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Day 3, Gallup to Angel Fire, 5/18/18

Day 3, Gallup to Angel Fire, May 18, 2018

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.

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Memorial at Bonalillo we visited on RFTW breakout.

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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.

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The Paul Burge Sculpture at the Angel Fire memorial

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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.

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Bracelets worn by prisoners.

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That is all I have for tonight and I hope you are enjoying the posts. If you want to communicate, use the email.

Until tomorrow, ride safely. God Speed.

Roger (Pops) Hageman

 

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Day 2, Williams to Gallup NM, May 17, 2018

Day 2, Williams to Gallup

I think we left Ontario with about 450 people registered and about 350 bikes total. It sure seems like there are more in the RUN. Each group such as Fuel Team may have 20 to 30 bikes each and when each team is added up there are sometimes nearly as many bikes in total in the groups as ther are in the main body of the RUN. There are several good things about the many different teams. Many different teams provide opportunity for many people to be involved in their area of expertise and the entire group functions better because of the many parts. (There is a spiritual truth there isn’t there)

We left Williams and headed toward Holbrook. The weather was great and has been that way the last two days. Being the spoiled rider that I am with this job I have, I am able to move outside the group when necessary and today was one of those days. I wanted to get ahead of the main group and go to one of the overpasses and greet and talk to some factory workers who work at a nearby coal fired electrical plant. I was invited to go along with the Ambassador, which was a renewed treat for me. It was good to honor the workers, salt of the earth people for sure, and to share just a little with them and leave some pins. America was built by hard working people like these men and women and it was good just to be there.

Next we headed to Holbrook NM. It is a special place for several reasons. One, the people are so genuine and the kids at the schools are terrific. I will show several  pictures that will explain better than my words so enjoy.

The last stop is Gallup NM. We were greeted for over 8 miles of dear people along the sides of the road that were waving flags and cheering for our men and women. We were also escorted into town by NM State motorcyclist and we will also have them for all day tomorrow. They really move quickly when they need to and me thinks it is somewhat of a game for them.

Gallup, NM. is a favorite for many of the riders because of the Navajo Nation’s presentation for us. The program was put on by the Black Creek Gourd Society. The Navajos believe the warrior is the top of the ladder in their world. In English warriors translates to soldiers and the Navajos show and incredible respect for the Veterans on the Run For The Wall. At one part of the program they ask the riders to join them. It is quite a site to see 200 bikers in leathers doing their dance. Comical maybe but oh so very sincere. They show us a level of respect that few people understand. I dare say if you were not there we could not explain it. They are very serious about the concept of our soldiers and their warriors are one. (Last paragraph by Dan Koster)

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An energetic teacher with her delightful kiddos.

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Navajo Dancers performing during lunch at Holbrook.

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I wanted to get some new pictures of the school kids and of our entry into Church Rock but circumstances do not allow so I am posting two from last year but they show what I intended to capture today, just a year old.

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Video Riding into red rock park Gallup New Mexico

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Passing by Holbrook school

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Okay folks, thanks for watching and or reading. I am now going to get some needed sleep. I truly appreciate your interest in these and if you have any questions you can email me at rftwsitrep2018@gmail.com.

Until next time, ride safely and may God richly bless you all.

 

 

 

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RFTW Central Route, Day 1, Ontario to Williams

Day One. Ontario to Williams:

This is the day we have been waiting for over 355 days since last year and it is finally here. So many, many preparations have been made, thousands of bikes have been repaired and readied to go and thousands of riders are at the ready. The air is filled with excitement and every rider wishing the best for each other and charging them to ride “safe”, a caution said many times but certainly needs to be repeated. This is a very special day for all the riders. All without exception have looked forward to this day great expectations. Some maybe with some fear of what the ride will bring out in them while others have great excitement about the day and week ahead. It is one of those things that you have to experience to really appreciate.  I will attach some pictures of the departure.

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Some of the riders ready to leave Ontario.

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A short video of Central leaving Ontario

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One of those RUN treasures I found sitting in a chair by the refreshment area. Many of his long-time friends walked by and greeted him with warm affection and hugs and hand-shakes, it was a blessing to see how they treated him. I did not know who he was although I have heard his name in the past and it was usually used with respect. His name is Bill (No Chute) Hanlon. Yep, you guessed how he got his name. He went out of a helicopter about 100 feet above the forest canopy and the canopy helped break his fall. Anyway he survived and lived a productive life and is no 74+-.  I guess they made them tougher back then. He is a lifetime member of the SAL, Sons of the Legion. His health seems to be failing him and I asked him what mattered to him in his life now. His words to me were “it is important to me that everyone gets out safely today and have a safe trip.. He also shared with me that it is important to him to give back and he is very proud to be a brother and a Vietnam Vet.

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Bill (no chute) Hamlin

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This was a fast day, about 402 miles through some open desert land with mesquite shrub that spread out for many miles. Just a side note, the signs along the way in the desert were interesting to me. Here we are, riding along in this somewhat desolate land and I kept seeing signs like “Big Sandy Wash” which gets me to thinking that if Sandy is that big, why can’t she wash herself. Another one read “Rattlesnake Wash”. Wow, I can’t imagine why anyone would want to wash a snake and certainly not a rattle snake. Maybe it was the heat, but it just seems a little funny or strange to me and of course we all know that a wash is a place where the water runs fast when it pours down rain, so, maybe, possibly, I was just seeing things a little different from all the heat or in desperate need of some “humor” at the moment.

Okay back to the real stuff. The ride from Barstow was uneventful and as we headed towards Needles the temperature began to climb. It was 107 when we arrived in Needles. If you are wearing much gear, 100 degrees is pretty hot and you would need to stay hydrated for sure. I am glad we could get to cooler temps as we climbed towards Williams. The country we traveled through does have its own kind of beauty and though it may seem useless and desolate it does have much value to some who live there.

