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Day 1, Ontario to Flagstaff

What a day this has been. It started with the alarm going off at 0430, commonly known as “0 Dark Thirty”, because it’s still dark. Get it. 0 Dark Thirty”. Ha ha. I know, don’t quit my day job. Oh wait, I don’t have a day job. I’m retired. I digress.

Run For The Wall XXXI is about to commence, but first the Mandatory Meeting. Word. Can you tell how much I love meetings? As we arrived at staging, there were several vendor tents and something else. The smell of food. The Christian Motorcycle Association was there serving food. Hot food. Yummy food. Eggs, sausage, potatoes, tortillas all the fixins for breakfasts burrito and of course there was coffee. Gotta have that. Oh and there were donuts. Lots of donuts. So many varieties I was confused for a while trying to choose one. The lady in front of me actually said “Too many to just choose one? Take two”. I settled for one finally. A cherry cake donut. So good. OJ to wash it down with. Hope you got there early enough to get some. There were tents with chapstick, sunscreen, gum, aspirin and you name it. So many nice people handing out free stuff for us all to enjoy. It was heaven.

Our BOD President Les Williams kicked off the meeting and we gathered around. Colors were provided by the Marine Corps Logistics Base Color Guard from Barstow, Ca. Then 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 seven 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.  Hope no one heard me.

 

 

Gunny Gregory was asked to come forward. He gave aus a few words of encouragement and started to get emotional so he handed Les back the mic. We love you Gunny. With some final words from Les, and a few from our individual Route Coordinators, Run For The Wall XXX (30) was about to begin. We barely had time to don our gear and start our motors.

 

 

 

 

We got outta Ontario without a hitch. Piece of cake really. It seemed to me we were on the interstate heading up Cajon Pass in no time. On the overpasses were patriots with flags. More than I’ve seen in California before.

 

 

 

Along the way, our fuel was sponsored at all our fuel stops but one. We have some very generous folks that care about us riders. We were in and out of Ludlow in 20 minutes or less. 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. We crossed over into Arizona and had a few minutes at the Lake Havasu stop. There I saw my high school friend and his misses again for a couple of minutes. They have come by to see me here for 6 years now.

This year something different, we are not going into Kingman. What a blessing. Our Arizona State Coordinator Roy Meek had made some changes. We stopped in Yucca for lunch at the local fire station. The food was great. Sandwiches, chips, cookies, drinks. It was excellent. Several presentations were made one to some folks sitting at my table. An Arizona Patriot Guard Rider. I think we have a lot of PGR members that ride with us. I mentioned I was a rider and that I would be coming back this way to visit my friends and they said to please stop by to see them. I’m looking forward to it.

 

 

Near Flagstaff, we were escorted by the Flagstaff Police Department right to the VFW. We passed many citizens lining the streets with 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 then a special guest was introduced by our Outreach representative Tim Hastings. She was introduced last year at the Mandatory meeting. Her name is Patty Hopper. Her husband was a member of the group that helped break ground for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall.  They bought the shovel for $10.

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.  First the New Mexico Pledge.  Second the Milan Elementary School Pledge. I’ll have some copies to handout in the morning.  Right after we say the Pledge of Allegiance, repeat the following words:

  1. “I salute the flag of the State of New Mexico and the Zia symbol of perfect friendship among united cultures”
  2. “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 of good character; be fair and trustworthy.  I count.  You count”.

The Milan Children will love us saying this with them.

 

Photos provided by the Midway Route Photographer Jim “Hoofer” McCrain – jimmccrain.smugmug.com/Run-For-The-Wall – photos@mccrain.net

“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.

lystruptf@gmail.com

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Day 0, Tuesday – Ontario

Busy day today. Many more people poured in today. It all started with the ride into Riverside National Cemetery (RNC). All the bikes were lined up along the road ready to head out. The Pledge of Allegiance was signed by Alisa and Ashley as in previous years. Prayer was offered for a safe ride and FNGs were welcomed. Jim “The Mayor” Frost described the ride into RNC and gave some tips about riding together. Ontario police led the way and departed at I-60. Traffic was not bad and most drivers avoided us giving riders plenty of room and right-of-way. We arrived safely and rode through RNC to park near the Medal of Honor Memorial. Where the memorial was described in detail to everyone. There were visits to the other memorials like POW/MIA and KIA Memorials. If you haven’t been to RNC you don’t know what you’re missing. The memorials here are unique and inspiring. You need to plan to go next year.

