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President’s Message July 2017

Hello, RFTW, and Welcome to the 2018 30th Anniversary RFTW. I am honored to be selected as the President of the Board of Directors for this 30th year of “Riding for Those Who Can’t”. The impact of RFTW since Gunny Gregory started this mission has exceeded everyone’s expectations every year. Our expectations for 2018 are for a very busy year of planning, riding and change.

These changes will occur over the coming years as we seek to reach out and welcome warriors from all conflicts, with major focus on those following Vietnam to join us on our mission of respect, healing, demonstration and honor. The BOD established a Sustainability Committee in February 2017 to provide the board with ideas and information on ways to accomplish this task. The committee is made up of four board members and two riders. The two riders are John Staub – Central Route and Kris Wood Southern Route, while BOD members Ray Brammer, Kirk Olson, Doug Lyvere, and I round out the committee. During the year I will be reporting on this committee’s actions and how we are proceeding. With this in mind I will be reaching out to you for help in accomplishing the committee’s goal of making sure RFTW has younger leadership that takes this mission into its 60th anniversary in the year 2048! This is a noble goal and the BOD will need everyone’s help in recruiting these younger warriors.

Our average age for the 2017 RFTW was 62.5 years old, a number that tells us we have time to get this mission accomplished. One idea will be to more clearly market our riding options that allow joining us for not just 10 days, but for any number of days. Remember when you were 35 years old raising a family and working—could you spare two plus weeks? Most of us started doing a few days and then made plans to add more days in the future.

On behalf of the BoD, I want to thank all the leadership and riders for completing the 2017 RFTW for a safe and a professionally run mission. Also, to all the folks throughout the country who gave their time and energy to support the 2017 RFTW. We could not succeed without your support.

Hope to see you at the All Routes Reunion in Springfield, MO July 7-9. Dewayne Howard has planned a great reunion with some very good rides including one to Branson, MO that is a fun trip.

If you cannot make the Springfield reunion there are TWO more upcoming reunions:
1) Angel Fire / Eagle Nest, NM is set for Sept 1-3, and
2) Kerrville, TX Sept 22-24

Steve “Spooner” Berniklau will once again be heading up the Angel Fire reunion, and the RFTW tradition of laying memorial bricks at the Vietnam Memorial in Angel Fire. Roger “Cowboy” Mead has fun rides and activities planned for the Kerrville, TX weekend. Hope to see you there as well. ALL RIDERS, supporters and Future FNGs are encouraged to come and are welcome at all RFTW Reunions! Save the dates and attend!

Les “Easy” Williams
Run For The Wall Board of Directors

*Photo Courtesy of The Book “Run for the Wall – A Journey to the Vietnam Memorial”©

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President’s Message May 2017

Well, we are now less than two weeks out – and if you are like me, you are ready to go NOW. We will have to make the best use of our time at this point in making sure that all preparations have been or are scheduled to be completed. My vehicle is due to go into the shop in the next week. I have an appointment with my Dr. to make sure that I am ready (YES! At our age – VN Vets – that is a prudent step to take!) I have been hydrating for the past two months and cannot let up now! And I believe that I have everything that I will need in the way of supplies. I will start laying everything out, checklist in hand. In years past, checklists have been published, but at this point, it becomes pretty much like any other long distance trip. HELMET, Tool Kit, a couple of extra quarts of oil. bungees, “Fix a Flat”, windshield cleaner (if you don’t have a windshield – GET ONE), CASH for fuel stops – and make sure you have a full tank first thing every morning, bungees, cold weather gear, hot weather gear, and RAIN GEAR!. Did I say bring extra bungees? Don’t try to bring everything – we do have chase vehicles to help get us to a shop should we break down, but then again make sure that you have the basics. A roll of good old TP can come in handy after a couple of days of Sloppy Joe sandwiches!

Speaking of chase vehicles – should you need one, don’t just stand there and wave to them as they roll by – They’ll surely wave back, being the friendly people that they are, but they won’t stop unless you make it perfectly clear that you are in need of their assistance. Once they all go by, you are pretty much left to your own devices. And don’t try to wave them down from a rest stop. They may or may not see you – get up on the shoulder of the highway (preferably outside of the yellow line!) and jump up and down like you’re on a pogo stick, waving your arms, or should I say flailing your arms like there is no tomorrow! NOW you have their attention! We mean to leave no-one behind!

