was needed to get the enemy on the run.  Bedford VA was chosen as the place to construct this memorial because they lost more citizens, the towns children, per capita, than any other town in the entire country.  It’s impressive, it’s a wonderful learning experience and it really makes you think about the consequences of war.  There are 4,415 names on this wall, allied forces named from all the countries that fought in this battle and died.  The four thousand plus names were collected over the month from when this battle started.  Each and every name of all the soldiers that died in this battle, from all countries, are on the plaques pictured below.  The artist and others that were involved in this park also have displays that are significant in displaying what it was like to be there, maybe just a little bit, but enough to take you out of your comfort zone to understand the impact of war and what it might feel like to be part of a battle like this.  Seeing these displays, seeing all the names of soldiers that died to protect our freedom, it can be overwhelming.  If you haven’t seen the series on Apple TV called Masters of the Air, it’s a high recommend.  There are pictures below, I hope you enjoy.  Tomorrow is our last day of traveling to DC as a group but we will be gathering at the Vietnam Veterans Wall on Saturday and head out on our own from there.  Some are continuing onto the Sandbox Route which is a similar ride to Versaille, Illinois to the Middle East Conflicts Memorial Wall.


USAF – ’72 – ‘75

Montvale kids as we come into the school circle

Good read about the Bedford Boys

Wytheville students coming from the school to Withers Park

The Bedford D-Day Memorial Wall with all the names of those who died in this invasion.

One of many plaques that are interesting reading

One of many plaques that are interesting reading

Another view ponit of the wall of names

If you look close, you can see water spouts from “bullets” hitting the water close to the troops

Landing on the beach

Climbing up the bunkers

The Montvale ROTC cadets putting on a show for us with a scene from Stripes

Our Route Coordinator recognizing the Montvale Principal and thanking them for their support.

The Montvale students singing songs to us

The Montvale ROTC Cadets putting on their show

The group of students in a panoramic shot

Another pic of the students as they are singing to us

The program to the show – 1 of 3

The program of the show – 3 of 3

The program of the show – 2 of 3

Looking down one of the hallways of the school – lots of art work displayed

Getting ready to enter the school

The entrance of the school

Wytheville students singing to us

Our professional Photographer who is hard to capture in a picture as he is always moving around taking great pictures of everyone from so many angles, Go Jerry!

A seasoned office of the Virginia State Police getting an FNG button for his first time escorting the pack.

The Wytheville students

Our Risk Management Officer handing out bracelets to the children coming down the hill to Withers Park

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Southern Route 2024 SitReps – Day 8 – Run For The Wall

Day 8 – Southern Route; Chattanooga, TN to Wytheville, VA

Another nice day, everyone did well.  We started at the Chattanooga White Lightening Harley Davidson Dealer.  Of course, there was breakfast and our morning meetings.  We had about 10 FNG’s join us today so we’re getting bigger as a pack.  I decided to go on an Family Outreach which is typically a small group that goes to a place to meet a family that may have lost someone or an injured soldier.  Today was kind of special.  One of our leaders has a father-in-law that served in Vietnam and didn’t really talk about his experience in the war.  Recently, he did talk about his experience and it was learned that he was right next to a soldier that was KIA by an explosive device next to where the Dad-in-law was.  That gave his father-in-law a purple heart, yet no one in the family knew he was a recipient.  The family we visited was the family of Jason F Lamb, the man next to the Father-in-Law when the explosion occurred.  The Father-in-Law flew into the area to meet up with Leatherneck and us and he was able to meet the family.  Jason Floyd had sisters there, grandkids and lots of other family members who all met at the cemetery of this hero who was KIA on May 4, 1970.  SP4 Floyd, Jason F Lamb was born October 4, 1949 in Greeneville TN.  He grew up in Chuckey, TN and rests at the Liberty Freewill Baptist Church in Chucky, TN.  His tour of duty in Vietnam began on December 10, 1969.  Jason was KIA while participating in a search and clear operation in the Nui Yon Thon Mountains, approximately eight miles southwest of Tam Ky City, Quang Tin Province, South Vietnam on May 4, 1970.  At 08:30, Jason received a fatal fragmentation wound when an enemy explosive device was detonated.  For his actions, he received the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Army Commendation, National Defense, Vietnam Service and Vietnam Campaign Medals.  He is commemorated on the Vietnam Memorial Wal and was 20 years old.  We will remember Jason’s name.