Peter Young, director of RNC Facilities was present to discuss some of the details of the cemetery. There are over 300,000 veterans deterred here. They average 35 burials per day. They are the busiest National Cemetery in the nation and will soon be the largest National Cemetery in the nation. Several speakers told stories of family members that were left behind as POWs and never returned. Our government has turned their back to them and forgotten them. Part of our responsibility as Run For The Wall members is to bring awareness to the public and demand government accountability for our POWs and MIAs.

Here’s some info about the POW/MIA Memorial. “The Prisoner of War/Missing in Action National Memorial was designated as a national memorial by the U.S. Congress in 2004 through Public Law 108-454. The memorial was dedicated on September 16, 2005. Vietnam veteran Lewis Lee Millett, Jr., sculpted the bronze statue which depicts an American serviceman on his knees with hands bound by his captors. The statue is surrounded by black marble pillars that evoke imprisonment.”

The Mayor did a great job pulling this mission to RNC together. Run For The Wall is all about getting accountability for all our POWs and MIAs. James “Gunny” Gregory and Bill Evans began RFTW in 1989 as a mission to bring awareness to the public and the government about our POWs that never returned and still need to be. We will continue to apply pressure to that effect for as long as it takes.

At 1330 was the Combat Bike Build. If you were there you know the level at which this bike screams amazingness. Jim “Curly” Grafner donated the bike for the build, but there was not much of the original bike left after designers and craftsman completed this work of art. John Barker told me this was going to be the biggest unveiling in history and it certainly was. Thanks John for coordinating this activity and making this happen.  I don’t even have words.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the afternoon, we were all asked to assemble in the adjacent parking lot to the host hotel for a mandatory meeting. President Williams spoke to the group as well The Commanded of the Marine Corps Logistic Center in Barstow, Ca.  We’ll be riding through the base tomorrow.   Also each of the Route Coordinators spoke to us and welcomed all FNGs and leadership.

Later all were briefed by our individual ride leadership. We are one mission, 4 Routes.  Now including the Sandbox Route.  We learned what to expect the next day and along the ride. He went over signals, safety and most every aspect of what would be our trip to Flagstaff, AZ tomorrow and beyond. Following this briefing, all were released to be briefed by perspective platoon leaders. As a platoon leader, my team and I briefed riders assigned to our platoon. We emphasised riding together as safely as possible and as a cohesive unit.  With all this out of the way, tomorrow should be easier to get on the road together and to our first stop in Ludlow. It all begins tomorrow.  Are you ready for Run For The Wall?

“We Ride For Those That Can’t”

Tom “Twotone” Lystrup – 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.

lystruptf@gmail.com

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Day –1, Monday – Ontario

Today I got to sleep in. What a luxury. It only gets worse from here. As we move east we loose an hour sleep three times. So by the time we get into Eastern Daylight Savings Time, we’ll have lost three hours. So when our alarms go off at 0500, back here in Ontario, CA it will be 0200. Enjoy getting up at your leisure while you can. Soon it all changes.

Many more people arrived today. More warm welcomes and hugs. Anyone tired of getting hugs? I didn’t think so.

A group of riders was collecting near where I stood by my bike and one rider came over to me for a welcome hug. He told me a group of them were getting ready to help escort the recipient of the Bike Build from the airport and asked me if I wanted to assist. I strapped my helmet on and started my Harley. About fifteen of us rode together to the airport, parked around the limo there to transport our hero and his family, then got off our bikes and formed a line to the limo door. Minutes later our hero walked out of the airport with his family. We were called to attention and ordered to “present arm” while our hero got into the limo. We were then given the command “order arm” and dismissed to assemble on our bikes and escort our hero to the host hotel. That was a real treat for me. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. Maybe. Some may think these things happen by chance but I don’t. It believe it was a blessing to me. For me the blessings continue. How have you been blessed so far? How is RFTW a blessing in your life? More on that in a minute.