I think that I have covered most of the administrative stuff already. All Registration will be at the Host Hotel – The Ontario Radisson. For those who were with us last year, we will be working out of the same rooms. Most, if not all of the meetings will be held at the Host Hotel as well. Leadership meetings will be held on Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning. FNG meetings are scheduled for Tuesday afternoon as is a Blessing of the Bikes. Vendors and an RFTW Merchandise Trailer will be set up in the front parking lot of the Host Hotel as well. The Tuesday evening event will be a light meal served at the Host Hotel . As we prepare for the dinner we will hav the honor of being serenaded by the 44 piece Marine Corps Band. This promises to be an enjoyable evening. We will be presenting the Combat Heroes Bike Build project to the young Marine for whom it was built. There will be plenty of food and camaraderie. The event starts just after 1700 in the afternoon and will last until 7:00 PM. You must be registered to attend.

Don’t forget the ride to Riverside National Cemetery on Tuesday morning – YOU WILL HAVE TO REGISTERED TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS EVENT – NO EXCEPTIONS. The Ride to Riverside National Cemetery will take place on Tuesday morning, May 16th, from the back parking lot of the Radisson. Stage after 0730 on Tuesday, Rider’s meeting at 0830, and KSU at 0900 for the half-hour ride.

A detailed schedule of activities in Ontario is included in the Newsletter and will also be covered under a separate post in the President’s Latest News as well as the Forum. Keep in mind that schedules are subject to change, so check the Host Hotel bulletin board when you arrive in Ontario. Of special note is that the schedule for the morning of the 17th will be strictly followed, at least to the best of our ability. DON”T BE LATE! By 0815 all that will be left in the parking lot are the portable latrines and a very loud echo!

REGISTRATION — Now is a good time to check expiration dates on your Insurance Card, Registration and Driver’s license to be sure that they don’t expire before May 29. If they do renew now so you will have the new ones for registration. Put them in your wallet now. Not a bad idea to photo copy and put copy in your luggage. All adult passengers must have a photo ID to register. Minor children must have both parents written permission to participate in RFTW.

VENDORS – You MUST have a valid Ontario, CA Business License. You will be asked to produce it and will not be allowed to set up if you cannot do so. Also, generators will not be permitted. All vendor coordination is being done as usual, through Carol Olmstead. You MUST see her BEFORE setting up shop. The coordination must be done even if you are an information booth only. SPACE IS VERY LIMITED. Vehicles – NONE – will not be allowed to be part of your set-up – So bring an EZ-Up if you were planning to use an awning pulled out from a motor home. Your motor home will be across the street.

And then the list of reminders:
ALL REGISTRATION will be at the Host Hotel in Ontario, CA. Then at designated areas during The Run, if you are joining us in the middle of the country. See the posted itineraries at:

Timing at venues is of prime importance. If anyone is considering inviting speakers, participants, entertainment, etc., that activity must be coordinated through Carol Olmstead or Harry Steelman. Last minute requests in Ontario will not be considered.

Once you get your wrist band WEAR IT AT ALL TIMES!

HELMETS are MANDATORY everywhere on the Run

Motorcycles or any RFTW vehicles are NOT to be left under the breezeway or blocking the drive / entrance at ANY hotel or venue. NO EXCEPTIONS here either. This a safety issue related to emergency entrance and egress. If you leave it there it is subject to being towed. Yes, this does mean YOU! One or two bikes is NOT OK!

Secure your gear


Harry “Attitude” Steelman

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Run for the Wall Remembers and Thanks Judy Lacey

The Run for the Wall Board of Directors would like to remember and thank Judy Lacey for her years of dedicated and selfless support of Run for the Wall and our Mission.

Judy died and passed away on April 15, 2017 from cancer. She admitted herself to hospice just days before, and yet was still working on the Run for the Wall Newsletter, which she put together for the past many, many years.

She will be missed by the entire Run for the Wall family, and we sincerely offer her immediate family our prayers and support.

For those interested, here is her obituary from her local paper in Lake Havasu City, AZ.

