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FNG Story – Farrell D. Maichel

Name: Farrell D. Maichel
E-Mail: dutchman@kansas.net
City: St. George
State: Kansas
FNG Story:

Maybe you will all forgive me if I take an alibi round here. There is another post on this thread by me from about a year ago. For me a lot has changed, is changing, and will change. For RFTW 2010, two of us rode from our home to Angel Fire and then rode back up to La Junta before breaking off and heading home. I arrived home safely and there is less sadness and depression in my life. The healing isn’t over and may never be over — but things are better now. My Honda Nighthawk has been passed on to another gentleman who will take good care of her. In her place is a Honda Goldwing, not a new one but a grizzled veteran sort of like me. Probably too much bike for me, but I am learning. I dearly wanted to ride a couple of legs in 2010 and was thinking of linking up in Goodland and then riding through to the Kansas border. My son bought a Goldwing in December 09 and I found my bike in February 10.

A little discussion and I was bringing up Streets and Trips, looking for Angel Fire. I left here with very few miles on the Goldwing and very little experience on a heavy bike. Two days later I was riding up the road to Angel Fire through the Kit Carson National Forest. I had not fully mastered the secrets of pushing a bike the size of a fully loaded Goldwing through tight turns, a fact not lost on the young Indian fellow following us in the white pickup truck. He stopped in Eagles Nest and mentioned to my son, while I was signing in to the motel, that I had been in trouble a couple of times and I was not
riding safely. I bore watching!! My son wanted to ride on up to Taos and, being stupid, I said yes. More twistys as we snaked up over the hills to Taos. But the feelings I had looking over my shoulder at the
Angel Fire Memorial I simply cannot describe. It only happens once and it feels like something is flowing back into your soul. We followed RFTW back into Angel Fire and then made the climb up the entrance road to the memorial. Let me say that I have a short inseam and the Goldwing is a tall bike. Sure enough, I rode up the asphalt onto the rock and then onto the dirt where I promptly dropped the bike on her left side trying to turn in the road. I got it back up, somehow, and the remainder of my afternoon was heart wrenching and memorable. The next morning we were there early for breakfast at Eagles Nest. Pulling into the parking lot I rode from the asphalt onto the rock parking lot and dropped the bike again on her left side trying to make a tight turn. This time a sufficient number of good samaritans were on hand to help get the old girl up off the rock.

We lined up in Angel Fire for the days ride. I was getting better at holding the bike up and negotiating curves at a decent rate of speed, but I still sucked. Through Eagles Nest and up the grade and then off the hill and into Ratone for the refuel (I still don’t know who called my name out as I
rode up to turn in to the fuel stop) and then down the highway into La Junta. Now there was no time for gawking. It took everything I had to stay up. In La Junta we said adios and hit the road east through Garden City and then on home, a total of around 1,600 miles. That’s last years ride. Here’s the changes I have made in my life because of it. I wasn’t a very good rider and I wasn’t in very good health. The riding comes with experience and with experience comes the desire to ride more. I’m getting better, but I still suck. I have spent a lot of time in doctors’ offices since May. I take a few more pills, have submitted to a few more undignified medical tests, and I am trying to change my diet, eat less, and drink more water. It’s working. I now have a dandy set of knee braces for both legs and I can actually walk with a lot less pain. I just finished lining out my ride plans for 2011. We’re riding through Angel
Fire and Taos because my target is Gallup. Every year is memorable.

Every year one single thing stands out. If there is a single memory that I will hold from RFTW 2010, it will not be the Angel Fire Memorial. It will not be the easy friendliness and acceptance we experienced in the bar after registering for RFTW in Angel Fire. It will be the fifteen seconds as the platoons were firing up to leave La Junta. We had moved our bikes out of the line and were standing up by the turn to say goodbye. All of a sudden here comes a purposeful form with the leathers on and the helmet locked in place. Seeing the look of self confidence on Screamer’s face as she fired up her scooter will be what I recall. I’ve seen that look on the faces of American soldiers all to often when things were not good, and maybe even worn that look a couple of times. I had just forgot it. I just stood there in awe and watched that young woman as she mentally went over a checklist, bringing up the things she had to do and then checking them off as having been done. I watched her invisibly do the count as she ran over the riders behind her who were depending on her for leadership.

