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May 25, 2024 – In Washington DC

May 25, 2024 – In Washington DC

It was a beautiful day.  Started at 65 and hit the mid 80s. 

The last few years the Run has not had the opportunity to ride into

Arlington Cemetery. This year we can. We have a limited

number of bikes allowed. Each bike has an FNG and they

must have a passenger. I had the honor to ride in.

We stage in the garage of the host hotel. Do you know how loud

it can get in a garage with all those bikes. It sounded awesome

…. but also loud.

We roll out….
As soon as we enter the cemetery, and see all these gravestones, your heart just sinks.
Look at all those that have died for our freedom.

 

Run For The Wall has an honor guard place a wreath in section 60.
This is also where 3 of the 13 killed in Afghanistan are buried.
You could hear a pin drop.  Not even the birds were singing.

 

This couple here had picked up the bio of one of the ones on the stone.
We were given special permissions to enter on the motorcycles. But once the ceremony was over, we had to leave.  Courtney, my niece and I, choose to walk around and meet family members.
One of the most sobering ceremonies is the changing of the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
As we head back to the bikes, there is one that has beautiful painting on it.  As I get closer, I see it has signatures.  The front fairing has signatures of gold star families. The remainder of the bike has the signature of veterans. It will be put into the California Harley Museum at the end of the mission
Here are the gentlemen riding to accomplish this.

Walking to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, we pass field after field of tombstones.

Fun Fact:
Just before Memorial Day weekend, the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (also known as The Old Guard) honors America’s fallen heroes by placing American flags at gravesites for service members buried at Arlington National Cemetery and the U.S. Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home National Cemetery. This tradition, known as “Flags In,” has taken place annually since the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment was designated as the Army’s official ceremonial unit in 1948. Every available soldier in the Old Guard participates, along with members of other service branches. They place small American flags in front of more than 260,000 headstones and at the bottom of about 7,000 niche rows. Each flag is inserted into the ground, exactly one boot length from the headstone’s base.
We get to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier as they are ready to change the guards.  If you get the chance to see this, it is amazing. Here are a few pics.
Fun Fact:

The military guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is changed in an elaborate ceremony which happens every hour on the hour from October 1 through March 31, and every half hour from April 1 through September 30.

Twenty-four hours a day, soldiers from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, known as “The Old Guard,” stand watch over the Tomb. The Tomb Guards, also called Sentinels, are chosen for this prestigious and highly selective post only after rigorous training and a demanding series of examinations (see below). The Old Guard has held this distinguished duty since 1948.

The Tomb Guard marches exactly 21 steps down the black mat behind the Tomb, turns, faces east for 21 seconds, turns and faces north for 21 seconds, then takes 21 steps down the mat and repeats the process.  (The number 21 symbolizes the highest military honor that can be bestowed, the 21-gun salute.) Next, the Sentinel executes a sharp “shoulder-arms” movement to place the weapon on the shoulder closest to the visitors, signifying that he or she stands between the Tomb and any possible threat.

 

Next, we head to the Lincoln Memorial for group a picture.  Normally we get pictures on the steps, but they are under repair, so we stand on the plaza in front of the Reflection Pool in front of the Washington Monument. Do you see me?  I am there 3rd last maroon hat on the left.

Most of the riders are carrying bios, cards, trinkets …. to be placed at the Wall.  All these items are collected and placed in storage.  When we were at Robley Rex Veterans Hospital, Popcorn Billy gave me an article to be placed at there.  It was an article about his twin brother that was killed in Vietnam.  Here is that article.

We found the panel and placed the article.  Looks like someone else was already there because we saw a bag of popcorn sitting there.  Billy loved his brother and every year we go to the hospital, he talks about him.

It has been a very long journey to get here. 

The RFTW Plaque is placed at the apex of the Vietnam Wall.

MISSION COMPLETE!!

When you are an FNG you have an FNG pin.  This allows everyone to know you are a first-time rider and you get lots of hugs.  Once you have reached the wall, you have someone turn your pin upside down to signify you have completed.

As we are all walking the Wall, Kim, Nick’s wife, starts playing her bagpipes.  It echoes thru the area and many stop and listen.  She played several songs including God Bless America, and Amazing Grace. Where are the tissues when you need them? 

 

 

 

Just some quick info on Kim, and how much she embraces the military and how much she is respected.

****************************

Pipe Major Kim Greeley – Storm Watch – born in Hawai’i, has been piping since she was 11 years old. Kim has studied and performed piping in Hawai’i, on the mainland, in Canada, and in the United Kingdom. Apart from numerous concerts and competitions, Kim has performed for military retirement celebrations, military funerals, and repatriation ceremonies. She is the piper on call for repatriation services at the National Cemetery of the Pacific. She also piped for the 9/11, WWI and WWII worldwide remembrance events. Kim’s largest concert is the annual one for the Riders of  the Run For The Wall gathering at the Lincoln Memorial and Vietnam Wall in Washington, D.C. on Memorial Day weekend. Kim has coordinated her performances with airplane and helicopter flyovers, parachute drops, presentations by government and military dignitaries, and other bands. Kim, along with pipers in her band, played for the interment of Lauren F. Bruner, the last crew member who will ever be returned to the U.S.S. Arizona at Pearl Harbor – coordinating the performance on Ford Island with the military divers as they returned Mr. Bruner’s ashes to the battleship.

*****************************

Thanks, Kim, for being part of our missions and making it so special

THE WALL

Somewhere on this incredible journey, we had a speaker that said this, and it really stuck:


Teach all to honor those that protect our country.
Always be loyal to those serving.
And never leave anyone behind.
So therefore, the Run must never stop.

POW / MIA Poem

We need to remember them every day.

They went to fight in a place so far away,

They gave their all when their country sent out a call

Not ever knowing that their name would end up on the wall,

No matter how we honor them no matter what we do

We should always remember that they paid the highest price

For the red, white and blue.

So when you look up at the flag flying in the wind on a clear blue day

Remember it’s there because of the

POW and MIA

*****************

I hope this blog has given you some idea of our mission. It is a grueling trip.   Long day, short night, 4;30 AM wake up calls…. This starts to wear on you.  Our trip was only 10 days.  Think of our troops in extreme hot and cold days.  They have a lack of sleep, long days……they stand to keep us safe a lot longer than 10 days.


Here are a few fun facts about our trip

 – Temperature ranged 32-103

 – We traveled in 14 states + Washington DC
– From Loveland, OH to Ontario, CA to DC to Loveland, OH – 6402 miles
– Thanks for all the thoughts and prayers.

We did not pay for meals on our mission. Every town we stayed in welcomed us, fed us, and prayed for our safety.  The support, encouragement, respect that the Americans have for the mission is incredible.  There is an unbelievable amount of time hanging banners, kids making bracelets, making pocket patches, hanging flags on the overpasses, closing down streets, organizing volunteers for meals, setting up fuel stops. and the list goes on.

100s, 1000s of hours given by so many to make this happen: route coordinator, state coordinators, missing man coordinator, staging team, fuel team, hydration team, road guards, medical personnel…..and the riders themselves.  The logistics to get that many people across the country has to be done by so many

We continually asked each other: What time is it? What time zone are we in? What day is it? What state are we in?  But there is one thing we knew the answer to: what was our mission?

Mission Statement of RFTW : 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 have sent many quotes thru the last 10 days.  Here are my last two:

         U – Unselfish

      S – Service to

      A – America

It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died.

Rather we should thank God that such men lived.

                      General George Patton

On the Run, we said the Pledge every day.  I see our flag and have taken pictures of it all week. Every time I see it waving in the air, it is telling me I am free.  And that right is protected by our men and women.  Let’s continue to try and bring them all home.

HOW FAR ARE WE GOING???  —— ALL THE WAY

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!!

One more set of prayers please, and that is to get everyone home safely from DC and continue to pray for all service men and women, past and present.

I leave you with 2 songs that really hit home with our Men and Women that server:

 

Proud to be an American (by: Lee Greenwood)

If tomorrow all the things were gone

I’d worked for all my life

And I had to start again

With just my children and my wife

I’d thank my lucky stars

To be living here today

Cause the flag still stands for freedom

And they can’t take that away

 

 And I’m proud to be an American

Where at least I know I’m free

And I won’t forget the men who died

Who gave that right to me

And I gladly stand up

Next to you and defend her still today

Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land

God bless the USA.

