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Day Two: Flagstaff AZ to Albuquerque NM.  338 miles

What an amazing day to wake up to, in a Free America!  The sun was shining, birds were chirping, motorcycle engines were revving, and there were Patriots all around me!  Every where I looked, people were smiling, laughing, giving and receiving hugs, telling stories, relating experiences, and becoming Family.  It was absolutely a delight to see, and even great to be a part of.  I LOVE my Midway Route Family!

Our beautiful day started with our morning meeting.  This is where we go over any changes to the itinerary, review all of the various hand-signals that we use to communicate, talk about any safety issues (there were none yesterday!), and commend all of the Riders for a job well done.  After the “business” part of the morning meeting, we have a little fun.  There is a 50/50 raffle, and “rabble rouser” raffle, a “lost and found” retrieval ceremony, and a few announcements that are deemed important for everyone to hear.  We do this every morning.

But another tradition with the Midway Route is to read a biography of one of our Prisoner of War, Missing in Action, or Killed in Action.  (When you say their names, they are not forgotten!)  This is the last thing that we do at our meeting, as it reminds us of why we are here and why we do what we do.  It is a sobering reminder of the cost of American Freedom.

Now some of you might be thinking “That’s all well and good, but isn’t it a little bit depressing to start your day this way?”  Absolutely not!  Yes, they are sad reminders, but they also fill our hearts with joy because we CAN say their names, and we CAN tell people their stories, and we CAN console their Families.  THAT is definitely NOT depressing!  In fact, it is quite invigorating and inspirational.  Whenever something “bad” happens to us, like the rain we had today, all we have to do is think back on what we heard this morning and realize that it really isn’t all that bad!  What would any of those Men give to be sitting here with us!  The reading of these biographies keeps us humble.

One of the “perks” of being the photographer is that I am able to ride ahead of the pack to get some pictures.  Over the past few years, I have also worked with the Ambassador and Outreach Teams.  I mean, if I am going to be out in front of the pack anyway, why not stop and say “Howdy” to the supporters that we meet?  Today, I got to do that.  In fact, it was a two-for-one event.

I left Flagstaff a little early and headed for Winslow, Arizona.  Yes, I needed to be “standing on a corner in Winslow Arizona.”  But not for the reason that you may be thinking.  (I have had that picture taken with my bike many times.  I didn’t plan to do it again today.)  Many, many years ago, while I was making repeated trips across the country, I would always stop in Winslow and call my good friend Bill C..  Bill was a pretty good guitar player and a very ardent Patriot.  One day, when I made my annual call, he asked if the statue of Jackson Brown was still there.  I said “What statue?”  That is when he laughed and asked if I had been calling him for all of these years from a random corner in the town.  I had to admit that I had!  He never let me forget that!  So after he lost his battle with cancer, I made it a point to always stop in Winslow and go stand next to that statue.  In this way, I always keep Bill in my thoughts.  And I ALWAYS say his name, just like we do for our fallen Heroes.

Across the street from “Standing on a Corner Park” is a big gift shop.  I met the owner of this shop the same year that Bill died.  He noticed the Patriot Guard patch on my jacket and mentioned that he supported our Veterans.  In fact, a group  called “Run For The Wall” sometimes would parade through town.  I told him that *I* was part of Run For the Wall!  That’s when he got excited and told me that he was on his way to Flagstaff that very day to pick up 500 American Flags that he was going to distribute to the local townspeople for use on Veteran s Day, Memorial Day, July 4, and whenever RFTW stopped by!  So, I make it a point every time I am in town to stop in, remember my friend Bill, and to Thank the shop owner for his patriotism and support.  It is my own little “outreach” mission.