I know she was circling a couple of those names for close observation. I wouldn’t know Screamer from Adams Off Ox unless she was in her leathers with the name tag. But I know she’s damned good and a dependable force to be reckoned with. I’ve seen that little half smile behind visors before
(pilots helmets) and I know what it means when you see the muscles in the neck below the ear flex. It’s all business then from here until she has her charges to the next point of safety. Its “Do the job, Hell or high water”, then the whole routine starts over. That’s this new generation we sometimes fail to understand and appreciate. That’s the display of character that allows me to rest a little easier. This damned country is being passed on to good, competent Americans and I understand that my efforts were not in vain. Now I’ve got to bring up Streets and Trips. I’ve got a run to plan for in 2011. Hello Gallup! Nighthawk

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FNG Story – Buddy Love

Name: Buddy Love
E-Mail: broncobud72@yahoo.com
Phone: 318-697-1877
City: Logansport
State: Louisiana
FNG Story:

….TEARS IN THE WIND……………..
The road is long, the sun is hot,
And in my throat there is a knot
RUN FOR THE WALL is where I’m at
It’n not just a ride, it’s much more that

These tears in the wind are for you my fiend,
For sacrifices made
All gave some, some gave all,
Your memories will never fade.

As I ride tears stream from my eyes
It isn’t wrong when a grown man cries
A soldier’s memory ride by my side
Local heroes who suffered and died.

The “friendlies” are great, they wave us on
This ride we make is very well known
Flags are waving and tears are flowing
The number in our group keeps on growing

Choppers in Mississippi escort our way
The school kids in Virginia make my day
A week of riding new friends I’ve found
All riding together, Washington bound

To make this ride has been my dream
I’ve waited all my life or so it seems
To pay my respects for soldiers gone
As I ride this road, I am not alone

This RUN FOR THE WALL is for you my friend
My proudest moment in 2010
Tears in the wind as I ride along
Gathering words for this song.

(written by Linda Love for Buddy Love)

Thanks to all on the RFTW 2010 who let me join this wonderful group this year. I have been waiting for this for years and was not disappointed. I got to pay respects to local heroes at the WALL. Thanks so much to all responsible for making this a safe journey for all of us. “MOJO” and her group in third platoon kept very good care of me, Thanks.

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FNG Story – Joe “Wingnut” Nelon

Name: Joe “Wingnut” Nelon
E-Mail: joenelon@frontier.com
City: Winfield
State: West Virginia
FNG Story:

A really good friend of mine invited me to go on the RFTW with him but up until this year I could not make the trip. It has been three years in the planning but I finally made it and what an eye opening experience it was for me. I joined up in Hurricane WV. After staging at 06:00 we got to talk and meet our platoon leader “Kid” (platoon 6 or 9 depending on who was holding the sign) and some of our fellow riders. What an amazing group of people! The ride its self was smooth and uneventful and this would not have been possible with out all the hard work of the volunteers. I send a heart felt THANK YOU to all of you for what you do and why you do it.

My main reason for wanting to do this trip, in the beginning, was in remembrance of my grandfathers Col. Claude R. Nelon Sr. (USAF), CDR Joseph Ady (U.S. Navy) and Gerald H. Sterling (U.S. Army Air Corps 548th Fighter Squadron). These men were my heroes growing up. Each and every one of us has our reasons for going and I thought I knew why I was going to DC, boy was I wrong! Not only did this trip opened my eyes and overwhelm me with pride for being an American, it made me realize the one person, that is still with me, that I had never thanked for everything he had done for his country and for me, my dad, Claude R. Nelon Jr. Sure I have talked to him about Vietnam, at least what little he would talk about it, but I had never thanked him or welcomed him home! I had flown an American flag on the back of my bike like most people were doing but during the ride it came to me that even though my dad was not able to physically go on the run I would fly that flag for him to DC and give it to him upon returning to Hurricane WV (his home town). I now had another mission to complete. Once I made it back to Hurricane on Monday I took that flag and my RFTW pin to my dad. Through my tears and his, I thanked him for everything and I was able to finally welcome him home.