From the lakes of Minnesota

To the hills of Tennessee

Across the plains of Texas

From sea to shining sea
From Detroit down to Houston,

And New York to L.A

Well there’s pride in every American heart

And its time we stand and say

That I’m proud to be an American

Where at least I know I’m free

And I won’t forget the men who died

Who gave that right to me

And I gladly stand up

Next to you and defend her still today

Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land

 

AMERICAN SOLDIER (BY: TOBY KEITH)

I’m just trying to be a father

Raise a daughter and a son

Be a lover to their mother

Everything to everyone

Up and at ’em bright and early

I’m all business in my suit

Yeah, I’m dressed for success

From my head down to my boots

I don’t do it for the money

There’s bills that I can’t pay

I don’t do it for the glory

I just do it anyway

Providing for our futures

My responsibility

Yeah, I’m real good under pressure

Being all that I can be

And I can’t call in sick on Mondays

When the weekend’s been too strong

I just work straight through the holidays

And sometimes all night long

You can bet that I stand ready

When the wolf growls at the door

Hey, I’m solid, hey I’m steady

Hey, I’m true down to the core

And I will always do my duty

No matter what the price

I’ve counted up the cost

I know the sacrifice

Oh, and I don’t want to die for you

But if dyin’s asked of me

I’ll bear that cross with honor

‘Cause freedom don’t come free

I’m an American soldier

An American

Beside my brothers and my sisters

I will proudly take a stand

When liberty’s in jeopardy

I will always do what’s right

I’m out here on the front lines

Sleep in peace tonight

American soldier

I’m an American soldier

 

God bless the USA.

https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/img/b/R29vZ2xl/AVvXsEjXc3759DaekJ6iDmNT1VAAVMWtSj0AyNQ1KEe6M_v4BEwEFO63X_SlgONK7rjllGsO4dGIcZvDtBxJCj4weeAwAgTx7iajrbrkW4dYvv2NN-iGoYVx_xIH8wFrukwD9KSITscL3mLrNZhN/s1600/end+flag.jpg

 

NEVER FORGET !!!!!

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May 24, 2024 – Day 10 to DC – Lewisburg, WV to Washington DC

May 24, 2024 – Day 10 to DC – Lewisburg, WV to Washington DC

One of the fun things for the road guards is to wrap the rookie’s bikes.

Larry’s turn last night. I bet he had fun in the morning with cleaning this one off.

 

Today started out with lots of rain.  Bernadette had her rain gear on a truck, so she improvised.
Nice rain pants.  No worries, I had an extra pair, and she was set to go.

 

Nick reads the last bio, and an Army FNG takes it to be placed at the wall.

Say their name, they will never be forgotten. We need to bring everyone home.

Jenny announces the challenges.  This year the staging crew came in first.  Sorry for forgot who won the military challenge.  Fun to have bragging rights till next year.  Bottom line is that Rainelle received a nice sum of money for the kids.  WAY TO GO guys.

Last year, there was an FNG that wrote a poem to summarize the run for him. Ed reminded me of it so I thought I would share it again.  I am glad he read it because I am not sure I would have gotten thru it.

We were just informed that this is Doug’s last year driving a chase vehicle.  As these guys retire we need to get the younger generation to step up.  We have seen some of this but need to really get the younger ones engaged.  We cannot let the Run stop until everyone is home.

KC is the person in my post a few days ago that lost everything from the tornado: cows , barn, bike shop and damage to his house.  He wanted to thank everyone who asked what they could do.  This is what family does.  He will be getting in touch once he returns home.  Thanks to all.

Tom sets up every leg of the missing man rain or shine.  This one is for the Willing Warrior Retreat Center.  Lt Anthony Shinen was MIA in 1972 and recovered in 1996. This is amazing.
We will not stop until all are brought home.
I am pretty bummed with the rain.  This part of the road leaving Lewisburg is beautiful.  Big windy roads and mountains full of trees.  I got a few pics.

Yeah!!!! after the first gas stop the sun came out.  We were all a bit soaked but dried quickly.  Making up for lost time on getting pics of our beautiful country.

I love the colors!!
………..and no rain.
Gas stop at Toms Brook and everyone is delayering.
Our road guards back at work.

Lunch stop is in Marshall.  We are met with the students at Marshall elementary school 8th graders.

The signature binder we are doing for Joseph Ross needs to be returned to Larry today so we can get it back to Kentucky.  I saw all the kids the greeted us and explained what the book was all about.  They jumped at the chance to be a part of it.  This is our future, let’s embrace them and continue to show them the way.  Thanks a lot, kids.
There was a pinning ceremony for those that served 1955-1975. The lady here lost her father when she was young.  She and a foundation (sorry do not have the name) are also working to find all and bring them home.  Her comment was ” these hugs feel like all the hugs I would have gotten from my dad”.
Her father was one that was found.  His name will now have a diamond by it instead of a cross on the Vietnam Wall in Arlington.
While at lunch, Dick (in above pic) told me of a very interesting story.  He is part of the Outreach team.  This is the team that visits gold star families.   I thought I would share.

 

The Outreach Platoon (all 5 of us) were honored to make a presentation to John (J T ) Taylor, at his motorcycle repair shop in the center of Rainelle. He is a Vietnam Veteran and a Gold Star father, with two remaining sons who were both injured during their tours of duty.
His oldest son, Jeff, was part of Seal Team 10 and was killed on 6.28.2005 while trying to rescue a captured US soldier. His picture, along with the other Rainelle KIA’s, is posted in the Veterans Memorial Garden on Main Street between 4th and 5th Streets. Jarrod Gerbitz’s mother presented J T with a Gold Star quilt and also with a personal quilt for being a Veteran. Two more quilts will soon be delivered to his two remaining sons.
After the ceremony, I met with Lenny and Emma Michelinie – she arranges most of the activities in Rainelle and instead of putting flowers on the float for Memorial Day, she had her husband drive us up the Simms Mountain Gold Star Mothers Apple Orchard – only a :15 drive from the school; motorcycles could make it up the paved/gravel road easily. This land was donated by a local Patriot and the state provided equipment to improve upon the access. There are about 100 apple trees planted in memory of the West Virginia servicemen and women who did not make it home. The trees are arranged so that each row ripens at a certain time in sequence with the others. The trees were only planted two years ago and are surrounded with chicken wire to keep the deer from eating the leaves. Each tree also has a copy of each Warrior’s dog tag affixed to it. It is a very somber, moving experience.

 

Here is a pic of the FNGs.  Pretty big.  I have heard lots of them plan to come back next.  GREAT!!!
Yeah!! police escort AND the HOV lane.  Thanks guys this was the smoothest landing in DC ever!!
What a reception!!  The other 2 routes came in earlier today.   Several stayed to cheer us on as we got in.  What a great family spirit.  4 Routes 1 missions.

  Gomez is ready to share the beer.

Most of the platoons take that final group shot before heading out.  Here are our road guards. Thanks, guys, for keeping the bubble around us across this wonderful country of ours.

Nick put out a memo for a contest on the best Hawaiian shirt.  I think I missed that one and so did most of us.  Here are the 2 that dressed so they both won.  hahaha

Gil and Jeannie are Audrey’s parents.  They have successfully given Audrey her last RFTW ride.  This was a hard ride for them and all that knew Audrey.  She was not a veteran but truly embraced the mission.

Rest in Peace Audrey!!

 

After every morning meeting, Nick would Concluded with: 

Why do we ride? FOR THOSE WHO CAN”T

How many routes do we have? 4

How many missions do we have? 1

HOW FAR ARE WE RIDING???

ALL THE WAY !!!

HOW FAR ARE WE RIDING???

ALL THE WAY !!!

*********************

BUT the mission is not complete until we get to the Wall tomorrow. 

Temps: 60-74

Route: I-64 E, I-81N, I-66E

Miles:257

Quote for the day:

A veteran is someone who at one  point in their life wrote a bank check

made payable to their country for an amount up to, and including their life.

THANK YOU!!!

Here is a flag on the back of a helmet. It reminds me that I am able to ride on this mission because I am free and those that serve have preserved it for me.

