WOW the prayer warrior must have been working overtime. It was an absolutely beautiful day. And the wind was there just not as strong. Thanks to all.
I forgot to add this last night. There was a table:
As we ate dinner, this is what was read :
POW and MIA REMEMBARANCE TABLE
Is set for one, symbolizing the fact that members of our
armed forces are missing from out ranks. They are referred to as POWs and
We call them brothers and sisters.
They are unable to be with their loved ones and families, so
we join together to pay humble tribute to them and bear witness to their
This table, set for one, is small, symbolizing the frailty
of one prisoner, alone against his or her suppressors. The tablecloth is white, symbolic of the purity of their
intentions to respond to their country’s call to arms
The single red rose in the vase, signifies the blood the
many have shed in sacrifice to ensure freedom of our beloved United States of
America. This rose also reminds us of the family and friends of our missing
comrades who keep the faith, while awaiting their return.
The yellow ribbon on the vase, represents the yellow ribbons
worn on the lapels of the thousands who demand with unyielding determination a
proper accounting of our brothers and sisters who are not among us tonight.
A slice of lemon on the plate reminds us of their bitter
The salt sprinkled on the place reminds us of the countless
fallen tears of the families as they wait.
The glass is inverted – they cannot toast with us this
The chair is empty – they are not here.
The candle is reminiscent of the light of hope which lives
in our hearts to illuminate their way home, away from the captors to the open
arms of a grateful nation.
Ok back to Sunday….
Curtis , our head chaplin, gave a great Sunday service. A great way to start the day. Thanks Curtis.
Today we road with the Ambassador group. This is one of the advance teams, meaning they ride ahead of the pack. They will stop on the bridges and at schools. They start every day giving the team pins, cards and stickers to be handed out.
Here is the team.
Eric and Sonya are the leaders. They go thru the stops for the day. Today is only bridges so this means they will leap frog. Last 2-4 guys go to a bridge, then the next bridge….by then the first few recycle back and go on another bridge.
The team for the day.
You see some stay on the highway and 2-4 will go on the bridge.
These flags are on both the exit and entrance ramp at this exit, perfectly spaced…. wow how long did that take.
The team thanking them for all their work.
This lady was in shorts. And yes she was freezing. ( it is in the 40s and very windy). Her comment was she I trying to warm up the day for us, so she had on short…. Good logic…. I guess LOL. Thanks for the support.
First stop is in Oakley, fuel and lunch. Fuel team giving us a hard time and laughing the whole time. Thanks America Legion for paying.
This is part of the advanced road guard team. These guys are the ones at exit ramp, turns in roads, help out in the gas stops….and so much more to get things set up before the pack gets there.
Since we were ahead of the pack, the ambassadors greeted them in true fashion.
Here comes the pack
I got a good look at the staging team in action for a small parking space. WOW does this take team work when you need to line the platoons back to back.
Magic… this is looking great. 350+ bikes all lined up and ready to go.
Steve has a booklet with every parking lot with its dimension. There are over 50 lots.
Now to complicate this, the platoons do not line up in the same order every day. Example :
Day 1 – Platoons: 1,2,3,4,5
Day 2 – Platoons: 2,3,4,5,1 , Etc.
Now this is the simple version. We have 13 platoons. One platoon is bikes and trailers, so they need more space. 2 platoons are 3 wheel bike. So now try and figure out how to combine all of them.
The ideal situation is for a big enough parking lot to have them next to each other. But when you have a street that is narrow, you have to line them up back to back. The list below, tells Steve the order of the platoons. The order is needed for the next leg. My mind is spinning.
Star Spangle Banner is played and accompanied with a trumpet. Sweet
These are covered picnic table. They moved them to the side of the building to block the wind. Great guys we did stay a much warmer.
They also have the Moving Vietnam Wall, 3/4 the size of the original. It is updated the same time the one in DC is. If there is a + in front of the name, this denotes MIA. A diamond means they were brought back and laid to rest in the US. It takes 8 hours and 25 men to assemble. Each panel weighs 80 pounds.
This is a Healing Wall. This is what the Run is about. We are there for each other.
Here is the Semi that transport it. There is so much information. If this comes to your town, please take time to view it. An interesting fact is that the first item left was a purple heart.
Lunch is over back on the road. WOW Kansas you have out done yourselves. The number of bridges with people on them I am guessing over 50%. Here are just a few…. ok maybe more than a few.
Here is one we went to visit. Kids there and were excited to see all the bikes come thru.
Little guys was a bit shy.
Here is one amazing bridge that we were able to visit. WOW
They even had the motorcycles on the entrance and exit ramps with flags.
They had lots kids. One told me he had a motorcycle and it was blue. I ask him if he wore a helmet and he said yes. He grandpa is a state trooper. Thanks grandpa for your service. Have is said yet that it only takes a few seconds to shake a hand and say thanks to a veteran or our current service men and women. I thought I did forget to tell you that. 🙂 I wanted to stay longer to see how long it took…Saddle up, lets go!!!
Side Note: the amazing picture of the wall and the bridge with all the flags was given to me by Melissa. I saw her in the motel later and we just started talking. Here and her husband flew from Italy to be on the Run. They have a home in Colorado. He picked up the bike and met her in Ontario. He has retired after 26 years of service where he was CW3 Army Special Forces (Green Beret). He served in Iraqi Freedom, Afghanistan, and Desert Storm. He currently is DOD Civilian working for Navy as a program analyst. Melissa is DOD Civilian Budget Analyast NATO HQ after 17 years of service.