Thank you is not enough for all the sacrifices that have been made in so many ways for this great country. I WILL NEVER FORGET! To the brothers and sisters I met and to the many I did not get a chance to meet, I will see you all next year. “Crow” thank you for encouraging me to do this and for the personal tour. Last but not least a special thank you to “Kid” for putting up with this FNG.

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FNG Story – Rick & Marie Winfrey

Name: RICK AND MARIE WINFREY
E-Mail: PHOENIXARISING1@MSN.COM
Phone: 720-254-4060
City: Dumont
State: Colorado
FNG Story:

THIS WAS THE FIRST TIME I TOOK THE “RIDE” BUT IT WILL NOT BE THE LAST. WE HAD PLANNED TO TAKE THE BIKE AND NOT THE TRAILER BUT AFTER SEEING WHAT WAS TO GO WITH US ON THE LAST NIGHT PLANS CHANGED.

JOINED UP AT ANGEL FIRE ONLY TO BE TOLD “NO SAFETY CHAINS YOU CAN NOT RIDE WITH US.” SAFETY FIRST FOR US AND THOSE AROUND US. REPAIRED IN RATON AND THEN IT BEGAN THE MOST EXCITING RIDE THAT I COULD EVER HAVE.

THE PEOPLE WE MET, IN THE RIDE, FOR THE RIDE, AND ABOUT THE RIDE, TOLD IT ALL.

AMERICANS THAT ARE PROUD AND WILL NEVER LEAVE A MAN BEHIND. “NEVER FORGET” THE ENTIRE MISSION WENT TOO FAST TO RETAIN EVERYTHING SO THE ONLY THING WE CAN DO IS COME AGAIN IN 2011 JUST SO WE CAN GRASP ONE MORE MOMENT OF THE PEOPLE THAT REPRESENT THE TRUE AMERICAN FEELING.

I CAN NOT STOP COMMENTING TO EVERYONE ABOUT THE RIDE. HOW EVERY DETAIL WAS PRETHOUGHT AND TAKEN CARE OF AHEAD OF TIME TO ELIMINATE ANY PROBLEMS BEFORE THEY HAPPEN.

BOTH MY WIFE AND MYSELF APPRECIATE HOW GRUMPY AND THE ROAD GUARDS TAIL GUNNER AND ALL THE WAY DOWN THE LIST OF VOLUNTEERS THAT TOOK CONTROL AND MADE IT WORK.

A LOT OF THINGS HAPPEN IN LIFE, SOME GOOD, SOME “NOT SO MUCH.” VIET NAM NOT SO MUCH. RFTW IS VERY NEAR THE TOP OF THE LIST OF GOOD THINGS.

HOPE TO SEE SOME OF THE FACES WE SAW THIS YEAR NEXT YEAR AND MAKE NEW FRIENDS NOW THAT WE HAVE A IDEA WHAT TO EXPECT. (4 AM GET UPS WERE TOUGH!)

NEXT YEAR THE TRAILER WILL BE READY WAY AHEAD OF TIME. NO MORE LIGHT PROBLEMS!!!
SAFE RIDING TO ALL AND SEE YOU THERE

“ALL THE WAY FOR THOSE WHO CAN NOT GO”

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FNG Story – Joe “Jude” Hodges

Name: Joe “Jude” Hodges
E-Mail: joeh1123@aol.com
Phone: 505-488-3953
City: Gallup
State: New Mexico
FNG Story:

For many months I had been planning this trip to ride with the Run for the Wall. I had actually planned to ride for a day in 2009 but since after 33 years of riding I had never had a motorcycle endorsement on my driver’s license, I wasn’t able to ride with the group. That was a real let down for me as I had been wanting to make the run for a long time. As a brownwater Navy veteran, I has been something that I have long been compelled to participate in the mission to honor those veterans who are unable to make the run. Also, I had a need to honor my dad, a Korean War veteran, and the other numerous members of my family that have proudly served in the armed forces our country.

