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FNG Story – Pat “Bubblegum” Urban

Name: Pat “Bubblegum” Urban
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
Phone: 865-933-0748
City: Kodak
State: TN
FNG Story:


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.

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FNG Story – Rick Behymer

Name: Rick Behymer
City: West Plains
State: Missouri
FNG Story:

I was an FNG on the Central Route, 2010 Run For The Wall. When I joined the Run in Wentzville Mo. I had no idea what an incredible experience being on The Run For The Wall would turn out to be for me. I’ve tried to explain to my wife and others just what being on the Run is like and I haven’t been able to adequately put it into words.

I haven’t been able to explain the instant friendship and sense of family that develops the morning you join the Run. I’ve come to realize that sense of family lasts much longer than the Run itself.

I took a couple of hundred pictures on the Run and while they bring a smile to my face when I look at them now, they aren’t nearly as good as the memories I have when we were moving and picture taking was out of the question. Memories like,

Two ladder fire trucks on an overpass parked facing each other, their ladders fully extended, a very large American Flag suspended between them. On top of the cab of one fire truck stood lone a fireman, holding a perfect hand salute, backlit by the morning sun, as we went under that overpass.

Overpasses with people standing shoulder to shoulder holding flags and waving, with bed sheets made into signs hanging from overpass railings saying “Welcome Home”

A little girl about 8 or so in West Virginia who asked if she could take a picture of me and the 2 riders I was talking to at the time, just because we were on the Run.

Being fortunate enough to be allowed to ride into Arlington National Cemetery, with 249 other FNGs from 2010.

Seeing The Wall for the first time, and walking it’s length.

Words can’t describe how those things touched my heart, caused a lump in my throat, and sometimes required me to blink rapidly to clear my vision.

I could ramble on for several more paragraphs about the things I saw, and the feelings I felt but I won’t. If you were on either Route you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you haven’t been on the Run For The Wall yet I urge you to go as soon as you can.

It doesn’t take long to realize that it takes a lot of dedicated people to make the Run For The Wall work as well as it does. To all of them I’d like to take this opportunity to say Thank You for the Ride of a Lifetime. To everyone on the Central Route, particularly the Second Platoon, Thank You isn’t nearly enough, but it’ll have to do. It was an honor to ride with all of you.

Would I do it again? Absolutely! Only the next time my wife will be with me. After seeing the pictures I took, and listening to me try to explain what being on the Run For The Wall was like for me this year, she’s decided she wants to see it all for herself next year starting in California.

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FNG Story – Wayne Karlik

Name: Wayne Karlik
Phone: 307-587-4486
City: Cody
State: Wyoming
FNG Story:

A good friend of mine told me of this ride last year on Memorial Day while we were camping, and I thought it would be a ride we could do. After checking out the website, I called Rod and said “WE have to do this ride”! So, on May 21st we headed south to meet up with RFTW in Goodland KS on the 22nd. The wind blew us in to Goodland about two hours before the group was to be there so we hung out and waited to see some riders show. The fuel up advanced crew rode in and we talked with them until the platoons started in. From that point on the “RIDE FOR THE WALL” took on a whole new meaning for me.

For the next 7 days I was on an emotional roller coaster. The VA Hospitals, the Memorials, the over passes lined with the most patriotic people on earth, the supplied lunches from VFWs and American Legions, and the unselfish brother and sisterhood, at times, left me speechless. Everywhere we went, the folks of this nation greeted us with a form of pride and love I thought was about gone in this country. There is so much more I want to say about this trip, but, I would need to much room on this page, and it would probably get boring to read. To put it in a nut shell, this was the most enjoyable, emotional, and
unforgettable experience I could ever have on a bike, or anywhere for that matter! Thank you all, brothers and sisters, for EVERYTHING! God bless you all, and this will not be my last trip with RFTW!!

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David E. Sholly

Name: David E. Sholly
Phone: 303-847-6398
City: Aurora
State: Colorado
FNG Story:

I was given a RUN FOR THE WALL pin by a co-worker five years ago. He told me his story, of his ride and what it had meant to him.

I am a 100% P&T disabled veteran, in remission from lung cancer for two and one half years. I felt now was my time to go to the Wall!

After 41 years of an emptiness, I felt a kinship and a healing as I met my new Brothers & Sisters from the Viet Nam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and U.S. Active Duty war veteran riders, and one very Special Gold Star Mom, and her dog Gizmo.

As an FNG I got to ride my motorcycle into Arlington National Cemetery, and see the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and then onto the Viet Nam War Memorial.

The people saying thank you for your service, and the patriotism I saw on the bridge over passes, as we rode under them and in the towns with the > American flags displayed, melted away the hard feelings I had of the past when we came home without any respect or honor. God willing I’ll be part of the RFTW in 2011!

A special thank you to the RFTW 2010, organizers, advanced teams, road guards, tail gunners, service trucks. A heart felt special thank you to the Platoon Leader and Asst. Platoon Leader of Platoon #4, central route! All of you made my experience an unforgettable, safe and pleasurable trip!