REMEMBER: Please thank our men and women in the service as well as our police and firemen. A simple hand shake goes a long way and it only takes a minute.

Last post will be tomorrow.

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May 23, 2024 – Day 9 to DC – Nitro, WV to Lewisburg, WV

Today is the day we go to Rainelle. We have worked all week to raise money for the kids there. It is hard to describe the feeling you get when you get there.

Nick thought he came the farthest to be on the Run since he traveled from Hawaii, but there is a couple here from the Netherlands. He has been a professor at a military academy since 2010. He has been reading up on this mission for a long time and decided to take it. This morning, he told everyone that he will be back and bring lots more of his friends.

Nick read the bio of a person MIA on this date. He also goes to visit them at the cemetery in Hawaii.
Someone volunteers to carry this to the wall. I have mentioned this since we started. We will go to the Vietnam Wall and find the name. We pray for their return and to give their family peace. We will then leave the paper at the wall. FYI all the items left at the wall are collected on a daily basis and archived in a storage facility. Can you imagine how big that is?
 
We head out to the bikes and are met with a nice surprise. The kids from the school nearby are outside waiting for us to leave. As we were walking to the bikes, they started chanting “USA USA…”. Pretty nice.
Bikes are lined up on the street and ready to roll. Then here comes Gomez. 
He is always a fun face to see.

 

 

Sun is trying to come out which is great as long as no rain.

 

We rode pass the Vietnam Memorial in Nitro…

Hit the road….
….and across Kanahwa River in Charleston WV
….. and right to the capital.

Several of our teams have stopped to salute the Run as we roll in.

As we enter, there is a young man standing, saluting as the pack passes. He has been standing there for the Run every year since he was one.  He is now 19 and will remain standing until all have arrived.

  

His grandmother worked in one of the buildings in the capital.  The grandmother’s husband is a Vietnam vet. He served from 1966-1969.  One year actually in Vietnam as a radio operator.

They have been married for 52 years.  I admire all the women who have stayed with their husbands from the Vietnam War (or any war).  They too have suffered.  Many of our soldiers have changed and have problems with coping yet the spouses have stayed with them. Thanks ladies.  This goes also for any women that served.  Thanks, guys, for sticking with your wives.

 There is a gold star wall in Charleston. It is the first Gold Star Families Memorial Monument.  It is beautiful.

Fun Fact:

  

 There is a second monument:

The West Virginia Veterans Memorial is a two-story oval shaped monument honoring more than 10,000 West Virginians who made the ultimate sacrifice in defending the nation in twentieth century conflicts. Composed of four limestone monoliths surrounded by a reflecting pool, the interior walls are faced in polished black granite etched with the names of these men and women. 

 

The bikes have been parked around the front of the capital.

 

 
Picture on the steps of the Capital… everyone say “cheese…”  Hey smile!!… hahahah 

 

\
It is a beautiful ride up to Rainelle. Thank goodness we did not have rain. 

Enjoy the ride, the supporters along the way 

and the kids once we get to the top of the mountain.

Riders behind me…. Pretty good shot, right?

 

One of the road guards telling us to slow down.

 

Even though it is only 70 miles, it will take about 2 hours to get there.

Lots of windy roads but so enjoyable since I am a passenger.  🙂

This kid is waving for all he is worth.  I think the flag is bigger than he is.

Few goes greeting us as we get into Rainelle.  Thanks guys.
Check out the school kids…. All scream and chant USA USA….  Sweet.

 

The kids so embrace this and what a history education

I think the whole town comes out for this.  I talked to several adults, and they tell me that they were once the kids as the bikes parade thru town. Remember they have been coming here since 1989.
The riders feel like “Rock Stars” when all the kids ask for their autograph.

Ron always has his shirt for them to sign.  Looks like one of the riders is getting in on the action.

All the kids have these shirts “We Are the Future”.

 

This is so true.

Most of the riders have brought little trinkets for the kids.

 

It is like Halloween but no candy.

AHHH turnabout is fair play Ron.  We do not see this too often.

 

Piper even gets in on the action to hand things out.
One of the teams, not normally in the front, is the Ambassador team.  You have seen the many bridges with a few to maybe up to 50 people.  The ambassador hit the bridges and thank them for their patronage.  They also go to kids’ schools and thank them for their support.  I talked to Eric and Sonya to see if they could give me something to post.  I hope you take time to read all of this.  This group is truly a family in so many ways.  Thanks Sonya and Eric for all you do.
The Ambassadors met Megan and Sophia Angel the first year the Ambassador Team formed. We went to Valley school in Smithers. That first year Sophia was a kindergartner. She proudly stood up and told us her daddy served but died. Since that first visit, we have stopped at her school and watched her grow up into the beautiful young woman she is. Today she rode with Ambassadors from Nitro to Rainelle to honor her father. Sophia rode with Stephen Omoletski which is why he is in picture with us. Who knows, maybe next year Megan and Sophia will go all the way. 😉
*********************
Jefferey Scott Angel II
Gauley Bridge, West Virginia, US Army SGT, C Co, 4th Bn, 101st Aviation Regt, 159th CAB, 101st Airborne Division. Skyline, US, 09/11/2007
Sergeant Jeffrey Scott Angel II joined the Army in November 2002 and arrived at Fort Campbell May 2003.  He had been to Iraq 3 times but was killed along with two other soldiers in a training mission in Alabama on September 11, 2007 as he was preparing to go overseas for the fourth time
The three Soldiers were traveling in a helicopter that went down at approximately 7 p.m. near Skyline, Ala., in Jackson County, on September 11.  They were flying from Fort Campbell to Chattanooga Municipal Airport in Chattanooga at the time of the crash.
His awards and decorations include the Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon and the Army Aviator badge.
He was a graduate of Valley High School at Smithers, where he was a quarterback for Valley’s football team and captain of its baseball team. Besides playing football and baseball, Scott also loved hunting deer and fishing.
Angel (age 24), of Gauley Bridge, W.Va., was a Black Hawk helicopter repairer. He leaves behind a wife and daughter, and his parents.
*******************
After seeing the kids, she is ready to ride all the way next year and Stephen said he would love to have her ride with him.  Hope to see you next year!!!
Lunch is serveed.  As we walk down the halls there are posters everywhere for all the year the Run has been thru here.
One of the best things is the banana pudding.  Crawfish is loving this!!!!

As we are eating lunch, it is raining.  Glad it waited until we got here.  Thanks again for all the prayer warriors that pray for our safe travels.

Kim is the principal here.  She runs a tight ship, and you can tell the kids really respect her.

We all say the Pledge of Allegiance….
The town put up a tent once they saw the weather forecasted.  Nice job guys.

 

All the kids are in the tent along with some of the riders.

The music teacher gets on the speaker and asks the kids to stand

as they are going to sing the Star-Spangled Banner.
Great thing……all the riders joined… darn allergies. This was soo cool.

RFTW presented Kim with our donation… She is about in tears.  This money is used for so many things:  field trips, new playground equipment, computers, school supplies…..

Here is your leadership Kim….. We will be back next year.

Temps: 63-70 

Route: I-64E, Rt 60

Miles: 121


Quote:  The Price of Freedom is Written on the Wall

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May 22, 2024 – Day 8 to DC – Corydon, IN to Nitro, WV

May 22, 2024 – Day 8 to DC – Corydon, IN to Nitro, WV

Wow! What a great and exhausting day! This one may take a few minutes longer to read. We had lots of stops to make today.

I would like to take a sidestep for a few minutes. There are a lot of teams within the Run and one I feel I may have neglected are the road guards. These guys create a bubble around the whole pack. Here are some of the things they do:

 

  • They have an advance team that will run in front the pack and check the roads ahead, set people at the turn interchanges and lets the road guard captain if any issues ahead
  • They will block on ramps so no cars get in the middle of the pack
  • They stop traffic at all intersections for the pack to go thru without stopping
  • They direct the bikers out of the gas pumps toward the staging teams
  • Work with the LEOs for clearing the highways.
  • And I am sure I have missed several other things
Here are a few pics:
Top Hat and Wild Bill are Vietnam Veterans that still ride hard

Little fun on the exit ramps to get people focused going off the ramps

Direct the bikers thru town

……and at the gas pumps.

