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FNG Story – Farrell D. Maichel

Name: Farrell D. Maichel
Phone: 785-456-3901
City: St. George
State: Kansas
FNG Story:

The little bike that will soon make its fourth run is up in the shed. Next week I’ll get her out and start getting ready for the 2010 run. I signed up again this a.m. and read through some of the e-mails. Some of the words blurred a little. Must be the dust. I’ll have to pre-register next week.

I have a few things to say that have taken an awful long time for me to be able to do this. It’s time.

Forty years ago Peter Fonda made a little movie called “Easy Rider” with Jack Nicholson and Dennis Hopper. Golden Gate park was the hottest place in the world to be, and everyone moved around in a VW van. The Beach Boys stopped wearing striped shirts, and the Beatles grew moustaches and got into the ether world. Living was good in the U.S. of A. as the framework of our society was torn apart.

Somehow I missed all of that. I was other places, doing other things. Forty years have come and gone since my last combat tour with the 101st Airborne Division. A lot of water goes under the bridge in forty years and I have done well. Thirty-six of those years were pretty well spent in a cocoon of numbness. You see, I went on and made the Army a career. Maybe just my way of hiding something in plain sight or my way of not having to face something I didn’t want to face. I got along O.K., but
depression and sadness were things that I put up with every day of my life. I retired in ’87 and started another career. In ’96 I hit one of those rough periods of life in my second career as an employee of the state of Kansas. I hung onto a job but I was banished to Wichita. I somehow found a group of guys who got together once a week to share experiences at around the vet center. That began a process that helped a bit. Still the depression got worse, along with the feelings of sadness and loneliness. I was the most successful, depressed person that I knew. I remember feeling that I was somehow totally unique in feeling bad.

A few years later, a friend named Larry asked me to ride along on the Run. A kidney stone attack a 100 miles from home can wreck your plans. But I came back the next year and I come back every year.

I was in Salina, KS a few years ago, having jumped ahead of the pack, and watched Run participants roll in to the park off of the highway. All sizes, shapes, descriptions, and manner of riders. Sort of like the makeup of the combat infantry battalions that I loved so well. Irreverent, proud, noble, independent, warriors who really give no ground, take no insults, and give living meaning to the word honor! The only thing that had changed was some of us looked a little older and we moved a little slower.

Last year I sat on an overpass near Abilene, KS and watched the Run participants stream down I-70 headed into Junction City and then I was back with the tailend rolling into J.C. Just seeing those flags displayed on the overpasses down the route somehow helps every time it happens. Rather I am watching from a distance, reading the e-mails, or riding in the middle of the pack, I can always feel those hard knots of being alone and being sad continue to slowly wash away out of my soul. It took a long time for those to develop and it may take the rest of my life to conquer them, but Run for the Wall helps.

So this year I’ll put my vest on again and hang the old dog tags around my neck; the same ones that were there in the A Shau, the Elephant Valley, the Street without Joy, and other scenic places I’ve been. Seems funny that I never wore those tags after 1970 until I started riding with RFTW. For a few brief, precious days I will again display the 101st shoulder patch, my combat infantrymans badge, and my jump wings in the company of my brothers in arms.

I’ll ride down the highway, two abreast, knowing there may be safer ways to do this. At the same time, the feeling will be just like riding into the A Shau on a UH-1 out of B Co, 101st Aviation Battalion with my legs hanging over the side, just enough danger to keep my adrenalin level pumping high and my nervous system at high port. As I ride down the highways of our route, the physical part of my being will be right there with you. But the memories will be of another time.

I’ll see a Marine and mentally thank the good Lord for having marine artillery at the Rock Crusher in III Corps. Those guys could put a battery six into a buschel basket when the Infantry needed it. I’ll see an Air Force vet and feel the after effects of a pilot hitting the gas after dropping flaming hell on my flanks. I can almost smell the jet fuel fumes of the four Marine four aircraft that circled a “basketball” in the A Shau, broke through the clouds and fog, and came to our help in the worst possible of circumstances in the worst possible type of weather. I’ll see a Navy emblem and remember the feel of the deck of the battleship New Jersey as she steamed through the Panama Canal en route to the Gulf of Tonkin. I’ll remember the Seabees and the Red Horse battalions bringing working facilities and defensive perimeters out of swamps and hills.