BOTH FOR YOUR SERVICE!!!(See that was
Next is gas stop. Each staging team usually has to people holding these up. Leadership (“L”) was short a person so I stepped in. I got some very strange looks, then they just laughed at me. The staging team really works hard to get everyone ready for the next leg.
Isn’t she a cutie. She we just smiling at everyone.
Kids handing our chap stick. Thanks mom and dad for bringing them.
Some of our road guards talking to he kids. They loved it.
You getting tired yet of all the bridges yet. I never did. Here are a few more pics.
Heading into Junction City…. WOW what a welcome. We now have the Kansas Flags.
How cool is this shot. My niece was on top of the fire truck. She got a video of us coming and streamed it live on face book. How cool is that!! Modern technology is great.
This is my niece, Courtney. She will be joining us to DC on the back of her dad’s bike. Even though she was not here, her dad and I have been sending her pics and short videos. She has been posting them to Twitter, face book…. What a real trooper! working and not even here yet. Ok Courtney, this ball is all in your court now. Thanks! FYI her road name is Tweeter
Kansas Vietnam Veterans Memorial
It is constructed of 7 black granite panels and stands 13 feet tall and 46 feet long. Four of the panels bear the names of 753 Kansans killed in action in Vietnam. Another panel displays the names of 38 Kansans who were still missing in action in 1987 from the southeast Asian war. Two military decorations, the Purple Heart and the Vietnam Campaign ribbon are also engraved on the panel with the MIAs. The remaining two panels depict two soldiers in larger-than-life size.
Taps are played with a second bulge echo. AMAZING…. darn I did forget my tissues again.
Heading for a great meatloaf dinner. Gil and Jeanie are part of the ambassador team we were with today. Thanks for teaching us the ropes.
Roger is still at it. The book is getting more and more full of names. He will need more paper soon.
My beloved Daddy was Killed in Action (KIA) on June 7, 1968 in Vietnam- thus, Memorial Day, June 7th, and Father’s Day always felt like a 1, 2,3, gut, heart, soul punch each year. I carefully avoided any Memorial Day events my entire life. Since June of 1968, I have recited the pledge of allegiance with my right hand over my heart and my my left hand behind my back with my index and middle fingers crossed. Even though my dad was career USMC, he was the nurturing parent and we all adored him. He was the embodiment of loving kindness, patience, integrity, strength, passion and a hilarious sense of humor. Needless to say, his death left a huge hole in the fabric of our family soul.
In the summer of 2017, I left Santa Fe, NM and bought a one way ticket to New Zealand. I was planning to immigrate to New Zealand and spend the rest of my life in a monastic setting. I shut down my website of 20 years for Healing Retreats, and gave away all my belongings save my car and some clothes. I went to California to bid family and friends farewell. I made one last trip to my dad’s grave at the Serbian Cemetery in Los Angeles, CA and fully thought I’d never return unless for a family emergency or death.
Three days before I flew to New Zealand, I had coffee with a childhood friend whom I had run into at an event. Because I had joined SDIT (Sons and Daughters in Touch, a private Facebook group for Vietnam Gold Star sons and daughters) I was becoming more at ease with actually speaking about being a Vietnam Gold Star daughter—language that was never used prior. My childhood friend Ken apparently had a passion for documentaries unbeknownst to me. As I was sharing some of the miraculous unfolding of what I thought was my last “Healing Retreat” I led, he suddenly got sparked with an idea to do a documentary about how I had in effect “raised myself from the dead” since my father’s death and used the tools on myself first, then applied them for the healing of others. After our meeting, I sat in my car dumbfounded as God revealed a “movie trailer” vision of how my time in New Zealand would unfold, and it wasn’t at all what I expected… in other words, the New Zealand “plan” was now dust and this “project” with Ken was God’s Will. Both Ken and I had felt the “buzz” that comes when a project clearly has God’s handwriting on it. I didn’t have the courage to share this with anyone at the time, so I went ahead and flew to New Zealand and returned to the USA within two months time. I met with Ken and he simply told me to start writing the story.
Since everyone thought I was still in a far away country, instead of returning to Santa Fe, NM, a friend in El Dorado Hills, CA suggest I come to her home to write the story and be away from any and all distractions. I started writing a week before Christmas and completed the first rough draft by April. A few days before Christmas I took a walk in this new neighborhood after writing all day. I passed a home that was flying the USA flag alongside the POW/MIA flag. The still small voice whispered to me to ring the doorbell and introduce myself. I ignored it and continued walking. I was afraid perhaps that a PTSD Vietnam Vet would not appreciate the intrusion. When the voice repeated itself for the third time I finally surrendered. Taking a deep breath, I rang the doorbell and promptly stepped back, ready to make a mad dash just in case… As the door slowly opened I heard a man speaking on the phone. Oh dear, I had interrupted a phone call. Once the door was fully open and I saw his kind, blue, soulful eyes. I knew I was in no danger at all. He was wondering what I had to sell perhaps, so I said, “I’m sorry to interrupt you but I noticed your flags and I’m a Vietnam Gold Star daughter”. I think that was the first time I had ever uttered those words to a stranger. He was a large husky man with an unassuming demeanor and he very quickly said into his phone, “I have to go, something has come up and I will call you back” and he hung up and came towards me to hug me and asked, “Can you please repeat that?” As we embraced, and I cried, I felt like I was with the brother I never had, but always wanted in our family had suddenly materialized and I was safe, warm, and held in a knowingness about the War like never before.
