It was a beautiful day. Started at 65and hit the mid 80s. Since only FNGs can ride into Arlington Cemtary, we needed to get there and walk to the Tomb of the Unknow Soldier for the laying of the wreath. If you have ever been, you will see field after field like this.
Soldiers placed nearly a quarter-million U.S. flags at Arlington National Cemetery on Thursday as part of a Memorial Day tradition. The event is known as “flags in.” More than 230,000 marble headstones line the landscape of the cemetery across 624 acres.
The RFTW team is given instruction for layingto the wreath.
Changing of the guards. If you ever go to DC, please take time to see this.
RFTW heads to the Lincoln Memorial for a group shot.
There are thousand of bikes all over the grass fields. This is only one of them
Gunny taking pics of the crowd.
Looking from the top step of the Lincoln Memorial.
Once the pic is complete, the RFTW riders head for the wall. You see many member tracing names of family and friends
If you remember, there were lots of bios read and people carried them across the country. Names were found on the wall.
Then you see many of them placed under their name.
The 3 rout coordinators lay the RFTW at the Apex of the Wall.
Once an FNG has completed their mission, their FNG pin is turned upside down.
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 lack of
sleep, long days……they stand to keep us safe a lot longer than 10 days.
a few fun facts about our trip
– Temperature ranged 31-104
– We traveled in 14 states + Washington DC
– From Loveland, OH to Ontario, CA to DC – 5619 miles
– Thanks for all the thoughts and prayer, NO hail this year and very little rain.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 bracelet, making
pocket patches, hanging flags on the over passes, closing down streets,
organizing volunteer for meal, 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, coordinated with all the
towns for escorts, gas stops, parking, …. involve so many volunteers.
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 day. 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 this 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.
ARE WE GOING??? —— ALL THE WAY
I especially want to thank my husband for such an incredible journey.
One more set of prayer 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 this song:
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
Andthey 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,
Amazing, wonderful gorgeous, beautiful…. is how I describe the day. It was 65 when we got up. And no rain. YEAH!!! Eamon gives us a run down of the legs for the day. He tells us at lunch, a Harley dealer will host it. He said the Harley dealers are very generous and will even let the Honda riders eat there. The ribbing between the Harley and Honda has be here since day 1. LOL
If you remember Shawn bought this in the auction. It was made by Skeeter’s wife. Ross the head road guard and Skeeter were very close so Shawn and the road guards gave this to Ross in Skeeters honor. It is made of the Run shirts from prior years.
Last morning to stage and head on out. It is a sea of helmets.
Before we get too much further on the day, I would like to tell you about 2 other teams:
1) Outreach Team.
This team will visit Gold Start families. They will normally reach about 30 per year.They will go to the family and as they get there , each team member introduces themselves. They will express their condolences for their loss and thank them for service and sacrifice to their country. The Pledge of Allegiance is said and a RFTW pin is given to the family members. There is also a Gold Star patch and a certificate of appreciation from RFTW. A green bracelet is also give as a symbol of hope. They will pray with them and many times cry with them. Thanks you Outreach for your time with our Gold Star families.
2) Road guards. They are our guardian angels and try to keep us safe. Like putting a bubble around us. They will stop the entrance ramps, help cars and trucks get past the pack, stage at all interchanges, direct us thru gas stops. I will have several pics for you of what they do thru this post.
Little bit of fog but what beautiful country.
several pics from the day. You know me, got to get some last time scenery
pics in. We have such a beautiful country with all kinds of
landscapes. Hope you have liked them.
Because of our FREEDOM, I am able to do this.
Here a road guard is signaling the traffic to move over a lane to give the pack a chance to get on highway. Remember, we start on the highway at only 35 MPH until the last man is on the highway.
Lunch at Harley dealer. Great venue.
Some were able to find a little shade.
Look at the amount of trucks and people on this bridge. It takes time and effort to pull this off. So may be 30 minutes. We had someone stand on the bridge today and they times the pack. It was less than 5 minutes. This is truly a sign on the supports have for our troops.
About 72 miles from DC,we get a police escort .
Last gas stop, Rick said he lost his hat…. I believe I saw it heading down the road in the high speed lane
Last time you will have to stage guys…. nice work. By about day 10 in think you have it downpat.
Ron tries his hand at being a road guard. Not bad and Diesel was ready to let him do it all day.
The fuel team singed a hat for Terri gives to her. LOL
Road guards have to recycle to the front. On the left are 2 road guards working their way back up to the front of the pack.
As we see
the miles to Arlington get lower and lower, I realize our mission is almost
complete. I also think of all the troops still deployed all over this
world. I pray that some day they will be able to count down the number of days they will be home.
Stopping an entrance ramp. Thanks road guards.
Gunny is there to greet us as we come in.
The crowd cheers as we pull into the parking lot. Remember how our Vietnam troops were treated when they got home. Remember it only takes a few seconds to THANK a veteran, active service person, police or fireman for their service. And it you remember, if you thank a Vietnam vet , Tell them “WELCOM HOME”.
This is our road guard crew. They are amazing men and women.
I will have one more post tomorrow before completing this years mission. The FNGs get to ride into Arlington on the bikes. This is a very rare privilege. I hope to get some great shots.
Route: I-64 E, I-81N, I-66E
Today is the day we go to Rainelle to see the kids. This is the school we have raised all the money for. Last day for he military and platoon challenges, last day for auction….
Every day before we leave for our platoon meetings , Eamon leaves us with 2 things: 1) They shall not grow old as we who are left behind grow old
Age shall not weary them nor the years condemn
At the going down of the sun and in the morn
We shall remember them
Lest we forget
2) HOW FAR ARE WE GOING? ALL THE WAY!!!!