But it wasn’t mine alone.  Last year, I met up with James “Gunny” Gregory and his wife Patti.  They had some scruffy looking Canadian dude with them.  Well, this morning, that same scruffy dude showed up at the same time that I did and we made the trek together.  It was nice to share this “private outreach” with a fellow Patriot.  Yeah, I know that he is Canadian.  But he is just as much an American Patriot as any of us.  What?  You need some proof?  I have several photos of him that I took during the dignified transfer of our memorial flag.  He also is flying an AMERICAN flag on his bike!  He is the Founding Father of Canada’s “Rolling Barrage” which is their version of Run For The Wall.  This Man is a Patriot, twice over.  So I would like to introduce you all to Mr. Scott Casey!  (Please check out

Scott and I were able to catch up with the main pack in time for a peaceful, rainy ride to the Milan Elementary School, in Milan New Mexico.  Notice that I said it was a peaceful ride?  That all ended with 500 screaming children chanting “USA!  USA!  USA!”  The Midway Route has adopted this small school and supports it with a donation every year.  We love doing this, but I think the kids love it even more.  If you have read any of my previous SITREPs, you may remember that I am not overly fond of children.  Well, there is just something about THIS group that gives me hope for our nation’s future!  These kids are polite, educated, energetic, and patriotic!  These kids aren’t growing up, they are being raised properly!  They respect their elders, their country, and their flag!   The sheer look of joy on their faces even makes this grumpy old guy chant with them, run up and down the lines giving out “High Fives”, and even signing the back of their t-shirts when they ask for an autograph.  How could I refuse such eager and bright students?  Yeah, we give them money to help out with school supplies, but they give US so much more.

And I need to give a shout out to Ray “Corn-Man” Cornmesser.  In addition to providing t-shirts for all of the students, he provides a challenge coin to EACH of the graduating sixth-grade students to congratulate them on their achievement, and to inspire the other students to stay in school and continue their education.  He does this all out of his own pocket, not because he is rich, but because he truly cares for these kids.  Good Job, Corn-Man!  We are all proud of you!

Of course I am going to mention the food.  They feed us EXTREMELY well at the Milan School.  They have the nicest “Lunch Ladies!”

After our feast for both body and soul, it is time to leave Milan.  (We promise to come back next year!)  If visiting with the kids wasn’t enough of a treat, we are given one more.  From the time we leave Milan, until the time we arrive in Albuquerque, we are under LEO Escort.  That stands for “Law Enforcement” escort.  We have State Troopers in front of us clearing the roads ahead of us, and even some behind us, protecting our backs.  We really needed the escort today, as there had been a major traffic issue on the main highway, so these Officers found us a very scenic, enjoyable, and traffic-free route to our final fuel stop of the day, just outside of ABQ.  The do a great job, and we thank them for it.

But then it gets even better.  Imagine if you will, five o’clock rush hour traffic in a VERY large city.  Then imagine 286 motorcycles trying to get through it unscathed.  How will we ever manage that?  We don’t!  The Albuquerque Police Department gives us a “Presidential Escort” all the way through town.  That means that they SHUT DOWN all traffic on the highway and keep it clear just for us!  It is an absolutely breath-taking sight to be on a 4-5 lane interstate highway with traffic backed up in the opposite direction, cars at a stand still on all of the entrance ramps, and only OUR RIDERS in the middle lane of the empty road.  WOW!  OMG!  WOW, AGAIN!  I have experienced this a few times with RFTW, and it NEVER gets old!  I really can’t thank ALL of our Law Enforcement Escorts, all the way across the country, for keeping us safe.  Not just today in the rain, but every day.  You, Gentlemen, are Heroes!

And with that, we arrived at Thunderbird Harley-Davidson for our evening meal.  Again, the food was excellent!  (By the way, even as a civilian, I recognized the significance of the STAR on a soldier’s uniform.  What did I discuss with a Brigadier General?  Cookies!)  One of the highlights of the evening was reuniting with a couple of old friends that have been supporters of RFTW for many years.  I didn’t think that I would see the lovely Tina Reeves again, as she stepped down from her role as State Coordinator last year after many years of service.  But she has been replaced by the very capable “G.W.” who is also an RFTW Veteran Rider!  G. W. humbled me by asking if he could have a picture made with me. Of course I said yes, and then he told me why he wanted it.  And this should become a lesson to ALL of us as representatives of RFTW.

In 2019, G.W. was an RFTW “FNG.”  (Fine New Guy).  I am ashamed to admit this, but I don’t remember meeting him then.  But he said that the conversations that we had stuck with him over the years, and since we had some things in common, like hiking and camping, he told some of his friends about me and some of the trips that I have led.  They can’t believe that G.W. knows me!  (Trust me Guys.  I’m not special!)