After the Outreach, our group went onto the Black Wolf Harley-Davidson Dealership.  Another large dealership where we were well taken care of and fed a nice lunch.  Some presentations to our hosts and on to Wytheville, VA.  Wytheville is the favorite town on this run for many of us.  Not only do they turn out to greet us, they have been part of the run from the first run, 34 years ago.  The majority of the town will be at the morning meeting and that is where the elementary school children put on a show.  The ex-mayor has been part of the run for many years and often rides with us from here to DC.  Last night we had a great steak dinner at the Moose Lodge with baked potato, salad all very good quality.  Thank You Moose Lodge for wonderful hospitality!  The auction that occurred later on raised some good monies to help other organizations.  Gunny stood up and told some stories about the early days.  He introduced a fellow Vet where he met this fellow rider years ago on the run where they were both displaying, on their windshields, the same 3 Marines that were left behind in a lot of confusion of getting out of a bad decision (battle) in Vietnam.  That was quite a reason for a reunion dealing with the survivor guilt and sharing stories.  A lot of moving stories last night.

So, all filled up with great food, we went to the hotel and it was a long and tired day.  Thanks for reading.  I might be adding more later on.


USAF – ’72 – ‘75

The Wytheville Moose Lodge just starting to fill up.
Gunny talking to us.
The current Mayor of Wytheville.
Wytheville Moose Lodge parking lot.
Withers Park in Wytheville.  Best if you can zoom in and move around.
At the Black Wolf Harley Dealer.
Color Guard at Withers Park.
Our bikes at the Outreach.
The Black Wolf Harley Dealer.
Lamb Family Grave site with a lot of family visiting.
Self explanatory
Families getting together.
The Lamb family area.
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Southern Route 2024 SitReps – Day 7 – Run For The Wall

Day 7 – Southern Route; Meridian, MS to Chattanooga, TN

Today, the weather is holding up.  It was pretty hot and we had some long legs but we all did well.  There was a lot of traffic when we got to Chattanooga but it was commute time so not a surprise. According to Google, the population for Chattanooga is around 200K.  We started in Meridian, MS.  Full escort towards the border and then in TN, we still had an escort but fewer vehicles.  That’s why it was a bit more challenging getting into a larger city but we’re all getting used to riding with each other and those that don’t ride in groups very often are now experienced and navigating the ins and outs of dealing with the traffic situations like cars that insist they need to move over to the lane on the other side of the pack.  We are set up in platoons with around 20 bikes per platoon with a decent space in between the platoons.  That is on purpose so cars will have a gap to move through should they need to do so but occasionally, some are not aware of that fact and make it harder on themselves.

Our biggest highlight of the day was visiting the VA Hospital in Tuscaloosa, AL.  The entire pack went there and had a chance to be welcomed by a large group(s) of neighbors, staff and even some patients.  They fed us some awesome Mexican food which was provided by a local restaurant called Jalapeno’s.  Real good food.  Thank You Giovingo (owner).  We got to visit some long term patients that are at the hospital and simply had a nice time.  Great people there!

Then we started off towards Chattanooga, TN with a small jaunt through Georgia.  A couple of fuel stops and we made it to the White Lightening Harley Davidson Dealer in Chattanooga.  It’s quite a large dealership.  Some pics below.  They fed us a nice dinner, they had the service department open late to help anyone that needed work done, everything from an oil change to some larger jobs.  Then off to the hotels to shower and rest.  Today was a total of 311 miles but in the heat it felt like 450 😊.