We go to the parking lot today and Tom, the ARC’s bike is covered. Tom was he head road guard captain for year. As a rookie road guard, you get your bike trashed at some point on the trip.
I guess they put the rookie up to it.. LOL
Random people will stop and salute the Run. They know what it is all about and respect it.
Stuck in traffic heading into Charleston we go past a school bus. They we scream and waving…
UGH…. traffic on a bike is not much fun but we did make it.
This young man has been standing every year on this same block for RFTW since he was one. He is now 16. He stands there the whole time the bikes are rolling in.
His sister, mom and grandma
His grandmother worked in one of the building at 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 50 years. I admire the women who have stated with their husband from the Vietnam War. They too have suffered. Many of our soldiers have changed and have problems with coping yet they have stated with them Thanks ladies. This goes also for any women that served. Thanks guys for sticking with your wives. Here is her husband.
Packed around the capital. Bikes everywhere. Here is an example that Steve has to lay out to make sure we all fit. We are in multiple lots. This is like a jigsaw puzzle.
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 4 wars are WWI, WWII, Korea and Vietnam
We move back to the Step to get a group shot of the Central Route. Pretty many people.
Got a good laugh at this one.
She is all of 23. She has no idea yet…. her life is just beginning and she will have many tomorrows.
“We have tomorrows because of them.”
This gentleman we running around on a scooter. He said he could not run with us, not enough gears.
He stood as we started out. He was a little unsteady but remained strong.
As we head to Rainelle, there are people all along the 35+ miles.
The road is great. Beautiful West Virginia windy roads. Enjoy the ride and the people out there supporting us.
Yeah finally made it.
Definitely worth the wait. Wish you could have heard them.
Now that we have stopped, and put kickstands down, we can go see the kids. They want OUR autograph. Pretty funny. Most of us have brought trinkets, pens, pins…. to give the kids. It is like Halloween. Enjoy the pics.
This lady is the daughter of the police chief that back in 1989, he started the veterans parade with Gunny. She wants her son from the time he is born to be able to participate in this day.
This lady was 1 when the first riders came thru. She has not missed one and she does not what her kids to either. Amazing…
Kim is the principle. She is exstatic about the amount of money that RFTW has donated. Just a side note. RFTW also bought every child a coat, hat and glove when a flood struck.
Several of the elementary kids sang for the riders. Here is part of the song:
What do you say to a hero?
Someone who is always there.
We can say Thank You.
Or we can say Thank You, Thank You..…
Oh my, no one told me I needed a tissue for today.
You prayer warriors are spectacular!! What a great day!! Temps started at 73 and no rain. Even in the afternoon it went to 94 but there was a nice cloud cover. Great riding weather.
Lance is our Raffle Rouser. The hat he has in his hand was auctioned off. So as you remember, all the money goes to the kids of Rainelle, WV. The guys had a lot of fun with this Bush Boys hat. There is a group of guys from KY that are on the Run. They had it made, figuring they would maybe get $20. Well, 2 of the brothers were bidding again each other and others chipped in to help each beat the other brother…. top bid…. $170… Seriously!! every one was laughing.
Jenny looked at them…. are they crazy… but all going for the kids.
Here is another quilt that was auction. It was gorgeous and made of several old RFTW t-shirts.
Pledge, prayer and a few words from Eamon. We break into platoons for their morning meetings.
On the road… and they are already on the bridges at 7:30
Cross the Ohio River and into Kentucky.
We head through Louisville, and we have the highway closed about 8:00. This is rush hour and being it is a big city, there are hundreds of cars. Lee , our KY state coordinator, worked with the LEOs and had the highways close for us to get thru. I would guess there were a lot of people late for work.
On our way to Robley Rex, we get a gap in the pack. Needless to say they took a wrong turn. Kirk and another road guard SAVED THE DAY….. wow that sound like superman. Do not let Kirk hear that. This is now called the Robley Rex Run Around. They went to the next exit and flipped around and got there only about 10 minutes later. You have to remember, there are hundreds of bike. You cannot just stop. It I like a freight train. You need to give it plenty of time to get it stopped. Thanks you guys.
We arrive at Robley Rex VA Hospital and are greeted with open arms. They love when the Run comes thru. The patients love it and cannot wait til we get here.
The Robley Rex VA Medical Center is an active,
affiliated acute care and outpatient facility located on a 47-acre hilltop near
downtown Louisville and overlooking the Ohio River. The medical
center also operates three community based outpatient
clinics in the greater Louisville area. These clinics make VA services more
accessible for veterans residing in the Kentucky area.
Rex Robley was born in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, and
enlisted in the military in May, 1919, six months after the Armistice date. He
severed for 3 years.He was the last
Kentucky World War I era veteran, and the last known World War I era veteran of
the United States.
In 1986, Rex turned to volunteerism, lending support
to fellow veterans at the Louisville Veteran’s Administration Medical Center.
Rex logged more than 14,000 hours of volunteer time while at the Center. He
dedicated his life helping his fellow veterans, both through the veterans
service organizations and activities at the Medical Center.He continued to volunteer there three days a
week, even at age 105.
Billy with 3 of the nurses. They do so much for our veterans. Thanks ladies.
The Pledge of Allegiance is said. Oh my gosh the number of veteran is amazing.
We were able to visit several of the patients. They are always so excited to see us come in and love to hear the sound of the motorcycles as we pull in.