Tonight I may recall the odor of the South China Sea coming in at full tide as I sat on a helmet during the night, back to back with another infantryman sitting on his helmet, both in water past our hips. Around daybreak, I will probably conjure up old memories of an airborne trooper, a south Georgia boy (CPT Bill Phillips) whose name is on the Wall. Bill went down with the 173d Airborne Brigade. I’ll remember the nurses and medical personnel at the 85th Evac hospital in Phu Bai. A few years ago I couldn’t even watch an episode of “China Beach.” Now I can remember and appreciate the magnificent efforts of those wonderful people surging to a Medevac bird in a dead run, without going into a cold sweat.

These and a thousand other memories of my time in the Nam will run through my head out there on the highway, riding with others just exactly like me. And it is sweet to know, after all of this time, that I will not be alone, I will not be by myself, and that we do this for honor, for brethren and, in the process, for ourselves.

This year, my son rides with me. We’ll probably meet RFTW at Goodland and catch the beautiful scenery of Kansas going east. By the first of June, with the support of your presence, I will have reclaimed a little more of my soul back from the abyss. I’ll have a few more funny stories and a few more scary stories, but most of all I’ll have a little more of my innocence and trust restored.

So American Legion Riders, Patriot Guard riders, Run for the Wall riders when you look in the mirror tomorrow, stand a little taller and throw your shoulders back a little farther. We still have burdens to bear and duty to discharge. You are, each and every one, just like the boonie rats back in the ‘Nam – absolutely magnificent.

See you out there.


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FNG Story – Rich Martin

Name: Rich Martin
Phone: 408-489-7156
City: San Jose
State: California
FNG Story:

As I sit here and write this story, I keep thinking of the people I met along the way and those that I was going to try and and visit at the wall. People like Karoni and Cowboy and CJ. All the Road Guards and Advance team. I got the ride the first Missing Man Formation with Karoni. I shed more tears than I thought I would ever shed in my life. Each stop was more emotions and incredible people. The “Wall” itself just overwhelmed me. It took me three trips down the walk before I could even look at it. I couldn’t visit with my brothers this year. I had a women give me a heart pin to help heal my broken heart. How do you deal with that. All these months since I have been trying to explain it to people and can’t quite find the words. Many times I break down thinking about this incredible journey I took. It is amazing how everyone is there for you. You are not alone and yet you are alone with all that you see. It means a little different for everyone who takes this journey. I can’t thank the SgtMaj enough for convincing me that I should take this journey. It has helped with the healing from Nam and our so called homecoming. I will do this as long as my health/money holds up. Thanks to all that put this together. I
just can’t adequately put this into words.

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FNG Story – Charlie Allen

Name: Charlie Allen
Phone: 251-709-9004
City: Grand Bay
State: Alabama
FNG Story:

It is hard to explain how I was feeling as I drove from Mobile, Alabama to Monroe, Louisiana. I was riding in a driving rain storm most of the way, but that was not what was on my mind. I had been around him many times but didn’t really know him very well. He had stopped in Mobile several times after the Run For The Wall. We always visited and went to movies and he would make his way back to Los Angeles. He was the reason I bought a motorcycle so I could do this “Run For The Wall” with him. John is my
father in law and frankly he helped change my life.

I was nervous as we drove to the starting point in Monroe. I had not been riding very long and was not sure I had the skills for this ride, but I went anyway. When they called all of the FNGs up to the front of the crowd, I assumed it would be for some sort of hazing as we were the new comers. Boy was I wrong. I have never heard a group so small in number sound so large with a resounding “WELCOME.” It only got better from there. From that moment I honestly felt like part of the southern route family. I was even fortunate enough to lay the wreath at the memorial in Monroe.

From there we began the journey that would not only lead to knowing John much better, but knowing myself better as well. I have been in the Alabama Army National Guard for nineteen years. I am active guard now as a battalion career counselor, so I had been around military folks for quite a while. Never before though had I been around so many combat vets. Being around the men and women made me think about my experiences in Iraq and how they had changed me. I saw many vets that had come to terms with their experiences and many that had not. Probably the most memorable experience was during a fuel stop in Virginia. I was walking out of the store after getting a cup of coffee when the guy in front of me was stopped by a guy walking in. The guy coming in said “Are all of yall vets” and the other guy said “Yeah mostly.” The first guy said “I was in Viet Nam in 68.” At that point, the guy in front of me hugged him and said ” Welcome Home.” The guy broke into tears and said ” I never got that before.” I left but I did see that they chatted for several minutes.