For the entrance ramps, once the pack is past them, they must recycle.

One even helped an elderly person cross the parking lot.
********************************
I also owe you info on Joseph Ross, the person we are signing the pages for from Kentucky.
Kelly from Platoon 1 knew the brothers from the article below. Thanks Kelly for getting me this info:

 

Joe’s younger brother Steve is a Vietnam Veteran. He was an aircraft mechanic during the War.

He would be sent out to different bases wherever aircraft needed repairs.

One week before Joe would be listed as MIA, Steve was sent to Da Nang Air Base, where his brother was stationed.

They spent their evenings together hanging out talking about their years growing up in Fort Thomas, Kentucky.

Once Steve Ross’ assignment had been fulfilled, he boarded a plane to go to another Air Base for repairs there.

His plane was not allowed to takeoff, and Air Base officers came to inform him his brother’s flight that had taken off earlier was Missing.

Steve was soon sent home to Kentucky to tell his parents about what happened to his brother.

Steve recently returned to Kentucky from his home in Florida to help dedicate a new Vietnam Memorial Monument recognizing the 36 men from Campbell County, Kentucky whose lives were lost.

Joe is on the left, Steve on the right.

********************************
Nick starts with a bio for someone to carry to the wall. This is why we ride, to bring everyone home. We are on day 8 and starting to feel the fatigue. We need to remember them. They would love to feel this way and be here. Remember that you are here for them!
Tom Pogue, Bones, prepares the Missing Man for this leg.
He has a different person for every leg of the Run.

We start the day trying to get thru Louisville. This is always a little tough and this year is a little worse since they have taken 2 of the 3 lanes down for construction. The road guards and local LEO got us thru pretty quickly. The state coordinator was a huge driver to get this resolved.

We roll into Robley Rex VA Hospital as our first stop of the day. They are always ready for us.

Fun Fact:

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 served 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 Veterans 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.

There is a gentleman who knows about  “Popcorn” Billy.  He gave me the story about Billy.  The 2 men 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 attack on a helicopter unit. Billy’s brother died in this attack and Billy was wounded.  Ever since he has been helping all the people.  The name “popcorn” came because he makes popcorn and sells it then donates the proceeds. He buys all the supplies.  Always smiling and he loves hugs!!

 Billy welcomes up and has us all join him for the Pledge of Allegiance. He left us with this:

“Please enjoy your life while you can and be happy and healthy the rest of your days.”

He sees me and Jenny and grabs a hug!!! They he sees Courtney and give her a big hug. He said he feels like he died and went to heaven. I think he says that to all the ladies

 

He is now 79 and his ailments from Vietnam are really affecting him.

He has stopped doing the popcorn but still goes and visits the vets.

Lee, on the left, is our KY state coordinator.  The next one is one of the current pharmacists.  The next lady worked here 7 years ago and still comes to visit the vets.  She always makes sure she comes on RFTW day.

 

We have hydration teams that follow us.  People donate drinks and snacks. Here is one of teams that carry this.  Constantly filling the cooler with ice and making sure we stay hydrated.
This gentleman was greeting the rider as they went into the store. He served for 22 year and would do it again.  He has been coming here for 10 years and said he would wait all day to see us  if he had to.
This next stop is probably my favorite memorial.  I still do not quite understand it even though I have heard and read about it for 10 years.
Col. Cecil spent 10-15 minutes explaining the sundial.

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 built. 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.

As we turn the corner to go to the memorial, check out this flag!!!   It is huge.

A prayer and the Pledge of allegiance is said before we get started.  Taps are played off in the distance.
If you remember at the start of the Run, we asked an FNG to carry a book

 

and get signatures of an MIA/KIA.  Here are the names of those remaining

Let’s rock and roll. Load up and head down the road to our last stop and dinner.

 

        

 

Get to Nitro and yet another great greeting.

 

to be found and you will see Joseph Ross is still on the list and the shadow

will never fall on his name.

Someone asked what about leap years.  To date there is no one here who was born on February 29.

The colors are posted, and a beautiful singing of our national anthem is sung.

This gentleman is a WWII veteran and the little girl you have met already is Piper. She was very excited to be here bridging the generation gaps.

 

At dinner I met Carla.  She has been around the Run for 25 years. It started in a Yamaha bike shop in Hurricane.  They would park in a field, eat spaghetti and have ice cream. The ice cream part is still around, yum!!!

Temps: 68-80 

Route: I-64E

Miles: 252

Quote for the day:

            Heroes do not wear capes, they wear dog tags.

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May 21, 2024 – Day 7 to DC – Wentzville, MO to Corydon, IN

ay 21, 2024 – Day 7 to DC – Wentzville, MO to Corydon, IN

Sorry all. I forgot to post some pics of Junction City from last year since we did not get to see it 2 days ago. Hopefully you will all be back next year to see it. ☺☺☺

Today I went on a breakout to Perryville, MO. This is where they have an exact replica of the Vietnam Wall that is in Washington DC. The big difference is the one in DC is engraved and the one in Perryville is etched. It even has the name that a misspelled in DC, also misspelled here.
We headed out early and the sun was trying to peek out from around the clouds. After the other night, the sun is a very welcomed thing.
We get off the highway and travel back country road. It is kind of nice since we have been on the highways pretty much since we left Ontario.
We stopped for fuel before we arrived at the memorial. I helped a little….new job for me? No thanks, I will let the fuel team keep it. They do such a great job.
We arrive in parade formation with our 3 flags.
This is the wall from off the road. Pretty imperative.

We were greeted by the staff, where we presented them with a check to help them.


On the wall there are multiple panels. Rosie gave me a lot of information.

  • The panels start at the apex from 1959
  • Each panel has the name listed alphabetically with in the day of their loss
    • So if you see : Jones, Murphy, Smith, Brown,…. Brown starts a new day
  • The first panel has 700 names, and it took 5 years to get them
  • Panel 2 took 5 months
  • Panel 3 took 5 weeks
This place on the wall has the same exact name. It is 2 different people,
killed on same day and both from Missouri
A cross denotes MIA

 

  • 15 was the youngest and 62 was the oldest
  • 22 was the average age but most were 18
  • 3 sets father/son
  • 40 sets of brothers
  • 16 clergy
  • May 1968 was the worst month
  • Coins left:
  • Penny – signifies that someone (veteran or civilian) has visited the grave
    Nickel – signifies that the coin-leaver attended boot camp with the veteran
    Dime – signifies that the coin-leaver served with the veteran in some capacity
    Quarter – signifies that the coin-leaver was present when the veteran died

    As load, Kirk shows me the odometer on his bike.  77,777.  Sounds like he needs to get a lottery ticket.

I love the ride back to regroup with the pack.

Wheat on one side, corn on the other. You can even smell the wheat.

Wheat on one side, corn on the other. You can even smell the wheat.
 

You can also smell the fertilizer they spray here.

Did you ever wonder how much one of these weighs? We often see a lot on a truck
An average bail will weigh 700-900 pounds. Now times that by the number on a semi.
They are hauling a lot of weight.

We now head of the great Mississippi River. This is always a cool sit

Not sure what this is but I think it is a sprayer.

We comment instead of going around it, we could just go under it.

Caught the pack at the gas station.  Yeah, fuel team is there, I do not have to work.

Lance is ready to go!!
Kids give us a great reception as we leave and head to lunch at Mt. Vernon Airport.
Even the nursing home residents come out to see us.
Heading into the airport

Airport has a great staging area.  Lots of room!!
Leaving here on I-64, the terrain has again changed.  Lots of green!!!! And lots of heat.
At this gas station there is hot dog vendor that everyone talks about.  Again, all donated to the Run.  We just ate chicken, and we are on our way to have a fish dinner, but you have to have a hot dog.

 

Fun Fact:

Dewig Meats, located in Haubstadt, Indiana began in 1916 by three Dewig brothers. Today, Dewig Brothers Meat Packing is still family owned and operated by third generation Dewig meat processors. Our retail store boasts a fully stocked 12,000 ft. retail meat market, custom-cut orders & butchering & processing services. Our completely updated retail meat market features 18 self-serve cooler doors and 21 self-serve freezer doors LOADED with award winning meat products. Customer service is key, “The customer is always right,” is our motto.

The hot dogs were really good.