This gentleman served in Navy from 1964 to 1967. He was on the USS Yorktown. He put the aircraft on the elevators to get to them up on deck. They put inappropriate notes on the bombs. He just smiled from ear to ear. I can only imagin what they wrote. 😁😁😁
This gentleman served in the Army from1976-1979. It was the end of the Vietnam war. Back then, no one would talk about it. It was a war that they did not want to be in and then were treated purely when they returned. This is his son with him. He was a very grateful we stopped. And thanked us for doing the Run.
Before you leave , you have to see Popcorn Billy. He is famous in the hospital, and he love the girls, just ask him.
The gentleman to his left served with “Popcorn” Billy. He gave me the story on Billy. The 2 here and Billy’s twin brother served in the same unit from 1968-69. They were in the 57th Assault Helicopter Company. It was the first attach on a helicopter unit. Billy’s brother died in this attach and Billy was wounded. Ever since he has been helping all the people can. The name “popcorn” came because he makes popcorn and sells it then donates the proceed. He buys all the supplies. Always smiling and likes hugs!!
Here is one of our road guards taking a breather. They work really hard keeping us safe.
Ready to role.
Lee way to go getting the over passes covered.
We are on the roads for so many days that we miss our families. Lee’s family visited him at a gas stop. So cute.
This is Becca, one of our Medical personal. Thanks Becca for your hard work. Also she is from Alaska. WOW!!!
Heading to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial we still have the highway closed for us.
As we arrive, several members from the Cincinnati Harley chapters greet us. Great to see everyone. Thanks for making the trip.
The Kentucky Vietnam Veterans Memorial was designed
with a unique approach to honor the military dead from one of America’s most
troubled conflicts. A 14-foot high steel sundial stands at the center of a
granite plaza. Its gnomon casts a shadow on the chiseled name of each fallen
Vietnam war veteran — 1,103 of them — on the anniversary of when they were
killed.Thus each individual is honored
with a personal tribute. Kentucky’s 23 MIAs are listed behind the sundial so
its shadow never falls on their names. Some have been found since this was build. Those are the ones with a date. We never forget and we will not stop until we bring them all home.
The Memorial is one of the largest granite memorials
in the nation and contains 327 cut stone panels weighing more than 215 tons.
The stone came from the Pyramid Blue quarry in Elberton, GA. The lettering of
the names and dates are the same style used for official government grave markers
throughout the nation, including Arlington National Cemetery.
If you ever get a chance to go see it, go. It is amazing and an engineering marvel.
Now flying the Kentucky flag.
WOW!!! This is on an overpass.
We come into Mt. Sterling and what a reception. Here all the kids are out waving flags and screaming. So neat.
As we pull into the Clay Community Center, this big guy is greeting us.
That last leg was very hot. Coming into the center , that was air conditioned felt sooo good.
See is only take a few second to say “Thanks for your service”. Not only should you do it for our service men and women, you should also do it for our police and firemen. They have your back on a closer level.
Jackie and Ron are both mayors.How cool is that to have active mayors riding all the way on the Run
After lunch, I too a few pics as we rolled thru KY into WV. Then sat back and just enjoyed the beauty. Enjoy the ride with me.
Then I saw this. Look at the size!!! This is on a bridge.
Next we heard this load noise. One of the riders at dinner told me he thought there was something wrong with his bike. Nope, it was a helicopter escorting us into Hurricane , WV which is our ending destination for the night. Pretty cool.
It was pretty low.
Arrive in Hurricane.
WOW!!! I think have said this now 3 time in this post.
We are singing the Star Spangle Banner. I will never get tired of the respect we have.
This is the couple from Italy I wrote about on May 19. You are amazing for coming so far.
Thanks and welcome to the RFTW family.
Since we just came off the bikes in 90 degree weather, this felt amazing.
Here is the Huey the flew over us.
Tomorrow we visit the kids at Rainelle. Since the begin of the Run we have been collecting money for the schools in that town. It was one of the first school “Gunny” Gregory stopped at on his first run from CA of DC in 1989. I am told that these bikers gave the kids a ride on their bikes. Really, bikers , black leather … and kids. This friendship has been there for 31 years and thru many generations.
Quotes: (2 for today)
Honoring the past, inspiring the future
him he is more than just a name on a wall
Today we woke up to no rain. That was great since it poured last night.
Before we start, I need to apologize. A few days ago I said there was no Gold Star families. We do have one riding with his. Thank you for the service and thank you for riding with us.
Also thanks to all the blue star families riding with us, we have several.
As we come into the parking to stage, this is what I see. I just started laughing. This is the perfect day for this. It is day 7, people are getting a little tire of getting up at 4 AM and being away from family. This really put a smiles on a lot of face.
It is a very calm morning. We started to say the pledge and then there was a slight breeze. The flag started waving and seemed to be saying: It will be a good day , I will be there with you.
Eamon has bios on several of our veteran that are MIA or KIA. The pages are then read allowed and he asks for someone to carry them to the wall. We need to bring them all home.
Gomez said he was tired so Larry and Lee picked him up. Laughing the whole time.
Heading out with our Escorts.
Heading down he road. I am not sure they left from last night.
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.”
The high school bad was outstanding, but they were in shorts!! It was 50 degrees. Oh yeah they are young.
Group photo. WOW!!!
As we headed back to the bikes, I see this lady. She served in the Navy in 1955. I wanted to talk more to her but we were saddling up. If you are not on your bike they will not wait, you get left.
Back on the road to head to Jefferson Barracks.
This is the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery and Health Care Facility
Burial in a national cemetery is open to all members of the armed forces who have met a
minimum active duty service requirement and were discharged under conditions
other than dishonorable.
VA St. Louis Health Care System is a full-service health care facility providing inpatient and ambulatory care
in medicine, surgery, psychiatry, neurology, and rehabilitation, as well as
over 65 subspecialty areas. It is a two-division facility that serves veterans
and their families in east central Missouri and southwestern Illinois.