We had our Midway leadership meeting today and it was instructional, interesting and historical. First, we will be doing things a little different. Here are a few examples:

    • Last year eight of ten state coordinators departed. This year eight new state coordinators joined RFTW. Their activity coordinating the run through their states was recognized and applauded.  The amount of work these folks accomplish is monumental.
    • Timing of daily itineraries were determined to be unrealistic and adjusted accordingly
    • Stop less relevant communication on the highway
    • Stop radio checks just before leaving any venue
    • Platoon Leaders shall set better examples for platoon members at fuel and venue stops
    • Ignore panhandlers. Please donate in tip jars at venues.
    • More coordination between Platoon Leaders and Road Guards to help clear difficult areas.

Les Williams, RFTW BOD Chairman informed us about the new Sandbox Run. This new route is being considered to help enlist the younger audience. RFTW is being extended to allow riders to visit memorials dedicated to veterans of Middle Eastern conflicts. This year the “Recon” run will determine the route and establish ties to state resources necessary to make this route function just like our other three routes. Just as the Midway Route was set up by the Midway Route Recon Team back in 2013, the Sandbox route will be set up for future rides to visit memorials of more recent conflicts. The Sandbox Route will be a historical run and those able to attend will be in on a game-changing ride that will cement together riders from multiple conflicts extending the mission of Run For The Wall for generations to come. Les also mentioned it was possible that memorial walls for more recent conflicts are being considered for development in Washington DC. If this idea becomes reality, it may be possible Run For the Wall may become Run For The Walls.

Many new leaders have stepped up and all were recognized. After many had introduced themselves Sgt Rock stood and was recognized. He said that he’d been a participant of Run For The Wall for 18 years (I hope I got the number right). Rock said that Run For The Wall had saved his life. The room got quiet. He said it had given him reason for living. He spoke about being an orphan, having no family and being alone until he entered the military. After that he didn’t know where his life was headed until someone introduced him to Run For The Wall. A few years ago, he was the recipient of the Bike Build and received a custom motorcycle he could operate much easier than what he was used to. Since receiving that bike, he has put more than 100,000 miles on it and loves participating in the Outreach Program. Sgt Rock was asked how far he was going this year and said only to Amarillo. I said “ALL THE WAY to Amarillo” followed by a few chuckles.  As, Sgt Rock continued to talk about how he felt RFTW riders were his family and would do anything to help him, he started to get a little emotional. We stood, applauded and moved toward Rock to offer hugs. Rock said he was going to be okay.  We all said, we will all by okay.  How has Run For The Wall blessed the life of Sgt Rock? How has it not? Rock is an amazing veteran, an amazing man, an amazing brother. God bless Sgt Rock.

After the meeting, my team and I collected our gear and talked about how we would brief our platoon. I think we covered most of the bases, but you never know.   We have instructions to review that have been established and updated through the years to help lead our platoon effectively. Like checklists, instructions help us remember what needs to be said and what doesn’t.  There are probably more things that don’t need to be said than do.

Tomorrow we have several significant events happening. Check the Pre-run itinerary. I’ll just mention a couple. First Jim “The Mayor” Frost is leading the traditional run to Riverside National Cemetery. Although this event is primarily for FNGs, all are welcome. I have spent many hours traveling in escort with the Patriot Guard Riders to RNC. It is a marvelous place. If you have not been, you need to go. According to the itinerary, staging begins at 0700. The riders meeting is at 0800 and KSU is 0840. Line up at the east curb of the hotel. There will be Law Enforcement Officer escort. Second, the Bike Build presentation is at 1300. I heard this will be the biggest presentation do date. You don’t want to miss this.

“We Ride For Those That Can’t”

Tom “Twotone” Lystrup – 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.

lystruptf@gmail.com

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Day -2, Sunday – Ontario

Well May is here and I am in here in Ontario, CA. Riders are poring in. The line at the host hotel is moving in slow motion, but thankfully I’m not staying here. I got here early enough to get registered and met up with my roommate for a short ride to Outback for dinner. Now I’m back at the hotel looking for a relaxful evening, right after I complete this update.