One story to relay from this morning.  I met a Vietnam Vet that lives in Meridian and we talked about some of his experiences in Nam and being part of taking hill 875.  He’s been back to visit Vietnam 5 times and wants to go back one more time before travel is not feasible for him.  His visits were interesting where he did some teaching while in Vietnam, but he was careful to not tell everyone he was a vet from the war.  He still had a fair amount of Vietnamese language ability and could understand some of the conversations.  Once they figured out his knowledge, he had a few people that were always shadowing him which was uncomfortable.  And he was particular of where he would go as there were some places that were too emotional for him.  Strong memories.  I wish I knew he was going to get into those stories so I could have recorded what he was talking about and do a better job of relaying that here.  He had some tears starting as he is reminiscing over these memories.  It was an honor to hear these stories and I think it was cathartic for him.



USAF, ’72 – ‘75

The VA Hospital in Tuscaloosa, AL

Inside the White Lightening Harley Dealer – a big dealer.

The White Lightening Harley Dealer.

Our Route Coordinator, Lurch (Darin Koch) presenting to the Director of Public Relations of the VA Hospital.

Director of Public Relations of the VA Hospital welcoming us.

VA Parking lot

More parking and the T-Town Harlet Dealer coming out to assist if anyone needed some help with their bikes.

Parking lot in front of the VA Hospital.

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Southern Route 2024 SitReps – Day 6 – Run For The Wall

Day 6 – Southern Route; Monroe, LA to Meridian, MS

Again, a good day!  We were blessed with good weather (knocking on wood here).  The first stop was at a memorial in Monroe with dignitaries speaking to us along with a bag pipe player that was good.  A good breakfast in the Sam’s Club parking lot and then on the road again.  At our first fuel stop, I was looking for shade and started talking with a couple of the guys hanging out there, enjoying the shade.  Jake sees my name tag and asks if I’m the Boots writing the SitReps and after confirming that, he tells me his wife is reading them in Phoenix area and they made her cry some.  Wow, that was powerful and cool to hear.  First, people are actually reading this and it seems to be hitting home some.  Jake’s wife, Thank You and towards the bottom you’ll see a pic of Jake and I.  It’s difficult to articulate the feelings we experience as we go through this annual adventure.  The towns we stop at are so welcoming and really pleased to see us.  We are a bunch of sweaty bikers coming off the highway and these people are giving us big hugs, feeding us, often laying out big displays of home baked goodies, everything is decorated well and thanking us for what we’re doing and our service.  It means a lot to us and I’m getting that our visits mean a lot to them.  They appreciate that we are doing our mission to remember those that can’t ride, those that were lost or wounded and not just physical wounds.  ( It allows them to talk about the loved ones they lost and hear stories from us as we have connections of being in the service and know the areas of the world that their loved ones had been.  Taking care of us as we pass through makes their week special or, maybe even longer.  As we go East, it seems to be building.  In Louisiana, we had LEO escort all the way through the state.  As mentioned yesterday, that helps with a level of safety for everyone in the pack.  Today, when we hit Mississippi, we had 2 helicopters escort us about 60 miles AND, there were probably 30 motor cops with bright blue flashing lights that literally shut down highway 20 by blocking all the entrances to the highway until we passed by.  Then, prior to coming into the city of Meridian, MS, there were fire trucks, often with huge flags, and lots of people on EVERY overpass, probably 25 of them, waving at us and it seemed to grow as we came into Meridian.  To witness that; was amazing.