The ]dear people at Williams and Needles always put on a great feast for us and they all raise their own money and provide all the food for all the riders. This is no small task and it is expensive. Legion Post #13 in Williams was one of the first outposts of the American Legion and they have been serving the RFTW for 17 years. The 30 people who work with Roger Ely prepare about 200 lbs. of pork, 150 pounds of beef and yes all the fixins and yes those wonderful deserts. Thanks so much to all of you who go the extra mile to make it great for us.

At the William’s Legion meeting place we did our best to honor Gold Star Mom, Dotty Morris who lost her brother in the Vietnam war. Her brother Michael Andrew Miller was killed in action on his 24th birthday when his plane crashed. Thank you Dotty for sharing with us and we are sorry for your loss. No picture available.

We also met Katharine, standing next to me, she is the daughter of a WW2 Vet and her mother is beside her.

Hope you are making sense of these posts and remember to say a prayer for all of us as we travel across this great land. If you have never been able to go on the RUN with us and are reading from your home or business, it may be harder to experience what we see as we ride. We see people along the roads, in the towns and on the overpasses who are there to genuinely thank the Vets and riders for their service. As I have observed the interaction for many years now, I have come to the conclusion that we really need each other. When you come out to see us on, you encourage us more than you might know and we so appreciate the many things you do for us. I believe also that it provides for you who come out to support, a place or point of contact that makes the service of men and women in the military and yes those alongside them, more real and you leave with a greater sense of belonging and purpose. So thanks for being at the overpasses and the towns and the roads we travel. YOU make it worthwhile. Thanks

Roger (Pops) Hageman

rftwsitrep2018@gmail.com

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2018 Central Route SitRep – Day 0 – Ontario, CA

Hi Everyone, we are back for another great, fun filled year on Run For The Wall trip. Similar to last year, I will be posting daily at this location and I hope you will find it interesting. I will not be reporting on the daily schedule as much as I will be writing about some of the events and people that help make this RUN, the “Greatest Run In America”. That may sound boastful but if you stop to think of all that takes place on this RUN, you may change your mind. When you consider the tens of thousands of people across America who buy and prepare the daily food, who do rallies to purchase and pump the gas, the many who line the streets to cheer their support, the national and local leadership who do all their service for free, all the work to set up and tear down each event, the many hours of the traffic and road guard people. Then consider all the healing that takes place in the lives of the participants. We have countless stories of men and women who have found healing for emotions, help and encouragement in their lives because of what this RUN does. Needless to say, I am a fan and I have been on this RUN for 11 years being a platoon leader, ambassador and Sit report writer. So if you are home and reading this, make plans to be with us this or next year and come be a part of something bigger than yourself and be a blessing to many!

If you want to keep track of the RUN and its progress go to the RFTW.us web page, scroll down and click on where it says to keep track of the RUN. C1 will be Harlan in the lead and C2 will be the tail end of the RUN. it is always on when they are moving so have fun and keep up with us.

The first day there are many meetings,  as all of the RUN information needs to be communicated in a short time and that is done through bulletins, emails and meetings. Through leadership, FNG (Funny New Guy) meetings, and then each platoon leader will meet with their riders and sort out the many questions that riders will have. There are also the fuel guys, the road guards, the ambassadors, Chaplains, chase vehicles, missing man, and etc.

One of the special leaders for the RUN is a guy better known by his road name, “Bullet” (Don Pierce)  He is one of a kind that is always there in the middle of the action and always there when needed. He is one of a few “89ers” group that help start the RUN in 1989. He now serves as “Law Enforcement Liaison” for the RUN and has served in several other capacities over the years, such as platoon leader (although there were no platoons then). Some of his early memories of the RUN were when a Kansas trooper headed all the riders off onto an off ramp and had them circle around to and open field by Colby Kansas where they had a meal prepared and people waiting to serve them. They were unaware of this event until it happened and were really touched by the caring people. Bullet says that was the first time anyone was told “Welcome Home” and it is now an often heard sentiment on the RUN. Another memory he has was a semi tanker fuel ruck had pulled into a field and was ready to fuel the RUN’s many bikes but the fuel man was disappointed when they only had about 30 bikes. Oh for the good ole days huh, actually we have many, many people who step up and help us with our fuel costs, may God richly bless them! Although Bullet helps many to get to the Wall, he still finds it difficult himself to make it to the Wall. He has over 70 buddies whose names  are on that wall and it is an emotional event when he does go. Bullet has the best attitude about all of it as he says, “he tries to look forward as he can’t change the past but he can build a better future”. Bullet you are a great example to us all and thank you for being there for all of us!!! We are very thankful for you and for what you do for all of us.

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Don (Bullet) Pierce

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When I hang around the entrances to the hotel I run into many special long time RFTW riders. One of those was Jim (Scout) Hoffman. He road on the RUN for 15 years starting in 1999. He road a FJR Yamaha. I remember Scout, he was always where he was needed and he moved pretty fast on that bike. He was and is a treasure that the RUN has had for many years. Jim told me that he kept coming back because he wanted to give back and he liked the camaraderie and the friendships that he developed over the years and I would add to that, I know the RUN really appreciated his expertise on the road guard team.

 

Part of my work or duties on the RUN are being part of the Outreach Team. Our job on that team is to stop and honor any Gold Star parents that are located along our route. So, one of those parents we talked with today is Deana Howard age 50, and she lost her son 20 year old  Mark Howard on 4/28/12. He was Army  Airborne. PFC. Mark was the kind of guy that liked to make people laugh and he loved learning new things and he had wisdom beyond his years. Deana now works 120 to 140 hours to make ends meet and she takes care of other children. When talking to Deana, we all could see that she is a hard working lady who is determined to better herself and family and she has put the RFTW on her bucket list for maybe next year. Deana, we would very much like to have you on the RUN next year.