His name is Don Burns, and his road name is “EZ”, and he certainly embodied kindness, patience and a calm presence. God could not have picked a better brother for my journey. He told me about Run for the Wall (RFTW), which I had never heard of before and I confess, at the time, I thought – what a great pilgrimage these Vets do, but I would never get on the back of a Harley after all these years. He made me promise I would send him an email with my information and my dad’s and I did. He gave me his card and my housemate was astounded when she innocently asked, “how was your walk?” and I tossed his card on the counter for her to see.
I went to the Northern California Run for the Wall lunch the following month and again assured myself that there was absolutely no way I could ever do this for a myriad of reasons: I don’t do well in crowds, I’m too sensitive, I have low back issues, I’m emotionally empathic and I would be in constant overwhelm. The list appeared endless as to why I could never participate. Not to mention that visiting The Wall always seemed to elicit a gigantic inner turmoil of emotions that simply wanted to be acknowledged and simply allowed, but were always politely stuffed back down for fear of upsetting others.
I eventually shared with Ken about meeting Don (EZ) and the RFTW mission. We had no money for our project and just the thought of entertaining the idea of traveling with The Run to participate in its Mission to get to DC seemed absurd. However, the more I simply prayed, it seemed I was being led to participate with RFTW on some level. I attended my second Northern California RFTW lunch with the local group and EZ showed up with a picture of my dad and announced to the group that he would be riding for my dad that year. Bam! The depth of how this landed in my heart is impossible to convey in words, suffice it to say that the purity and soulfulness of it touched me profoundly. And, I noticed I was still terrified of getting on the back of a Harley. It had been 30-years and I had memories of crashes, although no broken bones but I was all too well aware of the inherent dangers of motorcycles.
By the next N. CA lunch meeting, I was feeling at ease with the group and easily embracing the other Vietnam Vets and Gold Stars that were attending, as well as the civilians who support the mission. Ken and I had a phone conversation, surprising me to no end, he simply said, “I don’t know what it is, but we have to be in DC. We have no funding, so let’s just each pay our own way and we’ll figure it out as we go along”. Wow, I truly had no idea Ken was like me, a “jumper”, one who is willing to leap without a parachute, follow the mystery, and not worry about earthly details! I had certainly chosen the right person to do this project with! He said he would drive up in April for the next lunch and interview EZ and me for the project. In the meantime EZ kept mentioning we needed to go for a “ride” so he could see how I handle on a bike. I skillfully kept avoiding this “ride”.
Needing funds to get to DC, I did what I know how to do… I scheduled a weekend retreat for mid-May (that I teach), and that gave me enough funds to purchase my airfare to DC, and then meet-up with the Central Route for Day 10. I would be done teaching the Wednesday prior to Memorial Day, so I’d fly into DC Thursday. It seemed God’s Grace kept leading the way though I still worried about being in crowds and my innate sensitivity. While praying one morning, the inspiration for a “Go Fund Me” to fully cover my remaining hotel costs came. I had never done a Go Fund Me and felt quite wary of it, but I had to surrender yet again. I posted it on Facebook simply stating a Gold Star Daughter was making a pilgrimage to The Wall. I didn’t say it was me, and I simply just let it be. I was stunned to say the least, and with each donation, I found myself bawling. With the exception of one of my dearest friends who is an amazing civilian and “gets” my profound loss, each donation came from others profoundly touched in their own way by the war—a Vietnam Vet started with the first donation and I wept. Next a Gold Star widow, two childhood friends whose dad’s served in Vietnam, but returned home with deep wounds, and then a few Gold Star Vietnam children. They all had already made the supreme sacrifice. I was incredibly touched and it seemed the tears were never going to stop.
EZ had to spoon feed me step-by-step as it was a lot of information to assimilate the details of the RFTW. He told me I would be receiving a ticket to ride through Arlington National Cemetery on Saturday morning, and RFTW is the only group with this permission, and only 400 bikes do this each year with FNG’s on the back. I would be an FNG. He then hinted that it would be good for me to ride with them for some of the journey, and again I worried about my low back issues, being on a bike, being with “this” particular crowd, etc…and I kept resisting. We were raised by our “strict” Marine mother who had forbade us to cry about our dad the day we got the news, the day of his funeral, and basically anytime we began to show emotion about it, so I surmise I was also afraid I might cry, even though on some level, I knew I couldn’t be with a better crowd in which to allow my tears to flow.
In April at our last lunch, I was finally going to jump on the back of the Harley with EZ and the group after our lunch. My specially ordered t-shirt had arrived which had a cross inside a heart and the words, “Semper Fi Daddy” underneath, so I wore my shirt and prayed! I trusted EZ, he was the big brother I had needed since 1968. He filled a “hole” that I didn’t even know existed prior to meeting him. I hopped on the back of his Harley and thought, if we die, I’m good, as truth be told, a part of me has always looked forward to dying since 1968. Ken stood by capturing all of us on video, and as soon as our pack pulled out onto the road, I got “it”. My body was flooded instantly with “the mission”. It suddenly all made absolute perfect sense. Wow. Robert “Old School” Reavis gave me my road name that day. My body flew up a bit when we hit a hard railroad crossing, my helmet strap was flapping in the wind, my earrings and ponytail as well… so “Dangles” was my road name and it fit.
Now of course everything had changed, and I wanted to go “All the Way” but alas my retreat, that I was teaching was planned and full. My heart ached. There was no possible way to change things, so I had to surrender. My flight into DC Thursday wasn’t arriving until 7PM, not enough time to get up to the Central Route lodging. So we planned the next best thing, Ken would show up early Friday at the host hotel where I was staying, and he would drive me west to meet up for the last day of the Central Route’s journey. EZ had been discussing this with me for awhile, but I didn’t quite understand and I was attempting to avoid being on a Harley. Now all that had changed.