Back to the lunch stop.  We stopped at the Harley Davidson of Jackson Dealership.  They have been welcoming the RFTW at this dealership for a many years.  This year we learned it’s probably the last year as the dealership is being sold to a new owner.  We’re not sure if the new owner will be as supportive as Earle has been.  We’ll find out next year.  And, there were dignitaries there to speak to us.  The former governor of Mississippi, Phil Bryant spoke to us and we found out he rides.  The Governor introduced Col Keith Lewis.  Col. Lewis was interned as a Prisoner of War in North Vietnam after he was shot down on 10/5/1972 and was held until his release on 3/29/1973.  Col Lewis was presented the Legion of Merit by the President of the United States and an Act of Congress.  Col Lewis told us some stories about his being shot down, parachuting and ending up as a POW.  He always kept a positive attitude During this period, the leadership, exemplary foresight, and ceaseless efforts consistently demonstrated by Chaplain Lewis resulted in significant contributions to the well-being of fellow Americans.

Then we went into Meridian and came into the Lauderdale County Agriculture Pavilion.  We had presentations to Thank the organizations that contributed foods and other services.  There were so many people including a large Boy Scout Troop helping to do whatever needed doing.  There is a group from Florida that come up on day 6 every year with a tractor trailer truck filled with washing machines and dryers to do our laundry.  Apparently, they respond to National Disasters of all types to help people with this service.  We were handed a bag with our name on it and tomorrow morning, they will be handed back with clean and folded clothes.  The dinner was wonderful, very tasty.  lots of homemade deserts.  It was cool.  Thank You to everyone involved.


The serving line at the Lauderdale Agri Pavilion

Free entertainment, and these gys were good!

Delicious dinner!

Presentations at lunch

Col Lewis, Vietnam POW who came home and learned how to comfort soldiers that needed it.

One of the wonderful nurses that are with us to help if needed.

Introductions of the dignitaries that came to visit with us.

Our first missing man of the day.

Jake and I doing a selfies after hearing about his wife reading these posts.

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Southern Route 2024 SitReps – Day 5 – Run For The Wall

Day 5 – Southern Route; Grand Prairie, TX to Monroe, LA


A good day today, lots of things going on.  We started in Grand Prairie and ended up in Monroe LA.  Going all through Texas, we had LEO escort and as soon as we hit the LA border, we were joined by 10 or more Louisiana State Motor Cops on their bikes and a couple of cars.  They were stopping traffic onto the entrances of the highway and letting our Road Guards take over while they would shoot out probably going 100 MPH to get up to the next entrance and leap frogging like that.  It’s fun to watch and sure makes it safer for us to not worry about cars or trucks trying to scoot between us to get into a different lane to get off or on.  With as long of a footprint as we have on the highway, this is very helpful.


Today, I had the honor to meet “Tigger” (road name) who’s nephew was Marc Alan Lee, the first Navy Seal to be KIA in Iraq on 8/2/2006.  Tigger rode Missing Man for Marc Lee on Day 1, leg 3.  I had a chance to learn some about Marc and his Mom from Tigger.  Marc wrote a letter to his Mom which became his last letter home.  Marc was awarded the Silver Star posthumously from the President of the United States for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidly in action against the enemy as an assaulter in automatic weapons gunner in Sea, Land, Air Team, Naval Special Warfare Task Group, In support of Iraqi Freedom, on August 2, 2006.  Marc is a Hero!  Tigger went on to explain that of course, the loss of her son was devastating as it would be to any parent, but Debbie Lee received a letter from him, Marc’s last letter.  Below is a link to a web site that has the full letter from Marc and it’s a very good read; inspiring.  And the inspiration in that letter helped Marc’s mom, Debbie Lee to not simply sit around and grieve, but do something to help Veterans that need help dealing with PTSD. I need to read more and learn more which I will do but there is a lot of good stuff on this web site including some different treatments to assist with PTSD using a Hyperbaric Oxygen Chamber.  I’ve been told the results are outstanding and it makes sense to treat with pressurized oxygen.  It’s used by Physicians to promote faster healing of wounds.  Marc’s mom, known to the Seal community as Mama Lee has been fund raising for her organization to treat Vets that need help.  The letter is available at:


The section of Marc’s “last letter home” that affected Debbie to do something rather than to be angry mom and grieve is:  However, what I do over here is only a small precent of what keeps our country great.  I think the truth to out greatness is each other.  Purity, morals and kindness, passed down to each generation through example.  So to all my family and friends, do me a favor and pass on the kindness, the love, the precious gift of human life to each other so that when your children come in contact with a great conflict that we are faced with here in Iraq, that they are people of humanity, of pure motives, of compassion.