I’ve been watching posts on the RFTW FB page and seen some funny stuff and some not so funny. Like important things that got left behind of lost along the way.   I’ve had pretty good luck getting everything together I need to bring along, but I have an edge.  I keep everything on a checklist.  I even have a checklist on my checklist.  The T-CLOCS checklist.  Do you know what that is?  You should.  It’s put out by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.  You can find it on their website.

https://www.msf-usa.org/downloads/T-CLOCS_Inspection_Checklist.pdf

Some things I have on my checklist include passport (what if you decide to go home by way of Canada?), hot and cold weather gloves, hydrator vest, electronic jump start kit, extra key and/or fob (I give this to a friend, so he’ll have it in case I lose mine or get locked out).  You can always bypass your HD security and start your bike by entering a code if you remember the code or have it written down, but it’s a pain to do everytime you turn your bike on if you don’t have the fob.  Lose your fob or have a fob with a run down battery and maybe you’ll be making out a checklist to remember these items in the future.  Why do you need to remove the battery from your extra fob?  Think about it.  An up-to-date checklist could be a valuable thing.   A week before heading out, I print out my checklist and start to assemble my items.   I never have to try to remember whether I have everything.  When it goes on the bike, I check it off the list and if it ain’t on my checklist, I don’t need it.

A few days ago a buddy of mine you might know as Gump showed up at my place in Utah and we had a couple days to get caught up and ride over to the Biker Blessing put on by the Christian Motorcycle Association and then had a nice barbeque. The blessing we both received from their chaplain was heartfelt.  Motorcycle riders know that blessings for a safe ride are always welcome.

After picking up my wife from home we road out to Vayo for pie. Where’s Vayo? Come for a visit and we’ll ride out there together. Sunday morning after bacon and waffles Gump and I were making last minute checks before departing. The final thing before getting on my bike was a nice hug and kiss from my beautiful wife. It will be almost a month before I see her again. She asked me if I would miss her. I snickered and said you know it. She said something like “no, you’ll be too busy”. I said I’m always thinking about you when I ride, so I always miss you and I do already.

 

 

 

Our bikes are packed and we’re ready to head out. What a beautiful day for a ride. Just out of St George is the Virgin River Gorge of which I-15 cuts through.  It’s a sweet set of sweepers you’d like to take at 70mph but watch for Arizona State Troopers because this corner of Arizona is patrolled by them. I was feeling a little guilty that the weather was so perfect for us after hearing all the trouble people were having heading west to start the Run. Sorry to all those that had nasty weather, but we missed it. We had no delays in Vegas but there were plenty heading into Victorville and then Cajon Pass. We got off I-15 at Cleghorn and headed down old I-15 with a couple other cars for a few miles. We probably made up 20 minutes with this little shortcut. As we were heading south, the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe was heading north. I raised my arm up with my palm open and the engineer saw me and gave us a couple blasts. I love that. Got to love train engineers.

So Gump and I made it to the host hotel in one piece and hugged after we got off our bikes. It was great riding with him. Several times he commented about traffic ahead I couldn’t always see and when I signalled for a lane change to the right, he gave me a ping on his CB “one ping only” to let me know he saw my signal and was moving. He was always in my side mirror and moved with me whenever I changed lanes or changed speed. It is a pleasure riding with such an experienced rider.

Like last year, my roommate had already checked into our room and had an ice cold Diet Coke ready for me. Last year I commented in the SitRep “Run For the wall is an event that gets under your skin and it feels good”. The feelings have been coming back for several days now but especially today.

Again all the route vendor trucks were set up outside and open for business. Everyone is there to help anyone interested in anything commemorating Run For The Wall. Stop by and check out the all the stuff.

Here’s the Pre-Run Itinerary if you haven’t seen it already.

Download the PDF file .

Please check out what’s going on. Some stuff is mandatory. Monday is a big day. There will be hundreds of bikers riding in and there is a lot of coordinating that needs to happen. All the activity in preparing for the Run kicks into high gear tomorrow. We have been waiting and saying “Is it May yet”, for a long time.  Like I said in the beginning, May is here.  Are you ready for Run For The Wall?

“We Ride For Those That Can’t”
Tom “Twotone” Lystrup – Midway Route SitRep Writer
I’d appreciate your comments. lystruptf@gmail.com
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