One more night in a hotel and I’ll be home. It is hard to believe that Run 2023 is over. The work of so many people culminating in KSU on Tuesday for Midway, and Wednesday for Central and Southern routes followed by Sandbox route enabled us to carry our mission across the country; to reach out to the thousands of patriots who come out to greet us, those who help feed us and sustain our desire to complete the mission. It lends a whole new meaning to the motto “We Ride For Those Who Can’t”. According to my day counter, there are 347 days until KSU Run 2024. The cycle continues. The After-Action Reports are already coming in; click here if you would like to submit one. Your input matters and will help us make Run 2024 even better.
I had the opportunity to ride both Central and Sandbox this year, working on both routes as a Road Guard. I would like to extend a personal thanks to the RGs who took me under their wing and began what I am sure will be a forever learning session. My mentor (Smoke) was patient and understanding. I learned so much from observing the experienced RGs and asking questions. All the RGs took the time to patiently answer my many questions. It is a fast-paced job that demands attention and quick decision making. Our RGs on all the routes work so hard to ensure the pack moves safely across this great nation of ours. Again, to all who worked with me to start my journey to becoming a good RG, I thank you!! To all the RGs on all the Routes, I thank you. RG is a tough job, and you perform it so well!!
To say that communication and leadership are the glue that binds is an understatement. I had the opportunity each morning to work with a different platoon, to speak with the riders and their leadership, to hear their concerns and to help them understand the subtle nuances of the upcoming day. While the RC is the overall leader of the route, a significant amount of responsibility lies on the shoulders of our platoon leadership. From where I sit, you all did a great job.
I fear that sometimes we get so involved in working our responsibilities that we lose sight of our mission. Each time we passed the Missing Man formation while working our way back up front, the RGs would render a salute. I understand the other route RGs did the same. For that short moment, everything stopped, and we recognized the sacrifice of the missing. We took that moment to pay our respects. I urge you to consider taking part in the Missing Man formation as we prepare for Run 2024. If you stop for a moment and reflect on why RFTW was started, that one formation, that one element, is the reason we ride. It is greater than anyone’s ego; the MMF symbolizes why we ride and should continue to be recognized as such. It is entirely proper that the MMF be a leading element so the public sees the importance we place on its significance within our Mission.
As we begin preparations for Run 2024, think about how you might reach out and encourage more younger riders to come on the Run, even if just for a day. At first glance, our Day Rider program was a success, and I’m hopeful the BoD will continue the program in some form. But we need new riders, we need younger riders. Just think, if 1/4 of our riders this year could bring a new rider to the Run, we would gain almost 250 new riders!
John “Turkey” Staub
President, RFTW, Inc.
2011- CR FNG
2012 – CR Participant
2013 – CR Staging Team
2014 – 2015 – CR Staging Team Ass’t. Lead
2016-2017 – CR Staging Team Lead
2022 – CR Platoon Coordinator
2023 – CR and Sandbox Road Guard
2020 – Present – RFTW BoD member