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Day 10, Ashland – Arlington

Well, here we are, our final day of riding on this mission to The Wall.  I don’t know whether to be happy or sad.  It’s hard to know what to feel.  I feel some of both.  I don’t want it to be over.  Anyone ready to start over?

I always love the prayers our chaplain’s corps provide for us. Thanking God for all his blessings and asking Him to continue to be with us as we ride.  That our bikes may carry us safely to our destination, that our minds may be alert, that other motorists will notice us and be safe, that we may find healing today and every day, that we will remember why we are doing this and that we will give all praise and glory to God.  I do thank God for the safety we have received from day to day.  We have had extraordinary weather following us every day, thanks to God.  We have been safe.  Many have found healing, some I know personally. Thank God for all these things and for the blessings we don’t even realize we received.

Last year we received LEO escort all day.  This year it was a little different, but our road guards stepped up and got the job done making it easy for us.  Thank you road guards.

We held our platoon meetings like always.  I don’t know what other platoon leaders talked about, but I imagine there were lots of thanks passed around, maybe some final words of encouragement and perhaps the common quote “this is what we’ve been training for the last 9 days”.  I spoke to my group about the riding days we’ve had together and how well they did.  I said today, “there was nothing left to learn and nothing to prove”.  Let’s ride like we know what we’re doing”.

We are on our way to the US Marine Corps Museum in Quantico, VA without LEO escort.  I’ve been there before a several times.  Only the Midway Route stops here.  I’m so glad they do.  It’s a great place to visit.  We didn’t have all the time we’d like if we intended to ride into Arlington together, only about an hour.  There is a giant leaning spire which is the center of and most prominent object of the museum.  This spire represents the raising of the American Flag over the island of Iwo Jima.  The museum is not yet complete.  There are additional wings in the planning stage. Inside there are exhibits with multiple dioramas depicting battles fought from the Revolutionary war up through Vietnam.  Future exhibits will include battles fought since Vietnam. Outside there are also some pathways around the grounds of the museum.   When I walked inside I noticed right away a righteous looking chopper dedicated to the United States Marine Corps.  Then I headed with some friends to the Vietnam War area.  Here are some pics.






While here a young man maybe 13, walked up to me and said, “Sir, I’d like to shake your hand”.  I extended my hand.  Then he said, “Thank you for your service”.  I said’ “You’re welcome”.  Then handed me an envelope and said, “I wrote this letter for you”.  I took it and said, “Thank you”.  I stood there for a moment unable to move or talk.  I opened the letter.  I tried and failed to compose myself.  It read as follows.  “I’m taking my time to write you this letter to thank you for your service.  What I want to see in DC is the monument.  I also wish to see the Abraham Lincoln Memorial.  I thank you for your service and commitment to keeping us safe.  I wish I could go but I did not really want to, but I’m just glad that you saved our country.  People like you have a great heart.  In closing I am happy you have been a part of our service.  People like you are amazing for what you have done.  How can I thank you enough for what you’ve done”?  It was signed.  Thankfully there is a return address on the envelope: Northwestern Middle School, 7569 Elyria Road, West Salem, OH 44287.  This young man will be getting a reply from me.  I’m not sure, but perhaps there were more children from this school in the museum and perhaps they handed out letters to others similar to the one I received.  I was at least one of the blessed to receive one.  During my generation, this would never have happened.  Thank God that era is over and our veterans are appreciated today.  To all those of my generation, the words of this young man are for you as much as they are for me and like this young man said, I say to you, “How can I thank you enough for what you’ve done”?   In Bandit’s words, I’d like to say, “to each and every one of you, thank you from the bottom of my heart.  We are family”.

Not long and it was time to depart.  Last year we were allowed to enter the Express Lanes and ride under LEO escort without any traffic issue.  This year we would need our road guards to help get us to Arlington. Before we left the museum, I walked back through our ranks and shook hands and hugged all our riders.  Now we take our final ride together to Arlington. We got to our bikes and departed. We needed to allow merging traffic into our ranks, but it all went pretty well and we arrived at the host hotel before long.   When we rolled into Arlington I announced over the CB “Charley Mike”. We rolled in and parked.  The ride was complete.  Good Wrench rolled up behind me and asked if he could park behind me.  I told him I considered Siler City a highlight of the ride.  I told him I loved the letters from the children we received even more than the great food we received.  I told him that last year letters were available for us to take with us as we departed.  When I saw the box of letters, there were many still left.  I did not want them going to waste, so I took about 25 or 30 of them.  I read them all and I took them and left them at the wall, all except one.  I said, I was always going to keep this one.  I pulled that one out and showed Good Wrench.  He was impressed by the handwriting as I was.  I showed him the signature and he said, “I know that family.  They are great family”.  I could only imagine.  I shared the message of that letter with you a couple days ago.

Later the Southern Route and Central Routes came in.  Tomorrow is the day.  A hard day for many of us.   FNGs, ride in peace into Arlington National Cemetery.  It is a sacred place.

I’ll and this years Sitreps with my final one tomorrow.

“We Ride For Those That Can’t”

Tom “Twotone” Lystrup – Platoon 5 Leader / Midway Route SitRep Writer

I’d appreciate your comments.  For those that have emailed me their comments, my thanks and my love to you all.


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Day 9, Fayetteville – Ashland

There’s something magical about staying at the host hotel.  Seeing all your buddies and talking about the stories of the day or relaxing with a cold one with your platoon mates.  To others, staying at the host hotel may be a little hell on earth.  No close place to park, long check-in lines, card keys that don’t work forcing you to go back down the elevator carrying all your gear, and cut back in line to get new ones.  There’s an endless number of things that work against you checking into a hotel that are multiplied at host hotels, so some avoid them.  I’m beginning to think they might be the smart ones, but I’ll let you be the judge.

I stay at some non-host hotels.  There are a few host hotels I will never stay at again.  Last night I stayed at a non-host hotel in Fayetteville.  It’s a great place to stay.  I’m not telling which one it is.  One thing about staying at a non-host hotel that I never thought would be a factor is the ability to receive the most current and vital information from leadership, like when the morning meeting staging location is changed at the last minute.

I left my hotel and arrived at the staging location noted in the book only to find it vacant.  A call to one of my platoon leadership and I had the new location, several miles away and several minutes away from my current location.  My faithful GPS got me there quickly, but not quick enough.  I missed the meeting and the departure time.  Thankfully the schedule/itinerary has the address of the next stop and I plugged that into my GPS and was instructed how to get there with relative ease.  All was fine and I enjoyed a little time riding at my leisure.

Falcon’s Children’s Home is a private school that cares for children that have not been successful in the public school system, it’s also a home for school age unwed mothers and those who are wards of the state.  Teachers, faculty and children are doing remarkable things at this school, where doors are now open to them that would otherwise have been closed.  I think the very special teachers that work with these very special children are key.  All children are valuable and need an opportunity or maybe a second one to prove what they can do.  With the right teachers, children can learn things they can’t in public school systems. We are all alike in the eyes of God.

