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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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