The Missing Man Coordinator was a man named Tom “Bones” Pogue, and EZ told me I needed to call him. Just like with EZ, as soon as I heard Bones’ voice on the other end of the phone, I knew I was “home”. It was astounding to me that Bones was not a Vietnam Vet as his heart and soul was cut from the same cloth of depth, genuineness, care, and love. If this was the “crowd” I was going to be around, I had nothing to fear. If I had any expectations or fears left, they were skillfully being burnt up in a huge bonfire of blazing love to reveal a simple spaciousness that soothed my soul.
I had never met other Vietnam Gold Star “kids”, save for a long ago picnic and Christmas event in 1968 that was actually a horrid memory, as we all were shell shocked and shattered, and never saw one another again. On The Run were some “wall siblings” (those whose dad’s name are also on The Wall) that I would be meeting, and words can not convey what this meant to me as well. I had already connected with them via our private Facebook group, and had talked to some on the phone, but being able to meet face-to-face and hug is just beyond description.
Early Friday morning before Memorial Day had finally arrived! Making the drive from DC to meet up at RFTW’s meeting spot was amazing. I had visceral memories of living in Quantico, VA with Daddy and our family, and my heart was singing as my body recalled this entire area with fondness. Wearing my special t-shirt which matched the color of the blue sky reminded me of our happy times in this state. EZ had told us to be on time and we were early. Waiting for the bikes to finally roll in seemed like an eternity, my excitement was palpable!
Vroom, vroom and here they come! Platoon leaders, road guards, motorcycles galore and there I was obviously an FNG trying to contain my overwhelming emotion and excitement! My big brother EZ told me where to wait for him. I met my first “wall sibling”, Sandy who was also an FNG who had started the morning riding in the Missing Man formation for her Daddy, also a Marine and we exchanged quick hugs and tears as I was escorted by EZ to our spot and to meet Bones. As soon as I saw his soulful eyes, I said “Bones” as I went in for a hug. Two other RFTW brothers came up and introduced themselves as friends of Jed’s and gave me bear hugs. I was truly “home” here. Bones showed me the Missing Man chalk drawing and dedication he had made for my Daddy and it was perfect. And then it was “time”….something that had been building for months, perhaps 50-years was about to begin… I was going to ride Missing Man Formation for my beloved Daddy on the back of a Harley in the beautiful state of Virginia behind a police escort.
As we pulled out, it wasn’t lost on me that the last time I was in a police escort was 1968, as we rode in a black limousine following the flag draped coffin in the hearse ahead that carried my beloved Dad. Almost 50-years later I was now riding on a Harley, hair blowing in the wind, heart, soul and body finally mended back together, full deep breaths and easily allowing any tears to flow. Wham, the presence of My Dad was there as soon as we entered the road. Ohhh the love, the love was so palpable, strong, deep and overflowing… that is what brings the tears now. Sure perhaps always a hint of sorrow of what could have been, but the love is so thick, I can breath it, taste it, smell it, and touch it with my hands it seems. “Dangling” in the wind through the veils of time and space is the palpable essence of shimmering love… Mmm, was it my Daddy who whispered to Old School the idea of my nickname of Dangles?
Dear Lord, what a day this is… the sky is azure blue, a few soft fluffy clouds here and there as I ride with my brother who simply gets “it”, no words necessary, and behind me, a long flowing sea of souls on motorcycles committed to the same mission and whom are my “family”. I don’t use the word “family” flippantly, for the word alone means we “belong together” and I belong to them as they belong to me. My healing is their healing, and their healing is my healing. Together, we will love the war out of one another for the rest of our days. As we pulled into the host hotel, flags are waving, people are cheering, and I’m happier than I ever have been. All of my many years of individual healing, leading healing retreats, prayers, and such has all been deeply exquisite and lovely, but “THIS” was the missing piece. Thank you Holy Spirit for insisting I ring the doorbell. My brother EZ opened up so much more than his front door.
To be continued RFTW, to be continued…. so much love and gratitude to each and every one of you,
Hi again. Just a few notes to wind up the Sit Reps for 2018.
There were so many FNG’s to brag about on this RUN. It was so good to see many come on board and enjoy the RUN and many have caught hold of what the RUN is about and have ordered their lives to make permanent changes. One, among many, is Frank Davis of California. He was brought on board by Don Burns and Frank regularly attends meetings. In Frank’s words, the mission of the RUN is outstanding and the mission of helping all vets is a very good one and one that hits home with him. Frank has dealt with PTSD as a fire fighter for 28 years and 3 years ago he began to study and understand more of nutrition’s effect at the cell level on PTSD. He has also said that his belief in Christ has helped him and has really been the impetus in his finding the help he has needed. The RUN has given him the process to find healing and he encourages any one going through or dealing with PTSD to try to put aside the feelings of abandonment and come be a part of Run For The Wall people and you will find some of the healing you need.
Okay, this is the last one. Thanks so much for reading and I hope I have given you a taste of what the RFTW is all about. Please also visit mamag03.blogspot.com. for a bunch of great pictures and if you have questions for me, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I wanted to go back to yesterday which would place us in Nitro last night. 5/23 We were at the Nitro presentation when the song by Lee Greenwood, I am proud to be an American, was played. The song had barely started when seemingly the entire front half of the people around the “stage” came together and held hands and lifted them up and began to sing along. It was an emotion packed moment-in-time that says so very much about the spirit of togetherness in the group last night. And then this morning when we were sitting on our bikes ready to go, someone honked their horn, then another and it erupted into a symphony of everyone’s horn going at the same time. There just seemed to be a joyful spirit among the group and it was fun to be there. The video I took of the song is about 3 minutes long and will not fit well in this format but may see it on the rftw.us facebook. I will try to include it here but if you cannot pull it up, send me an email and I will send it and some others. sSitreprftw2018@gmail.comAlso you may visit the new sit rep for next year and she may have this posted now. Her name is Jean Galt and her blog is mamag03.blogspot.com.