Back to today’s run, the weather is holding out to be pretty good.  Hot, but not raining.  We had an experience at the Minden Fuel stop where the gas station we were planning to fill up at was out of fuel!  The fuel team went across the street and that station did not want to handle us so they went to a 3rd station that was next door to the original target and they accommodated us, but it led to fancy shuffling of getting the bikes filled and then moved to the original station to be staged into the groups.  Two years ago, I wrote about spending a day with the Fuel Team and how they work hard behind the scenes to get all the bikes filled so quickly.  I’d also like to mention that Staging team that always stages the bikes, so we are in the correct groups and the correct location.  It’s been compared to herding cats.  Well, hopefully we’re better than that but the platoons are numbered, and everyone needs to be with their platoon.  There is a sticker on the windshield of each bike indicating the platoon they belong to so the stagers are out there with signs at all times of early morning darkness and afternoon heat to get us lined up properly so we can pull out as an organized pack.  There are so many jobs that are critical to this well-oiled mission that are unsung heroes to make the run the great mission it is.  It’s worth a big shout out with a Thank You to the staging team, Thanks for your hard work and doing your part so well.  Like the fuel team, they ride ahead of the team to be at the stops to guide us and often miss out on meals or some of the other memorials we visit.


Today’s Outreach Mission was to Camp V in Tyler Texas.  I was told about it from “Fred Fred” and it’s a camp for veterans that need anything to heal themselves.  From they’re web site of “Who We Are” : Veterans, Active Duty, and Military Families love to live among the lakes and piney woods of East Texas. However, along with this serenity comes frustration when resources, information, and outlets for wellness are needed but cannot be found. Where do we go? Who has this service? Only to be told, “We don’t do that; you have to go someplace else.” Just connecting to other Military families challenges their time, patience, and pocketbooks. Many give up!
CampV (Community Assisting Military Personnel and Veterans) has answered the call!


Our unique 20-acre campus provides convenient access to local Veteran Service Providers at one location in Tyler, Tx. Veteran Volunteer Advocates meet personally with clients to assess needs and situations. Then working through a network of resources, Veteran families receive assistance to advance their current circumstances.  The visit was an interesting learning experience and it’s empowering to see good resources made available to the Vets that need help.


Continuing onto our day, of course, we were well cared for as we traveled.  In Terrel TX, we stopped for fuel and the local community came out to greet us and offer all kinds of drinks, snacks and sandwiches.  A young lady who is a Freshman in High School sang the National Anthem that was a very good rendition.  Then we went on to Longview TX to the fairgrounds where we again were fed well, provided sandwiches, snacks, drinks and lots of other goodies.  A local woman had a table set up with little angel trinkets she made to give to us.  There were over 4000 with many different types and colors.  Then we went on to Monroe LA to have a real good dinner of catfish, pork, cole slaw, French frys and cake.  Thank You Terrel, Longview and Monroe Shriners Hall with supporting cast.  We appreciate your work and support.  One last thought, today the community support was overwhelming.  So many over passes had fire trucks with at least 40 foot long flags hanging from their ladder trucks with people waving at us, welcoming us into their area.  I would need more fingers on my hands to count the number of over passes that had welcoming people greeting us this way.


A good day all around!