And here is where the lesson comes in.  When we are representing RFTW, or ANY organization, we will leave in impression, for good or ill.  But we WILL leave an impression.  Simply being kind, courteous, or friendly will have people associate those traits with our organization.  And as a group dedicated to our Veterans and Heroes, we need to be cognizant of the fact that people are watching us.  We need to be at our best behaviors so that people will take our Mission seriously.  The slightest bit of negativity could ruin the hard-earned reputation that we enjoy.  I believe that in my case, my association with RFTW has made me a better person.  I have to be, because people associate me with Men and Women much greater than myself, and if I were to do something that brought dishonor to THEM, then I will have failed at my own mission.

I share this same train of thought with all of my RFTW Brothers and Sisters.  As one of our Chaplains said last year: “We are better when we are together.”  And THAT, my Friends, is the Spirit of the Midway Route of Run For The Wall!


Jim “Hoofer” McCrain
Midway Route Photographer and SITREP Author.




Thanks to Scott Casey for the pictures of our travels together today.  By the way, I will be posting a few photos each day on Facebook.  AFTER the Run is over, I will be posting the thousands of photos that I am taking to a website where you will be able to download them for free.  Please be patient and give me a little bit of time to get this done, as I will take approximately 1100 – 1700 photos each day!


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Day One. Ontario CA to Flagstaff AZ. 435 miles

And so it begins …

This morning, May 16, 2023, at 08:00, the Midway Route Riders set forth to remind our Nation that we owe a debt of gratitude and thanks to the American Veterans, Active-Duty Personnel, and to their Families, Friends, and Supporters.  And sometimes America needs reminding of another group that deserves even more thanks and understanding.  Those would be the people that have given their lives to defend our country.  Just as important though, those brave Men and Women that were taken captive by our enemies, some never to be seen or heard from again.  I am speaking of the American Prisoners of War and Missing in Action, otherwise known as POW-MIA.

To that end, 286 Riders left Ontario California, intent on reaching Washington DC in eleven days’ time.

Howdy!  My name is Jim McCrain, although I am better known to the RFTW Riders as “Hoofer.”  I have been asked to write up a daily SITREP (Situation Report) for the Midway Route that will detail what we did and where we went.  I have accepted this great honor and will humbly try to relate the stories and events that I am privileged to hear and witness while riding with so many Patriots.  I am not a Veteran myself, so to be able to ride next to so many of our nations BEST, and to have them call me Brother is an honor that I do not take lightly.  I will do MY best to represent them.  I thank them for their trust in me.

So lets begin.

Just what is Run For The Wall?  I could tell you all of the little details about why the Run was staterted 33 years ago, how it has grown in numbers, what our official mission statement is, and all sorts of other things like that.  But instead, let me just direct you to our main web page ( where you can read this information at any time.  Instead, let me give you the “short” answer.  We Ride For Those That Can’t.  These would be our Active-Duty military, many of our Veterans, and our (still) Missing In Action.

The Riders of Run For the Wall are intent on honoring all of the sacrifices that have been made by these people, and just as importantly, their Families.  Yes, the Families of our Military serve as well!  This year, the Midway Route Outreach Team (I will tell you a lot more about them later) will be giving our Riders MANY opportunities to personally visit with the Families of our Heroes.  In fact, at several of our lunch and dinner stops, there will be some Gold Star Families there to dine with us.  (For those that don’t know, a Gold Star Family is one that has lost a Family member in the service of our country.)  A distinction that not a lot of people know (until they read something like this!) is that our Missing In Action Families are NOT necessarily Gold Star Families!  If their Family member is listed as Missing, then they are NOT listed as deceased.  So they do not have a Gold Star.  They are kind of just “left out.”

But not by the RFTW Riders.  We make a big deal out of honoring our Missing, and letting their Families know that we still care!  AND we demand a full accounting of all our service members, from ALL wars.  We cannot let the American People or our Government Representatives forget those that have sacrificed for our Nation.  So every day, the Midway Route rides with what we call a “Missing Man Formation.”  Basically this is a six-person “box” formation, except that one of those people is not physically there.  There will be two Riders in the front and two Riders in the back.  In between them is an open space that is being protected by a fifth Rider.  This is the Missing Man Escort Rider.

