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Midway Route SitReps Day 0

Day 0 Tuesday, May 16, 2017

What a great start today with the trip to Riverside National Cemetery led by Jim “The Mayor” Frost, a detachment of RFTW Road Guards and many Law Enforcement Officers (LEO) of the Ontario Police Department. We all lined up on the east side of the host hotel. After a technical and somewhat tongue-in-cheek brief from The Mayor and Pledge of Allegiance, we mounted up and followed our escort to I-60. LEO blocking intersections as we went.

We arrived at RNC and headed to the Medal of Honor Memorial area where Pete Young the Director of Riverside National Cemetery spoke to us briefly. He mentioned that when several planned sections of the cemetery are completed, RNC will be the largest National Cemetery exceeding Arlington. Currently RNC is the busiest National Cemetery in the United States with an average of 35 internments per day. Last year there were more than 8500 internments. Gene introduced Louis Lee Millett Jr who spoke briefly about the memorial upon which his father’s name appears. Next Gene Goldware spoke in detail about the Medal of Honor Memorial design and told many stories of the heroes whose names line the walls of the Memorial. Next we headed to the Veteran’s Memorial and the POW/MIA. First I walked through the Killed in Action Memorial depicting a fallen hero with his face covered by his rain poncho and his helmet at his feet, one arm hanging down; a touching and moving image. I think this memorial gets overlooked a lot, but should be recognized and respected. Next time you are at RNC pause to remember our fallen. RNC is a beautiful cemetery and it is run efficiently; sometimes managing as many as 80 or more burials per day. The cost of freedom is high. I wonder if we realize the tremendous price paid for the liberty we enjoy.

I talked with Louis Millett Jr a moment. I’ve described the memorial in detail before, best to see it for yourselves. Plan to be in the group that visits RNC next year. You’ll be glad you didn’t miss it. Louis mentioned some ways his design of the POW Monument was changed to make the wording of the monument a little more politically correct. Ask him about this sometime. He has some interesting stories for sure.

I talked with my friend Joe “Gump” Hudson for a while at the POW monument. Being a POW himself he connects with this monument like no one I know. I’ve heard several stories he told me about being a POW. He is a great guy with a load he carries that few know of. Ask him sometime about his connection to Lori Piestewa and Jessica Lynch. Gump, Jerry (photographer on the Southern Route) and I rode back together, with them following me. I did okay until getting off I-15 onto I-10 when I nearly missed the interchange. Sorry guys.

Around 1530 the 3rd Marine Air Wing Band played for us. I thought they were great; very precise. Directions from their conductor were followed perfectly. If I listened carefully I could pick out individual players, but they all played in harmony and did a magnificent job. When the anthem of our service was played we stood and saluted. I’m a Navy guy, but I think the band played the Marine Corps anthem the best.

The meet and greet dinner was typical burgers and dogs like previous years. Hey, what do you want for free? I thought it was great, especially the cookies. The lines moved fast enough and tables were prepared for all of us to sit and enjoy a dinner together. Well most of us. Some had to hold up the walls. Following dinner, Harry “Attitude” Steelman spoke to us and presented many plaques to contributors that make RFTW possible. Mike Cash was honored for his many contributions to Run For The wall and to the Combat Bike Build. Since today is his birthday, we sang Happy Birthday to Mike. Les “Easy” Williams spoke to us about Harry leaving RFTW after many years of dedicated service and indicated he would be stepping up to take on the responsibility for RFTW operations as President of the BOD. Thanks Les. You get my vote Easy. A song was sung with guitar accompaniment for Vietnam Veterans that never received a welcome home; a great song. I think the words are on the Forum if you’re interested in looking them up. John “Hard Charger” Barker presented several plaques for those that donated to help with the Combat Heroes Bike Build. This year Ken Kraft, an injured Iraq soldier was honored with the completed custom Harley Road Glide and trailer. The Harley was made into a “one off” trike completed by a couple of different designers and fabricators working together to complete this radical ride for Ken. Ken indicated he would be going on the Run next year with us. Pick the Midway Route Ken!

Day 0 is in the books. Tomorrow The Run begins. We’ve been waiting a long time.
Please email me with your comments or with anything you think needs correction or that needs inclusion.

“We Ride For Those That Can’t” and like Hard Charger says sometimes “We help those that can’t ride, ride for themselves”.

**** Number of names on The Wall for California (5575) for Ontario, CA (14) ****

Tom “Twotone” Lystrup – Platoon 6 Leader / Midway Route SitRep Writer /

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Midway SitReps 2017 – Day -1

Day -1 Monday, May 15, 2017

Welcome to the Midway Route SitReps of Run For The Wall XXIX.  I hope you will enjoy reading this account regarding our eastward trek across the United States to visit the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Wall and all that goes with that.