The Jefferson Barracks Military Post
is located on the Mississippi River at Lemay, Missouri, south of St. Louis. It
was an important and active U.S. Army installation from 1826 through 1946. It
is the oldest operating U.S. military installation west of the Mississippi
River, and it is now used as a base for the Army and Air National Guard. A
Veterans Affairs healthcare system campus is located on the southern portion of
As we went in, they were tables with all kinds of goodies. They were so excited to see us. Several of the riders were able to talk to the veterans.
Heading over the Mississippi River to Mt. Vernon.
We could see the Arch in St. Louis. It was pretty overcast all day so tough to see. This was fine.
At least no rain!!
More pics of over passes and some of this beautiful country.
At a fuel stop, I was talking to Shawn, one of the road guards. He rides with this bear. He said that a person from Limon wanted it carried to the wall, so he said he would take it. He sat it on the back of his bike. Tom (ARC) came by and said ” You know you give road guards a bad image” Ha ha.
Shawn proceed to tell him that he has already had 8 people tell him, they were getting tired and tense on the road. But when he drove past them, the arms seemed to be clapping, and it really helped them get thru the day.” So the person in Limon, never knew a little stuffed animal would help so many.
Now in Mt. Vernon IL for lunch. Star Spangle Banner was sung, 21 gun salute and tap.
They had the best chicken…. and a huge parking lot.
Heading to Corydon, IN. Seeing a lot of green and the sun came out. It is getting pretty warm. YEAH!!
As we get off the exit, Martha and Harry are there.
The Indiana flags lead us in.
Another great reception. Lots of kids.
This poor little guy. He looked excited and waved his flag, but I guess all the noise bothered him a little.
Corydon fixes us a great fish dinner. They needed a lot of fish to feed this crew.
We are now back on Eastern time. Funny thing I over heard 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.
Route: I-255 , I-64E
Total Miles: 315
Quote for the day: Please tell him he is more than just a name on a wall
We had another great day. Temps started 50 degrees. Every day Eamon asks if there are any Blue or Gold Star families. We have several Blue Start but no Gold today. There is always someone around them to give a hug. I love the RFTW family. We get and give lots of hugs.
Beautiful day but it did not feel like 50 degrees….it felt much colder. I was not the only one that thought so. By now, we dress to the temperature. LOL but today we should have dressed like it was 30.
We departed a 7:30 and look at this…already support for the Run.. What a way to make your day.
As we approach a toll booth, look at the artimis sign. Pretty nice. Also we were able to go thru the express lane this year. Thanks guys this make it a lot easier.
Yeah sun is out and we are starting to feel a little warmer… On our first stop, I was not the only one that said it felt colder than 50.
We have got this gas stop process down now.
Love to watch Deno…. he really gets into his job and moving the bikes to available pumps. The American Legion from Topeka picked up the bill for the fuel and the toll. Thanks!!
Staging crew…this looks awesome….. wow
This next leg, we had the honor to ride in the Missing Man formation. Tom , aka “Bones”, is the coordinator. Every leg of every day is manned. And there is a different person on every leg.
Route Coordinator State Coordinator
Escort Missing Man
Missing Man Coordinator Head Chaplin
The escort “rides for those who can’t.” The name is put in the Missing Man position
This group of 5 leads the pack cross country. They are not allowed to wave , shout, or take pictures out of respect. We were in the State Coordinator position for 2 legs. Since I am the Sit Rep, I was given dispensation to take a few pics to show the great men of our law enforcement from Missouri. Missouri’s escort, like New Mexico, allows only the Run riders on the road. I had a very unique opportunity of being right behind what I call the Flying V ( if any of you remember the movie “Mighty Ducks”).
This is so impressive!!! There are almost 30 officers from county,city,township…
As we roll into Concordia, we go to get fuel. As we turn into the park for lunch, they are all lined up.
We take up the whole park , there are bikes every where. This is a very nice little town.
Cindy is now the leadership staging person. She bedazzled her sign. LOL
This gentleman is 92 and WWII Veteran.
This is another WWII veteran. He is 100. What an honor to meet both of these men. I am sure by the end of the lunch, they will be exhausted. Hundreds of The Run riders thanked them for their service.
Remember it only take a few seconds to say thanks 😊😊
The kids normally give us index cards with well wishes and thanks. This year they made us buttons. They were so cute and I noticed at dinner today, many were being wore by our riders.
Check them out. This one kind of hard to see but it is a motorcycle.
Lunch outside and today it was a bit cool. Beautiful park.
Kids on the left many others from the school made the pins
Eamon hands out the plaques for appreciation to the Run. Linda , the
lady in red, list the name of the people and organization that helped to pull
this off for us. We had pulled pork and chicken, carrot/celery,
cheese,chips, apple, cookies. Some of the organizations donated and others made.The lists was very long.THANKS!!
Here is an example:
You have seen the flags as we come into town, and you know that every state has there own flag. Bud and Tom are the ones riding the bikes that carry them. This is the Missouri flag.
Heading down the main street in Concordia.
On the road with our escorts
I wanted to try an give what the missing man looks like from the State coordinator position.
This was so cool. As they block the entrances ramp, they would peal off to the right. Once done they would go on the left of the group. At least that is what I could figure out. If I get the opportunity, I will ask one tomorrow.