The Escort Rider is the single-most honored position that AN RFTW Rider can have.  THIS is the person that, for each leg of our daily ride, gets to choose WHO they are riding for, why they are riding for them, and gets to put a biography of that person in a special place of honor for all to come and see.  AND THEY DO!  Already today, I have seen most of our Riders come over to the Missing Man Formation and talk to the Escorts.  I have personally talked to two of them today, and discovered that they are riding in honor and memory of a commanding officer, one that was the victim of an IED explosion and another that died from wounds after returning home.  Our motto is that as long as we say their names, they are never truly gone, and DEFINITELY not forgotten!

Did I mention that we will not move an INCH without the Missing Man Formation?  Yes, it is THAT important to us!

Something else that we do on the Midway Route is called a “Dignified Flag Transfer.”  This year, we have several special flags that we are escorting across the country.  But one in particular is transferred from one Rider to another at each one of our fuel or lunch stops.  The folded flag is taken out of a protective case, handled only by someone wearing pristine white gloves.  The flag bearer holds out the flag, which is saluted by the Outreach Coordinator.  She then takes the flag, turns to the next escort, and the process is repeated.  The flag is returned to the protective case, and the Rider returns with it to his/her bike.  One Hundred miles later, we do this again.  Every day!

Folks, let me tell you: we take this stuff pretty serious!  Yes, we are out here riding our motorcycles, which we all love to do!  But we know that these sorts of ceremonies need to be presented to the public so that more and more people can understand the issues that WE understand.  We are basically Ambassadors for American Patriotism!  (Oh yeah, we have an Ambassador Team, too.  Again, I’ll talk about them later!)  The RFTW Riders, ALL of them across our four Routes, feel the same way.  We don’t just go through the motions.  We mean it!  The phrase “walk the talk” takes on a whole new meaning around here.  We sing the National Anthem every morning.  And I mean we SING it!  Loud and Proud!  We say the Pledge of Allegiance, EVERY DAY!  (Remember doing that back in grade school?)  How do I know that we are serious about this?  I can see it in the eyes of a hot and tired Marine as he salutes our Flag.  I can hear it in the voice of that old Army guy in the tattered hat as he croaks out a few of the words, and chokes up into silence on the others.  I see the tears rolling down the cheeks of the Air Force veteran as he stands at attention as the flag moves by.  And I see the smile of a beautiful young Lady that proudly carries and waves a small American Flag everywhere that she goes.

Yeah, we take this seriously.  It’s what we do!

Amidst all of this serious stuff though, is a little levity.  Without the ability to let off a little steam, or to decompress a bit, this Mission could quickly become emotionally overwhelming.  So we DO have some fun!  (Motorcycles equal fun!  Remember?)  We stopped to sing Happy Birthday to one of our favorite Road Guards.  (Happy Birthday, Papa Mike!)  We laugh and tell stories at each of our hydration and fuel stops.   We eat REALLY well!  THANK YOU to all of our supporters for the meals!  The burgers at lunch, from “Mother Road Harley Davidson in Kingman Arizona were fantastic once again.  And the pulled pork sandwiches served to us by the Boy Scouts of Flagstaff Arizona (at the VFW #1709) were delicious!  (I am not going to mention the incredible brownies, because my wife might read this and she knows that I don’t need any more brownies!)  We simply enjoy being in each others company!

Speaking of that, most of us were strangers yesterday.  I am already seeing friendships being built that are going to last a lifetime.  As the SITREP Author and the Route Photographer, I get to flit between all of the different platoons and “ease drop” on a lot of conversations.  (Actually, I get invited into these conversations, and they ALL seem to be about ”stuff” that only good friends would know about.)  We talk about the weather (of course!), and some sports, and the jobs or careers that we have had.  We joke with each other, and take the crayons away from the Marines.  (Don’t want them to spoil their appetites!)  We use the phrase “Has anyone seen a black Harley?” a lot.  We just like being around each other!  We have already become a Family.  I look forward to seeing how tight this Family will become over the next ten days!  Bonds are being forged that will be unbreakable.