John introduced me to several of his friends and I am sure I will remember them forever. All of them accepted me as one of their own from the start. John and I talked throughout the trip . We got to know each other well. He prepared me as best he could for Arlington and The Wall. As an FNG, I was honored to be allowed to ride into Arlington. There is no way that I can describe the emotion I felt. Then came The Wall. Memories of news casts when I was a kid came flooding back. It was very difficult to stand there and see these men and women grieving and being helpless to help them. Then, it was like the V8 commercials! Just being there and one of them helps. I thought long and hard about my experiences in Iraq and they were nowhere near the stories that I heard on the trip, and I realized that its okay to relive those times and talk about it with those that will understand. I was so honored to be able to share those moments with John and others.

I will never fully be able to explain my feelings about this “Run” to those that have not done it, but I know that I am a better person, vet and soldier for having been there. Thanks John and company, I really
appreciate it. See yall next year.

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FNG Story – Stan Martin

Name: Stan Martin
Phone: 601-720-6080
City: Ridgeland
State: Mississippi
FNG Story:

I just want to start by saying AWESOME!!! Never would I have thought that I would be able to be a part of such a wonderful and meaningful event. I never knew that I could join up and ride with the group until a friend at work told me. Me, my wife, and my buddy Sean caught up with the group in Monroe,LA and rode to MS. The show of patriotism during the ride was awesome. I will always remember coming across that MS River Bridge and seeing that Cobra Helicopter hovering at the MS State Line.!! I have been on the RFTW site several times since the ride checking in to see when I can register for next year. I have already informed my wife that I am going “All the Way” next year (well from Monroe that is).

I have been in the Air National Guard now 24 years and have served in Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, and the Global War on Terrorism. I have been to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan and seen all types of things. I will have to say though, without a doubt, that this ride just brings back home the reason we are the GREATEST Nation in the world!! Sure I have had the hometown support on each of my deployments and it has been great but to see the thousands of people that come out to support this ride and show their true colors for their country makes me that much prouder that I can serve and protect Her!! I can’t wait to meet up with all the riders next year in Monroe to start another honorable ride!!!

LtCol Stan Martin

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FNG Story – Bernard Remson

Name: Bernard Remson
Phone: 909-889-8470
City: San Bernardino
State: California
FNG Story:

This is the second time I’ve started this letter. My ride started in Long Beach, Ca. What can I say but wow. It was a very happy feeling to see so many other riders and meet new friends. My brother said that he was planing to go and I told him he could not go without me. I was overwhelmed by all of the love shown to all of the riders along the way.

I shed many tears along the way at seeing people on the overpasses and along the roadside, showing their gratitude for the veterans. The three places I enjoyed the most were Angel Fire, Junction City and Rainelle. The highlight of the trip was Rolling Thunder on Sunday, May 24, 2009. My brother and I left Arlington on Monday, May 25, 2009, heading home by way of visiting relatives taking the route of I20 and I10 West, arriving home two weeks later.

We are looking forward to the 2010 trip!

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FNG Story – Dick Getchell

Name: Dick Getchell “AKA- RAG’s” IC1(SS) USN 68-76
Phone: 817-300-9240
City: Fort Worth
State: Texas
FNG Story:

All I can say is WOW and Welcome Home! The Mission of a life time is available to all who answer the call, to carry on the Pledge to Never Forget! RFTW was a real healing time for me personally and I pray that others who read this, will allow healing to begin for them as well. In November 2008 I stumbled on to the RFTW web site while looking for information on POW/MIA flags for my bike. I showed the RFTW web site to my wife and her response was, “so when do you leave”? She knows my so well! From that point on, I was consumed by getting ready and telling everyone I knew about the ride, especially my good friend, fellow Vets and fellow servants at our local body of believers, “The Hospital Church”- Celebration Fellowship, in Fort Worth, Texas. My good friend and fellow Jim, helped me make the final decision to ride by helping me through an issue that I had carried for a long time.