Boots – USAF ’72 – ’75

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Southern Route 2024 SitReps – Day 4 – Run For The Wall

Day 4 – Southern Route; Odessa, TX to Grand Prairie, TX


It’s hot in the deserts out here says this California boy.  Actually, the temps could be higher and will soon be but, when you’re riding through New Mexico and Texas at 65 MPH on a motorcycle, the wind will dry off the sweat but you’re body is always sweating, you just don’t feel it.  That’s the danger to be aware of so you don’t dehydrate, so hydrating constantly, drinking lots of water is a must.  And, we made it across to Grand Prairie, Texas.  The traffic coming in was challenging.  Keeping in mind we are a long line of motorcycles coming into a congested area with lots of people wanting to commute home and get on the highways we happen to be closing entrances to.  Some of these drivers try to get on anyway but luckily we have experienced and talented Road Guards that are always working closely with local law enforcement and they keep us safe.  We started in Odessa TX today and visited the Permian Basin Memorial.  It’s an interesting Vietnam Memorial dedicated to locals that gave all.  Every year there is a Native American man there that blesses our bikes with burning sage and prayers.  It’s an honor from this cool guy and we need all the prayers we can get!  We then went on to the Big Spring Memorial in Big Springs, TX.  We heard from a family that had just received word that their father who was missing for 51 years was finally identified in the remains of a plane crash in Vietnam with small parts of him found along with part of a gas station credit card.  He was recently brought home and buried here.  An amazing story.  They say it a very slow process but the work continues to bring them home.  There was a wreath laying here with our honor guard paying tribute and a nice version of Taps.

We then went on to Colorado City in Texas.  Colorado City is an amazing small town that opens up to our arrival and spends a lot of time preparing for us.  They feed us very well.  Today we had BBQ chicken, Beef, potato salad and green beans.  One of the servers mentioned that “we cover all 3 food groups, there’s chicken, beef and bacon on the green beans and potato salad”.  Yumm.  Thank You Colorado City!  One of the city members told me that RFTW coming into their town was like Christmas for them and really appreciated us visiting.  We then went onto Grand Prairie.  In Grand Prairie, we went to Dubiski Career High School for dinner.  This trip is not all about food but I’m sure it seems like it’s talked about here a lot.  It’s a factor of the friendliness of local folks wanting to honor us and take care of us while in their neighborhood.  We can’t not mention how these folks work hard to come up with the funds to buy this food, and cook it for us while honoring us for our service.  They make it clear they honor us because we represent their own family members that served and too many times did not come home.  It’s a feeling of family all coming together.  I’m sure there are better ways to articulate this but the gestures are all appreciated and means a lot on both sides.  There are many that have a family member on the Vietnam Wall in DC and someone in RFTW will get a tracing of their name and send it back to a relative in a town like Colorado City or Grand Prairie, creating a friendship that lasts forever.  The magic of the run.

Boots, USAF ’72 – ’75

The food.

The front of the Dubiski Career High School as we arrived.

The RFTW Honor Guard performing a wreath laying.

RFTW Honor Guard – wreath laying.

A local Native American who is also a Vietnam Vet performing a blessing.

A local Native American who is also a Vietnam Vet performing a blessing.

Our parked bikes at the Premian Basin Memorial.

The memorial

The American Legion cooking and feeding us breakfast in the AM.

The Chef’s!

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Southern Route 2024 SitReps – Day 3 – Run For The Wall

Day 3 – Southern Route; Las Cruces, NM to Odessa, TX


Today we started at the Las Cruces American Legion.  They opened up their hall to us and fed us a nice breakfast. Thank You American Legion Post 10.  From the American Legion Post, we went to the Veterans Memorial Park in Las Cruces.  It’s a beautiful park.  Some pictures are below.  One of the stand out memorials is the Bataan Memorial Death March.  Synopsis: In the Bataan Death March, about 75,000 Filipino and American troops on the Bataan Peninsula on the Philippine Island of Luzon were forced to make an arduous 65-mile march to prison camps. After the U.S. surrender of the Bataan Peninsula in 1942 during World War II, the Japanese took control of the area, and the prisoner of war (POWs) were subjected to brutal treatment by Japanese guards. An estimated 17,000 men perished during and after the Bataan Death March.