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Deana Howard

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Ok, that is it for today and I am already behind but figured you would like the early bonus.

Roger (Pops) Hageman, make it a good day tomorrow!

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Central Route 2017 – Days 10 & 11- Lewisburg, WV to Washington, DC

This post is for day 10 and day 11 spent in Washington DC

Fantastic, we made it! What a great ride. It is more than a minor milestone for many on this RUN. Many high five’s, hugs and great celebration. A job well done for anyone who went for only one day, and yet many of us were there the entire ten days, it is something to be proud of. There is a bonding that takes place among riders on a trip like this, especially when centered around so great of a cause. It is so good to see those who were maybe struggling at the beginning and after 10 days in the saddle, now are pros and they have overcome issues that they were dealing with.

This RUN is a test, a test of your “metal” to see what you are made of, a test of your character, as things can get dicey at times, and a test of the purpose that drives us. It is a good test. Some have gone all 29 times and some only a day or two. Wherever you fit in the time thing, we are thankful for you and are glad you were a part of it and we believe this trip is life changing, so take advantage of the things you have seen, learned and experienced and go make your world a little better because of what you have learned.

The trip from Lewisburg to DC was pretty much un-eventful. Again that is possible for all the State and City police Departments helping us out. I have been on the RUN when we did not have any help and or protection through Kansas City, St. Louis, Louisville K. and especially DC. I am so very, very thankful for all the help and if you newbies understood what it was like, you would be very thankful too.

I want to interject an interview I had with Barb “Rockie” Bell. She has 3 kids and is presently works as a Real Estate investor. On the RUN she works as a Road Guard but is also the Chief Medical Officer for the RUN.  Barb made the RUN in 04 and it changed her so much it gave her back her boldness and self-confidence, that she went home and talked things over with her family and she and they decided she should enlist in the Air Force and served there ten years. She became a medical flight nurse on the Critical Air Transport for ten years. She went on the RUN in 08 and 09 when on leave. Barb gave an example of why she does this RUN every year. One of her friends had been in counseling for 6 years for PTSD and was at the point he could not even go to the store to buy needed things. Somehow he made it to the RUN and went the whole way. When he returned from the RUN he took his family to Disney World. He said that the RUN did more good in 10 days than all the counseling he had received. (Let’s remember that next time we say welcome home or hug an FNG) Barb was the only official medical person available on the RUN until 2013. She was a very busy lady then. The RUN had a bad accident NW of Oakley K. on the 2012 RUN where several people went down and had serious injuries. I remember Barb that day, she was pretty shaken up and bothered by the helplessness of the RUN to deal with the medical trauma. So, she and her son William Govigan (sp) set up the medical team guidelines we have in place now. Barb says that the people we meet are life changing experiences.

Here I think it prudent to ask this question. What would Barb’s life and the life of those she has helped all these years be like if she had not made it to the RUN. What would the life of her friend be like if he had not had Barb and the others to pull him along? Who could even begin to guess or know but how very good it is that she found her way with a little, well maybe a lot of help from the RUN. We are blessed to have you Barb and we are blessed also to have so many others on this RUN that are top quality people. People that have found a place here and a home of brothers and sisters that they have found maybe nowhere else and they have stepped up this year as they have in the past and they have done what it takes to make the difference in people’s lives. I am so thankful for all of you. I was not able to spotlight so many of my friends as time and space just do not allow. But just so you know readers there are many, many great people that make this RUN happen.

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Barb Bill medical lead and road guard

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Speaking of great people, it is important that I do not forget the FUEL CREW. They are led by George Creacy who has been faithful at this job for many years. They can fuel 400 bikes in 20 minutes or less, it is amazing to watch and even more amazing to be a part of. Thanks much to all of the crew.

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Our fearless and faithful few crew team leader.

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Fuel crew in action

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Fuel crew in action

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It's the last fuel stop at Tom's Brook

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We had our traditional dinner at the Mexican restaurant with friends from the RUN  just a few blocks away from our hotels and did an early to bed night. This trip can wear you out over the time it takes to do it. I have slept for about 3 hours just letting my body catch up.

On Saturday I went to the Wall at about 7:00 AM, as there not too many people there and if you need solace to reflect, it is a great time to go. I took many pictures to try and capture the stories there and I walked with my good friends Eric and Sonja (Ambassadors) to the other memorials and then we went to the Lincoln memorial at 11:30 for pictures of the whole gang. A pretty cool group and there more there today than I think I have ever seen there. We had some interesting things happen while touring the memorials. There were there several groups from different parts of the country learning about the memorials and they were young kidos and very interested in what was going on. Since the 3 of us were dressed in RUN clothes, they assumed we were Vets and wanted to shake our hands and hug us. We told them we were not vets but the more we insisted they were still wanting to make contact with Vets so we certainly made them feel appreciated on the be-half of you Vets. It was so refreshing to see so many young people there learning about the memorials and being so interested in them. After a while we just stopped explaining, because they did not understand any way and so we pass on that great thankfulness to you all.

I would like to pontificate here a bit as this place, the Wall, is a very special place. I am not a Vet and I have been here at least 10 times over the years and each time I am filled with respect and quietness for the sacredness of this Wall. Here are the names of over 58 thousand men and some women who perished while I was safe at home doing things that all Americans were doing. Mostly unaware of the real hurt and suffering and death toll that was taking place. Now I see the many names and it seems unbelievable  that all of this took place while I and most of America was unaware or at times did not really care. The Veterans that came back then were looked at as a little off and we dared not talk to them too much. When I did talk to them I tried to understand and told them so, but really how could I begin to understand what they went through. Maybe that is why I respect this place so much, as it gives me a place to honor those I never knew who sacrificed for me so that I live. To the families of the many names listed on this Wall, Thank You! You have my deepest respect and I pray that we as a people, nation will always honor you!