The children here at Falcon’s provided an excellent program for us.  Starting with colors and the National Anthem.  There were some presentations by Bandit and the principal, Mr. Leggett and Hawk had a few words for us and for the children. Then the senior class members were all given certificates from Run For The wall.  Run For The Wall presented the graduating class with a cake.  After this a challenge coin designed by the school was presented to each member of Run For The Wall. What a great gift we were all treated to.  The Colors were retired, benediction offered and as we left the school, the children lined the parking lot waving and cheering goodbye to us.  Why do they love us so much?  Folks they don’t even know?  Is it because of who they think we stand for?  Are we who they think we are?  God help us be deserving of their love and help us be who they expect us to be.  We surely love these children.  We will be back again next year for a fact.






We next headed to lunch at the Shiloh Pentecostal Church.  We received a very warm welcome.

Have you ever seen an ice chest filled with spaghetti?  How about two?  Well we did and it was really good with extra sauce in pitchers to put on top if you wanted more as well as salad and plenty of deserts.  So from lunch, we were headed to our fuel stop (the last of the mission) and then to dinner under local LEO escort to the Moose Lodge in Hopewell, VA.

Hopewell.  What a wonderful, loving and caring place.  I think I’d like to move here.  I know, I said that about a few other places already, but it’s true.  The people at the Moose Lodge were so nice to us.  They spent all day preparing food and arranging tables and chairs for us.  First they welcomed us inside the air-conditioned building and gave us water and iced tea, sweet tea, lemonade and water.  We were quickly all inside and seated.  Soon a children’s choir from Tussing Elementary School Third Grade was singing a medley of songs about veterans and how they are so appreciated.  However they did not sing the song that made them an internet sensation.  A song they recorded years ago.  It’s quite popular on YouTube still.  You can find it at this this URL. I don’t know if there was a dry eye in the place, because I couldn’t see myself.  Afterward, we stood and applauded.  We were all touched, just like each of the years before this.

I wasn’t really hungry after eating a mess of spaghetti, so I sat at my table and browsed through pictures I’d taken on my phone.  I had some really good ones.  As I continued a came across my dad’s Navy picture.  It took me back.  My dad passed in ’99.  I took my Missing Man ride with him my FNG year in 2012.  I miss him.  As I sat thinking about him, I reflected on this year’s Run and realized after tomorrow’s visit to the USMC Museum in Quantico, VA we ride to the hotel and the Run is over with only a wake up for the festivities on Saturday.  It was a sad feeling and I teared up like yesterday all over.  I think my dad would be proud I participate in Run For The Wall.  I’m not sure he would be happy I ride a motorcycle to do it however.  Anyway, I love you dad.  RIP Gunner’s Mate, USS Colorado BB-45, February 1937 to March 1941.

Some ladies next entertained us with a form of tap dancing to some familiar tunes.  They were great and mostly available I think.  Not sure about that last part.

An ensemble of bagpipes, bass drum and snare drum entertained us next with some favorite bag pipe songs including an excellent rendition of Amazing grace that brought tears again.

Next was the anticipated time to hand out the coveted zip ties for entering Arlington on Saturday. FNGs were called up by state where they began the Run.  All FNGs got a zip tie this time.  In another couple years, some may get turned away.  We had almost 200 FNGs with us this time on the Midway Route.  We hope to get many more in years to come.

Bandit and Wombat handed out awards to leadership members and to all the team members.  Bandit told a short humorous story about each one called up and mentioned how much he loved “each and every one of us because we are family”.  I was surprised when he called my name up to receive a plaque for doing the SitReps.  I hadn’t received one before.  Just shows you how thoughtful Bandit really is.

As we headed out the door, we shared thanks and hugs with all that served us here at the Moose Lodge in Hopewell.  We headed for our hotels in Ashland.  Tomorrow we ride together a total of 94 miles and then we are on our own.  Remember to stop at signals and stop lights.  No more road guards to block them for you.  Shucks.

“We Ride For Those That Can’t”

Tom “Twotone” Lystrup – Platoon 5 Leader / Midway Route SitRep Writer

I’d appreciate your comments.  For those that have emailed me their comments, my thanks and my love to you all.


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Day 8, Asheville – Fayetteville

Today is a short ride like yesterday, tomorrow the same, only a half day on Friday and then it’s over.  Some can’t wait to be there, others like me can’t stand that it’s almost over.  My wife is one that wishes it was over and I was home.  Of course I want to be home and I miss my darling wife immensely, but I also love Run For The Wall.  The fact that it’s almost over is weighing on me seriously.  I have found new friends to add to my already long list of Run For The Wall friends.  These new friends have ridden more than a couple thousand miles with me.  They have counted on me as their platoon leader to get them through the day safely and I have tried.  I love these people.  I don’t want it to be over.  I had some serious anxiety over this today.  It hit me hard in Siler City.

Our meeting this morning at Asheville HD was actually very good and very efficiently conducted.  My leadership briefed our platoon members and we left Asheville under LEO escort in some light fog, but it evaporated quickly. The radar report looked like we would hit some rain somewhere along the way and we did.  We were pretty much happy we did.  It was hot.

First to our next donated gas stop, then to Siler City.  I love being there.  This is our Chaplain’s home, and he is the pastor of the Sunrise Pentecostal Holiness Church (I hope I got that right).  This man we know as Good Wrench is most loveable.  His concern for us all is deeply sincere.  His prayers are heart-felt, gracious and eloquent.  I honestly believe God hears and answers his prayers and when he prays for God’s traveling mercies, I truly believe we will receive them and we have.

After fueling we made our way to the church.  Members of our Chaplain’s congregation were there to serve us lunch, if you call grilled rib-eye steak, potatoes, green beans, homemade peach cobbler and homemade vanilla ice cream lunch.  We look forward to arriving in this wonderful town to share this wonderful meal, with these wonderful people. As we approached the church we were received by a large group welcoming us.  A giant American flag was draped over the entrance. We parked and made our way to the chow lines and were greeted by many happy-to-see–you faces including some members of the Buffalo Motorcycle Club.

While sitting under a large tent, eating my excellent steak, I was thinking of the peach cobbler waiting for me.  A lady sitting next to me was telling someone else that the lady coming to our table made all the peach cobbler. I had to thank her.  When I did, she gave me a hug.  After finishing my meal I was taking my plate to the trash and one of my sister riders from Las Vegas asked me how I was feeling.  She could tell something was bothering me.  I shared with her I was sad that soon Run For The Wall would be over and I wasn’t very happy about that.  She gave me a hug and we held each other for a while.  Maybe it was a long while.  I was seriously upset and she could tell.  She told me she would always have a shoulder for me.  I knew she would, she always has and I felt a little better, but not quite all.