You see I have a dad who spent 30 years in the Navy and served in WWII, Korea and during Vietnam. He is a real live hero. I had many friends go in to the service of this great nation and serve during Vietnam (some who paid the supreme sacrifice and are listed on the Wall) but, I had been on Submarines and aided along the coast line of Vietnam and was not in country like my buddies. Yes, I was patriotic like them and served my country in a time of need, but! This “but” led to feeling that theirs was a higher service than mine and I felt some how I had let them down by not being in country. My brother in Christ and fellow Vietnam Veteran (in country, 1st Bat 14th Inf 3rd Brig 4thInf Div. [7-4-68—7-3-69]) was very specific with me, that I was as much there as anyone and I needed to let that false truth go. That fully convinced me to make the RFTW ride. As I made the ride with humility and pride as a patriot and fellow Vet, I had others on the ride tell me the same thing Jim had shared with me, when I spoke of my previous fears and regrets.

The truly humbling thing for me, was that in each case these were men who served boldly and heroically in country. I had carried that burden around for almost 40 years and am fully restored because of the kindness of fellow Vietnam Veterans, the RFTW ride leadership and my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. With that said, I hope and pray that I will be able to make the full ride in 2010 and that my fellow Vietnam Veteran, Jim, will make the trip with me. One final statement, thank you everyone on the run, but I want to mention just a few, who made it even more memorable.

The RFTW SR leadership, super great job! Mustang for your humble leadership of the 5th Platoon and your soft voice of encouragement, I know, I know, you are a Marine through and through, but really just a big softy. I pray that your health is good and you will be leading again in 2010. To all my new friends of which are numerous, Chicken Joe, Wrong Way-Green, PGR Pat, Firecracker, Flame, Chrome, Two-Stars (chiefy whiefy), Duct Tape, Cutter, Bug, Shiny Red Bike-Green, all the Sea Wolves, a Dirty Water – Gunners Mate Master Chief (whose name I can’t remember, but who made a life long impression on me) and all the others I can’t remember at this time. God Bless and may the wind be sweet in your face and Gods hand protect you at all times. Finally, thank you to all who showed so much kindness to our group of riders across this great country, from the sole persons in the middle of nowhere at attention and saluting, to those with a thank you on their lips and a bottle of water in their other hand, thank you! Progress Not Perfection RAG’s

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FNG Story – Charles Mike Dalton

Name: Charles Mike Dalton (runningbear)
Phone: 864-804-6061
City: Spartanburg
State: South Carolina
FNG Story:

I don’t know were to start. Well I will start by saying thank you Danny Riley for talking me into this. We left SC at 600AM on Tuesday morning to meet so of Danny’s Friends in NC. In short we got to Chattanooga Tenn at 3:00 Pm on Tuesday. This is were my live change. From that day i know i was were i should have being in 1977 if i had made this trap them i would not have had to go there what i have for all of these yrs. But by the help of Danny and the others with RFTW group made me feel like i was somebody and not a number thank GOD for you people. As we started the trip started in Tenn and we got to Knoxville Tn. Got gas i was thanking how the hell did we get all of these bike gas up so fast. 22 min. to gas 380 bikes. Then we stop in a town in Greenville Tn to gas and then stop in Bristol Harley Davidson to eat and rest for about 2 hours and then on to Wytheville Va for lunch and spend the night. I was ready for this from the heat and trip with watching everything going out. After I eat I went to the room and set down call home for a bit. Then I was thinking what am I going to do when I get to DC. Well it Thursday morning at 5am going to eat and road meeting at this time. We meet at the meeting ground where the kids put on a play for us. I had so many tears and cried so hard I could not taLK AND THEN TO A SCHOOL AGAIN. DON’T REMEMBER THE NAMES SORRY ANYWAY MORE TEARS. I WAS HAPPY TO GET ON THE RD TO ROANK VA. FOR THE NIGHT BUT WE STOP AT A VA DAM MOOR TEARS TEARS TEARS. FROM SEEING VETS FROM WW11 KOREA VIETNAM WARS TALKING TO ME GOD HOW MANY STORIES THESE MEN AND WOMAN HAD. FRIDAY MORNING ON THE RD TO DC. WHEN WE GOT TO DC I HAD NOT SEEN SO MANY BIKES IN ONE PLACE OTHER THAN THE BIKE RALLY BUT THE RALLY DID NOT HAVE ANYTHING ON THIS. ANY WAY SAT WAS GOOD AND SUNDAY WAS UNLIKE I HAVE EVER SEEN. I WILL DO THIS IN 2010. I HAVE MORE TO LOOK AT AND MORE TO LEARN. THANK YOU RFTW AND DANNY AND THE ONE LADY THAT BI WILL NOT FORGET SRG. THANK YOU VETERAN

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FNG Story – Dan Farren

Name: Dan Farren, MSgt, USAF-RET
Phone: 816-779-7527
City: Peculiar
State: Missouri
FNG Story:

Some things you shouldn’t put off.