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More reflections on the Wall.

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And one of the most important and special events of this entire RUN is being able to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This is a special event that we are privileged to do. We invite all of the FNG’s to ride into Arlington National Cometary and attend the laying of the wreath. The RUN chooses 4 different riders to lay the wreath each year. This year Dadbo, Ross,  Santa Ed, and Bandit were chosen. This is such a huge blessing and privilege to be chosen and to be able to participate.

 

So here we are, at the end, bummer, but yet a good thing as we all have other lives to lead, at least I have a job to get back to. I hope that through my eyes and the pictures you have enjoyed some of the posts and that they have been a blessing to you. I have much to learn in this area and I have learned a few helpful hints, like don’t start writing so late in the evening and (J)

Until we meet again, may God richly bless and keep you!

Roger Hageman, roger.hageman@yahoo.com

Enjoy the pictures:

We have two special “Road Guards” who do all the road guard duties and also carry the flags whenever we enter a town or memorial. Each carries two MIA-POW flags and of course one American flag. We greatly appreciate their contributions as the sight of the flags leading the RUN is impressive. They are Bud “Rebar” Phillips and Tom “Twitch” Burnett. Thanks Guys!

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Bud and Tom, great road guards and our Flag guys!

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Reflections in the wall

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The nurses memorial

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Celebrations at the World War II Memorial

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You need to have reservations at this crowd

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More kudos for the Chase vehicle team.

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People going to the wall

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Girl Friend and Crispy at thunder alley.

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Dallas Hageman at the morning meeting.

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Top Hat. A faithful dedicated road guard!

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Dallas and Sami with an fng.

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A fitting end, until next time, God Bless!

 

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Central Route 2017 – Day 9 – Nitro, WV to Lewisburg, WV

Another beautiful day in the neighborhood. This is one of those days we live for, is it not. Great places to go like the WV Capital and great people to ride with. I am glad this day is at the end of the RUN because if it was this nice and easy at the beginning people might think it is always this easy, and we know it is not.We left for Nitro at 8:30 AM which means we had at least an hour extra to talk about the RUN, the beautiful people (slightly off) (actually we decided that we are all just a little off) of the RUN. The bikes are fun and the places we see are great but it is the people that come out by the 100’s that make this RUN so special! Thanks for coming out and supporting us. “THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH!   Yet when we tell them “thanks for coming out and supporting us”, they look at us and say, “No we thank you for coming to us so that we can show you our appreciation,” and we say “Well thank you very much” and they say, NO, THANK YOU! and they can get pretty adamant about it.  The conversations can take some pretty cool directions.  If they only really knew, speaking only for myself and I am not a Vet, how little I have done to cone and see them and how little the cost has been for me to be able to be a tiny blessing to them, if they really knew, I think they would have the same gracious hearts and attitudes because that is who they are and whom they have become. Gracious, giving, caring and loving people who want to bless us out of the overflow of their hearts, and for whatever reason, we are the beneficiaries of it all.  As I have seen this happen since my start on the RUN in 06, it has always amazed me and or interested me greatly how much we need each other. The  crowds that multiply 2 and 3 deep on the streets, who do the cooking and the fuel stops and do a 100 other things, they need to be able to express that love and respect that God has placed in their hearts and the RUN and its riders are a real connection point or contact point. AND as much as they need us, even more we NEED them, you the people who support us, we desperately need you and the great love that you show. I have seen on several RUNs the complete changing of the men and women who were broken on the inside, find healing for their souls because of the miracle that God works in their lives THROUGH the communities and the “man on the street” so to speak. There is something about that unconditional love that they feel and see first hand, that disarms their life-made walls and opens their hearts for the healing to begin. I love this so much, when we see even one person find his place or get their feet under them, it is a great day for all concerned, and this is why I do this and I don’t think I am alone in all of this plan. So, one more time, THANK YOU and we unashamedly LOVE each of you very much.

I have been to the W V Capital before but every time I go I thoroughly enjoy the place. (see photos) It has a peaceful presence to it. We are able to fit all 550+- bikes into the circle area. We listened to a short speech from the Governor’s assistant, ate about a 100 boxes of Crispy Crème donuts and a few cases of water, took a group picture on the Capital steps and we were off again. Headed to Rainelle, on of the top ten favorite places for sure. Cloudy and cool and I have been spoiled as so many times I have gone to Rainelle it has been warm and sunny. What a beautiful ride, lots of twisties. Put this one on your bucket list  of great places to ride. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful country side. Wow it is amazing the trees and the greenery. I grew up in south east Wyo. and we did not have forests like these.

For those who do not know the story of the RUN and Rainelle, I will try to tell it as best I can and I hope I am somewhat accurate. In 1989 the group of bikers led by Gunny (see previous posts) were on their RUN across America and because they did not want to pay a toll they decided to take a different route that led them through Rainelle. A sheriff officer stopped them and asked where they were going and what they were doing. The sheriff then called the school and a very bold teacher let her class out with many flags and gifts to meet the bikers. Well when the bikers encountered the formidable wall of the little kids, their defenses were shattered and much healing took place that day. It has been a synergistic experience since that day 29 years ago today. There is something about little kids that breaks us down to a place where we receive healing into our lives and God of course knew just how to do it. Since that time the RUN holds a very special place in it’s heart for Rainelle and likewise Rainelle for the RUN. The RUN has a 50/50 raffle each morning before meetings and this year Dallas Hageman and his sweet wife Sami have run the raffle and done a great job with it and because of the hard work and of course the donors, the Run was able to make a sizeable offering to Rainelle.