After my inability to ride last year I was determined to make the 2010 run. The plan was to ride from Gallup, NM to Trinidad, CO as this was all the time I was able to be away from work. I got up early loaded my bike, leathered up, put the key in the ignition, and was ready for engine to jump to life; however, all I got was silence as the battery was dead so after what felt like an eternity I was able to strip it down, jump the battery and pack back up and set off. I had a great ride into Santa Fe where there was a gas stop and a reassembly across from the Harley Davidson shop where we were to have lunch. It was getting warm and I needed a drink of water and was just taking a drink when they decided it was
time to move out. I hurriedly tried to get my self together and was fumbling with securing my water bottle when it was time for our platoon to go. I started the bike, put it in gear, let the clutch out went about three feet and the front tire caught a round rock. The front wheel skewed to the left sharply as I moving my water bottle back into place and over I went landing on my right elbow and shoulder and hearing a loud pop in my shoulder as my head slammed into the ground.

Thankfully my fellow brothers around me set the bike up off of my stuck foot and leg, shaded my face and called the ambulance, which was pretty quick in coming and I was whisked off to the emergency room where it was determined that I had a broken arm at the very top of the humerus along with a messed up shoulder, socket and scapula. The arm was broken at a point where it could not be set, so I was given a sling for it and dismissed. All in all not a really great day.

The only good thing about the short time that I had was the association with everyone for a brief time and a renewed determination that I will try again next year! Oh and I have decided to change my road name to CRASH!

I can’t close without thanking everyone for all of their help for me and my bike as well as all those that put so much time and effort into the mission. Thanks and God Bless You….

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FNG Story – Tom Cameron

Name: Tom Cameron
E-Mail: tomcameron@cox.net
Phone: 619-390-8643
City: San Diego
State: California
FNG Story:

I was on the Southern Route and can’t say loud enough that this was far and away the best motorcycle trip ever! My only regret was not being able to get to know more of the outstanding men and women who participated, and I guess it was just over too soon. Wow.

They should advise people to bring more Kleenex. Most of the water from the hydration trailer was coming out my eyes! Never have I had so much trouble choking through the national anthem and the pledge. I was most surprised by my personal emotional response, but I saw others having the same reaction. Yes, they were right, you have to experience it to come to really believe.

In that vein, one of the things I enjoyed watching was when you would see one of the riders who had removed himself from the group and was on his cell phone. More than once I heard to the effect,

“Hey Bobby! You just gotta do this run! You wouldn’t believe how wonderful it is! Really, you just have to come next year!!”

Found myself making one of those calls myself!

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FNG Story – Terry McCollum

Name: Terry McCollum
E-Mail: supercoach@wyoming.com
Phone: 307-259-5464
City: Casper
State: Wyoming
FNG Story:

My wife and I joined the Central Route in Goodland, KS. I have trouble expressing myself in long letters so this one will be pretty short.

What can you say about this ride except beyond believe. From the dinner and welcome in Goodland, from the very fine people there, to the very end and being one of the few that got to ride thru Arlington. It was extremely emotional for me.

Some people call me Rotorhead, thanks to my being a helicopter pilot in RVN. On Oct 31, ’68 one of my helicopters crashed and all 10 on board were killed. Back when I was flying for the state of Wyoming I had been to DC and made a trip to the wall and had the opertunity to leave a couple of items at that time so I didn’t think I would feel the urge to leave anything this time. Well when I got to my panel I didn’t have anything to leave. Thanks to Tail Gunner Nich, and Charley not only had my back but dug deep in their pockets and found something for me to leave. Thanks gentlemen I owe you.