I talked to “Roman” a little bit about who he was. This is his response:
I grew up in Colorado. Graduated high school in 1998 and began Marine Corps Boot Camp. Selected for Presidential Security and worked for President Clinton and President GW Bush until I was honorably discharged. Went into law enforcement in 2002. In 2004 I volunteered as a combat replacement and was assigned to 2nd Battalion 5th Marines. Served as a squad leader in Ramadi, Iraq. Honorable discharged in 2005. Went back into law enforcement until 2010. While in the Marine Corps Reserves, I was activated and assigned as an instructor for the Marine Corps Combat Hunter School. We trained Marines and contractors prior to their deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan. I have a total of 9 years in the Marines Corps and 17 years in law enforcement. I was recently working Major Crimes and plan on going back when I get promoted to Detective. Thank you ma’am!
THANK you Roman for your service.
Escorts ready to role.
Pack is ready to role. Last leg of the day.
And the escort on the highway has stopped traffic for us to get on.
More pics of the great people we have in the country
Hear at Wentzville, what another GREAT reception…
Check out the size of this flag.!!!!
Bernadette struggling to get off rain gear. In true Run fashion, there is always someone to help.
Parking lot is full. Be careful guys, gravel is not our friend. LOL
Pledge, appreciations, then dinner. Boys scout did a great job of cleaning up this area. Our future!!
Brrrrrrr………….it was 36 degrees today. Thank goodness it was not snowing. Yes a few year ago it was.
I want to show you a little of the Angel Fire brick ceremony.
Angel FireVietnam Memorial
The purpose of the David Westphall Veterans Foundation is to honor America’s veterans and members of its military forces by memorializing the sacrifices they have made and by recognizing the sense of duty and the courage they have displayed as they answered their country’s call to arms.
The memorial was begun by Victor and Jeanne Westphall,
the grief-stricken parents of MarineFirst Lieutenant David Westphall, who was among sixteen young men
in his unit killed in an ambush on May 22, 1968 in Vietnam.
In September 2018, we were able to attend the ceremony for the brick laying. Friends or family can purchase the brick for a friend or family member to remember them for their service.
The bricks are carried to a staging area for the ceremony.
There were about 400 bricks last year
This it the staging area.They are laid out in the order they will be positioned on the walkway.
Each person’s name is read off and the brick it then handed off
If a family member is there, they will take the brick, if not, there are others to carry it.
As the person receives the brick, they will salute if they have served.If not, they will
place their hand over their heart
Here is a team preparing the spot.
There is a salute prior to receiving the brick and then it is place with great care.
Metal of Honor recipients will have black granite bricks and will have current service personnel place it.
21 gun salute and taps are played at the end of the day
If you have the opportunity to participate, please do. It is amazing.
Ok back to the Run for today.
This is what we see as we leave today.
Dry roads and blue sky.
As we get to the lower part of the mountain, this is what we see, burnt trees. Earlier in 2018, over 25 square miles were burnt. It will be back and green as ever.
Heading to Raton, NM, this gentleman was there supporting us.
We saw buffalo and …
…..pronghorn. (looks a lot like an antelope.)
As we get off the exit ramp….
It was pretty cold coming down the mountain. We were at 8500 feet. They always have coffee and the best cinnamon rolls.
Great job kids. And mom and dad.
Here they have the junior ROTC. These kids really work hard and it shows. They are very proud of what they are doing. Our future!!
Heading out of town. Great send off.
This will be the last entrance ramp that the New Mexico LEOs will help us with. We cross into Colorado a few miles down the road.
Check out the send off. THANKS again guys for keep the roads clear all the way across NM.
Enjoy the pics. This was a gorgeous ride to Fountain, CO
Oh no, look at this. See the hole in the middle. That is what we went thru to get to Fountain. We stayed dry!!
They had lunch set up in the fire station. Good thing because the rain is coming.
You recall the POW/MIA flag and book that Roger is carrying? Well he is doing a great job getting signatures. People are very wiling to do this as a way to not forget our MIA and KIA service men and women.
A little about Roger. He was in the Naval Reserves 1994-2000. He joined when he was 30 and became a Seabee (the construction battalion). He was stationed at Buckley Field and Fort Carson in Colorado. He was an equipment operator and trainer. Thanks Roger for your service (remember it only takes a few seconds to shake a hand and say thanks)
Suit up everyone, we will be running into rain. Here Bernadette is in her blue rain suit. She looks like a Smurf but I am sure it will keep her dry.
As we get on the highway, we turn away from the storm… yeah!!!
This is more of the riders getting ready to hit the ramp. 400+ bikes leave a pretty long trail.
Not looking to good but it is still to our left.
People still come out not matter way. Love it.
We got wet and the camera was put away. Here is out gas stop. We were wet and cold. Temps were down to 44. The gas station gave us free coffee and hot chocolate. Hurry up and drink it, it is time to leave. We are on a schedule. Every stop has a departure time. Let’s go, gear up..
YEAH!!!! blue sky… but wait, now we get wind. Well we are heading to Kansas. For the next hour and a half we had the winds blowing us around. Then guys did a great job keeping in line and us on the road. But by the time we stopped, arms, necks, back….. were a little sore and tight. Nicely done getting everyone there safe.
This was in interesting cloud. I believe they call it a shelf cloud.
Yet the still come and show support
This one had a lovely light show…. lots of lightning. I am sure the team was watching this one.
Flags were there to welcome us. Most of those that came out were in blankets.
The tables had place mats that kids made.
I especially like these two with the motorcycles
The MC ask for us all to stand and sing the national anthem. He offered us all to join in and the young lady sang. We did and it sounded great!!
Today was a little chilly, about 50. And the winds were still blowing.
Started off the day with the Pledge of Allegiance and a prayer.