There is just so much that I want to tell you, but there isn’t enough time tonight.  We rode for about 8 hours today, in HOT sunshine (104 degrees), had a rain shower that washed a “few” of the bugs from my windscreen, felt the temperature drop to 57 degrees, … and rode with dignity and honor.

That’s why we are here.  We want to reaffirm our own Patriotism.  We want to tell others about our experiences, good and bad, and how they have shaped us into the people (and Nation) that we are.  We want to console each other over losses or hardships that we have endured, and we want to remind each other that we CAN get through ANYTHING as long as we stay true to each other.

I can promise you, we will!

Thanks for letting me ramble a bit today.  Tomorrow, I will start explain more about “how” the Midway Route works, and all of the various Teams that it takes to get us safely from California to DC.  But in the meantime, I will leave you with one of our favorite sayings: “How far are we going?  ALL THE WAY!”


Jim “Hoofer” McCrain
Midway Route Photographer and SITREP Author

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Getting Ready! Run For The Wall, Midway Route: 2023

Motorcycle maintenance!

In just two weeks, the Riders of Run For The Wall will be rolling across our great nation, honoring Veterans and Active Duty personnel, and bringing awareness that we still have people that are Missing In Action.  We will be riding for them, and will be on our way to completing our annual Mission.

I know that each and every one of us has been making all sorts of preparations.  From booking hotels or camping places, to selecting our clothes, checking any needed medications, and (for some) getting time off work. We have planned our route out to California.  We have all checked our tires, brakes, oil, and everything else needed to keep that motorcycle running in top form for the duration.  Many have already packed everything on their bike and are ready to roll!  For me, part of getting ready is checking that my cameras are in good working order, making sure that I have enough memory cards and hard drives to hold all of the photos that I will take.  I am even typing this letter on a new laptop while sitting at a coffee shop, to make sure that all of the wireless connections work.  It is the attention to these little personal details that we are ALL working on right now.

But that is only a small part of getting ready for the Run.

Stephen J Geist: He is more than just a name on The Wall.

What have you been doing to get your mind ready for this Mission?  Have you thought about the impact that we make on the American public?  Have you thought of ways to say Thank You to all of our supporters?  Have you read the biography of a POW or MIA?  Have you visited any Veteran Memorials recently, or visited a VA Hospital?  Have you done any of the myriad of things that we do during Run For The Wall, to put yourself into the proper frame of mind?  This, to me, is even more important than packing my “things.”

We can always stop at a store to get something that we have left at home.  But we need time to “get our focus” on our Mission.  That is why I highly urge you to spend a little time this week and next to do something “Patriotic.”  Go to a National Cemetery and meet our nations Heroes.  Go to a VFW or American Legion Post and just say “Howdy!”  Watch the new documentary “All The Way” on YouTube.  Go back and read the SITREPs from previous years for ALL of our Routes.

Start your 2023 Run For The Wall experience now, so that you will be ready to render honor and respect to all of those that so richly deserve it.  Put yourself into the right “frame of mind” to completely absorb all that The Run will offer you.

Hoofer’s Hooligans

As a side note, I want each and every one of you to BE SAFE as you head to Ontario.  PLEASE!  I want to see you there!  For those that haven’t ridden with a group before, or at least since last May, find a few friends to ride to California with.  If you don’t have a group, and will be traveling through the southern half of the country, I invite you to ride with “Hoofer’s Hooligans.”  The Hooligans ride is the oldest continuously running “Run To The Run” having seen close to three decades (in one form or another.)  We stress safe riding, first and above all else.  We then practice group riding skills and ease ourselves into the RFTW riding style.  We get into the needed mental state by stopping at various memorials, museums, and Veteran posts along the way.  Oh yeah, I always find really good places for us to eat, as well!  Send me a note at and let me know if you will be joining us.  You can get the details/itinerary at

No matter how or when you get there, I look forward to seeing you all in just a few short weeks!

It’s May!

Jim “Hoofer” McCrain
RFTW Midway Route Photographer and SITREP Author, 2023

Ps: “Hoofer’s Hooligans” is NOT an official part of RFTW.  We are simply a group of like-minded individuals heading towards a common destination and goal.  RFTW takes NO responsibility for what we do.