We left Nitro so thankful for all the good things the people had done there and headed to WV capital in Charleston. If you have ridden with us before then you know what a beautiful peaceful place the rotunda is. We fit all 500+ bikes in there. We took pictures and enjoyed some down time and then headed to Rainelle WV. It is a long road, about 95 miles but the beauty of the place helps it to slip by quickly.
Rainelle is a very special place for the people of the RUN and we look forward to being there and sharing with the kids. They come out and stand along the fences and are excited to see us and I think we are actually more excited to see them as there are a lot of happy faces on all who are in the midst of exchanging signatures and some homemade pictures and etc. I met Randy earlier at the capital and told him about Rainelle and later I saw him in the middle of a bunch of kids. He had a smile from ear to ear, and I asked him how he was doing. He said, “I love this, I just wish I had something to give them, I wish I had known”. So, we made sure he had something to give the kids and when I left they were surrounding him and all had a good time. If you have not been to Rainelle, I will briefly explain what is going on. The first RUN came to a point where they had to either pay to go through a toll road or find a different way. Being just a little bit old fashioned and maybe a little stubborn they decided to go up through the mountains. The local sheriff saw or heard they were coming and alerted the teacher and the teacher took a chance on these old Nam Vets and had her kids out on both sides of the street and the local people were there too. They had made some small gifts and prepared some food for the riders and when the riders came into the town they saw the people on both sides of the street and thought they were interrupting a parade and were apologetic. Well when they were told the gathering was for them, you can imagine the change that came over the riders and it has been a real love affair for the last 30 years. I have seen hardened old growly vets who could not even smile all the way from LA, when they get there and the kids surround them, I see them smile and their whole world begins to change. I have seen it happen, it is like a miracle at Rainelle. It is worth doing the entire RUN just to be here and experience it. Yall come!
A gorgeous day for anything you wanted to do except playing in the rain. Beautiful Kentucky and West Virginia sky with white fluffy clouds against the beautiful green forest areas. And oh yes, that sweet smelling honeysuckle vine that adds an air of mystique and or elegance to the country side. Truly a post card day for riding.
What a beautiful country we live in, not just the country side but the people who come to our rallies or meetings are some of the most hospitable people I know. Nitro tonight, every server, greeter and etc. made sure you got good meal, ice cream, a hug and or handshake with a smile. It was one of those moments in the history of the RUN that seems to be repeated often, in each place we meet, and we are so glad it is. It seems to me, as someone who has been on 11 times now, that the RUN has grown in size and scope by about 1/3 to ¼ in the last year. Unofficial, of course. Not only have the number of bikes increased from about 350+- last year to 600+- this year. But what impresses me are the number of people who come out to support us and the genuine outpouring of affection and love from every source. It seems so many more people and companies step up to help with food and gas and other expenses. There also is a renewed expression of patriotism, nothing fake but a genuine heartfelt excitement, appreciation and enthusiasm, seemingly at every turn. We are most thankful for the great spirit of cooperation that exists now and we realize that it is not by accident that these things happen. Much of our success is due to much planning and hard work at every turn and we have very good leaders who do much work and planning. Harlan, our route coordinator, has done an excellent job in organizing and keeping thins running smoothly and directing all the moving parts. Sure, there are always problems when dealing with the many issues of a RUN this size. He could not do it by himself and he has surrounded himself with good talented people who have a heart to do things right and to get them done without fussing and problems. Still I am reminded of the proverb that says “that unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain that build it”. I know that all this has not happened by accident but there certainly has been much prayer behind what is being done. I believe God is blessing this organization because people are being healed and are being helped and He loves people and He will work through any person, group or organization that has a real mission of helping people. This RUN is a place where people can find healing and that original and sustaing source of healing is of course the Holy Spirit. All are to be commended for their spirit of cooperation in this the “Greatest Run In America”.
The temp was hot and humidity moderate and many of us were very tired as it took some concentration to stay alert, but still great to be riding. Our trip to Robley Rex V A Medical Center was another treasure. I think about every nurse in the building came out to welcome us and we were able to go in and meet some of the patients. It is good to so many of the medical staff with great attitudes and who love their work and people.
The engineering marvel of the Kentucky Vietnam Memorial is a must see.
I usually type up my report and add the pictures later. Last night my ability to pull up pictures has stopped due to my overloading it with too much of the wrong stuff. But, this will be to your advantage because we have a lady in our RUN who is an expert in doing her blog and she has a lot of pictures posted so I want you to go to mamag03.blogspot.com. You will be amazed at what she puts together each day so look at all her posts from days past and going forward. You will be able to enjoy her posts now and going forward into next year as she will be the sit rep next year. And that will be a good thing for everyone.
Day 7, Wentzville Mo. To Corydon, In., May 22, 2018
Today was a beautiful day to do anything outside. Bright sunny skies with just a few clouds to take the blistering heat away. Needed to stay hydrated riding. We went from Wentzville Mo. to Corydon, Ind.292 miles, a light day for miles.