I asked this stagger if he gets paid double for this.

He laughed and said “Nope, same as for just the one”.

I am loving this. We are getting so close to home (Cincinnati, OH).

Ok Now I am riding with Jenny.  I should be riding with her now until DC.

We had to head out in front of the pack because

Jenny was a little concerned with her Spyder overheating.

Great opportunity. for me to SEE the pack coming in, instead of being in it.  It was pretty cool.

In 2015, my FNG year, I met Sue at the Wentzville Vietnam Memorial. Sue was in the Navy in 1955.
Served 2 years coordinator of the women’s barrack.

She was the quarter bouncer.  The next 2 years she served as a stewardess

for the commanders. 

This year since we did the breakout, I missed it. My brother and his daughter

saw her and she asked where I was. She was so disappointed since she had made me something.

This is Ron, Sue (age 87), Sherri (her daughter), Courtney.

Here is what she made me.  WOW. This is soooo cool.  I LOVE IT.
She is just another part of this family.
Pic from the day (Thanks Courtney).  This is at the memorial.

Wentzville Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Wentzville takes extreme pride in being home to the first Vietnam Veterans Memorial in the United States. Wentzville was the first city in the nation to realize that the troops who served in Vietnam deserved to be honored.

As it stands today, the Wentzville Vietnam Veterans Memorial consists of a single-column of red Missouri granite, topped by the carved figure of an eagle. Inscribed in the column’s base is:

Vietnam Veterans Memorial December 1967

“Whither thou goest, I will go.”

We are on the road for 10 days on this journey.

Many spend another week plus traveling before and after the Run. 

So a lot of us are away for about 3 weeks.  This is nothing compared

to how long our service men and women are deployed.  Keep all our

active duty in your thoughts and prayers.   

We are now back on Eastern time. Funny thing I overheard today,

I do not care what time zone we are in, just will someone tell me

the current time so I am not late tomorrow.

Temp: 60-hot (about 83)

Route: I-64E

Total Miles: 290

Quote for the day:

Please tell him he is more than just a name on a wall

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May 20, 2024 – Day 6 to DC – Junction City, KS to Wentzville, MO

May 20, 2024 – Day 6 to DC – Junction City, KS to Wentzville, MO

WOW! What a night it was last night. A few more stories.

-Several people had bruises and one person got a finger broken.

– Someone else told me that the hail hit his kill switch.

Someone on the Run had his property hit. He lives close by so went home to assess the damage. He said his bike barn was gone, all his animals gone, and his wheat field was destroyed from too much water. His daughter said, go we will handle this. Pray for this family please.

The registration team and a few others spent most of the night making calls to PLs and other hotels to confirm all were accounted for. Thanks for all the work and yes all were accounted for.

Thanks to the prayer warrior for making sure everyone was safe, but next time can you pray for no hail please. Those really hurt. Bruises are starting to feel a little better.

Some gave me his and said this pic was captured by the storm catchers from behind the storm. We were right in the middle of this.

 

Here is a pic of Tom, last man, and Stephen, and his truck. Look at the hail damage.  

 

This was from a baseball size hail ball.  Look at the circle in the windshields. Glad you 2 are ok.

Today this gentleman the brick yesterday. Remember this from the first day. We have been able to get someone every day.

Here is the info. I finally go it.
This couple carried it today.

 

 

As we get on the road, the overpasses are starting to fill up. People are showing everywhere.
Now we need to navigate a toll booth. Piece of cake…
As we head into Missouri, Thumper, our Missouri state coordinator, gets us an escort cross the state.  This form is what I call the “flying V”.  It is pretty neat to see them peel off and close entrance ramps, stop existing cars and truck already on the highway to make sure we are safe. To make sure we complete our missions.

Pretty cool to see them work

We head into Concordia, MO.

The last few years we have come here there has always been a WWII veteran.  This year was no exception.  My understanding was that his only Christmas wish was to be able to come and see all of us and thank us for keeping the mission going, to bring everyone home.
I watched him and he was so excited to see everyone.
What a great park
Each town has their uniqueness.  They have the kids make up bags for us to take but they also put cards and envelopes in them.  They want us to give them our city and state. What a great way for the kids to learn. They learn firsthand about our veterans. Thanks, kids, for the bag.
Great day to be outside.  The coordinator always does something pretty cool.  It really brings us closer as a family.  We ALL sing the Star-Spangled Banner and say The Lord’s prayer together.  This makes our RFTW even closer.  Thanks Lori.
Daniel, I did not know you had such a good voice.
Here we have Jack and Dean.  They are uncle/nephew.  Jack is 81 and loving every minute of this.
Ok let’s head out to our final destination, Wentzville, MO. What a sendoff.
Back to the flying V.
A little fun at a gas stop.
Hey Catfish, I think this little girl wants to be road guard.
What a reception from Wentzville, MO.
After all the presentations are complete, we get a 21 guns salute….
 and taps. Beautiful.
Thanks to all for feeding us and helping us complete our missions.

As we leave and head for dinner, I hear this song.

I hope you take a few minutes to read it all.

Ragged Old Flag

by Johnny Cash

I walked through a county courthouse square

On a park bench, an old man was sittin’ there.

I said, “Your old court house is kinda run down,

He said, “Naw, it’ll do for our little town”.

I said, “Your old flag pole is leaned a little bit,

And that’s a ragged old flag you got hangin’ on it”.

He said, “Have a seat”, and I sat down,

“Is this the first time you’ve been to our little town”

I said, “I think it is”

He said “I don’t like to brag, but we’re kinda proud of that ragged old flag”

You see, we got a little hole in that flag there

When Washington took it across the Delaware.

And It got powder burned the night Francis Scott Key sat watching it

Writing “Say Can You See”

It got a bad rip in New Orleans, with Packingham & Jackson

Tugging at it’s seams.

And it almost fell at the Alamo

Beside the Texas flag,

But she waved on though.

She got cut with a sword at Chancellorsville,

And she got cut again at Shiloh Hill.

There was Robert E. Lee and Beauregard and Bragg,

And the south wind blew hard on that ragged old flag

On Flanders Field in World War I

She got a big hole from a Bertha Gun

She turned blood red in World War II

She hung limp, and low, a time or two

She was in Korea, Vietnam, she went where she was sent

By her Uncle Sam

She waved from our ships upon the briny foam

And now they’ve about quit wavin’ back here at home

In her own good land here She’s been abused

She’s been burned, dishonored, denied an’ refused

And the government for which she stands

Has scandalized throughout out the land

And she’s getting thread bare, and she’s wearin’ thin

But she’s in good shape, for the shape she’s in

Cause she’s been through the fire before

And I believe she can take a whole lot more

So we raise her up every morning

And we take her down every night,

We don’t let her touch the ground,

And we fold her up right.

On a second thought

I do like to brag

‘Cause I’m mighty proud of that ragged old flag

*********

SAY THEIR NAME AND THEY WILL NEVER BE FORGOTTEN.

Temps: 55-77

Route: I-70E

Miles: 343

Quote for the day:      

 

Honoring the past, inspiring the future

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May 19, 2024– Day 5 to DC – Limon, CO to Junction City, KS

May 19, 2024– Day 5 to DC – Limon, CO to Junction City, KS

Well……. today was an interesting day to say the least.

Harry and Martha ae on the Ambassador team.  They go to the bridges, and school.  Here is a story Harry told us at the opening meeting (get you tissues ready).

PRECIOUS STARS –  Harry & Martha Steelman.    Several years ago I was helping a RFTW both at a Camp Pendleton 1st Marine Division family day hosted by Shirley Scott and Carol Olmstead of the Southern Route. Shirley was handing stars cut from retired American flags to the children of the Marines and asking them to read the explanation on the back of the pouch. I thought that the kids would probably not read the text so I took a star and talked with them boy one on one. He was very focused on what I was saying and understood th meaning. Now I carry stars all the time to give to the young people I  meet.  When we stopped in Raton, I saw a group of small girls and introduced myself, asked their names and mentioned that I am a VN. Vet. Is do my routine, explaining have call the flag Old Glory and that when she becomes tattered and torn, faded and frayed, we take her down and raise a new one. We must dispose of her in a proper and fitting manner by burning. But before we burn her we cut out the stars and save them. We think of them as representing a fallen warrior or first responder and treat them with respect. I then asked if each would like a star and take care of it. The first three said yes — The fourth, a ten-year-old told me she could not accept the star!  Stunned, I said “May I ask you why?”  Her response was “Because I can’t trust myself with such a precious item”.  I was in tears now and told her that I trust her and asked her to please take it, so she did.  Martha, seeing her seriousness gave her a big hug and this her that she felt her to be a really good person and that we know she will take good care of and honor the star.  I will never forget that young girl, representing the future of our country and her honesty in loyalty.