Last fall a devastating flood wiped out part of Rainelle’s town taking the lives of some 20 people and destroying many homes, business and lives. In response to this many good thing came pout of the tragedy. The RUN raised funds across America and were able to buy 250 coats and gloves for the school children. Steve Tincher, (Principal’s husband) and his brother Jeremy Tincher and his son Marquis Frazier along with the wrestling team, went to the community and for 100 days worked tirelessly cleaning up the devastation. What a great group of people. When we talk about this younger generation, lets remember these great kids and use them as an example instead of running down our youth. Amen? Lets also keep them mentioned in our prayers.

So, I thought you would like some of the following excitement of the interaction between the kids and the bikers:

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Route into Rainelle # 1

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Ride into Rainelle number two.

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Going west by all the people at the school.

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Gunny with some of the kiddos

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Here is a little side note from a friend I have made on this RUN and he sent me this. Enjoy:

Dee Rice <ddr3353@aol.com> Good evening Roger My words with pen (keyboard) won’t come close to the elegance of yours. I’ll throw together this little summary about the visit I had with two patients at the VA hospital. The Chaplin of the hospital was kind enough to take us (myself and “Roadside”)to visit two gentleman. One was being treated for a serous illness and one was there for annual checkup. Heart warming points: The gentlemen with the illness used to ride bikes (a biker) years ago. When asked by the nurse when the pack was arriving if he wanted to watch them arrive, he declined saying it was too depressing to watch. After our visit he was pretty jazzed and wanted to watch the bikes as they left through his hospital room window. The nurse was going to roll his bed in front of his window. Wow! It was a fulfilling time. The other gentleman was wheel chair bound. He was in a car accident in his 20’s and had a neck injury. Being wheel chair bound didn’t stop him! He went to college and received numerous degrees and is a very successful professional businessman. His desire to succeed and overcome his disability was astonishing. Of note: Good on “Roadside”. He did a great job on uplifting these two heroes. I’ll send some pics but likely you won’t be able to post them due to privacy issues.  Thank you sir! Have a good evening. Dee

Dee making a difference for sure!

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One of the people and groups of people that I must highlight is the Chase Team. They do an incredible job. They pick up the “pieces” when our bikes break down. Personally I don’t ever want to need them but if I co, thee guys are the greatest. I was able to meet some of them but do not remember all the names. The leader is called “sweeper”. I trust you get the irony in that name. Here is his BIO.

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Jim "Sweeper" Sloan Last Man Vehicle

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How long have you been doing this
I first heard of RFTW in 2005.  I was retired, divorced and the kids were grown and gone.  I hadn’t ridden a motorcycle in 25 years and wanted be a part of this and found a used Gold Wing.  I started out on the Central Route but soon found that 2 months wasn’t enough to get  myself ready after 25 years without riding.  I dropped out in Needles.
The next year I was in Texas with a new pickup and a fifth wheel trailer when the Southern Route came through.  I tagged along and found that I wanted to do more with these people.
In 2008 I was offered the spot as a Chase Driver and went “All the way”.  I have been there every year since as a Chase Driver and then as the Last Man Vehicle.
Why do you do this
I was in the Navy aboard the USS Coral Sea in 1961 to 1963.  While there we provided air cover for the first “Combat” Marines going into Vietnam.  I never felt part of that war as it was just building up when I was there.  I could see the effect that RFTW had on both the Riders and also the people that come out to urge us on and want to help these people achieve some peace in their lives for the sacrifices that they have made.   
What is your favorite part? My favorite part is the beginning of The Run.  It is being with these friends that I only get to see for a few days each year.  It is the anticipation of overcoming the obstacles that will be put in our way but knowing that we will complete our mission together.

What is your responsibility on the RUN?

I have become more involved over the years.  It starts with assisting with the preparations for our start in Ontario.  Coordinating with the City, Law Enforcement and the Host Hotel. As the High Dessert Coordinator I and my assistant talk to Law Enforcement, Fuel Stations, and the people that make our lunch in Barstow, Ludlow and Needles.  We scout the Route within one week of the departure to make sure all is ready.
When the Run starts I become the Last Man Vehicle and Chase Coordinator.  I follow right behind the bikes while trying to keep track of the Chase Trucks.  I watch for bikes that may drop out and need help and make sure a Chase Truck is sent to them.  I watch for hazards that may approach the pack from behind and advise with the CB. The Advance Team may call if they encounter anything that might affect the “pack” and I relay that to the RC.
My Vehicle marks the back end of the Pack for our Road Guards and Law Enforcement.  Traffic control ends when I pass by.   What is your best memory of the RUN?
There are so many.  As a Chase Driver I picked up and trailered many bikes over the years. It was very rewarding to help them and then see them back in the pack after getting repaired, continuing the mission.  It is meeting the lady that designed the first Vietnam Memorial in the country, or the WWI Veteran or the man that walked to the end of his driveway to watch us go past, while holding the Flag in one hand and his oxygen bottle in the other!  I guess my best memory is the people, those that participate and those that are there to urge us on.  
What would you say to those watching the RUN and reading this article?
That’s easy, “Thank You”.
Do you see why he is a special leader even though he really does lead from the back!
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Here is another leader who does lead from the front and you know what he looks like only you may not know his name. He leads the Staging Crew. A very important job on the RUN as you all know very well. He has about 22 riders who help him do this incredible job and they do it so very well. His name is John Staub and he leads the Staging Crew.

Hi Roger – 2017 will be our 7th year, 5th year ATW.

To give back.  It is something we can still do that adds meaning.

I think the arrival in the towns across America is our favorite part.  To know that we represent those folks who work so hard to support us.

I am the D.C./Arlington Coordinator, and for 2017,the Central Route Staging Team lead.

The first time we attended the ceremony at Gallup, NM.  An incredibly moving experience.