I am also saddened that I am carrying with me a small portion of a dear friend’s ashes.  He wanted to go on Run For The Wall one last time, but his illness late last year got worse and then by accident he fell and broke his hip.  He was hospitalized but died later that January night.  Now my friend, Jim “Paladin” Lenz is gone.  He was a long time Run For The Wall rider and had been on the Midway Route a couple times.  He was one I could talk with and did many times for hours.  He knew me and I him.  I frequently told him he was my hero for the things he did and he would argue with me that he is not a hero but others are.  He would say to me as we ended our calls “I love you brother” and I would same the same in reply.  Jim knew he might not make it to the Wall this year.  He asked me one day that if it came down to it, would I take him to the Wall one last time.  It wasn’t easy to say because I didn’t want anything to happen to him, but I told him I would.  He mentioned to me that after visiting the wall, somewhere on the way home I would find a place I felt appropriate to lay his ashes to rest.  I know I will.  His memories live on.  I love you brother.  I’m riding to the Wall for you Paladin.  Another friend is riding for him as well on another route.

Jim’s wife sent me a link of a video.  She appears in a short clip being interviewed by a reporter asking why she was there.  If the link doesn’t work, copy and paste it to your browser.

Some children from an elementary school in Siler City came by with cards they had made for us.  I grabbed a few.  One says, “Thank you for your service”.  Inside is an outline of America colored red, white and blue like an American Flag. Another, “You are our hero.  Thank you”.   Another says, “We wanted to thank you for all your hard work and service and we hope God blessed you because you saved thousands or millions of lives maybe even more.  But we hope that you take care and keep on fighting for our rights”.  Some very nice sentiments from some very small children.  I will leave all of these at the wall.

I’d like to share again a card I received last year.  This one stays with me, so I can read it again and share it again and read it some more.

Dear Veterans,

I would like to take this time to thank you. I want to thank you for fighting and defending our country.  You left your families and risked your lives for our freedom.  For that I am extremely grateful.  You made it your responsibility and your priority to help, protect and defend our country. You’ve done your part and I deeply, deeply appreciate your work, effort and service.  This is my way of showing my gratitude.  Although it isn’t much compared to what you’ve sacrificed, my thank you truly does come from the heart.  It’s because of your bravery that we are allowed to live so freely and for that, I want to say thank you.  Sincerely –

P.S. “The veterans of our military services have put their lives on the line to protect the freedoms that we enjoy. They have dedicated their lives to their country and deserve to be recognized for their commitment”. – Judd Gregg

P.P.S “On this Veteran’s Day, let us remember the service of our veterans and let us renew our national promise to fulfill our sacred obligations to our veterans and their families who have sacrificed so much so that we can live free”. – Dan Lipinski

I hope these quotes touched you anything like they have touched me.  The last one got me good.  The printing was immaculate.  It was carefully decorated with the American Flag on the front. The sentiment as profound as they come.  Thank you children.

After lunch we departed the church and paraded through downtown Siler City.  Then we rode to Chatums Middle School where a program was prepared for us.  As we approached, children lined the driveway and cheered.  We parked and went into the gymnasium and sat.  There many children were waiting for us. The program began and children played bells, some sang, the band played songs.  All were excellent.  All brought emotions to us.  All were cheered.  All of us clapped to the music and all applauded their entertainment so beautifully offered to us. As I was leaving, I started tossing up RFTW pins to the children sitting on the floor.  I didn’t have many, but gave them all I had left.  They screamed with each one I tossed until they were all gone.  I’ll bring a lot more next year.  I’ll definitely be back to Siler City again.

We had two sponsored fuel stops today thanks to our anonymous benevolent donor.  By the way, my platoon would like to thank you.  I’m sure the entire Run For The Wall company would like to thank you as well, but I’m also sure you know already how much your gift is appreciated and how much we all love you for it.


Our next stop Fayetteville NC.  From Siler City all the way to downtown Fayetteville, we had a police escort and they blocked highway roads and streets for us our entire trip into town.  We pulled into the parking area of the Airborne and Special Operations Museum.  We were there for a very important event by several accounts. First is the Field of Honor. Every flag honors someone from North Carolina who is currently serving, those who have served, and the men and women who have made the supreme sacrifice for our nation’s security and freedom.  There’s also a memorial for service dogs and some impressive statues of General Henry Hugh Shelton and Iron Mike honoring airborne troopers.  Inside the museum there are several displays.  There are other exhibits and a theater.  We were all invited into the theater.  A program was available and there were several invited guests.  The company of Buffalo Soldiers was there.








There were a few former POWs being honored.  The program included a biography of the experiences of these men and other POWs, while they were in captivity. Of these servicemen, several spent many years as prisoners from one to 5 years.  Their stories are horrific.  The suffering they endured unconscionable, the pain and loss they lived immeasurable, their character unconquerable. These are men that were determined to live and have to their last breath.  They endured with the hope of someday being released. Their stories are incredible. Some of them have now passed, but their wives were present to honor their husband’s memory.  We paid them each tribute and honor.

Rick McDowell (Hawk) was the organizer and MC for this presentation.  There were several speakers and ceremony including colors, the National Anthem, invocation, benediction and awards presentation.

Following our visit to the Airborne and Spec Ops Museum, we were permitted time to browse through the museum then provided a meal outside behind the museum.  Then we were excused for the night.

Day 8 is in the books.  It won’t be long now.  Dang.

“We Ride For Those That Can’t”

Tom “Twotone” Lystrup – Platoon 5 Leader / Midway Route SitRep Writer

I’d appreciate your comments.  For those that have emailed me their comments, my thanks and my love to you all.


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Day 7, Cookeville to Asheville

(I wrote these words last year, but they seem completely appropriate this year as well). Wow this mission is going by fast.  Only three days left and the last day is only a half day for the Midway Route.  The last day we have less than 100 miles to ride, then a visit to the USMC Museum in Quantico and then on to the hotel in Arlington, VA.  That’s it.  I can’t believe we’ve been waiting for so long for our anticipated event for to be over so quick.  It’s like waiting in line for an hour or more to ride Peter Pan at Disneyland because your children just have to and you finally climb in your flying gondola, then in three minutes you’re climbing off.  Your children are happy and that’s what matters.  This ride, this mission just feels like it’s flying by like we were on a Peter Pan gondola.  Way too soon it will be over.

Today was a great day for a motorcycle ride.  Yes it’s not a ride it’s a mission.  Okay correction noted.  We had very little rain and what we had came in the last 10 minutes of our ride to Asheville.  Some people dawned their rain gear after the Morning meeting, but it came off at the next stop.  It was hot.  The next few legs were cooler and quite pleasant I thought. That said, everyone knows that if you wear raingear it won’t rain, and it basically didn’t.  We all made it to Asheville in one piece and had a great time doing it.

At our morning meeting, Mr. Patriot was on hand to see us off and he brought some friends.  Michael thanked us for coming and honoring him, he blessed us to ride safely and bid us farewell until next year.  There was also a grade school of children there to meet us veterans and patriots.

Our final venue today is Asheville Harley Davidson for dinner.  As we entered the interstate, the beautiful country called to us and there were several comments on the CB about this being God’s country.  I cannot argue with that.  The greenery everywhere, the hills, the canyons we rode through, all were wonderful to see.  The problem with all this beauty is that we really can’t see much of it.  We got to keep focused on the backside of the rider in front of us.  On the way, I commented that I’d been looking at the same rider’s backside for 5 years and almost 15,000 miles.  He replied, “but it’s a pretty backside”.  I laughed.  Then someone commented, “You guys need to get a room”.  It was so funny.  Anyway, the ride today had many sweeping, ascending and descending turns and a few tunnels and lots of traffic all in beautiful hills, covered with a forest of trees.  What a rush.