I purchased twenty five 2010 RFTW pins to pass out to veterans who have not yet made the run, hoping to inspire them as my friend did me!

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FNG Story – Tim Gray

Name: Tim Gray
Your Phone: 915-309-5599
City: El Paso
State: Texas
FNG Story:

I heard about this ride for many years and this was my first chance to take part in it. I knew the guys from the Hydration team and without them I would not have been able to make the run. Thanks to Gary Burd and all of the crew. I didn’t plan well and only went on part of the run, well that’s kinda like saying I only got a two ton treasure as opposed to a ten ton treasure. Every single mile and moment on this run is priceless.

I am still active duty and have done my time in the sandbox. I didn’t immediately relate to the struggles, the hurt and the healing I witnessed from so many. What I wasn’t prepared for was the therapeutic value of this ride. So when it started creeping up on me, you can imagine my surprise. I place a lot more value on this run from my new perspective. I had no idea how strong the bonds of this family are. Within the confines of these riders and the platoons, there is safety to expose pain and suffering, probably long overdue to be let go. And just as important are those individuals that stand shoulder to shoulder with you and won’t let you down.

I lost a friend that I had deployed with numerous times, just a short 12 days before the run — he was 46, and had a lot of hurt inside that he carried with him. I wish he had been with us. And I am sure most of you know why.

I want you to know that I am hooked and excited about “The Run.” My wife is a disabled vet, and she literally broke down into tears when I left. Because we have two little ones and she had to take care of them. You might have seen them — Juan and Morgan. They were giving out the candy and the thank you notes while we ate Supper at Barnetts in Las Cruces. The next morning my wife waved a flag from a bridge in El Paso with tears in her eyes as we rolled through.

So needless to say — she will be on the run next year, if it means I stay home to be Mr. mom. (yeah right!) We will have it planned out and we will both be able to enjoy everyone’s company. She is in for a big surprise! My prayer is that we can do as much for some of you as you have done for others.

Thanks to the road guards who gave me the thumbs up while I focused everything I had to not be the FNG with the brake lights on.

SFC(P) Tim “The Infidel” Gray

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Mario J. Puccio

Name: Tsgt Mario J. Puccio
Phone: 740-517-1433
City: Vincent
State: Ohio
FNG Story:

I am one of the sore butt guys that rode a sport bike in from Hurricane WV this year. Why did I put myself through the punishment of riding such an uncomfortable bike? I am a 15 year veteran of the US Air Force and the West Virginia Air National Guard and the son of a Vietnam Veteran who was on the USS New Jersey. When I was asked by another buddy of mine if I wanted to do this run this year I was all for it right off the bat. Then I started telling my Dad about it (who didn’t have a motorcycle at the
time). I kept telling him he needed to rent a bike and do this with me. About four weeks later my Dad bought his first motorcycle in about 29 years. We got more and more excited about the run the closer it got and then it was upon us. We joined up in Hurricane and if that wasn’t enough of a sight to see that many veterans and veteran supporters, DC would change my mind forever. My Dad had never seen The Wall nor did he ever really talk about Vietnam that much. I did not know that he had a very good buddy killed there until Saturday, May 23, 2009 when he stood in front of his name on The Wall with tears coming down his face uttering the words I miss you. It was an honor and a privilege to be with my Dad during this time and also an honor and a privilege to ride with all the other bikers on this run. Short of seeing my daughters born it was the most amazing thing I have ever seen or been a part of. God Bless all of you, thank you for letting me ride with you and share this experience with my Dad and I hope to see you all next year.

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FNG Story – Tommy “Ogre” Holdtich

Name: Tommy “Ogre” Holdtich
Phone: 205-826-6651
City: Tuscaloosa
State: Alabama
FNG Story:

The culmination of a months long wait. I would finally take part in the RFTW. True, I would only be riding for one day but I would be on “the mission.”

Monday, my “navigator” and I mounted up on Veronica to ride down to Meridian to meet the run. Our personal run to the run was just a means to get to the destination, AG Pavilion Meridian MS. Tuesday we would retrace our route, only on Tuesday we would be riding with our family.

After meeting with our new family Monday evening, listening to stories of the road and catching up on the happenings we headed to our hotel, we invited some of our new family who were camping to partake of a nice hot shower. Our new brothers were grateful.

Tuesday morning found us rising early to meet at the AG pavilion. After a rousing welcome to ourselves and the FNGs we prepared to head out. We met with our Platoon (4) and mounted up.

I have never ridden with this large a group, yet I felt instantly at ease. I began to immerse myself in the mission. I began to travel, in my mind and heart.

Daddy would have loved this, he would have wanted to do this. That thought kept repeating in my mind as the miles flew underneath me. Then just as we hit Tuscaloosa County it hit me. He WAS riding, he was riding with me, in me and through me. He may have passed away in 1985, but he was there. I saw people on overpasses, they were not waving at me, they were waving at him, for him. A veteran of 3 wars, and 3 branches of military and he was receiving his Welcome Home.