We left staging by the Church and headed a few miles to the Wentzville Vietnam Memorial, which was the first memorial in the US for the Vietnam war. It has grown and been improved over the years and it is always good to see the young band members playing. Met two ladies there who were daughters of WWII soldiers.
We had some interesting events yesterday. Corydon is such a favorite place for all the riders and we look forward all year to the great fish fry that they provide for us. Thanks much for the great outpouring of love and hospitality each year. You make a difference in the lives of the riders!! I was just sitting down to my delicious meal of fish when of course the fire alarm went off and we had to leave the building, maybe next year.
Thanks for reading and watching. Comments are welcome at email@example.com
Day 6, Junction City to Wentzville Mo. May 21, 2018
Another great and glorious day on the RUN. I started out to ride with the Ambassador team and I got to staging late because I was still finishing up yesterday’s sit rep and wanted to get it completed so of course I was running late and forgot to plug in my tether cord to my CB and left it in the trunk, therefor I could not hear the leader’s commands to go off the road so therefore I did not get to go out and meet and thank people along the way. That is the way it is on the RUN and I suppose in life too. Some days you just start out behind and you find it real hard to catch up. That is what this RUN is like, most of the time. Maybe it is just me but I talk to others and they chime in and agree with me. Unless you are really disciplined and stay the course it is easy to get behind and then it snowballs and then you are really behind. I just needed to share that so you may get the impression that it is all fun and games and to a certain extent it is, but reality in any theater comes back to haunt you unless you prepare for it.
Okay, enough of my struggles. I arrived at staging just in time to leave with the ambassadors. They are a special group that gets out ahead of the main pack and goes to where the people are standing along the road and or on the overpasses and thank them for being there to support RFTW. Many people on the overpasses have been coming for several years and they are so glad to actually put a face to the RUN and to touch an actual person connected to the RUN. They are there to support the RUN and they are always gracious and supportive. The ambassadors give out pins, hugs and thank yous. Sometimes the people want to talk but when it (bikes) comes the bikes get their full attention and that is as it should be. I wanted to get some better shots but due to circumstance, like no CB hookup and etc. I was only able to get a few and I have some stock photos also.
The Ambassadors are led by the very capable Eric and Sonia Amond. Their dedication and attitudes toward the RUN are outstanding. They have been involved with the Ambassadors for 2010 +-. Ambassadors was started because we wanted a way for the pack to say thank you to the bystanders. To just drive by and wave seemed inadequate so the Ambassador team was started. It has been a very successful endeavor.
We headed through Topeka to the fuel stop which was paid for the VFW national headquarters, and we thank you very much. Fuel on the RUN is often paid for by others which allows many to go on the RUN that otherwise would not be able to make it, so thank You.
We headed straight east down I70 to Concordia Mo. And arrived to a wonderful meal and presentations. A high light for many were the two WWII Vets that were present. They are Melvin Rehkop, 99, sitting, and Mel Bockelman, 90. Melvin shared with me that he was a young farm boy when he went to war and that 90% of all the soldiers in his community were farm boys and that their stride when walking was longer than most of the other men and they had to teach the farm boys to take smaller or shorter steps in order to march with the others. An interesting side note “coincidence” develop. Yesterday at JC I met two men from Dutch or Holland, actually I had met Maarten van Lunenburg in 2013 (?) when he was by himself and now his brother, Bas van Lunenburg, (on left) is here with him. They very much wanted to meet the WWII men as the soldiers had liberated Belgim during WWII.
Unfortunately I am out of time and I have much to post. I will get to the many posts when I can and if I don’t get them done before the end of the RUN days I will continue to post in the days after. Thanks much and I will talk with you tomorrow. Whats ahead, Road Guards, platoon leaders, many coincidental conversations that I must share as they are so interesting. Please be patient and I will do my best to get them out this week or maybe next.
Day 5, Goodland Kansas to Junction City Kansas, 5/20/18
We will have to wait a day or two for the Road Guard report, only so many hours in a day and many to try to track down.
Oh so very much to cover today so please read fast as I try to type fast. This was a very special day as most of them are but this one seems to be special to a lot of the riders. Maybe it is because of the long sleepy road to get here, maybe because of all the flags that are placed everywhere, maybe because they treat us so very special, maybe it is because they presented all the Vietnam Vets a special pin of thanks. I suppose it is different for each, but it became emotional for most of us when we came up to all the people and the man, many flags. Most of us were really touched by the outpouring of love and appreciation for the riders and or Vets. So appreciated, thanks very much for making it happen.
As you read about the few things that are written here please remember that it represents only a small fraction of the event that I experience in a day and a very tiny fraction of all the events that transpire on just one day on the RUN.
Take a look at this picture. Do you see fatigue like I do. This dear couple, pray for them, they are exhausted, this is early in the morning at Goodland and I just happened to be going by to see this. Rockie is the head medical person for the RUN and she is busy and Roadside is a platoon leader. They are trying to maintain a household with two dogs in a car and yet be available whenever an emergency arises. This RUN can be very trying and tiring too.