We headed to our first stop which was Knoxville for lunch and the East Tennessee Veterans Memorial for lunch.  Although the route into the memorial did not go quite as planned, we all got there safely.












Several of us took advantage of the large water feature to make fools of ourselves again.  A couple of our seasoned riders have been making fools of themselves walking fully clothed through the water feature since our first visit.  We know who you are.  I joined in this time as well as a couple others.  Some children were playing there and wanted to be included in the pictures being taken of all the participants.

Later at the memorial, there was a prayer from our chaplain corps and the Pledge of Allegiance.   Afterward, a Wreath Laying ceremony commenced by our riders which was performed with military precision and dignity, followed by cheers and applause. Lunch was served and we enjoyed the Veterans Memorial.  I have a few Medal of Honor coins from this memorial.  New coins were available created for the latest Knoxville Medal of Honor “recipient” (you don’t say “winner” you know and it ain’t the Congressional Medal of Honor, it’s the Medal of Honor which happens to be awarded by Congress.  I learned that from a docent at the Medal of Honor Memorial at Riverside National Cemetery and you can bet he knows).


Our next stop was the Citgo station where our North Carolina State Coordinator would be waiting and he was.  He is a dedicated guy to Run For The Wall and to our country.  This Citgo station has the best ice cream, thee best.  Many agree.  They all rush inside to get in line.  Our North Carolina State Coordinator is responsible for the multitude of fire engines we will see on overpasses throughout North Carolina.  (Tomorrow in Fayetteville we will have a very special event he coordinates at the Airborne Special Operations Museum).

Before long we arrived at the Asheville Harley Davidson shop, all in one piece.  It didn’t take long partly because we lost an hour when we entered North Carolina.  Now we are on Eastern Time.  Our excellent Staging Crew got us parked at the Harley shop so we could each get out when we wanted to.  Well, some of us anyway.  There was a band playing and the smell of barbeque in the air.  What a great event.  Dinner was excellent and the band was great.  They played a couple of my favorites.  There was also singing of the National Anthem. After dinner, Bandit said to all present like he has at most of our meal stops, “What do we say to all these people that fed us?”  We answer in unison “THANK YOU”.

Soon it was time for presentations.  Several plaques and certificates were handed out.  One of the representatives from the VA Hospital spoke some words of welcome and appreciation.  A few of the patients that live at the center were on hand.  The mic was handed to Staff Sergeant Wayne Carringer, POW, and Bataan Death March survivor now 97 years old.  He had few words to say, and they were dignified and patriotic.  Previously here at the same event, he said, “Always be thankful for every meal you receive because you never know if you’ll have one tomorrow.  Always be kind and loving to your friends, because you never know if you will see them again”.  One last thing he talked about was avoid doing things that you will regret in the future.  Thinking back on things we said in anger or hard times we gave to someone will cause us pain in the future when we reflect back on them.  I thought the wisdom this elderly gentleman has gained over the years of his life and the unique and traumatic experiences he endured were of particular importance to helping me find happiness in my life, if I’ll remember his words and make them a part of my life.

Many riders took advantage of the Asheville HD service center.  Services were quickly managed.  My bike had a minor part issue and it was corrected quickly.  Sort of.  I think they closed the service shop doors after my bike was fixed.  Seriously, this is a great HD Shop and their staff and their techs are all pros.  You wish you had a shop this great close to your house if you own a Harley.

I see a lot of healing going on during this mission.  It is wonderful to see.  People helping people with issues they really know nothing about but issues we all know how to deal with because we have been there and our issues are managed the same way.  Kindness, caring, love and blessings through our helping hands and from God.  We all need these things to help us get through our own difficulties, our own demons, whatever they may be and these things are reality to those that suffer with them.  Most of us know how to help someone that needs it.  If you see a need, be there for them.  Help in any way you can.  Just show you care.  It pays dividends to your soul many times over.  In Galatians 6: 2 it says  “Carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the Law of Christ”.  The Law of Christ is to love one another.  It’s easy to do.  Everyone that looks like they need help, please try to lift.  Help everyone you can to find healing anyway you can.  Help us get everyone to the wall.  The wall that heals.  We only have a few days left.

Another day completed.  Another day closer to arriving in Arlington, but also another day closer to the Run For The Wall being over.  I wish it could continue.  Many others feel the same way.  Traveling mercies to you all, I ask a loving, caring God to provide.  Blessings to each of you.

“We Ride For Those That Can’t”

Tom “Twotone” Lystrup – Platoon 5 Leader / Midway Route SitRep Writer

I’d appreciate your comments.  For those that have emailed me their comments, my thanks and my love to you all.


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Day 6, Shawnee – Cookeville

Day 6, Forrest City – Cookville

According to my GPS we finished today with a little over 2000 miles.  We are now in Cookeville, TN.  Today started out a little different.  It had all the usual activities, breakfast, mandatory meeting, prayers, instructions, drawings, bio reading, etc.  Today we will be heading to Cookville, TN where last year I met up with “Mr Patriot”.  It began when he’d read one of my sitreps and knew we were coming through Cookeville where he lives and wanted to meet me, so we set something up and something big started (check Day 7 2017 sitrep for more details).  If you were there then you remember Talking Hands teaching everyone how to sign ”Hi” so we could all greet Mr. Patriot.  Anyway, he remembers and he continues to track RFTW progress and post patriotic stuff on Facebook frequently.  Today in Cookeville I saw him in the middle of the street and road straight toward him.  He knew it was me immediately and was excited to see me; more about Cookeville and Michael later.

(I wrote this last year, but it’s too good to omit).  Many individuals on the Run have painful memories that they hope to find answers to or at least relief from by associating with friends that share common stories and common pain and know some of the dark places we sometimes fall victim to.  A friend of mine had such an experience while on the Run.  I could tell he was troubled.  I waited a moment and then walked over to him and hugged him for a while.  The emotions were thick (this friend was disappointed he could not make the run this year but plans to next year). For my friend, the pain is still there after many years, but Run For The Wall has become his reason to cope with the pain and he is doing the best he can with it.  Others are suffering with pain and demons of their own.  There’s no way we can tell how deep this pain goes or how tight a grip these demons have on them.  All we can do is comfort them as they struggle to get through their battles with them.

Getting through Memphis was a challenge, but we cleared it with expert Road Guard service.  We have in our hearts a warm place for these brave men and women to risk their lives to help keep us safe on the Run.

We stopped in Brownsville for another sponsored fuel stop, and headed to Dickson for lunch at the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.  They also had many deserts.  I kept looking until I found the cobbler, apple this year.  It was wonderful.   Just as I felt I was starting to cool down, it was announced it was time to go.

Getting through Nashville was a real nightmare, but again a Road Guard was our savior and he got my platoon safely though it all (five different interstate transitions with heavy moving traffic).   With us separated, platoons in the rear were separated as well.  It took several miles for all of us to catch up again, going ridiculous speeds.  (I’d recommend we take an alternate route and avoid downtown Nashville).  When we got to our fuel stop several of us were rattled but we had made it.