We head out and several are out wishing us well. Cool sky, but little did I know that it would mean trouble down the road.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We head to Oakley for lunch.  As we come into town, we are met with the Buffalo Bill Monument.
Fun Fact:
A statue high in a hill that represents how Buffalo Bill got his name. 

Near the site of his hunting contest for the right to be nicknamed “Buffalo Bill,” this statue of Cody and an American bison is sixteen feet high and sculpted with 9,000 pounds of bronze.

In the spring of 1868 there were two Williams in the buffalo hunting trade around west Kansas; William Cody, who supplied the Kansas Pacific Railroad workers with buffalo meat, and William Comstock, who fed the soldiers at Fort Wallace with his catch. To settle the dispute that they had on who the rightful owner of the nickname would be, they held a contest to see who could bring back the most buffalo in a day. Cody, with his large-caliber Trapdoor Springfield rifle he named “Lucretia Borgia” and his circling technique that kept his kills in one area instead of scattered, won the contest 69 to 46. The contest took place 10 miles west of the town of Oakley, and the Buffalo Bill Cultural Center was established there in 1995. 

Whenever we parade into a town, we have 2 bikes that lead us.  They carry 3 flags: POW/MIA, USA, and the state flag.  This means that we need to have a state flag

for every state we cross.  

They have a Vietnam memorial there.

2 girls say Star Spangle and killed it.

Lunch was great but threats of rain were upon us.  We left 30 minutes early to try and beat the rain

As we get going, I go past the missing man.
You see the 1 of the 22 per day – This is the number of men and women military who take their lives
You will often see :    22-NAWAV
This means “No All Wounds Are Visible”
Say their name and never forget.  We cannot stop until all are brought home.
*********************************************************************
We are given a 21 Gun Salute as our 5 minute whistle.
WOW this does not look good.
But people still came out.  Look how many on this bridge!!!

What is this?? You guessed it. HAIL .  AND IT HURTS!!!  We rode in and out of this for over an hour.

Somone sent me this.  Some of them were the size of golf balls.
Here are a few pics of the marks they made:
Others were far worse. Some not have gloves and there hands had some huge welts.
So needless to say, no pics.  As we pull into Bunker Hill for gas, Ron and I see what looks like 2 small tornado funnels on the left and 1 on the right.  NOT GOOD.
Fuel and in staging and someone yells “Tornado, get in the building”.  There was actually one forming above us.  People scrambled.  I am not sure how many were in the building, but we had the full platoon, staggers and fuel teams. The manager of the store brought around water and Gatorade.  We were packed in there like sardine for what seemed like forever.  There were still people down the road.  Everyone was trying to call the members of their platoons to see where they were.  For our platoon, we had people 31 mile back, 10 miles back and 5 miles forward.  As far as I know all were accounted for.
This is one of the times we thought we would be able to leave
Nick and Ken get us ready to roll.  Slow and steady.  Stay together.
Take from the bike as we left.  Then rain again.
I know we are not the only ones to get bruises.
I think all of you remember Heather at the brick laying ceremony.  We her mom and brother were with us and we did not know where she was for a long time.  Found her and here is her story.  AMAZING Women;
I was sticking with the route coordinator until my engine shut off
Started doing jumping jacks on the side of the road
Figured at least try turning it on one more time
Powered back up so I started cruising again by myself until I caught up to platoon 5
Super strong wind knocked over the bike in front of me so I stopped to help them up when the wind took my windshield
Chased it down and it happened to be next to a beef calf
I used my windshield as a shield to protect myself and the calf from the hail
Hail stopped so carried calf across the highway to his screaming mom. They ran off together
Ran back to my bike and started off alone again
Stumbled upon a road guard who told me exit 180
Pulled off there but didn’t see a gas stop
Back on the highway went couple more miles then saw I was super low on gas
Stopped under a bridge next to a semi
Semi driver let me get inside and use his phone to call mom
No answer and no service so I pulled off at 184 to get gas and service
Then found other people from the run
Needless to say her bike cannot go above 2nd gear.  So the 3 of the have decided to end the Run for them. Great family and Judy you have 2 outstanding kids you have raised.  Glad you were able to be with us. Safe travels home.
Multiple times we looked at leaving but then another HUGE rainstorm rolled thru.  All in all, we were that for about 5 hours.  Need go get going as there is yet another cell coming thru.   We left about 8:00 and within 30 minutes the rains started.  After 107 miles, we arrived in Junction City about 10:00.  Very soaked and very tired!!!
******************************************
I will leave you all with this pic.  I am closing now as I will need to be up soon.
***************************************************
We missed one of the best receptions on the Run

This picture below says it all.  It was taken here in 2022. 

One of my favorites. This is our future!!! 

Hold on tight sweetheart.  We are there for you always.

What a great way to end the day.

Temps: 47-7

Route: I-70E

Miles: 394

Quote for the Day:

Never forget.

History will remember the war

Will America remember her men?

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May 18, 2024 – Day 4 to DC – Eagle Nest, NM to Limon, CO

May 18, 2024 – Day 4 to DC – Eagle Nest, NM to Limon, CO

YEAH!!!! I believe I have gotten caught up with posting to the RFTW.us site. May 16,17 and 18. I still post every day to mamag03.blogspot.com if you chose to continue to read from there.

My hats off to those saying all those prayers.  Beautiful and a bit cold, 41 degrees.  This is good for Eagle Nest.  Normally it is in the 20s or 30s.  After a great breakfast we head outside for mandatory a meeting.

Nick asked Boots to come up and give the blessing in Hebrew.  Very nice… he did say it in English first. Thanks Boots.  FYI he is one of the road guards.

 

Bio for the day will be carried by Darwin.  Thanks!!

 

Morning meeting is finished and so is the platoon meeting.  Gear up!!  OMG where is my helmet? Crap!!!  I left it in the room…. really?  Yep.  5-minute whistle goes off.  We are about in the middle of the pack staging and I am running back to my room.  John, our stagger, yells “you better hurry”.  Got it and am running back.  Thanks John.

You saw in yesterday’s post that the town is pretty small.  Normally we ride to the morning meetings, and it would be on the bike, but here I just walked across the street.  How in the world did I do that?
Well…..Since Larry became a road guard, I have some things on Jenny’s bike and some on Ron’s and some on ours.  I guess I was figuring out where my things were supposed to go and ….. well you know the result.
This has cost me $5 for our platoon challenge.  Oh well all going to the kids at Rainelle.
Platoon Challenge = each platoon collects meeting daily.  The team with the most on day 9 gets bragging rights.  All good fun, and another way to give to the kids
As I catch my breath, we are heading down the mountain single file.
Few definitions of rider formation:
Side by Side – riders are right next to each other.
                       xxx    xxx   xxx
                       xxx    xxx   xxx
Staggered – rider are alternate side of the road with a 1 second stagger
                   xxx       xxx     xxx
                         xxx       xxx       xxx
Single file – right behind one another – This is done on narrow roads especially when the road guard need to pass
                  xxx   xxx   xxx   xxx   xxx
Eagle Nest Lake

As we get to the bottom, you can see where the fire that came thru in 2022, and there is a lot of new growth.  Amazing how fast it seems to be recovering.

Heading to Raton, you can see a little of the formation of the platoons.
Look at this pic… soooo beautiful.   Wow I use the word a lot.  How about spectacular.
We saw a lot of this today.
We still have the NM escort.  This is what they do.  Stop traffic on the highway.
I still cannot get over this.
Here is Walrus at our exit.  What in the world…..?  You never know what he will have on.

He says he does this to get the riders attention.  Sometimes they are so zoned, they need a jolt to focus.

Heading into Raton… what a reception.   This is a quick fuel stop…. with donuts, coffee and fruit.