Quite a few years have passed by where I have missed the opportunity to participate in the Run for the Wall. It took a trip to the emergency room and a few weeks on my back to realize that time is short, making 2009 the year to take action. My only regret is not making this trip sooner.

To say the people on this run are supportive does not do the folks justice. People from all walks of life, many parts of the world, and many different backgrounds and personalities come together to make this happen. Jokes, smiles, friendly greetings and (when appropriate) some well placed digs are there to raise spirits. A hug, a hand up, and a prayer is always near by, when needed.

All the pictures or videos cannot describe that feeling you get when you are riding in the middle of nowhere and see people on top of the overpass waiving American flags, wishing us well.

Words cannot describe the feelings experienced as you ride through Arlington the first time and realize the actual price that has been paid to keep us free.

It was my hope that I would find a better way to describe my first ride, from Burlington to D.C. Perhaps some day.

For those considering to make the ride in 2010, just do it. Make the run, support the mission. The people you meet will offer unconditional support and friendship. The sights you will see will make you realize there are many people throughout this land that appreciate the service and sacrifice many riders have made. Most importantly, your participation will send the much needed message that we support veterans past and present and will never forget those who did not make it back.

Respects to the entire RFTW family. Looking forward to next years run.

Honoring those who serve,
Remembering and paying respects to all those who paid the ultimate price to keep us free.

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FNG Story – Embe Kugler

Name: Embe Kugler
Phone: 480-292-9211
City: Phoenix
State: Arizona
FNG Story:

This is my second post. It is now July 3rd and I have only been home a few days. I did an extended vacation after the “Run” to visit friends and family on my way back to Arizona.

I still cannot get the ride out of my head. I am both a much better person and a much better rider thanks to everyone in 5th Platoon. Sorry, I was such a bone head on learning to ride in proper formation. I have been riding since I was 11, but most always by myself. I am an introvert by nature, and motorcycles have always been one of my escape mechanisms.

After the “Run”, I spent the first couple of weeks with my wife, my cousin and his wife vacationing in Virginia. My cousin was an Army hydraulics specialist onboard the USS Corpus Christi Bay for two tours fixing Army helicopters off shore. It was the first he spent much time talking about the experience. He plans to meet me at the end of the “Run” again next year. I left Virginia and road to Indiana to stay with my Aunt. Uncle Bud was at the bottom of the hill at Iwo Jima when the flag was raised. He died this last Thanksgiving from complications of the Malaria he caught in WWII. His son Myron served in Ethiopia during the Nam, but was anxious to hear all about the “Run.”

From Indiana, I went to Illinois to visit my old Training NCO. Buzz drove Lady Bird’s trucks in the Nam and Thailand. He still has many physical and mental scars from the experience. We spent three days cleansing and praying.

Next was Oklahoma, cousin Larry Gene spent his Army years at Ft Bliss in the 60s. He is also going to meet me at the end of the “Run” next year. We spent three days discussing how fortunate we were that the Big Guy kept us from harm’s way.

I just returned from two days with an old Army buddy (both of us 30 plus years). He is not a rider, but wants to explore providing chase vehicle support next year. The “Run” continues to extend its healing touch.

I have others I will influence who are currently still serving, but will be retired by next year (one with seven years of war zone deployments under his belt). Hopefully, they will be among the FNGs next year.

I cannot thank everyone enough for the experience. Pied Piper, Too Tall, and Mustang, you are among my heroes. I truly look forward to serving with you again next year and as long as possible there after.

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FNG Story – Johnny Rusk

Name: Johnny Rusk
Phone: 256-339-3888
City: Demopolis
State: Alabama
FNG Story:

I just wanted to say THANK YOU to all the great people my son and I met along the way.

I have always wanted to make the RFTW, however Deployments always seem to jump up and interfere.

My son Auston, age 10 has not stopped talking about making the run, and is ready to join me on another one. I know that spending time with him was very beneficial for me, especially since spending 44 months Deployed since 2003. The camaraderie, scenery, mission, and new friends that we met along the way will never be forgotten.

If there are any out there that would like to be reminded of exactly what true Americanism or Patriotism looks and feels like, then you must make the run.

I will be there in 2010 making the RFTW ALL THE WAY !!!

Thank You,
Johnny Rusk