As I was walking through the parking lot, I noticed Rich Boy’s
License plate, from Hawaii = RFTW.I would
guess no one in Hawaii has that one.Lee
from Kentucky has RFTW and Brian has IRFTW for Ohio.Love it!!!
Check out this quilt. All Harley t-shirts. Another one made for us to auction off.
Remember we have LEOs escorting us all the way to the
Border.Eamon said now we know how the
President feels. He also mentioned that one of the gas stops was donated by a Harley dealer. Then he asked all the Honda riders to thank the Harley riders. You getting the idea there is a bit of fun between them.
Remember the shovel I showed you yesterday.This is Gomez.He is also our assistant state coordinator for
Here we are all ready to go. Imagine 300+ bikes
running.I never get tired of that
Early in the morning and people still come out the wish up
Not looking too good. We actually got rain for maybe 5 miles…..
…..then it cleared up. Beautiful blue skies.
Pull in to Route 66 Casino.AND another gas stop paid.This
one by Thunderbird Harley Davidson.
These little cuties came by to say “Thanks”. Love the outfits. Thanks guys for taking the time to come out. This is great to show our future generation.
Here are the LEOs lined up and ready to go. There are state , city and county officers engage to get us through. It is my understand that they love to sign up for this detail.
This is Jackie. He is the mayor of Gallup and loves to ride with us to Eagle Nest. He was a big part of RFTW and has participated in many roles over the years. Thanks for joining us. Looks like they may have put him to work. He has Road Guard arm bands.
LEOs holding 3 lanes of traffic so we can get on the highway.
The 2 buses are 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. The first year there was 20
kids. Now check out the bridge. Soon they will have to make a
bigger bridge. 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. This year they have 2 buses and check out how
many kids are there. Again a very poor part of the country. If you have
earned the honor to go on the bus in May, around Labor Day, Jenny, Ken and a
few other RFTW member go back to the school and the kids get RFTW pins.
They love it. Last few years, the
school struggled to get enough money for school supplies. RFTW was able
to take money to help the school out. The people there were so grateful.
In 2018, another school, Santo Domingo joined in.They too have had great response from the
kids. Looks like the same pic as the one above but it is not. Last year, they only had1 bus. Way to go kids!
September 2018 we had the opportunity to visit the
schools. The kids were very excited to see the motorcycles come.Here are some pics from the schools.
Papa Smurf having a little fun with the kids.
OK back to the Run.
Breath taking and this does not even do it justice.
This is Wild Bill.It
you remember the other day, there was the cow on the bike. THIS is the guy that
bought it.I like to show faces with the
stories I tell.Thanks Bill, we will be
down to Texas when it is ready to be eaten.
Not only do the LEOs block the entrance ramps, they will even stop cars on the road.
At this stop, look what happened. The respect shown is amazing.
Here is a ramp closed and RFTW on the right. I got lucky on this shot. Held camera over my head.
All day long the LEOs and our road guard work like a well oiled machine. They roll around us and keep us safe. Amazing as we had no cars to worry about today.
Here is our ambassador team. I hope to be going with them in the next few days.
Great facility for lunch.
Here is the presentation from RFTW thanking all the people and organizations involved with our lunch. They also paid for the fuel. Thanks all .
At Lunch, I met Randy. He is from Illinois and this is his third year. The first 2 years he rode from Corydon, IN to DC. This year he got enough time off to go all the way. He also server in Desert Storm. Nice to see the younger generation embracing the Run. Thank Randy and welcome to the Run family.
If you look real close, you can see the LEOs leading us
I took lots of pics heading up to Angel Fire. Sorry there are not more but we got a little rain. And the internet is really slow tonight and taking lots of time loading pics. But hope you enjoy the few I have.
It was a gorgeous ride. As we get to Angel Fire Vietnam Memorial, the wind is pretty strong. This flag stayed out like it had starch in it.
The staging team are ready for us. But as we started parking the bikes, it started to sleet and it got colder. BRRRR
Twenty minutes later the sun is out and it is even getting warmer. Wow was the quick.
The memorial maintains a UH-1D model Huey helicopter, known
originally as “Viking Surprise,” one of the first smokeships used in
Vietnam. On March 26, 1967, the helicopter, while rescuing service personnel,
was so badly damaged – 135 bullet holes – that it was returned to the United
State for repairs. The copter returned to Vietnam and was later sent to
the New Mexico National Guard, which donated it to the Angel Fire memorial.
Becca and Shawn have a seat on the inside
We head into Eagle Nest NM for the night. This is main street. The population is about 300 so when we come into town, we over double that.
They always have the most interesting cakes. Yes, this is a cake and it tasted awesome!!!!
Food here is all homemade. I wayyyy over eat here. I want to try a little bit of everything!
One of the things that is very interesting is trying to figure what to wear. It was cold this morning, then got to 70, then we had rain and sleet. You cannot stop and add clothes or rain gear. Well I guess you can, you just have to get out of the pack. LOL
Some of us look at each other and say “What are you wearing?” And we try to best guess the day.
Tomorrow I hope the internet is a little better. We were able to go to Angel Fire this past Labor Day and join in helping laying of the bricks. It was an amazing day. I took a few pics (go figure) and would really like to share the experience.
At the last gas stop we had, the lady there must keep track of the number of bikes the fuel and the time it takes. She said we set a record today:
355 bikes in 16 1/2 minutes. WAY TO GO FUEL TEAM!!
Thanks to all those prayers warriors out there. Keep it up. We had a beautiful day!!!
All lined up and ready to go. Wow that is a lot of bikes
This is Jim Sloan, aka Sweeper, and Jenny Ward, aka Lady Jen. Jim drives the truck after the last platoon. As the pack gets on the highway, we travel only 35 MPH. This allows everyone to get on the road and get together before going at highway speed. Jim lets Eamon know when all the bikes are on the expressway.