We made our way to our final stop and then on to Cookeville.  On the way into town, I heard a rider say “I love coming into this town”.  I said “me too”.  I said, “remember a few years ago coming in here in the pouring rain and all the people were still out here to welcome us. Another rider said “and we were an hour late”.  It is a “must be there” kind of experience.  It is the Run For The Wall feeling that each of us thrive on, a personal feeling of welcome, of belonging, of love and appreciation for someone none of them know except as veterans.  The welcome was indescribable as in past years.  Police directed us through town.  People and groups lined the streets with flags waving and cheering all the way to the Leslie Town Center.  I’m sure there were a thousand or more people on the streets welcoming us.  What an amazing sight.  The people of Cookeville are phenomenal.

As we were riding to the Leslie Town Center, I saw Michael (Mr. Patriot) in the middle of the street waving a flag.  I rode right up to him.  He knew it was me and gave me a big hug right there in the middle of the street.  When we made it to our dinner stop, we all parked and made our way inside.  We were greeted by everyone including the Mayor and several dignitaries.  Inside there were tables set with Red, White, and Blue table cloths.  We found our way to tables and had a great meal quickly followed by a prayer from their chaplain giving thanks to God for our safe travels of the day and the meal we were about to enjoy.  After the awards were passed out, an area MIA family member talked to us about his experiences growing up not knowing what happened to his father.  It was touching.  Then a local singer sang a few great songs we all enjoyed. Later I saw Mr. Patriot and presented him with this year’s pin and another challenge coin and we got a picture together.

A beautiful day and an exceptional experience but now it’s over.  I can’t wait to come back to Cookeville, TN.  It is my home away from home.

Day 6 is in the books.  Tomorrow a challenging highway ride.

“We Ride For Those That Can’t”

Tom “Twotone” Lystrup – Platoon 5 Leader / Midway Route SitRep Writer

I’d appreciate your comments.  For those that have emailed me their comments, my thanks and my love to you all.


A friend of mine shared this poem with me and wanted me to share it with you.

At 0815, on a Sunday morning,

The kickstands went up and the sound of thunder began to roar,

With two in front of me riding abreast,

And two behind me, that will follow side by side,

And beside me was the very honor

Of this here soldier that rode beside me

For he was the missing man that we all knew

With hundreds of bikes that road staggered

Through the town of Shawnee, on a route to Sallisaw, on the way to DC,

From a journey that started out in California

To honor those that never came home

As we ride for them on this here ride

From the POWs to the MIAs

They are never forgotten in a journey of our ride

So as I ride in a formation of the missing man

I will honor those of the very names that never came home

And as we part from the ranks someone else will take my place

And I’ll hold today the memories of our ride

From the sound of thunder that will carry their names

In the Oklahoma winds where we will meet once again

Where all gave some and some gave all

In a foreign land where we lost them all

But as we part we part as brothers and sisters

A family forever in a journey called Run For The Wall .

Written by SSGT Ralph Lee Butler Jr

May 19, 2016


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Day 5, Shawnee to Forrest City

Do you remember the tornado warning a couple years ago in Shawnee that made us all evacuate to the lower floor in the middle of the night?  Well, no such warning last night thankfully.  The weather was great today.  It looks like there might be weather tomorrow, but we will wait and see what miracles we receive today before making any predictions.

After packing and breakfast we gathered in the Walmart parking lot for a short worship service.  Our chaplain gave a very encouraging talk about Our Savior.  He died for us on the cross and His blood can save us from our sins if we will take Him into our life and let Him take control.  I believe that is possible.  He gave His life for us and wants to save us, if we will let Him.

Bandit spoke to the Platoon Leaders and emphasized that we need to be examples to our riders.  We need to treat others with kindness and respect, especially all those at our venues and hotels.  He said that everything we do and say reflects back on Run For The Wall and we need this reflection to be a good one.  He also said that if we cannot do that then perhaps we should not be on Run For The Wall.  I could not agree more.  Attitudes do not belong on Run For The Wall.  Please leave them at home.  Keep a rational head on your shoulders at all times.

Our platoon gained a couple more riders this morning, so we covered some the bases with them.  I then handed each one a coin that I wanted them to keep with them when they ride, so they will remember that I want them to always ride safely.  Sort of a safety first coin.

It was raining a little when we first gathered and everyone was in raingear anticipating more, but our Chaplain prayed for a miracle for us and for the clouds open a path if possible so we could ride safe to our destination.  What a blessing it turned out to be.  It was a little cool, but soon we rode out from under the clouds and it warmed up, so that by the time we reached Sallisaw, OK we were a little toasty in our raingear.  It all immediately came off when we arrived.  The welcome into town was tremendous.  There was a large American Flag hanging from a fire truck over the road and the truck had its siren going as we pulled in for another sponsored fuel stop.  Thanks again.  Dennis Okie-D Freie the Oklahoma State Coordinator pulled out all the stops.  The people there at the gas stop were warm, inviting and happy for us to visit again.

Then, another welcome, LEO escort.  Our next fuel stop was only a short distance, and again it was sponsored.  So far I think all of our fuel stops have been sponsored.  Practically like being paid to ride a motorcycle.  Can you think of any better Job?

On a personal note: It appears to me that most of our FNGs have become rather adept at riding in formation.  I think my platoon has improved a great deal.  No one seems to be nervous about riding up close to one another or next to someone.   I think that’s great.  Then of course it helps increase the safety factor for sure.  It doesn’t mean that you are safe rider now, more like a positive change in your confidence to ride has occurred.  Some of our riders have told me that our riding tips and morning instructions have helped them become better riders.  I hope that is so.  I’d say, ride with confidence, but also ride with awareness.  Like I tell them, please don’t use your brakes if you can avoid it, but use your gearing to slow you down.  Then again, be ready to slam on the brakes if you have to.  Got a few chuckles for that.

Soon we exited Oklahoma and entered Arkansas where LEO teams swapped around and the escort continued.  We were on our way to the little city of Ozark and then to the VFW Post 8532 in Coal Hill, OK.  This was a nice change since most of our riding has been on the “slab” as we call the interstate.  I thought the narrow sweeping roads were a welcome change.   The scenery was nice through Oklahoma; green rolling hills and trees with occasional sweet smell of wild flowers.  This continued in Arkansas.  Here we are under the direction of a different State Coordinator Amanda “Fogline” Kennedy.  She did an amazing job managing our transit through her amazing state.   The ride into the VFW was gorgeous.  What a beautiful day were blessed with.

The Staging, Fuel, Road Guard and Ambassador Teams were all at the entrance of the VFW and saluted when we arrived.  Very sharp and very professional!  They do the same thing at our other venues. We love these guys and gals on all our teams.  The welcome by the VFW members was also wonderful.  The food is always great, but the BBQ chicken was to a special treat, nice n smoky, sweet, savory taste that made your mouth smile big.  Pass the napkins please.   Some special presentations were made and we thanked our gracious host and all the workers, because like Bandit says, “We cannot do this ride without them; they are our family”.