What would you say to those watching the RUN and reading this article?
Remember, we ride for those who can’t.  Remember why we do this and the many sacrifices that go into the Run.  It is so much bigger than just one person.
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The end comes tomorrow and it is my best day and something to look forward to, to be able to completed this thing. It is no small task as I am sure you know and whether you come along and ride with us or if you help somewhere or if you wave to us from the streets, YOU ALL are so important to the success of the RUN and may I say a big THANK YOU to all of you.
See you tomorrow.
We will make it fun for sure.
Roger “Pops” Hageman
 
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Central Route 2017 – Day 8 – Corydon, IN to Nitro, WV

Hi Everyone,

Okay this thing is almost over! So long waited and planned for and now it is screaming by and soon will be a distant memory. We only have 2 more days and we will be in DC on Friday night. To all my faithful listeners out there, thank you! I will try to fulfill my promises tonight and tomorrow night and Saturday if needed. This posting has been a “hoot” for me. Not real sure what that means but I have learned much of what not to do and getting a little easier as I go along. Any way, thanks much.

We left our cozy Corydon and headed to Nitro WV. First stop Robley Rex, VMAC. When we arrived there we were greeted by many of the staff who gave us a hearty welcome. We met some special people there and if you have been there before, you may know them.

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At Robley Rex, VA ctr.

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At Robley Rex

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We were able to go up to some of the rooms and visit some of the patients. We had the privilege of talking to some and praying with others. It was a blessing to us for sure.

We headed to Wadi which is a gas stop and at that point I was given the honor of riding “missing man”. For those who do not know what that means, it is a practice that, for example, it a group of planes went out into combat and one or more were shot down and lost, then the returning planes would form up to show two lead planes and in the 2nd row the plane on the right would be missing, signifying that there had been a loss. A similar pattern is used on the RFTW where we leave the 2nd row, right side vacant and we ride that way between each stop and we do this to show that this is what RFTW is really all about. If we are to honor the POW’s and MIA’s then the RUN really needs to be about supporting them. All the other foofaraw is a side issue. Sometimes necessary and sometimes not and it is important to keep the main thing the main thing. I appreciated the opportunity and Tom “Bones” and “Mrs. Bones Pogue do a very, very good sincere job in that position. I knew much more about all of it after talking with them. I rode missing man to the Kentucky Vietnam Veterans Memorial. This is a marvelous place. This sun dial points to the day that the veteran was killed. When there we She had a powerful, passionate message that she delivered in the pouring rain.

I met a sweet lady there who comes now and again to the memorial. Her husband Lieutenant Lowell Reese died over a year ago and he served in Viet Nam and wrote a book from his diary notes that he made during the war. (Should be very interesting reading) her email is carolreese@aol.com.

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Carol Reese

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Lunch at Mtn. Sterling

Trip to Nitro was quick for me as I was able to go ahead of the back by permission and get ready to take some video of the arrival of the pack into Nitro. Again it is in 4 different clips as my technology that I could bring along, Instagram, will only let me download 1 minute at a time. Keep in mind that nearly 40% of the pack is made up of support groups such as RG, Fuel, Staging etc., so what you are seeing is only about 60% of the riders.

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# 1

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# 2

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# 3

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# 4

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They share their thoughts about the RUN.

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Nitro street scene

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Well as you know I have a few promises to keep to you all and I will do my best tomorrow as it is going to be a shorter day going to Rainelle. I will do my best to finish R G’s, Staging, Ambassadors, FNG’s and Fuel Crew and one or two Bio’s too. Thanks for your patience.

Talk tomorrow, take care, and my God richly bless you again. It has been a blessed day for me.

Roger “Pops” Hageman 970-566-1918

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Central Route 2017 – Day 7 – Wentzville, MO to Corydon, IN

What a great country we live in and how privileged we are to do what we did today. Leaving Wentzville this morning but not before we stopped at the first Vietnam War Memorial built first in Wentzville. They had just upgraded the appearance of the memorial and these things can look beautiful, it was nice. The people are without equal in their openness and kindness and overflowing with blessing upon the RUN. The wreath laying ceremony took place and a band played several touching songs. We then pulled out and headed towards Jefferson Barracks, going through St. Louis. I have never seen the interstate so empty as they did a rolling block so that the 4 or 5 lane highway was empty and we had it all to ourselves. I don’t know if the newer riders can really appreciate what took place today about the empty interstate. I remember once going through Kansas City in a 3 or 4 lane road and the lane beside us had a full size swing set that had fallen off and was in the road. Cars and trucks screaming by, horns honking, the radio squawking and tires squealing. We earned our stripes that day. But today, no vehicles at all, what a life, look how far the RUN has come. Lets be thankful for the state police and the protection they give us, wherever we are at and thank God for our great Road Guards. Speaking of Road guards, I was going to finish them up tonight but it will have to wait. Time and other things! Sleep? I will try to do some FNG stories next time too. Thanks for your patience!

Let me jump in here and let you know we visited the first in the nation, Vietnam War Memorial. the town has spent about $100,000.00 on upgrading it and if such a thing can be beautiful, it is. You can see it online and here are few pictures.

From here we worked our way to Jefferson Barracks. We had no one, I mean no one on the interstate with us! Poor souls who had to sit in traffic and wait for us and if any of you readers did, Thanks. Here are some pics. They took us in by the cemetery which I really appreciated. Each grave marker was a soul, a son or daughter, a brother? a Dad? a husband? whose lives were cut short so that others like me could have a life. Quite sobering when you think about it, is it not!

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Jefferson Barracks cemetery.

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From here we went to Corydon Indiana. This, I confess it is in the top ten of my favorites. The entire host of ideal settings come together in this place to make me have a special liking of this place. Thank you dear people of Corydon. I am unsure of which of the many things that you do have one my affections but you do it all so well..