The memorial here has footprints in the cement that were created by actual surviving members of the march.  The rest of the park has memorials to other wars and are planning to grow the memorial for Afghanistan and Iraq.  They are all impressive.  We had a wreath laying ceremony with a 3 gun (technically a 3 gun volley) salute and an honor guard.  The Vietnam War Memorial is touching.  Etched in metal are pictures of the local hero’s that died supporting the war along with many other details.  If you’re reading this from afar, there’s a good chance there’s good memorials near you that are worth visiting this memorial day to honor those that gave all for us.


Today, I had the honor to ride Missing Man for a young man from my hometown.  The missing man formation has a volunteer rider riding side by side with an open area representing the place that soldier would be riding if they were alive today.  It’s a way to honor “Those Who Can’t Ride”.  I didn’t know this warrior when he was living near me as he went to a different high school then my kids but it sure hit the news when it was reported he was KIA in Anbar Province, Iraq.  Travis enlisted right after high school.  Marine Lance Corporal Travis Layfield, 19 years old at the time, was KIA in an ambush of insurgents.  Travis was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, California.   As I heard from his mother, after being shot, the insurgents dragged his body to the end of town trying to hide him in a big pile of trash.  His fellow Marines were looking for him without success until one of them saw, just an antenna sticking up out of the pile, which led them to Travis.  His mom, GSM Diane Layfield told us of this story at one of our regional monthly meetings that she attends to be with the RFTW family.  As mentioned, Travis joined the Marines soon after graduating from high school and was excited, yet a little scared to be going off to war like anyone would be.  We had news today that Travis became a grandfather today, May 17th, 2024.  He never met his son, but he has a strong family to take care of him and now the legacy will continue with his grandson.


We continued on to Texas going through El Paso with a few stops along the way.  One of those stops was at the Van Horn Convention Center where again, a nice lunch with giving people.  All the way through Texas we have LEO (law enforcement officer) escort for our 1.5 to 2.0 mile long footprint on the freeway with so many bikes.  In Odessa TX we ended up in the Crossroads Fellowship Church.  A very large church and we all ate very well.  Magic of the run.  A big Thank You to all the folks that took care of us today.

Boots, USAF ’72 – ’75

Vietnam Vets from the area – zoom in if you can.

The beginnings of the Sand Box memorial.

The Bataan March!

Back of the Bataan March statues. Again, these footsteps were imprinted with actual survivors feet casts.

The front of the Bataan March with two soldiers helping a fellow soldier during the march.

Our bikes lined up along the street near the Las Cruces Memorial Park.

Two of our members had a birthday today, Happy Birthday Tap-Out and Baby Buzz!

Presentations to the folks that take care of us – Thank You Las Cruces!

Our Hero from Fremont, CA.

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Southern Route 2024 SitReps – Day 2 – Run For The Wall

Day 2 – Southern Route; Casa Grande, AZ to Las Cruces, NM.

An interesting day.  We were served a good breakfast at the Elks lodge and left on time towards Las Cruces, NM.  There was a fuel stop in Marana, AZ at the Circle K.  Lots of locals came out to greet us and honor us with Thanks and Well Wishes.  There some older Vets that wished they could be traveling with us but their health won’t allow.  We Thank You Casa Grande Elks lodge for wonderful hospitality and a fun time and also the folks at Marana, AZ.  It’s an honor to meet with you and share the emotions with remembering loved ones lost.