Here is Lance in action. He is our raffle rouser. We also auction items. The money raised is for the kids of Rainelle. This is a school in West Virginia. RFTW has been helping the kids for many years. More on the school as the days go on.
This quilt is gorgeous and was one of the auction items.
This is Everett and his wife. He drives the truck for leadership support. For each stop, RFTW presents the town with a plaque to thank them for their support. That is a lot of towns. This is just one of the items. Since we have limited space , this vehicle is very much needed. The other couple is the Raffle Rouser from last year. They could not make the full trip this year but they did want to ride a few days. Thanks Jimmy and Judy for coming to visit your RFTW family.
There is a lady from Kentucky, Loretta. She is putting these bags together with a POW/MIA flag and a book for each one of the service men that are KIA or MIA from the Louisville area. The book has pages for people to sign as we cross the country. Once we reach DC, we will get the book and flag back to the family. We have done this in the past and the family are very appreciative that their loved ones are not forgotten. Roger Rash, in the middle,is the FNG that will be doing this. Thanks Roger.
The mayor is in the cowboy hat. We sponsored our breakfast this morning and has done this for many years. Did I mention that from the time we leave Ontario until we get to DC, breakfast, lunch and dinners are provide to us by the communities of the cities we visit. Unbelievable!!!
All the hands up are FNGs (First time riders). There are over half.
OH NO!!!! Is that a Honda I see on the trailer….
…yes it is.
This is Mini Mike, another one of our road guards. He is from Gallup and has been going the Run for 20 years. He served from 1975-1979 in the Coast Guard. Another one of our veterans Thanks for your service!!
Wow … this is like the three musketeers or maybe the three stooges. Dan, aka Boilermaker, Dadbo and Larry. Having a little fun before we hit the road today. Dan is our quartermaster. He makes sure we have all the arm bands, hats , pins…..before we leave Ontario. The hats and bands distinguish the role. Example : road guards are red.
Tried to take a pic behind me. Not too bad
Look what we see as we leave Williams. Blue skies!!
Heading in to Winslow AZ it was very flat and very windy. We had to run in a staggered formation. most of the way. (normally most of the platoons ride side by side).
These 2 bikes are the lead bikes into the towns. They carry 3 flags: America, POW/MIA, and the state flag. This one is for AZ. We will have one for every state we travel thru. Something else that goes in the leadership support truck.
The gas stop in Winslow was paid for by the American Legion and VFW from Tempi AZ.
Deno lead the effort by selling t-shirt to raise the money. Thanks Deno and tell every one how much we appreciate it.!!! So now we have gas paid for. NICE!!
Robin is another one of our road guard. This is her rookie year as a guard, but not her first year on the run. She was on staging the last few years.
Bud has everyone smiling. Some times the legs can be pretty long and tough because of wind , rain, cold…. He keeps us smiling.
Jenny give one of the chaplin’s wives a ride as we head into Holbrook. (sorry forgot her name)
OK now we head for Holbrook. I love the support we see on the way.
New hat Walrus?
Holbrook must have every kid out of school this day. Their side walks are just full of kids!!
The American Legion served us lunch. Oh my was it good. Another homemade meal. I am gong to gain 10 pounds on this trip.
Gomez was walking around with a shovel. Kind of strange when you are on a motorcycle. He said it was one of the shovels that was used to break ground at the Vietnam wall in DC. Pretty amazing what you see on this trip.
The local Navajos preformed for us. What a treat. Check out the colors!!! so beautiful
I think this little one got a little stage fright. Wouldn’t you if you were about 5 and saw all these bikes? She did actually make it up there with a few of her friends.
Lets Ride!!! Now heading to Gallup NM.
Look at all these bikes. And this goes for 3-4 blocks. Every now and then you hear “Where is my bike?” This is kind a common question. Need to pay attention to where you park. Now multiply this to 3-5 stops a day. Not hard to forget.
Enjoy the pics!!!
Wind was really strong so riding staggered again. If you look real close there is a dust devil. Like a little tornado. We saw them a lot today.
As we head into New Mexico the land changed drastically. Enjoy!!
Here comes the LEOs!! (LEO – law enforcement officers) In New Mexico, the law enforcement will escort us 370 miles from border to border. We will not have another car riding on the highway where we are. This is so nice.
We head into Gallup. Enjoy the pics. We were 13 miles from our destination for the ceremony from the Native Americans when we got off the exit. There were people all the way. OH MY GOSH
I understand why they are called the “Most Patriotic Small Town In the USA”.
As we arrive we here them chatting and playing drums.
They have been since noon. This is for our safety in our travels.
Most of the RFTW riders joined in. What an amazing ceremony.
What an amazing nation!
There is now a 21 gun salute. Then “Taps”. As many years as I have been on the Run, I still get tears every time I hear it. Where are the tissues? It is only day 2, I guess I better put some in my pocket.
This is Gunnery
Sargent P.J. James. He represents the Code Talker during WWII.
The name code talkers is strongly associated
with bilingual Navajo speakers specially recruited during World War II by the
Marines to serve in their standard communications units in the Pacific Theater.
The enemy could not break the code.
We are served us an amazing dinner. Ok now I am up to gaining 15 pounds.
As we are heading out, we see “Drops-a-lot”. This is Cindy’s road name. You have seen me use ‘aka’ name as I am writing. Most of the names were giving because of something dumb you did or something happened to you. As you can see, Cindy is not very tall. Two years ago, she was a road guard. She is an excellent rider. Well she has a pretty good size bike , and as she pulled over to block traffic there was gravel. Needless to say the bike went over. And it happened 2 more times hence the name “Drops-a-lot”.