This is TopHat.  He has become my buddy.  Last year I left my vest on the back of the bike.  Needless to say, it fell off on the entrance ramp.  He rescued it.  I think that one cost me $5 too.  He is a road guard and a Vietnam Vet.  Thanks TopHat for your service and all you do for the Run.

This little cutie is just one of the many kids at this stop.  They are all excited and love coming to talk to us. What kind of history lesson is this.  One of the best!!

Ok let’s good…..now it is John’s turn to be running.  I think he was looking for a lost platoon
Love the face!!!
Back on the road. We love the NM escort as we head into Colorado
Lunch and a little rest.
Heather comment “he naps and I dink coffee.”
Back on the road and the weather is not looking too good.  At first, I thought we would miss it.  First it was on our right , then the left, then the right….. but we got caught in it anyway.  Temp dropped at least 15 degrees. We rode in it for over an hour before dinner.  Never fun.

People still came out to respect the run……I wonder how long they stood there.  Thanks!!

I received some pics from Michelle on the staging team.

Here in Limon the people still came out.  YEAH!!!  nice after a long hard ride.

Great dinner and it was warm inside.  Thanks to all.
After dinner Chaplain Howard has a little service.  He started with a poem from Kelly Strong.

FREEDOM IS NOT FREE

I watched the flag pass by one day.
It fluttered in the breeze
a young Marine saluted it, and then
He stood at ease.
 
I looked at him in uniform
So young, so tall, so Proud
with hair cut square and eyes alert
He’d stand out in any crowd
 
I thought, how many men like him
Had fallen through the years?
How many died on foreign soil?
How many mothers’ tears?
 
How many pilots’ planes shot down?
How many foxholes were soldiers’ graves?
No, Freedom is not free.
 
I heard the sound of taps one night,
When everything was still.
I listened to the bugler play
And felt a sudden chill.
 
I wondered just how many times
That taps had meant “Amen”
When a flag had draped a coffin
of a brother or a friend.
 
I thought of all the children,
Of the mothers and the wives,
Of the fathers, sons and husbands
With interrupted lives.
 
I thought about a graveyard 
at the bottom of the sea
Of unmarked graves in Arlington
No, Freedom is not free!!!
OK, where are the tissues…..  Thanks chaplain.
We then stood and tried to sing the refrain of “God Bless the USA”.
Not a dry eye in the place.
And I’m proud to be an American
Where at least I know I’m free
And I won’t forget the men who died
Who gave that right to me
And I’d gladly stand up
Next to you and defend her still today
‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land
God bless the USA
One last note.  As we left, this little girl came up and handed me a flower. She had a device in her throat to help her talk.  Her mother said she could sign about 100 words, before they put the device in.  
This little girl is on her way for a military career of some kind.  She had already mastered “adapt and overcome”….

 

Temps: 37-73

Route: I-25N, Hwy 24

Miles: 301 

Quote for the day:

 Some made the ultimate sacrifice.

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May 17, 2024 – Day 3 To DC – Gallup, NM to Eagle Nest, NM

May 17, 2024 – Day 3 To DC – Gallup, NM to Eagle Nest, NM

Yet another great and sunny day in Gallup. You all must be working overtime on those prayers. Keep it going please.

Nick starts the day with prayer and the pledge against a beautiful mountain.

He also has a patch that he reads every day.  Please keep this in mind as you start YOUR day.

Our bio for the day is for Ronald Wayne Dodge.  Thanks for carrying this to the wall.

 

Walrus has been on the Run for 25 years.  He was presented with a plaque.  Amazing. Thanks Walrus.
You will see him in the next few days on the exit ramps.
Let’s roll.  This is Jasper Walker a Vietnam vet.  He drove down from Arizona to see us off and thank us for doing what we are doing. We all thanked him for his service.
We love the sun!!   Several years ago, we left with snow on the ground.
There were several people that came out for us even in the morning even in the cold.

The platoons rotate the order.  Yesterday we were first and today we are 6th. Gives me a chance to get some good pics of the back of the pack.

Remember we have the highway to ourselves all the way across New Mexico.  Soo nice.
They even pulled over semis if they were ahead of the pack.

 

What a greeting??  I love the kids.
Heading into our first stop at Route 66 Casino.  Remember I mentioned someone gave me an ice cream earlier in the week.  Here is Rick, my ice cream buddy.  Hey where is mine today?

When I went into the store, Bones is trying to do the splits with Piper!!!

Bones be careful you may hurt yourself.

Here are the officers.  It is so cool to watch them work, and they are fast!!!
But we only got 5 over.

There are many breakouts during the Run.  Some of the riders go to different memorials and support the local towns.  Today we are going to Bernalillo to a Vietnam Veteran Memorial KIA.

Heading thru Albuquerque…. Wow this looks like spaghetti… but I guess it works.

This is Gomez.  Wolfman owns the bike and is willing it to Gomez when he passes.  He knows Gomez will not sell it.  I talked to Gomez, and he would like to visit other towns to continue to keep the awareness of the veterans. Then his plan is to ride it to DC and leave it at the wall.

The next 2 pics are dedicated to 2 guys that were POWs.  The first one was there for 4 years.  At one point, for a duration of 1 year, the only time he saw the light of day was when they gave him food.   I did not get any details on the second one.

The day the eagle cried.  There is a tear under the eye.

There are 2 eagles with chains on them. They tried to fly but could not.

This represents the 2 POWs on the bike.
It is absolutely an amazing dedication to these veterans.

Remember them. Say their name. (or put them on a bike)

 (

Kirk presents Wolfman with a certificate.

Yeah lunch time.  Check out the sign!!!  Pretty nice.

  Check this out.  Ramp is shut down as we come thru.

Check out the ramp.
It is a school bus with kids standing and waving. REALLY?  out of school for this.  Here is the background:
The bus is from the kids of Cochiti.  Several years ago, the school was trying to get the kids more energized about learning.  So there was an incentive idea.  If you have perfect attendance, get good grades and have good behavior, you could ride the bus to stand on the bridge to see RFTW go thru.   They also have to rent the bus to get there.  To do that, the kids would have bake sales and other events to raise the money.  Great lessons.  

Boots on the ground on the highway is never a good thing.

In the hottest part of the day, there is a stopped traffic from construction.  We are roasting but so is Jenny’s Spyder.  It had over heated. She was picked up by our chase vehicle and back on the road from the next stop. Seeing this I thought of the song by James Taylor “Traffic Jam”
“…hurts my motor to go so slow”.

Good thing we have the NM escort.  They cleared the way…

AGAIN:  adapt and overcome!!!

WOW…. look at the flag….

I wonder how long these guys stood on the bridge.  We were so off our schedule because of the traffic.  Our advanced teams do not have an escort.  And some of them were off by an hour.
The Run leaves on time and most of the time arrive within 5 minutes of the time on the schedule.

By the time we stopped from the construction and all the stopping and starting, I saw lots of the riders trying to get the cramps out of their hands.

 One of the guys said ‘please dear God, let my left hand be like my right’.

Back on the road.  Hope you are not getting too bored with the pics of this beautiful country.
I sit on the bike just in awe of it.  Enjoy.

 

*********************

One aspect of the Run I have not covered is the missing man.  It is an honor and privilege to ride this position in honor of someone lost. The escort “Rides for those who can’t.”   

The person’s name is put in the Missing Man position.  Every leg on the Run is covered. 

Missing Man

Formation:

Route Coordinator                    State Coordinator

Escort                                        Missing Man (space)                      

Missing Man Coordinator        Head Chaplin  

Here is how it looks on the road.

On the last leg of the day, Judy Wormmeester and her 2 kids, Heather and William, will all ride it together.   Judy will be in the escort position, and the kids will replace the missing man coordinator and the head chaplain.  WOW this is so …. (cannot find the right word).

His name is Sgt. Joseph A. Matejov, USAF, 205073 Laos.

 

We are now heading up the mountain to Angel Fire Vietnam Veteran Memorial.
Enjoy the ride, the pics do not begin to show the beauty and vastness.
                                       
                                         

As we arrive into the town.