Rolling Thunder was more relaxed for me than the emotional High I had been on for the preceding week. What a massive number of Motorcycles and there was just about as many parked along The Mall as was riding.

What a wonderful experience. The two that were closest to me was our Platoon Leader Grumpy (Terri) and our Tail Gunner Nich. Their only concern for the entire ride was our safety. Nich you can yell at me any time I do something wrong cause it came from the heart. THANK YOU. I am totally convinced that the major pre-qualification for Road Guards is to be INSANE. Thank you for all of your hard work.

From the planners, state coordinators, fuel crews, road guards, platoon leaders, tail gunners, chase vehicles, chaplins, and especially the people that took the time out of their busy lives to skip work and come out and cheer us on and say “WELCOME HOME,” thank you, thank you, thank you. To
everyone I forgot thank you too.

Now a note to the old warriors that served back during the Viet Nam era, we have a duty an obligation to our young brothers and sisters serving today. Make it a point to say THANK YOU and shake their hand. Make sure they get their WELCOME HOME when they return, not 30 or 40 years later. If you have made it to here, thank you for reading the ramblings of an old War Horse.

Rotorhead
Terry and Dianna McCollum
Blue Gold Wing Trike

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FNG Story – Joe Middleton

Name: Joe Middleton
E-Mail: midcusaw@yahoo.com
Phone: 325-669-8723
City: Abilene
State: TX
FNG Story:

I want to say first that this was the best experience I have enjoyed in many, many years. That being said the people I met, the people I saw, the old and new vets I had the privilege of being among, the many kids and people along the side of the roads waving flags and yelling and shouting with love and respect was overwhelming to me. I come from a town in Texas that is has large military influence in it’s population, but to see the outpouring from the small communities along the route from Weatherford, Tx
to DC gave me more faith in the future of our country than I could have gotten from any where.

As long as there or people like this, showing their respect to our military, and it’s fallen, past and present, we are in good hands. As long as we have our sons and daughters showing their kids and grandkids what respect for God and country really is, then we’ll be OK. I feel honored to have ridden with what I feel like are real men and women who honestly still have a deep love for this country and what it’s all about, all politics aside and riding to honor those that have given all
for us to be able to do so.

It is not hard to see how this adventure gets into your blood. I know it has gotten into mine. The Lord willing, and if “Chicken Joe” and Dan “Wide Load” will allow me to join 7th platoon (Triker and Trailer Trash Trash) next year, I would be honored to ride with them all the way from CA to DC. Oh yea! You others that have to stay in your air-conditioned rooms can come along also LOL.

We left as individuals and arrived as family. I never enjoyed being welcomed home like this before.

Thank you 1ST Sargent and every one else who made this event a life changer for me.

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FNG Story – Pat “Bubblegum” Urban

Name: Pat “Bubblegum” Urban
E-Mail: pat_urban@msn.com
Phone: 360-666-2340
City: Battle Ground
State: Washington
FNG Story:

Run For The Wall Coordinators, Board of Directors and all of the Volunteers:

There are so many things I could say about the Run and I’m not sure I can do all of my memories justice. I’m afraid of leaving something out; but I will try to tell you in my words what the Run means to me now that it is over. What will stand out in my mind and memories are too many incidents to write — but for me, it was the people. The kids who made us hearts, wrote poems and gave us dog tags to take to The Wall. The people who love our country and expressed it by giving us hugs and telling us thank you over and over. Yup, it was the people: new friends we made who rode with us and those who asked if we were going to come back. And, it is more:

It was the lone man alongside the freeway standing at attention and saluting us in the desert outside of Phoenix.
It was the retired Marine standing in full dress blues saluting us as we rode into Jackson, MS.
It was the many, many people on overpasses and in the cities who took the time to greet us.
It was the pride in the American faces of adults, teenagers and children we met.

It was the privilege of meeting MOH, POW Veterans from WW2, Korea and Vietnam; Tuskegee Airmen and Navajo Code Talkers and a survivor from the Bataan Death March.