It was a great day, sunny, warm weather and no rain.
All 3 routes meet in the Convention center parking lot. This is truly an organized chaos. The people holding the numbers are the stagers…this is how it gets organized.
Check out all the bikes
Breakfast was cooked on what looks like Coleman stoves. They were have a good ole time.
Here is Dan aka Papi. He is the Central route photographer. He always keeps us laughing
…. and is a great photographer
This is Eamon and Terri Tansey. Eamon served in the Australian army during Vietnam War. He is out route coordinator.
Tom Miller is the Assistant Route Coordinator (ARC) with his with Jan. Tom has been the road guard captain for at let 3 years. Maybe more. He always has a great smile!!
Larry (Leadership Support) and Jean Gault (Sit Rep Reporter)
At the start of every day is morning pray and the Pledge. Today is no exception, except for they way the colors are presented…..
Singing of the Star Spangle Banner and the 2 girls sign it also.
This women was introduced and a POW mom, The gentleman in the green is the brother of the POW.
Ok Saddle up!!!!! All routes will leave at the same time, then split down the road.
We are rolling out. The parking lot is getting empty.
Here are a few examples of the bike with trailer just to give you an idea.
Roger , aka Pops, will be carrying the Mayor of Loveland CO cross country. Funny thing is, I live in Loveland , OH
The flag is flying as we exit the parking lot. Safe travels, I will be watching over you.
First bridge as we leave the parking lot. What a way to start the day!!!
Little foggy….. that is an understatement…
Yeah finally starting to see blue sky. FYI for those that have followed my blog before, you will notice I love to take lots of pics of this beautiful country. I realize many people cannot make a trip like this so I want to show off our country. Hope you enjoy the pics.
Amazing. The patriotism.
First gas stop. The first day on gas stops are always hectic. There are lots of FNGs and this makes the task interesting.
Here is how it works. The pumps are turned on and not shut off until everyone is fueled. We round up and no one gets change. If your bill is $7.50, you owe $8. If you happened to give a ten, you just donated to the chase vehicles fuel bill… thanks
I am going to try timing one tomorrow but normally we can fuel 400 bikes in 20-25 minute.
Never ceases to amaze me!!!
“Heroic Road Guard Save Pack from Gator”
Kirk is one of our many road guards. One of the tasks is to try and clear any large debris before the pack comes thru. Today, the Gator, (that is a retread tire) was in the line of the bikes. He was able to get a break in traffic and retrieve it off the road…. however as he was throwing it to the side, he lands and slides head first on the side. Anyone have a pic of this…. I would love to post it.
Kirk “Pretty Boy” Olson and Ken ” Catfish” Ward are on the board for RFTW and are our road guards. THANKS guys for all you do. Hope your arm feels better Kirk.
Did you ever sit at a railroad crossing and count the number of cars of a train? Well I have. Out here you can see the whole train and these 2 had about 80.
This is “Walrus”. He is standing at every exit the pack needs to take. You surely cannot miss him.
Nice surprise by our Outreach and Ambassador teams.
Here is the staging team before anyone gets in the lot. They have to know how many bikes are in each platoon and then get enough space for them to fit in a lot. Way before all this, someone has to scout out locations to be able to handle 400 bikes in a lot. Thanks Steve!! This is all done way in advance. Every year you need check with EVERY stop made. Today we had 5, now multiply this by 10 day. That a LOT of planning
Look where leadership ended up. You have to improvise. And share the lot when necessary.
Hydration team Thanks!! We are heading into the desert…. so everyone hydrate.
This is Barry and Devine. They assign the new riders to platoons. This can be a tricky job since you want to balance them out. Also people come and go on the Run the platoon get bigger and smaller. Some can only make it a few day and it could be at the beginning, the middle, or the end of the run. Devine also helps with the Registration duties.
Day is looking good but still a little hazy. BEAUTIFUL!! Pics just do not show the full picture.
This is Wild Bill another one of our road guards and a Vietnam vet. Before we left Ontario, the Run is always trying to raise money. Someone donated 2 cows to be auctioned off. Bill got one of them. Bill did you get T-bone or Sirloin? This is a little cow mascot he has on the back.
What a great reception heading into Needles, CA for Lunch.
Rick is another one of your veteran road guards. I will show lots of these pics. It captures the respect that the Run has.
Wow only our 3 gas stop and you guys look like pros. Way to go Fuel team
Bud is the CA state coordinator. Each state has one. They have a big job. All the gas, lunch , dinner….stops need to be organized. The state coordinators do this to make he Run go smooth. I will not hold it against you Bud that you are a Pittsburg fan. (He was born and raised there, then move to CA).
Here is one of the table clothes in Needles. Kids do a great job
Now a few more of the leadership team. Bernadette is the 50-50 person , Cookie is part of registration, and Dabo…. he is not leadership.. he is a road guard.
Lance is our raffle rouser…. Dadbo, photo bombed us again.
People of Needles are always working hard to give us a great lunch.
And today we got ice cream. It was 101 in the shade today and this was sooo good. The gentleman in the center of the pic is a Vietnam vet. Several thanked him for his service. Remember, is only takes a few seconds to thanks them!!!
Head out over the Colorado river into Arizona.
Next fuel stop. Check this out. We are only thereabout 45 minutes and look at all the support
See the pine trees. This is how we know we are getting close to Williams AZ. They smell so good.
Great reception in town. Love to see the kids engaged. This is our future.
The day was long and I was a little disappointed there was no table to work at. NO big deal, we make do. I may need help getting up… LOL