The people on the streets;

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Corydon Ind. headed south on main.

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The fish fry is looked forward to by everyone who has been here before, the setting is beautiful and the people are really amazing!

These pics or videos will help explain; Since my Instagram will only let me go for 1 minute per video, I had to take 4 and they still were not totally done rolling in. Enjoy. Also a quick video to show you the inside of a new facility that was built last year.

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A new facility at Corydon, thanks

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This is supposed to be # 1. Rookies!

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# 3

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# 2

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Video showing pack coming into Corydon park # 1

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There is a Civil War memorial about one mile south of our dinner site at Corydon. It is worth the trip to it. One of our featured Ambassadors, Dirt, used this setting in the past to relay some of his Vietnam War stories that kept us all in great spirits. Here are a few pictures of that site.

A little heart stealer at the airport

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Heart stealer for sure!

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Ambassadors at work.

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Ambassadors Dirt and Dusty at work!

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I would like to share an interview with James “Gunny Gregory” the first man to start RFTW. Some of you may know him but most don’t. Here are some of his thoughts. Because of the time limit on Instagram video of one minute there are four sections.

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Ginny's interview #1, How it started.

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G Interview # 3

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G Int # 2

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Ginny's interview # 1

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Medical Excellence? Ha Ha

Sorry for so little writing today, maybe tomorrow. Going to get some sleep.

Thanks so much for checking in. See you tomorrow.

Roger “Pops” Hageman

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Central Route 2017 – Day 6 – Junction City, KS to Wentzville, MO

Okay friends I have much to cover tonight so I will write fast if you can read fast. (:) I want to spotlight the Ambassadors and the Road Guards and each one could take an hour or two so we shall see. Also read the BIO’s of Eric and Sonja and Dirt, John Grimes

Ambassadors; you may have seen them in their fancy red white and blue hats and arm bands. They are a special group of people to the RUN and they fulfill a very important mission and that is to b e “Ambassadors”. Really aren’t we all to do that, but these folks step it up a notch or two. They will attack any bystander and welcome and give them a pin or sticker and spend time with them to get to know them. Usually they go to the top of the overpasses and greet the people there in order to say “thank you” to them for coming and standing maybe in the rain  etc. just so they can support the riders and their cause. Some folks on the bridge have been coming for almost as long as the RUN has been in existence  and some for only a short time. They work to contact people anywhere they are in order to say thanks to them. It is sending a great message for RFTW and letting our supporters know that we appreciate their support. They have met many Veterans on the bridges, including WWII era, Korean era, Vietnam and others. Many times the Ambassadors go into the schools and talk to the kids.  The leaders are  Eric and Sonja Amman and they do a great job as Ambassador leaders. Dirt and Dusty are also regulars to the gang. (Dusty’s picture not available at the moment)  You most likely know Dirt (John Grimes) if you have ever been on the RUN. he has served as Road Guard and Ambassador for many years Thanks Ambassadors, we really appreciate you! See Dirts’ Person of the Day Bio Here.   Started 2006 this will be my 12th year all the way.  It started out I was only going to do it one time.  After doing it I felt real good inside.  I had been to the wall several times before the run, but never felt the way I did after riding with other veterans and people who support veterans.  That includes the people that support the run in the towns we go thru.  I enjoy everything, sometimes on long legs I get a little tired, but then think of the mission. I think the best part is being with the friends I have met on the run. I am an Ambassador.  I have been a tail gunner, road guard, and one year I had to fill in as assistant platoon leader and  platoon leader, I didn’t really like being a leader but it was necessity.  I feel good being an ambassador, it is great talking to different people at stops and over passes.  Talking at the schools is always a challenge, I don’t know if the young kids get what we are talking about, but I do enjoy their smiles and enthusiasm. Two things stand out was being asked to be a tail gunner and riding into Gallup for the first time with everyone on the main street cheering wanting to shake my hand.  If you see the run and say to your I would like to do it, Then do it, they say the train only go by the station one time.                                                      

Eric & Sonja, See their Persons of the Day Bio below.