I thoroughly enjoyed my travel, I only regret that next year I will not be a FNG. However…

Next May, Sunday May 22, 2011, me and Daddy will mount up on Veronica. We will ride out to Monroe LA to meet our family. Monday, May 23, 2011 we will ride again, and this time I, his brothers, sisters, and
other children will take him to see his Wall.

Thank you all for letting me remember my father, my hero. Thank you daddy, for your service and for your love and finally I can truly say Welcome Home Daddy.

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FNG Story – Michael “Dadbo” Owen

Name: Michael “Dadbo” Owen, MSgt USAF ret.
Phone: 805-737-9357
City: Lompoc
State: California
FNG Story:

We have but one short life to live on this earth and many opportunities to live for God and country. But it seems that out of many conflicting perceptions we seldom make good on these moments. I stand here before the Lord, my sisters and brothers, veteran and civilian to give thanks and honor for the unique privilege afforded me by those who made the 2009 Run For The Wall a reality. This was and will always be a significant life experience for me to carry for the remainder of time. I am having almost as much difficulty trying to find the words to express my gratitude and appreciation of the RFTW effort as for those that have died for so many. It would be impossible to convey in this short letter what may take me a lifetime to realize. The selfless dedication, genuine concern for others, love of country, and the love of one’s neighbor is truly extraordinary. I am so grateful to so many people, most of whom I didn’t have a chance to meet let alone thank, that it has taken me awhile to try to express.

I have to admit I was a bit incredulous when Jim Perry and Ross Currie first told me about RFTW. I entered the Air Force in 1975 at the end of Vietnam, and admittedly didn’t feel the same pain as too many had in their return from that awful war. So I took a knee and asked God what I should do and slowly over the next few months it became clear that this was to be call I had to answer. I recognized that there was real need for recognition of the ultimate sacrifice of so many, the service of countless patriots and healing of many who came home wounded in body and spirit. What I didn’t count on was the healing I needed and received at the hands of so many. I didn’t know I had any wounds to mend, or scars to repair. But day after day, meeting hero after hero, seeing the pain in the contorted face of men and women I will forever consider friends, I saw myself and recognized my wounded spirit. In every mile we road, every town we entered, every man women and child cheering us on, every flag, and every salute I had the honor to return that I found the healing tears of God’s abundant love. Every day I melted a little more and accepted those curative tears.

I was on a quest to find what I needed to do to help my fellow veterans, but I found the answer to the prayer I made the day I departed for Rancho Cucamonga. “Lord, guide me to do your will on this run”. The
answer was to accept His grace to rid myself of the scars I had and allow the His therapeutic love to take place in me. Now I have a new prayer and a new mission to find those I can truly aid in their recover, to lend a hand where it can lift another, and to help this country recognize what needs to be done.

This may sound like the incoherent rambling of an FNG and that might be true, but it is the only way I’ve found to express even an infinitesimal portion of what I still can not fathom. “If you haven’t been there…” is etched on my soul and I have for the first time an inkling of what it must be like, and I am proud to call the airmen, soldiers, marines, sailors, and civilians who gave and are still giving,

Mike aka Dadbo
Green Knights 39 – Road Captain
Patriot Guard Rider
American Legion Rider
Msgt, US Air Force Retired
and now
Run for the Wall / Rolling Thunder

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FNG Story – Greg Quintana

Name: Greg Quintana
Phone: 505-688-4422
City: Rio Rancho
State: New Mexico
FNG Story:

It is 2010 and we are ready to hit the road again. To start my story off I would like to thank all of you who participate and organize this wonderful event yearly. There is a lot that goes into this event and up until you ride in it you don’t appreciate the hard work.

A friend told us about the ride and at first I thought how will I be able to take the time out of off of work and life to go on a MOTORCYCLE RIDE. Well let me be the first to say this is NOT a MOTORCYCLE RIDE. This is a Mission and is one of the most memorable events I think I will ever have in my life. I thought of the many men and women who fought for us to have freedom for our beloved country the entire time we were on the road. I rode for my father whom served in Vietnam, and I thank god everyday he returned and is still with me today. I thought of what he and all the troops up until today have and had to endure during the wars.

When you get on your bike and start the mission, your mind is focused on our troops that served past and present.

We rode through New Mexico only being that time away from work for me would not permit me to take a longer leave, but it was an eye opening experience to see the support that my home state has for this event and for the troops. I would have to say that riding into Sata Fe was very special to me being that my hometown, and having the helicopter above us escorting us in to town for lunch. Angel fire was a tear jerker as we came into town as well. All the supporters young and old waving flags and the number solutes we all recieved was overwhelming. The only time I go to Angel fire is to ski. I have never set foot on the memorial till I was on the mission. I will thank the RFTW for that till the day i die.

We will be going one state further this time from New Mexico to Kansas. I hope in the next few years i can go all the way from CA to DC.

Thank you for the experience.

Greg Quintana