As per the course, Goodland folks fixed a great breakfast and sent us on our way. At our location in Goodland in the morning we had a service put on by our Chaplain team. They are great team lead by Curtis Hubble and he spoke from Isaiah 43. Later Keith also gave a message of inspiration. Isa 43:1-3, But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. 3 For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior; Curtis spoke about the importance of trusting God to take care of the past and the future we face, it is best to face it with the Holy Spirit guiding us. Picture of servers X2 Rockel
We loaded up and headed to Oakley about 60 miles. Upon arriving with over 500 bikes and getting staged, I met a couple form Hawaii that are now living in Colorado. They are Rockel and Fred Haskell who now live in Falcon Colo. They have been married 30 years and wanted to celebrate by going on our 30th year of the RUN. She rides a Can Am bike. I asked her what she thought of the RUN so far and almost with tears she explained that she had never seen such love and patriotism for across America. It has changed her perception and has given her more love for America. (her words). We are so glad you both came with us and are sharing in this American experience. Picture of bike and Rockel
The next interesting coincidence was with two guys setting across the picnic table and they began to tell of things they do and they found out they live in nearby California town they raise the same kind of dogs for service dogs and interact with the same people in the God business. They were both very passionate about the dogs they have trained. Both were FNG’s and they were amazed at the outpouring that they seen across America, especially the overpasses. Their names are Ronnie Sever on the left and Ted Kapner. Picture
Next I met Lynn Vernon who works with Missing in America. It is an organization that addresses unclaimed remains of Veterans. They contact mortuaries and find out if there are any unclaimed ashes and then they do their due diligence in finding out if they have relatives etc. and when all the facts are brought out they will have a funeral for the remains and the people involved and provide for burial and final closure. We may think this does not happen often but according to her there have been over 1,200 such cases that her group has worked with. She made it clear that there are many organizations that come together to get the job done. Thanks for your part Lynn.
Before we left Oakley I just had to take a picture with these fine looking kids on their home from Church; Phillip, Abby, LJ and Norma too shy to be in the picture. Picture
Next we headed to Junction City by going through the fuel stop at Bunker Hill. That was a very sleepy leg and I was not doing too good and drank some Red Bull like the youngsters do and it helped a lot. Never too old to learn a new trick! Someday, you have got to come along or come out and see the staging, fuel crew and road guards all working together as one at a fuel stop and they do a very, very good job at it. It is masterful and exciting to see. Keep in mind that no biker ever knows where to go nor how to get there, well maybe some do, unless someone tells them. And our group is 47% FNG’s so they have never seen these places before.
At this fuel stop I met another interesting couple that you will like. They are Sandra and Jim Judge and get ready for this. He started in Key West Florida and drove to Pruedo Bay in Alaska in 12 days and 15 hours. He does Iron Butts as a hobby. An Iron Butt is doing over 1,000 miles in 24 hours. I have done one and was wiped out the next day. He paced himself to do at least 500 miles per day. That takes determination as you have time for very short hygiene and eating and sleeping to keep your strength up. Okay, now guess how old he is, 82 years young. This is his 3rd RFTW and her 1st. He is driving her on their Can Am bike and having a great time. He is also a pilot, flight instructor, A&P mechanic and FFA Inspector. So, now what is your excuse, you can’t use that old line, “I’m just too old”, that doesn’t get it with these two. I know there needs to be balance but if able go for it. If you are using too old as something that keeps you from enjoying life or at least trying new things, stop it, don’t limit yourself and don’t limit what God can do in your life, go for it as best as you can. Picture.
Our trip to Junction was uneventful until we entered the city. My-O-My, what a place. Hundreds of American flags throughout the route and the people there applauding the entrance of the pack. It made me proud to be an American and thankful for the Welcome Home that the Vets and others received. Life changing from my perspective. If you would have gone through that street and had seen what we saw, I believe you would well up with some pride also. I took a video but it is too long to Instagram but if you want a copy, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our Outreah group
We enjoyed a rousing speaker by the name of Ray (? Last name) and we went on to be served a very tasty meal prepared by some more great, salt of the earth people. Thank you, thank you!
We awoke in Eagles Nest to a beautiful morning. The mountains were beautiful. Now these are real mountains, not those little bumps you have back east and there was some snow and frost on the trees. As usual the ladies and men of Angel Fire and Eagles Nest had our breakfast ready and we packed out the hall one more time. We all really like the great food and service at this place, and I don’t think you could go anywhere on this earth and find it any better food and or friendlier people who invite you in again and again to share with you. Really a special place as others have been along the way. It amazes me how friendly, helpful, caring and loving the people are on this entire RUN. As I have said before, they work all year in some cases just to spend it on us, what a treasure they are to us and we thank God for them.
Okay it may have been pretty out but it was pretty cold and made for a chilly ride over to Raton NM. (40+- degrees) Along the way I happened to see about 6 wild turkeys, just as we came out of that beautiful canyon and a little further I saw what looked to be about 40 head of elk and they were more than a little disturbed by all our noise. There were also the ever present antelope that enjoy watching us and let us get close as we go by on the road and then they sometimes quickly decide to go across the road where we are driving. It didn’t happen today however.
Our fuel stop in Raton was paid for by the “Independent Riders” whose president is Tim Trujillo. Thank you for your continued support, it really does mean a lot to us, THANKS. There were refreshments provided for all of us by some gracious people. I know I have talked about this before, but it always bears repeating. The dear people who turn out to help feed us and put fuel in our tanks and do so many things for us, you are so appreciated and your kindness really touches the riders, they don’t expect it yet you are always there helping.
We darted off towards Pueblo and fueled up and went over to a large staging lot to stage for our trip to Fountain Colo for lunch. I have been on the RUN since 06 and have seen some good growth since, but it seems that now the growth is much bigger than in the past. In the past we would never fill a large parking area like we did today, approximately 5 acres. To watch the staging crew do work their wonders, to be able to organize and get each person and bike in the right place in a matter of 15+- minutes, is fun to see. It is very organized chaos. I am part of the leadership team and hence I get a parking place towards the front of the lineup each time we park and that can happen several times per day. To make it easy for the parking ladies, they draw a line on the pavement and then put our names on the pavement. It is fun to see and now I realize that I have finally arrived as they now put my name in the pavement. How fun, it’s the small things in life, right!!!