2017 will be Eric’s 15th year on the Run and Sonia’s 14th. As with many riders on RFTW, we started out going only part of the way, due to limited vacation days at work – we typically rode west to meet the pack at Salina, KS (once the central Kansas overnight stop) before heading east to Washington D.C. Since 2007, we have gone All The Way. It was also at this time that we decided it was time to start giving back to the Run and we volunteered, with our first positions being on the Fuel Crew. We continued with the Fuel Crew until 2012, when we were asked to be part of the first Central Route Ambassador Team, where we have served since. This year will be our third year leading the team.
The reason we continue to be a part of Run For The Wall is that it’s a tangible means to make people aware that there are still many POW and MIA unaccounted for from America’s wars. As Ambassadors, we also have the opportunity to educate school children of the sacrifices (POW, MIA, KIA, KIA-BNR) that have been made for them and this country, through school programs that we coordinate along the Run’s route. A great way to illustrate sacrifices being made by today’s active military is when we ask kids to raise their hands if they have a family member currently serving – they love to explain which family member it is and which branch they’re serving in!
The duties of the Ambassador Team are to serve as some of the first RFTW riders that folks on bridges and overpasses will meet. Depending on the number of people on a bridge, we’ll stop with two riders, or the entire team, if it is a large group. Our role is first and foremost to thank them for taking time out of their day to honor the pack with flags and banners. We’ll also answer any questions they have about the Run – typically they’ll ask: How far away is the pack?! Often times, we’ll see familiar faces from past Runs on many of the bridges and overpasses.  Some will ask how big is the pack this year, have we had any rain so far, how many years have we done the Run, etc. Similarly, we’ll ask them what brought them out today, how many times have they come out to welcome the pack, and whether they’re ready to get on a bike and come with us! We’ll also make sure we meet the people behind the scenes – those who cook and serve the food, arrange the ceremonies, work at the VA hospitals, contribute for fuel, provide law enforcement, etc. to thank them and give them a small token of the Run’s appreciation.
One of the most important roles of the Ambassador Team is to conduct programs at schools along the Run’s route. As mentioned earlier, these programs allow kids to hear first-hand from veterans some of their experiences in the military. It is this type of setting that also allows students to ask any questions they can think of.
Why we ride. Sonia’s Dad served in the Navy aboard the USS Antietam (CV-36) in the late 1950’s through early 1960’s. She is also riding to honor Keith “Matt” Maupin, U.S. Army Reserves – 724th Transportation Company, based out of Bartonville, IL. SSgt. Maupin was ambushed near Bagdad in 2004. His status was listed as Missing Captured, until his remains were found in 2008. Eric is riding for 1LT Albert F. Ammann, 23rd Infantry Division, who was killed as a result of hostile fire east of Tra Bong in the Quang Ngai Province, South Vietnam on 15 September 1970, when the aircraft he was in was shot down.
One of the best memory’s that we have from past Runs is when we do school assemblies. Sonia will typically research soldier and veteran information for the town of each school. She uses this information to help give the students a local perspective of the sacrifices that have been made for them. Three years ago, we were at an elementary school in Gauley Bridge, WV where Sonia’s research really hit home. She was highlighting Ted Christian, a Vietnam KIA from Gauley Bridge and sharing his branch of service, age, dates of service and how he paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. After the assembly, one of the teachers approached Sonia in tears. She went on to tell us how she and Teddy grew up together and were best friends all through school, even sharing the same birthday. She couldn’t believe that someone would remember or even honor Teddy like we did – 47 years later. Hearing Teddy get honored was such a blessing for this teacher and a learning experience for the students in this school. Ted ‘Teddy’ Christian was a 2LT in the United States Marine Corps, who was killed on 12 October 1967 in the Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam.
What would you say to those watching the RUN and reading this article… For those reading this and thinking: “This Run sounds too intimidating for me,” please remember that you don’t need to have a motorcycle and you don’t have to go from L.A. to Washington, D.C. to join Run For The Wall. Please join the Run by motorcycle or car, for part of a day or all ten days. Or, simply line the streets or support from an overpass and give recognition to the Run as it passes through your area.
 Lastly, we would like to say to all our veterans, welcome home and thank you for your service.
Road Guards: What would we do without them! It takes a special mindset to be a good road guard. They have to be excellent riders, able to act Quickly, follow directions and be able to change directions at a moments notice. You need to be able to get up at 0 dark thirty, love to ride fast and be able to navigate traffic at higher speeds. Be able to take criticism with a smile, be able to handle errant drivers quickly, have all your directions for the stop or day on your windshield, and oh yes did I mention driving fast when needed.  Be able to communicate on the radio even though you can’t hear the other person very well. Other than that, it is an easy job. From my standpoint and or position, I really appreciate these hard working men and women. Thanks Much! Here are some of them: (Click the pictures to scroll to other pictures)
Seen in this order; Scott Boyd, Jim Jones “JJ“, Kay Quiroga, “Nine Mile”, Ross Curie, “Snake Charmer”, Tom Miller, “Boomps“, 2 of the morning meetings. and Dadbo.
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Mike Owen "Dadbo"

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FNGs Kate and Jay Ervin from Utah

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Roger Ingram is a Road Guard that I have known since I started in 06, He has been a friend and a gentleman. Here is his Bio:

How long have you been doing the RUN?    15 years

Why do you do this?  I had heard about all the motorcycles that would stop in Wentzville, MO. from a friend of mine. About the same time, I read an article in  The Rolling Thunder Parade. The article talked about the amount of motorcycles that were there. I, could imagine that many motorcycles in one group.Well a lot of things come into play, and I, decided to join in Wentzville. What a life changing experience! Going to the Wall, I, stood there and was overcome with the understanding that all these names were not just, names, but were, someone’s, Dad, son, brother, grandson. I, wanted to do, this again. I joined up, Wentzville 4,times.

Meet so many wonderful people. Talking to Pato in DC, he put the idea in my head, to do the hole Run. He told about all the things that I, was missing. Was not sure how I would ever pull it off.

With the Good Lord’s Blessing, I got to do it. That year Sharon and I, were able to join up with the “Bones Brigade”. What an awesome experience. I thought that I, would be able to do this “All The Way” one time, Now, I somehow, have done it 11 times.

What is your favorite part? Seeing people on the overpasses and meeting people all across this nation. Being able to help, in any way I, can.

What is your responsibility on the RUN? I, served on the Fuel Crew for 3 years. (Past) MO. State Coordinator for 8 years and Road Guard 4 years. Road Guard Captain 4 years.

What is your best memory of the RUN? Being able to help the riders, seeing and Meeting all the supporters along the way.

What would you say to those watching the RUN and reading this article? There is nothing else like this world-wide. There are families still waiting for their loved ones to come home, even if it is just bones. They all need to be accounted for.

Roger “Griz” Ingram  Thanks very much!

Photo to follow:

This is Nancy Gross who is the sister of Robert Castle who was KIA along with two friends on three 3/22/1970. Dave Klemme, “Papa Smurf ” was a friend of Robert and the other men and Nancy and Dave were able to meet for the first time today at the lunch stop.

 

We will be featuring some FNG stories plus Roger Ingram’s Bio and his and Pretty Boy’s picture tomorrow. I need the sleep and I don’t have their pictures, go figure. For the two who have  said that you are reading these posts, I sincerely thank you! I hope you enjoy them. Better yet, I wish you could be here to see it all.

God has been good to us today! See you tomorrow. Thanks and may God richly bless each of you!

Roger “Pops” Hageman