Then we were given 10 minutes until we had to depart.  We were off again to our next fuel stop in Maumelle and then to Forrest City and the Ridgewood Baptist Church.  A couple years ago it was pouring rain here, but this year it was almost pouring rain.  I say almost, because it wasn’t.  A couple riders had noticed and voiced on the CB that their GPS radar image of the storm we were approaching was mostly north of I-40 and maybe we would miss the worst of it and we did.  Again I say, thank God for His traveling mercies and thank our Chaplain Corps for asking Him for them.  We were assisted into Forrest City by our road Guards.  They were positioned between each platoon to help guide us into town and we needed them. The transitions from I-40 to our route into town were hairy and with all the congested traffic, something could easily have gone wrong, but didn’t.  Again, I say thank God for helping us be safe.  Certainly his guiding hand was upon us, watching out for us and keeping us safe.  As we approached our exit from the highway I said, “it smells like fried chicken, we must be close to Forrest City”.  I hope someone smiled at least.  When we arrived at the church, members were there to greet us with open arms.  The food was great just like last year, fried chicken, mashed potatoes & gravy, rice, green beans, biscuits and desert.  Their pastor offered a blessing and we ate.  We were treated to some songs by a professional singer.  We loved his song choices and he had a wonderful voice.  We stood and sang along to “God Bless The USA” by Lee Greenwood.  I was moved to tears. After several plaque presentations a closing prayer was offered and we departed to our hotels.

On a side note: You remember last year being introduced to Mr. Patriot, Michael J. Hill.  He has monitored the Run For The Wall website and FaceBook page as well as these Sitreps and he anticipates our arrival in Cookeville to see us again this year.  Being deaf however, he will not hear your horns so I would ask instead for you to flash your lights at him when you see him.  You can’t miss him.  Remember he is the guy that will be waving an American Flag and wearing Red, White and Blue.  Say “Hi” to him.  I understand saying “hi’ in sign language is pretty similar to a salute.  With your hand up to your temple in the form of a basic salute extend it forward.  So when you see Michael, say “Hi”.

Day 5 is in the books.  The run is half over.  Does it seem like it is already? There’s still a lot of great stuff ahead.

“We Ride For Those That Can’t”

Tom “Twotone” Lystrup – Platoon 5 Leader / Midway Route SitRep Writer

I’d appreciate your comments.  For those that have emailed me their comments, my thanks and my love to you all.

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Day 4, Amarillo – Shawnee

What a fantastic day.  Great weather!  A little cool, but nothing a light jacket wouldn’t cure.  God is blessing us just as our Chaplain’s Corp has prayed for.  Thank you God for your traveling mercies another day.   Can we ask for one more day?  I’m sure the weather is helping us travel safely as well as all the prayers in our behalf.  Thank you.  We had LEO escort throughout our trip through Oklahoma and we all made it to Shawnee on time and in great shape.

The morning started with the usual mandatory meeting, except that the Outreach Program director Vickie Meyer “Needy” got up and read us a couple stories of fallen heroes.  These stories are touching and bring emotions sometimes uncontrollable.  Rightly so.  This is why we ride and we will Never Forget.

We started out from the Sam’s Club parking lot again like last year.  Some of the overpasses were covered with patriots waving flags and saluting as we passed under.  Again our fuel stops were sponsored in Oklahoma.  At our off ramp we stopped for another sponsored fill up and headed up the street for lunch.  The food was great.   The deserts were the best.  I had to have some Banana pudding.  Next we headed to the Tom Stafford’s Air & Space Museum.  During lunch we were told there would be an aircraft fly-over before we left.  “The Stafford Air & Space Museum is located in Weatherford, Oklahoma.  The museum features exhibits about aviation, space exploration and rocketry, and a collection of over 20 historic aircraft.  Displays include artifacts from the Space Shuttle program, Hubble Space Telescope and the Mir Space Station, a Moon rock, a Titan II missile, a Mark 6 Re-entry vehicle and a Gemini spacecraft” (Wiki).  The flyover was the bomb.  A B-25 and another vintage plane, I can’t remember the nomenclature of.  Very cool.  We loved it.

On our way to Oklahoma City, traffic got plenty worse but riding with LEO made it much easier.  Still our rear platoons got blocked by traffic a couple times, but good communications helped remedy the situation. There was some rubber-banding and the occasional vehicle that needed on or off the interstate, so we made room for them.  Getting into Oklahoma City is not easy without Leo support.  Getting out is impossible without LEO support.  We also had our Road Guards helping us all along the way. I’m not sure others know that what the Road Guards do is quite dangerous.  They have been injured and their bikes damaged trying to block traffic for us.  They are all certainly appreciated for what they do.  They do keep us safe and their mission is to get us to DC in one piece.  They do a dang good job of it as well.  Thank you to all our Road Guards.

We made it to downtown Oklahoma City under full LEO escort and without much effort we arrived at the Oklahoma City Memorial and spent some time there.  A ranger for the memorial was on hand to explain the design of the memorial.  It’s quite an amazing story and all aspects of the design have meaning, from the Gates of Time (9:01 to 9:03), to the Reflecting Pool, the Field of Empty Chairs and the Survivor Tree.  It is a wonderful memorial to a devastating attack against the American people, women carrying unborn children, mothers, fathers, children, families, all innocent people.  These words are on the wall behind the Survivor Tree.

Team 5      4-19-1995

“Search for the Truth.

We Seek Justice.

The Courts Require it.

The Victims Cry for it.

And God Demands it”.

At 0902, a rental truck packed with explosives detonated in front of the nine-story Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City. The powerful explosion blew off the building’s north wall. Emergency crews raced to Oklahoma from across the country, and when the rescue effort finally ended two weeks later the death toll stood at 168 people, including 19 young children who were in the building’s day care center at the time of the blast. More than 650 other people were injured in the bombing, which damaged or destroyed more than 300 buildings in the immediate area. The Survivor Tree and many buildings in the area still bare the scar of the horrific event for what happened here twenty three years ago.  Lives were lost and many forever changed.  Our country was forever changed and the event is basically lost in the passing of time, but we will NEVER FORGET”.  You know, I’m not even sure it’s any consolation that the perpetrator of this crime paid with his life June 2001 by lethal injection.  We know his name, but I’m not mentioning it.  Only those whose lives were taken away from us are worth mentioning.  Their names are under the chairs in the Field of Empty Chairs.  Nineteen of which were children.  God grant peace to their families and to the community of Oklahoma City.  Our hearts go out to them all and to the thousands that came to rescue hundreds of survivors. The American Spirit lives on.   I wrote these words last year.  This year I didn’t not go down to listen to the ranger explain the story of what happened.

d, I didn’t have the heart.  I didn’t want to hear the details again.  It still bothers me deeply that so many lives were taken by one individual determined to kill as many innocent people as he could.  It’s unconscionable. We do not remember or know the names of those that died, or their stories and we will not know what wonderful things they might have accomplished in their lives.  We all know the name of the villain however.  Why is his name so clear in our memory while knowing nothing of those that were killed in cold blood by this evil man?  This bothers me.  I was emotionally shaken while I stood under the Survivor Tree thinking of the innocent lives taken and what might have become of them had they lived.  My emotions were beginning to get the best of me.  I needed help.  Soon my good friend and Road Guard, Peter Green came over and said it’s time again.  We have taken a picture of ourselves under the Survivor Tree each year we have visited the Federal Building Memorial.  That’s trip number 5 and picture number 5 at the memorial.  Seeing Peter cheered me up and he doesn’t even know it. Thanks Gearshift.