We then went on to Wilcox, AZ.  We went to the Elks Lodge there and we were greeted by at least 100 elementary school children that were out there waving flags and greeting us with nice cards while we traipsed through to get a good pulled pork sandwich that was cooked by the same Vet that has been doing this for 12 years for Run for the Wall.  Again, a very nice reception, warm greetings and a nice meal as we are invited to their hometown.  From there, we traveled towards Las Cruces.  The wind that was blowing challenged us and surly kept you awake if you were tired at all.  We had significant dust clouds for a few miles but we made it through with another story to tell when we get home.  Las Cruces was ready for us.  We had a Army helicopter escorting us into town and after we arrived at the Elks lodge, the helicopter pilot buzzed the Elks lodge a couple of times and then landed in the field just next door.  We had many hugs and handshakes from the folks there, it was one of the warmest receptions to date.  Dinner was served and boy was it good.  BBQ links, brisket and chicken on each plate along with Cole Slaw and a great BBQ sauce.  There was an honor guard service presenting the flag that was obviously practiced, very well done.  I’ve always liked Las Cruces and the people there are a big part of the reason.  Then on to the hotels and get ready for more excitement tomorrow.

I also wanted to bring attention to a group of volunteers that normally are not talked about much and that is the Chase Team.  I mentioned a couple of years ago there are so many people that work in support of this run, many coming along as part of the run and many that are at each stop or working during the entire year to help this run be an organized event like the state coordinators, it’s difficult to mention everyone.  This day, I want to speak about the Chase Team.  My roommate, an FNG that I ride with a lot during the year had a problem with his bike.  At a fuel stop, the bike appeared to have an electrical problem.  Like so many newer bikes, so much is electronic.  His fuel door wouldn’t open so he shut the bike down, couldn’t open the fuel door and tried to start the bike.  Of course it wouldn’t start.  After a fair amount of work, the fuel stop was ending and they decided to put the bike on one of the trailers and think about where to bring the bike for service.  Choices were coming down to the Phoenix area which was still in front of us.  The point of this story is that Alan’s experience was extremely good in this devastating situation.  They put his bike on the trailer without letting him help, tied it down well and went to the Blythe fairgrounds where our lunch was.  Of course they have awesome trailers an Alan learned that the owner of the trailer (complete voluteer) built the trailer himself!  During lunch, Alan was talking with someone who has a similar bike and it was suggested that it might be a vapor lock situation.  After letting it cool down and still on the trailer, he tried starting it and it did start.  Yea!!  So, they pulled the bike off and Alan was able to ride on his own to catch up with the pack.  A big part of this that really impressed him was the caring from this team and their concern that the problem was fixed and didn’t come back.  The chase team is a great bunch of people that are there to support the pack and keep everyone safe.  They are not often mentioned here but there service to the run is critical.  Thank You Chase Team!  It great to know you’re there and we hope we never need your services but it’s nice to know you’re there with competent hands.  The magic of the run.

A bit about the Missing Man Formation.  When a soldier is KIA or MIA, it’s tradition to pay respect to that missing person by remembering them in different ways.  Since we are “Riding For Those That Can’t”, we have a formation in the very front of the pack that includes an open spot without a motorcycle there to honor the person who could not be with us.  A person from the pack has an opportunity to ride next to the open spot to remember someone that is important to them.  This is for each leg which means from where we start our day to the first stop which is probably a fuel stop.  Then, someone else will have an opportunity to do this on the next leg.  We have people that are riding for friends or loved ones, maybe a spouse or a brother or a sister.  It can be an emotional time.  A Chaplin is always there to hear the riders story.  A prayer is said and hugs go all around.  The Gold Star Moms and Dads are the most emotional as they grieve over the child that was lost in service to our country.  Freedom is not free.  We have more and more joining the 22 lost each day to taking their own lives, usually PTSD where they simply can’t deal with the emotions anymore.  This is a very deep subject that can’t be dealt with properly here but it’s a fact that needs to be heard and support provided to those that need someone to hear them, listen to them and protect them when ever possible.  Missing Man is an honor to remember and acknowledge.

Boots, USAF ’72 – ’75

Some of the bikes as we arrived to the Las Cruces Elks Lodge.

Another Missing man Start.

A great BBQ meal at teh Elks lodge.

The helicopter that escorted us into Las Cruces coming in for a landing.

Color Guard at the Elks Lodge.

Presentations at the Elks Lodge.

Pictures of this helmet don not do it justice. It’s beautiful when examined closely.