You probably already know what you will find here if you read the SitReps I recorded last year or if you know something about Run For The Wall already.  I imagine there will be a lot of the same stuff as last year but I’ll try to make these SitReps seem new and entertaining for you.

Today many riders were showing up for The Run at the host hotel in Ontario and other area hotels.  Many showed up yesterday and even more riders will be showing up tomorrow.  Some don’t show up until Wednesday morning when we begin, and others will join along the way, but all of us have been looking forward to making this ride a reality for a long time, many since this time last year.  This is my six year, but many others have been doing this ride for much longer than I.  Did you know that so far we have 109 FNGs (that’s Friendly New Guy or Gal) signed up to ride on the Midway Route this year?  That’s about one third the total number of riders signed up to take the Midway Route so far.  Amazing isn’t it!  However, we need more.  We need many more new folks to hear about the Run and decide to take it with us and to step up and begin helping with leadership or on one of the advanced teams or in any of the other volunteer capacities.  We’ll take all the new comers we can.  So please talk to your fellow riders and tell them about Run For The Wall or make the decision yourself to help out in some way.

Today was an easy day for many; nothing really to do but show up and register.  I guess in that sense it was easy for me as well, but it was a very hard day for me and for many others that have left loved ones behind and will not be seeing them again for at least a couple weeks or longer.  My wife wants me to be done making this trip, so it’s hard to leave her behind and for me to be away from her.  I’d love to bring her, but she’s not a rider.  She lets me ride however even though it’s hard.  She has my heart, but my heart is in making this trip also.  It is in seeing so many friends and getting hugs from all of them.  Yes, us crotchety ol’ veterans as hardened and salty as we are, love hugs and at times shed tears of joy and love.  So get used to that.  For our loved ones left behind, we miss you already and we will after the mission is over, return to your loving arms for a warm welcome home.  God willing.  We pray that he will be.

Run For The Wall is about many things.  We have a mission statement that mentions healing, receiving a full accounting of all our POWs and MIAs, honoring those killed in action and showing respect to all our military.  This is just a portion why we ride, there are many other reasons.  Our motto is “We ride for those who can’t”, but this is not all.  Ask anyone why we ride and you are sure to get many more perfect reasons.  I know one person that would say “because I can”.  He knows who he is.  I must admit, that is a perfectly good reason.  What’s your reason?

The weather leaving the high desert was great.  A little windy, but it almost always is.  I rode in with my buddy Buck who will be a tail gunner in our platoon this year.  We had a great ride.  Since it looked like rain just before we headed down the Cajon Pass, I put on my rain gear.  My buddy decided he’d be okay.  At first it looked like it wouldn’t be bad and then we turned more west and it started coming down like mad.  We got to our hotel, mostly dry in my case.

I had arranged with my buddy Bruce to have Sena install a new blue tooth system on my bike and helmet.  Until now I’ve been pretty happy  just plugging my helmet in and letting the cord dangle down and slap me in the chest as I ride, but I must say cordless is a much better way to go.  The Sena 20S is a great product and easy to install and configure, even for me.  I have a buddy that would testify that nothing is easy for me.  He’d be right.  This Sena system has everything.  I’ll check it out thoroughly tomorrow, but so far all my communication devices are connected as before and now I even have bike to bike coms without having to use my CB.  If you’re at all interested in a blue tooth system, check with the Sena folks and they’ll give you all the details on their products.  They have technicians on hand to install any of their great products.

Today was the Leadership meeting for the Midway Route.  Our Route Coordinator “Bandit” opened the meeting and informed us that he considered Diesel as the RC still since he put the whole thing together for this year.  However Diesel is not able to attend the Run this year and his presence will be missed by us all.  Bandit stepped up basically at the last minute to be our Route Coordinator and I have every confidence in him.

During our meeting we covered many aspects of riding as a group.  Our Road Guards will ensure we make it to DC in one piece if we follow their instructions.  We also talked about attitude.  We all have one to some extent; some more than others as in my case.  We need to remember that we are all representatives or ambassadors if you will, of Run For The Wall and we all need to act accordingly at all times to prevent the wrong impression being made of our great association.   Listen to and follow your Platoon Leadership and “keep your head in the game” at all times.  Maybe you’ve heard it said, “this is not just a motorcycle ride this is a mission”.  That’s true.  We all need to make it to DC together for the Run to be fully successful.

Tomorrow is the Ride into Riverside National Cemetery.  If you have not done this in the past, it is highly recommended.  I’m not going to explain why.  If you go you will know why.  Maybe I will see you tomorrow.

Day -1 is in the books.

Please email me with your comments or with anything you think needs correction or that needs inclusion.

“We Ride For Those That Can’t”

Tom “Twotone” Lystrup –