We arrived in Shawnee and headed to the VFW for dinner.  A most excellent meal was provided by the VFW.  They even had Diet Coke.  I was thrilled. Following the meal there were the usual awards, plaques and certificates graciously handed out to several recipients. A gold star family was present and the father came up and talked about things that stirred us and tugged at our emotions.  It was an honor to be there to hear his solemn words of service and sacrifice and his encouragement for our continued ride until our mission was complete.






Day 4 is in the books.

“We Ride For Those That Can’t”

Tom “Twotone” Lystrup – Platoon 5 Leader / Midway Route SitRep Writer

I’d appreciate your comments.  For those that have emailed me their comments, my thanks and my love to you all.


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Day 3, Albuquerque – Amarillo

We had a late meeting start so we could sleep in early.  Yay!  Over at the Rich Ford Dealership, breakfast was served.  What a spread!  They had everything.  The bacon, sausage, eggs, fruit, biscuits and gravy was all great and there was much more.

Mandatory meeting time again, but it didn’t start until 0800.  Nice.  After the usual stuff, several items were raffled off and one lucky winner turned his prize over to the Fuel Team.  What a kind gesture.  We applauded.  Then the usual mandatory stuff and hand signals.  Hey they were correct today for some reason.  Then we had our Platoon Leadership briefs and enough time to complete them.  I was glad for that.  We had a couple new riders join our platoon, so we covered most everything.  We found out later there were a couple other things we should have covered.   We were out of there at 0900 under LEO escort and headed to the little town of Moriarty to parade through town.  We had done this previous years.   We rode slowly through this little town waving at some of the residents obviously there to watch us ride by.  It was great to see them and to be welcomed by them.  Quickly we were back on I-40 with LEO escort.

We stopped in Santa Rosa for another donated fuel stop (this is becoming a regular thing, thank you again to our donor), then the long trek to the Blue Hole (all of three miles).  It’s really a sight to see but a chilly 61 degrees year round.  Several riders jumped in together.  I was not there to witness the debauchery, but I heard later that it was pretty funny.  Sorry I missed it.  The Blue Hole is a natural spring of fresh water which is often used for diving.   Lunch was great as well as the little time we had to socialize.   Several plaques and certificates were handed out again.  I happened to see that in the back of the service vehicle there were must have been about 10 boxes of these things.  Everyone and every organization that contributes to the Run are appreciated for good reason.  As Bandit says, “we cannot do this without them”.  Bandit sees to it that all are appreciated with a huge dose of love and hugs and thanks to all that help.

It was a hot afternoon ride to our next stop.  This place has a car museum inside.  Worth a look if you have time.  It’s free.  The hydration and snack truck was also there and I quickly grabbed another one of those green fruit drinks.  It wasn’t long before the 5 minute horn sounded, so we mounted up for our ride into Amarillo.  Last year it rained on us here.  This year we had overcast sky without any rain.  What a blessing.

We crossed over into Texas and soon there were two planes overhead to greet us releasing streamers as they flew.  We also saw the 10 half buried Cadillacs that all comers are free to spray paint with graffiti.  We saw many overpasses with lots of patriots on them cheering us and waving flags with a few very large flags hanging from the overpass or from fire engine ladders high in the air, an amazing and very patriotic, very American sight for us to see.  We have a special team called Ambassadors whose responsibility is to visit these patriots and thank them with pins and other items they bring for them.

Through downtown Amarillo we were escorted by LEO right to our venue at the Christian Heritage Church again.  We where we were greeted by many patriots with flags and a huge flag draped between two fire engine ladder trucks.  The food line went fast and we were all seated inside. The ribs were so good and they loaded us up with them.  All the food was great and there was homemade peach cobbler!  The Star Spangled banner was sung by a young man and we all stood and saluted. A young girl sung America the Beautiful.  What a darling voice.   Then there was a special presentation for Gold Star families.  My Tail Gunner is one. She stood and was recognized.  This woman is a sweetheart.  I really love having her on my leadership team.  I think we all love coming here to Amarillo and to the Christian Heritage Church, for the great food of course, but most especially for the love they show us all.  I can’t wait to be back again next year.  We’ll be back again next year and the next.


“We Ride For Those That Can’t”

Tom “Twotone” Lystrup – Platoon 5 Leader / Midway Route SitRep Writer

I’d appreciate your comments.  For those that have emailed me their comments, my thanks and my love to you all.


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Day 2 – Flagstaff to Albuquerque

Day 2, Flagstaff to Albuquerque

Woke up early this morning.  Way too early.  Headed over to the meeting location.  At the meeting, I mentioned the activity at Milan and handed out the cards for riders to read with the Milan children.  I passed out all I had and hoped it would go well.  Then Six-String brought more cards and more riders got one.  So we should have been covered when it came time to say the pledge with the children at Milan.  Next Cornman mentioned the collection for Milan Elementary school and the t-shirts being sold to benefit the school (got me one).  He then asked for further contributions and the money started to come in for all services.  I don’t know the total or which branch of service donated the most, but later at the school more than $2600 was donated. Our Ambassador Leader read a bio of an MIA whose remains were reported found, but when this was investigated none were found, a sad moment.  She always concludes “This is why we ride”.  She’s right.  Remember Parry Hopper, owner of the shovel that was used to break ground on the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial?  She was at our meeting this morning.  So cool.  Then we got the usual lesson on hand signals by our road guards.  I don’t know why they demonstrate them every day.  They obviously don’t use hand signals that are specifically for use in platoons and they usually mess up a signal to two anyway.  It’s no wonder one platoon in our group was confused which hand signal to use for staggered formation.  Oh well, like a friend of mine always says “it is what it is”.  Immediately after being released for our platoon meetings, the 5-minute horn sounded. At my platoon meeting, about all I had time to tell everyone was follow the person in front of you.

We headed out of Flagstaff on time and the further we headed east the warmer it got.  At our fuel stop in Holbrook, everyone was either running inside or shedding gear depending on the severity of circumstances.  Someone had graciously provided Danish muffins for Run For The Wall members inside.  I had a couple, they were good.  Then I had a couple more.  Thanks to whoever provided them.  We then left for our next fuel stop which was determined to be a “fuel & go” style stop.  We were not supposed to leave our motorcycles, but the hydration truck was set up for our convenience and some like me took advantage of it anyway.  We’re always told to hydrate and take advantage of the hydration truck, right?  So that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.  I went over to the hydration truck and got a fruit drink.  Those are so good.  I love the green ones.  A lady there looked at my vest and pointed at one of my pins and asked where I got it.  I told her I got it a long time ago and didn’t remember.  Later I saw folks from M25 huddled around this kind woman offering a prayer for her.  She was crying over some emotional event I didn’t learn of.  Anyway, I went up to her took the pin off my vest and pinned it to her blouse and she really started crying.  She said something about an angel, I didn’t hear.  A few of the M25 folks thanked me and shook my hand and left me wondering what I had done.  I’m used to giving people stuff off my vest.  Sometimes children point things out and I give whatever it is to them.  They think it’s some type of treasure and it’s really just a trinket.  I like making people happy is all it is.