From there I had to run up to Denver because somehow I was “blessed” by with a broken CB antenna. In this RUN it is a good thing to have your CB on so you know what is happening all the time when we are moving. So I made the trip in little over an hour and they amazingly had the part at RPM Power Sports. Great people and they jumped on my bike like a chicken on a June bug. They also noticed that my back tire was in serious need of changing and they said it was so bad that in a rain storm it may not hold and cause it to slip or slide. Who knew? They quickly (1.5 hours) the tire and I was off to Goodland and not able to get in until about 9:30 PM. I am sharing this part with you as you probably have similar things happen to you and sometimes they don’t work out in getting repairs done but it is best to get them done in order to stay safe. It was the little thing like the antenna that caused us to see the big thing, the tire. I am thankful.
On a personal level, I am riding my bull named Fu Man Chu (sp) and I am getting to ride him more that 2.7 seconds. Some of you will recognize that from the song by Tim McGraw, live like you were dying. Well I am not dying yet but I bring this up to encourage you if you have not been out with us to come out, there is still time if you are on the eastern part of the US.
I was bummed that I missed the Goodland folks and the presentation that they put on. It is another one of our favorites. I know, I seem to say that with all of them but it is difficult to say which is best as they are all very good and the great people make the difference. Maybe here is a good place to talk about our great country. This is mostly fly over country and if you have not been it is high time you come with us and see the great heart of America. The people who help us and serve us and provide for us are some of the best on earth. They deeply care about others and the RUN gives them that opportunity to show it and gives us the opportunity to give love and respect back. We need each other.
Tomorrow night I am going to do a special on our road guards so stay tuned.
That is all for today and I am looking forward to tomorrow morning and the great service at the Goodland stop.
What a beautiful day for riding with friends and for this sacred purpose. This RUN is enjoyable and may be called fun and that is a good thing, but let us not forget that the real purpose of this RUN is to Honor those who have fallen for you and me and to honor the memory and to support the returning of our POW’s and MIA’s. This RUN is not about us even though we may feel good or bad on this RUN, it is immaterial to the success of our mission. Sure we can accomplish more by having and enjoyable time and we should enjoy this RUN. There are approximately 1,700 service men and women who have not returned home and are either imprisoned or perished without anyone knowing their whereabouts. Their families have struggled for years to locate them to find resolution and to bring closure. A daunting task! Unless we keep this in mind and actively support this, then who will. It is our mission is it not! Being of the age of most Vietnam Vets but having never served, I think sometimes what they would think if they saw us now. I am sure they would want us to live our lives and that is good but we should not forget them. Do we care? Does our Country care? I know that many do care and that is why I am glad we can go to the different memorials and at least pause and offer a prayer of thanks for the men and women who did serve and for their families and loved ones. What a gift they have given us the living. Their return and or resolution is really mostly out of our hands but we can pray for the families and we can vote for the right politicians and we can lobby. So let’s be about their business. Enjoy this RUN as it is good to enjoy it but let us remember our mission, to honor our MIA’s and POW’s, and if you just even start to whine about something on this RUN, stop a minute and think about how trivial your issue is in comparison to what our Vets went through.
Okay, I just had to say that as even “I” find myself adrift from the real message and purpose of this RUN and I need to remind myself that it is more important than my personal wishes. Amen and I hope you agree and if you have been thinking that everyone here is here to meet your every need, please get over yourself and lets have the best attitude we can to support our leadership in all they are wanting to accomplish on the RUN. Okay, again, I think I am done. J
I left Gallup in all its glory and headed on a breakout mission to Grants New Mexico. Usually a breakout is done by one platoon and enough road guards to make sure all goes well everyone finds their way back. I know some of you would never do this, but I forgot to fill my tank in Gallup and I was having the best of time on this run to Grants and yep, I looked down when we were nearly there and my tank was below empty. I managed to zip into a nearby station and I put 5.73 gallons in my 6 gallon tank. Thank you Lord. Our road guards were as usual always excellent and got us there and back. Some of them are pictured below.
The two memorials we visited were Grants and Bormalillo New Mexico. They were in a well-cared for state and each place the people were gracious and glad to see us. I am thankful that we have people such as they are that take time and resources to honor with the upkeep of the memorials.
From here we scooted up to the Harley Davidson dealership of Albuquerque were served a good lunch and lots of hospitality. We then headed out for Angel Fire and BTW we have Motorcycle Police escorts throughout New Mexico. They are a great bunch of riders that enjoy this gig a lot and are happy to make the RUN with us. Pictures will explain better so I am including some here. Also this lady Jean has lots of pictures that tell an amazing story about the RUN and her blog is mamag03blogspot.com. Please visit.
When we reached the memorial I took about a 6 minute video of the bikes coking if and I don’t think I can get it posted but I will send it to you by email sitreprftw2018.gmail. please be patient as obviously I am on the road now.
At the Angel Fire memorial, a wonderful peaceful place, we watched a movie made about the war and it is called, “Letters Home”. Be ready to watch as the first time I watched it I left with much survivors guilt as our boys were going through hell over their and I was back here at home knowing about the war but not really appreciating the hell our boys went through. I also noticed a book you might like called, “The Vietnam Experience, Combat Photographs”. Inside the memorial it is a sobering and sacred place. If you have not been, put it on your bucket list. Also if you would like to help in laying bricks next September, contact the memorial and place a brick of you own or just come and help.