It was the camaraderie and love I felt as John was surrounded by his fellows at the Vietnam Memorial in Odessa, TX. with the wind howling and the sky with it’s dark clouds shooting lightening.

It was the interaction with the ride heroes: The Road Guards, Platoon Leaders and Tail Gunners, Advance Team and Chaplains.
It was the morning prayers.
It was the morning meetings.
It was smiling and giving a big Whoo Hoo to the fueling team.
It was the awesome hydration team.
It was being able to help in the merchandise trailer.
It was knowing the chase truck was there, just in case…

It was the pride I felt as my husband participated in RFTW Honor Guard.

It was the goosebumps I got when Shenandoah was played on the harmonica at Silverdale Civil War Confederate Cemetery.

It was the Vet who quilts.
It was the men who wore pink shirts to support another worthy cause.
It was the Road Guards who smiled at my pink sparkling helmet.
It was earning a Road name, “Bubblegum.”

It was the people we met and rode with side-by-side.

It was the Huey ride and feeling an overwhelming sense of pride in my husband as he hung out the gunner door..pumping his arms in the air and smiling and laughing and yelling, “YES!” ..reenacting his time in Vietnam as a door gunner.

And finally,
It was walking hand in hand with my husband to The Wall, taking photos, rubbing names, gently putting down items and finally looking at The Wall from a distance and letting go.

It was knowing that for 10 glorious days on the road, I was a part of something so very special and that first ride as FNG will live in my heart forever.

For all of the work you have done over the years, as former FNG 2010 who rode all the way; Thank you!

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FNG Story – Hilda Hickman

Name: Hilda Hickman
E-Mail: hildaj1020@yahoo.com
Phone: 865-933-0748
City: Kodak
State: TN
FNG Story:

FNG PIN UPSIDE DOWN–2010

It was a gray, cold day in January 2010 when my husband, Charlie R. Hickman, US Army Retired, and I, his wife of 43 years, started making plans to ride with the “RUN FOR THE WALL” group to Washington DC. We had rode for the past two years with a group in Sevierville TN to the top of Clinch Mountain on Memorial Day to honor all veterans. We loved it and thought we were ready to go on the “big one.” We are both 64 years old and the thought crossed our minds that we are not getting any younger. We talked friends Tim Johnson and Sue Logan into riding along with us. Registration was done online, motel reservations were made, luggage racks and flag poles were bought for the bikes, other preparations were completed and the waiting began.

Like children waiting for Christmas, I thought May would never come. It finally did and on May 26th we were up early and heading to Wytheville VA to meet up with the riders coming from Chattanooga TN. We were ahead of them so when we arrived in Wytheville we went to the park and watched as they rode into town. That evening we were officially pinned as FNGs and welcomed into the “RUN FOR THE WALL” family.

From then until the ride ended in Washington DC our experience could not have been better. Never a question went unanswered. It was the best organized event I have ever been involved with. If I had to describe it in one word that word would be, SMOOTH. Although we knew from the outset it was not a party, it was a mission, the leaders made it fun along the way. The outpouring of love and support from the people along the way was amazing. People standing shoulder to shoulder on bridge overpasses, cranes with Old Glory proudly flapping in the breeze high above the street, children standing in front of schools waving and giving thumbs up, WWII vets in their wheelchairs smiling and saluting as we rode by. The miles of motorcycles were a sight to see and so were the people from all walks of life who had carved out time in their busy day to pay their respects to those who served in the Armed Forces of their country. Patriotism is alive and well along the highways and byways of small town America. I want to take this opportunity to say “THANK YOU” to all who gave of their time and talents to organize and work out the many details of making “RUN FOR THE WALL” the great American Tradition it has become. My husband’s goal is to be in CA and ride “all the way” in 2011. I will be the one waiting in Wytheville ready to join him and ride on to DC. Again “THANK YOU” all for making us feel welcome on our FNG ride with “RUN FOR THE WALL.” See you in 2011.