At Milan, I grabbed my camera, my pins and my poker chips and headed toward the children.  After handing out nearly everything to the children outside, a rider asked me if I knew where the Chaplains Corp was.  I said I didn’t know and asked what the problem was.  She said there was a man on a trike that was having trouble.  So I went over to him.  I recognized him.  He’s a good friend of mine.  His wife was there with a couple others.  After determining his blood glucose level was low, I ran for some Gatorade and had him drink some.  Medics from inside the came out and checked him out further.  An ambulance came by but it was determined it was unnecessary.  We were told he needed to eat some food and rest inside out of the heat and after helping him inside he soon felt better.  Meanwhile I missed the Pledge of Allegiance with the children.  I really wanted to be there when we recited the three pledges with them.  I’m sure it went great and that the children were impressed.  I did finally get inside with them and took some pictures of the event.  I got some great shots of our riders eating in the cafeteria after that.

Next we headed to the casino for fuel (again sponsored) and then lined up to be escorted into Albuquerque.  If you have not witnessed this event, you have missed one of the wonders of the world.  It’s truly amazing.  What a blessing all the motor officers are as they help us enter the city completely by ourselves right into the Harley Shop that sponsors our evening meal completely unmolested by a single vehicle.  Burgers and dogs and all the fixings.  There was so much smoke from the grill, you would think the fire department would have been alerted, but no.  There was a long line, but it went fairly quickly. There was a great band playing as well.  Lots of favorites.  Good times.

About time for me to go, I mounted my bike and proceeded to carefully maneuver out of my confined space only to drop my brand new Ultra Limited 115th Anniversary bike right there in the parking lot.  I’m sure everyone saw it.  Were you laughing?  Well, I’ll bet it was funny and I’m sure you were thinking you were happy that was not you.  Some folks standing close quickly came to my assistance and helped my get it up right.  I drove away embarrassed.  Oh well.  The meal was great, the music was great, the company was great.  No sense letting a small thing like that ruin my evening.  Anyone get a picture?

“We Ride For Those That Can’t”

Tom “Twotone” Lystrup – Platoon 5 Leader / Midway Route SitRep Writer

I’d appreciate your comments.  For those that have emailed me their comments, my thanks and my love to you all.


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Day 1, Ontario CA to Flagstaff AZ

President Williams (Les) comes up to me at our fuel stop in Williams, AZ of all places and says’ “look Tom, Morse Code” as he flips the sun visor in his helmet up and down in a familiar pattern.  So I said, “Looks like SOS” and he said, “That’s what it is”.  I laughed.  Maybe I should have asked him if he needed help or if I could get one of our Chaplain Corp for him.  Just trying to be funny here.

What a day this has been.  It started as most of our missions have.  A very thoughtful, sincere prayer by our Chaplain asking for blessings for our safety and giving thanks for all we receive, then The Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem signed again by Alisa and Ashley.  They have been doing this for six years I think.  During the anthem I could hear members of the crowd singing softly.  I had a sort of warm feeling in my heart and I started to sing.  I hope no one was listening to me.  Then a Missing Man flyover and a second pass.  So cool.  Thanks to whoever arranged that (I think I know).  Gunny Gregory was asked to come forward.  He was awarded something he had never before received, an FNG pin.  We all laughed.  With some final words from Les, Run For The Wall XXX (30) was about to begin.

We got outta Ontario without a hitch.  Piece of cake really.  Can’t say that for previous years.  Great idea whoever thought of having the mandatory meeting the previous night.  Let’s do that again next year.

We all arrived in Flagstaff safely. Our fuel was sponsored at all our fuel stops.  No out of pocket expense.   We have some very generous folks that care about us riders.  We were in and out of Ludlow in 20 minutes or less.  We crossed over into Arizona and had a few extra minutes at the Lake Havasu stop.  There I saw my high school friend and his misses.  They have come by to see me there for 5 years now.  The hydration truck was available here.  I think the M25 organization donates all the products from this truck.  An awesome blessing they are to each of us.  We are so appreciative of their offering, their support, and their time.  Heading into Kingman, the Kingman Police Department got involved for the first time.  They escorted us and blocked traffic to our next fuel stop (also donated).  Who are these people that have so much money? I know it must cost about three grand (rough guess) per fuel stop.   Then to our lunch stop outside the Mother Road Harley Davidson shop. A large circus tent was set up and burgers were being served to a long line of hungry riders; homemade cookies also.  Bandit presented many organizations and people with the usual plaques.  There was Rachel “Queen Bee” our Arizona State Coordinator, Elks Lodge 468, Kingman PD, Mother Road Harley Davidson, the City of Kingman, Eagle Riders, American Legion Riders, (I’m forgetting someone I’m sure) and there were several certificates handed out to many folks that donated or volunteered their support.  Then the “Music Man” gave his rendition of Good morning Vietnam”.  So funny.

We departed our lunch stop and found we had no police escort.  It wasn’t quite the easy transition back onto the “slab” as we call it.   Someone said over the CB “maybe we should have only given them half a plaque”.  I thought that was funny.

Near Flagstaff, we were escorted by the Flagstaff Police Department right to the VFW.  We passed many citizens lining the streets with waving flags welcoming us to Flagstaff.  Inside the VFW, the Boy Scouts served us Sloppy Joes.  Glenn Waggoner handed out awards to organizations that helped us out and most everyone soon departed.  One of our Road Guards Mark Masman, came to our table with a shovel.  He explained that this shovel had been used to break ground on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.  Our eyes bulged.  He said the lady that owned it was out back.  Her name is Patty Hopper.  Her husband was a member of the group that helped break ground for the memorial and they bought the shovel for $10.  We had to get some pics. Me with Patty and my APL Buck Guest



Tomorrow comes early and it will be cold.  Hope everyone has some warm gear.  I’ve got my electric jacket and glove liners, but not much more than that.  I’m thinking it will be warm soon after we get out of Flagstaff.

Remember tomorrow we will be going to Milan Elementary School. Here’s the pledge again.  I’ll have some copies to handout in the morning.

New Mexico Pledge –

“I salute the flag of the State of New Mexico and the Zia symbol of perfect friendship among united cultures”

Milan Elementary School Pledge –

“I pledge to be a person of character;

to help others when they need it;

to treat others the way I want to be treated;

to be caring, respectful, responsible;

be a good citizen;

be fair and trustworthy.

I count!  You count!”


“We Ride For Those That Can’t”

Tom “Twotone” Lystrup – Platoon 5 Leader / Midway Route SitRep Writer

I’d appreciate your comments.  For those that have emailed me their comments, my thanks and my love to you all.