Angel Fire Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Victor David was a 1st Lieutenant in the US Marine Corps (B CO, 1st BN, 4th Marines, 3rd Marine Div) and was killed in Viet Nam in a battle/ ambush near Con Thien. Fifteen other soldiers lost their lives in this battle.
Following the death of their son, U.S. Marine Corps First Lieutenant Victor David Westphall III, Jeanne and Dr. Victor Westphall began construction of the Vietnam Veterans Peace and Brotherhood Chapel to honor the memory of their son and the sixteen men that died with him near Con Thien, South Vietnam on May 22, 1968.
 
Bricks are laid every year on Labor Day for all veterans.  
Prior to the ceremony, Scooter honored a gentleman as he was the pilot
of the Heuy that is on the grounds of Angel Fire.  Scooter, one of our road guards, flew in this Huey and his name is on the inside.  He was also able to be in it when it was decommissioned. 
Ceremonies for placing a brick for Sgt. Joseph Matejov at Angel Fire.
(there are a lot of us with allergies at this point)
Nick asks for a moment of silence for all of us to remember Joseph.
Judy and her family are given the brick.

If you look at the dates on this brick, there is no end date. The one below shows dates of service.  Since Sgt. Matejob is MIA, it will remain like this.

Kim then plays “Amazing Grace”.

It was a very long day for everyone and a very special for all of the riders.  Angel Fire is amazing place.  If you ever get a chance to go on Labor weekend, you will not regret it.  There are so many families that come and support all. We have gone several years and embraced the honor of the brick laying.
The day concludes in town… this is the town. Population 300…
so, when RFTW comes to town, we double that.

Every year, this lady makes this cake.

Thought for the day…. say their name and they will not be forgotten.

Temps: 43-70

Route: I-40E, I-25N, US599, US84/285,68,585,64

Miles:289

Quote of the day:

All gave some, some gave all

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May 16, 2024 – Day 2 To DC – Williams, AZ to Gallup, NM

May 16, 2024 – Day 2 To DC – Williams, AZ to Gallup, NM

Today was another beautiful day. 45 when we got up but 55 by the time we left.

Forgot to add this from last night. These are some of the boy scouts that were working dinner last night. Helping clean up, running to get drinks and handing out buttons. Thanks to the scout masters and parents for teaching their kids. These kids are our future.

 

Driving from the hotel this morning, I saw this on a billboard..  Pretty cool
We lined up on the street today. Williams does not have any traffic lights but several stop signs.  Pretty small town.  We take up most of the town when we stage.
We all have worn several hats.  This morning is no different.  I was trying to get a pic from Doug so Ron helped out with part of staging.  New jobs next year Ron?
Doug gave me this pic.  He is riding on the back of his wife’s spyder so she can ride in the Run.  She was afraid she could not make it so Doug said I will ride with you, and we can switch if needed.  I image this RFTW family really gave him some grief on this. Good luck Pat. Hope you go all the way.
Every day before the morning meeting, there is team working to help raise money for the kids at Rainelle.  This is a knitted quilt that we will raffle.  I had to show you this. It took 700 hours to complete.  It is magnificent.  It will be raffled later in the week. We also have a 50/50 and auction items.

One of the items for auction, is to carry a brick cross country.  We bid and pay to carry for 1 day. So, there will be 9 people able to do this.  The group that is doing this I believe has a GPS tracker in it so they can follow from home.  Sorry I did all the information, but I will update and post tomorrow. Pretty cool item to watch where it goes.

Kim was a little cold, so she put on a hat and then her RFTW cap.  Pretty funny but she was warm.
Kim is Nick’s wife, they live in m Hawaii and this weather is freezing to her.
Hahaha. It was about 45.

Ok time to start the mandatory morning meeting.  Every day will start with prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance.  We recognize gold and blue star families, veterans, active duty,…  Nick will give an update on the days ride. And this is the place for any business that is needed to let everyone know.

Nick will always read a bio of an MIA person. This bio is then carried cross country and placed at the Vietnam wall. The rider will pray for that person to be found and for the family. Please add these to your prayer list.

 Here is the bio.

 

William had kind of cool idea.  If we wanted to write a post card to friends and families, they would mail it to them.  I love the idea and sent a few to my grandkids.
Steven and I got a kick out of this.  A little fun before the real fun begins.
Now for the platoon meetings.  We go over a lot of the same things every day.  The reasons are because we are always getting new people in the platoon, and to make sure it stays fresh in everyone mind. Remember this is a 10-day journey, and a lot of people can only do a few days.

Josh is our Chaplain for the trip.  He will come and pray with us and make sure we are all doing ok.  Remember this is a healing mission.

Hand signals are critical while riding.  Many riders do not have CB or GMRS radios.  This one is if you break down and need help, you better be doing jumping jacks so chase vehicles know that or they will pass you by.  Way to go William.

There are always 3 things to remember: throttle control, throttle control, and throttle control. You can control speed with the throttle as opposed to the breaks. Applying the brakes all the time set off a lot of rubber banding.
Bernadette has this little guy on the back of her bag.  She is getting pictures of as many people as she can to send back home.  I will have to get a little more detail on this too.  WOW….. sounds like I have homework for tomorrow.

OK Saddle up and let’s ride!!!!   Check out these little girls. They came out early to see us off.  Way to go parents.  

 

The pine trees smell so good as we go down the road.

 

 

There are currently 6 platoons with 2 wheels and 4 or 5 for trikes and bikes with trailers. The 2 wheel bikes rotate positions in the pack.  We were first yesterday and today we are 6.  

Yesterday: 1,2,3,4,5,6

Today: 2,3,4,5,6,1

This makes for some good pics for the day.  Here is the first one.  NICE.  Check out all the trees.

 

Check out the mountains and the sky.  Love it.

Just that quick the terrain changes. Back to flat, flat, flat.

Get into Winslow AZ for a fuel stop. We parade thru town.
As we head to a gas stop just before Winslow, there is a 9-11 Memorial.  It has 2 pieces from the Twin Towers.  

The breakout team at “the corner”

 

Ok time to gas up.  Day 2 and we are looking pretty good.
Gas stops are pretty cool to watch.  The Fuel team goes ahead of the pack and clears out a gas station. The pumps are set ready for the pack. There are 2 ways to pay for fuel.  Get a pre-paid sticker.  These are pretty nice, so you do not have to try and get cash out.  Or you pay cash. If you want to pay cash, you pay the nearest $5.  Any extra goes to the chase vehicle’s gas. Big insensitive to get the gas sticker.
The pumps run constantly.  You just move the hose from one bike to the next.  I have been told that we have filled 200 bikes in 20 minutes.  Remember you are only filling 2-4 gallons.  Even so, that is pretty quick.

Then the road guards direct you to the staging teams where you stage in your platoons. Runs pretty smooth.

Hydration team has trailers for drinks and snacks.  All donated!!!

We are on time schedule, and you better be ready.  There is a 5 minute whistle and you better be getting back on your bike, or you get left behind.  You can then follow the Last Man truck and rejoin the pack at the next stop.  Soooo pay attention.

John is our starter, a road guard, and also the president of RFTW.  He makes sure the platoons go out in order.

Let’s roll !!!
Now we roll into Holbrook.  We parade past every school in the town. The kids love it and are always waving flags, waving, jumping up and down.  So cool.

As we roll past the school, there is someone on the other side of the street.  The pic says it all.  Such patriotism and respect for the Run.

As we pull down the street for lunch….
The town is waiting for us….  Great food.
Before lunch a young girl sings the Star Spangled Banner.  She looked like she was maybe 12.  What a beautiful voice.  Every stood and the applause was defining.

As we leave these adorable kids, dressed in red, white and blue were dancing to the music outside.  Every year the kids play for us.  Seems to get better all the time.  Thanks all.

This little girl’s road name is Piper.  She is riding with her grandfather.  I asked her how she was able to get out of school, and she said, “This is school.”  How right she is.  What a great way to learn about our country.
Remember earlier in the report, we talked about the yellow ribbons to remember our veterans from New Mexico? The word must have gotten out because we were approached by multiple people that asked who we were riding for.  Amazing what a little thing like a ribbon can do this and keep memories of our veterans alive.
Ok load up and let’s head to Gallup.  This is known as “The Most Patriotic Small town in the USA”.

As we get closer you will see why.  People are all over with flags greeting us.

Wow what view from the back of the pack!!!