Thank you, Judy. You are truly missed.

Run for the Wall Board of Directors

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President’s Message April 2017

How did we get to the middle of March already? Time is literally flying by. I realize that winter has not been kind to most of you this year. While you all endure record cold, snowfall, and sleet/rain, we here in So CA have also been getting wet – Very Wet, by our standards. It will be a big problem in mid-to-late summer when fire season is upon us. But between now and then, we have the glorious months of April and May. Hopefully, we do not experience extreme weather while going across the country this spring, but at the very least we can expect a few days of wind and wet, perhaps snow at higher altitudes, and hail, all just to make it especially interesting. Sometimes it’s chilly/COLD and sometimes it’s flippin’ hot, but we take it all on as we pursue our Mission. One Mission, Three Routes! Regardless of the route of your choice, now is the time to begin (continue?) preparations. As soon as the roadways are clear, we all need to get out and RIDE. Practice those riding skills! Get the bike tuned up and squared away! Don’t procrastinate – The journey will be upon us before we know it! Of course, I know that this all goes without saying for many of you, in fact I am quite sure that there are those who have at least started laying out their “stuff”, if they have not already started packing!

I want to take a moment here before you all get bored and stop reading, and THANK Judy Wormmeester who was instrumental in past years in securing a chase vehicle for each route from KIA Motors. KIA is currently undergoing some organizational changes and will not be in a position to materially support us this year. HOWEVER, as I was mentioning this to one of our regular donors, they volunteered to rent for us three SUVs to replace those formerly provided by KIA. The three routes will use these vehicles to support their day-to-day operation, such as registration, finance, etc. This donor prefers, no, DEMANDS to remain anonymous, but a big THANK YOU goes out! And Thank You, KIA for your past support.

As was the case the last couple of years, the Radisson Hotel in Ontario will be hosting us prior to departure. The day-to-day itineraries will remain pretty much the same. Saturday, Sunday and Monday will be taken up by you all visiting with old friends, making new ones and WELCOMING FNGs. Registration will be available for those who haven’t registered online (We heartily encourage online registration, so avoid the crowd!), and the usual orientation and organizational meetings will commence. Tuesday morning we will be offering a ride out to Riverside National Cemetery to honor our fallen heroes and visit several Memorials. And the meetings will continue. In the evening we will be enjoying an informal meal presented by the Radisson. At this event, we will be making a presentation of the custom built Combat Hero’s motorcycle to Capt. Ken Kraft U.S. ARMY, who started out as a grunt, and has made his way up the ranks. NO OTHER Presentations or talks are planned or authorized at this time. “Microphone Time” will need to be approved by myself, representing the BOD, or Ken Hargrove/Carol Olmstead, our Ontario Coordinators. Again this is merely an informal gathering of participants focused on meeting old friends, making new ones and WELCOMING our FNGs. YOU WILL NEED TO BE REGISTERED AND WILL NEED TO HAVE YOUR WRIST BAND ON IN ORDER TO GAIN ENTRANCE TO THE VENUE.

The RFTW merchandise trailers will be set up at the host hotel so you can pick up any last minute items that you missed online. The store now has more items in stock and this year’s T-shirts and merchandise is available. Other vendors, and I am informed that there will be some interesting ones this year, will also be set up in the front parking lots. Space is limited! Prospective vendors will absolutely need to have an Ontario, CA Business License and must contact Carol Olmstead prior to the event for deployment at the site.


Also, Carol has gone to great effort to secure flags representing the branches of service, POW/MIA, an American flag, etc. These flags and the RFTW banners need to remain at the hotel for use in the upcoming years. I know that it would seem fitting to take the flags to DC and leave them at the wall, but all flags and banners used in Ontario need to be saved for use again next year and the next.

Vendors – You MUST have a valid Ontario, CA Business License. You will be asked to produce it and will not be allowed to set up if you cannot do so. All vendor coordination is being done through Carol Olmstead this year. You MUST see her BEFORE setting up shop.

I know that it may seem like we are putting a lot of restrictions and “rules” on an event that represents Freedom in its truest sense, however we do need to make sure that there are no misunderstandings that could result in complications either now or in coming years.

I have the following from Jim “The Mayor” Frost:

The Mission and the Goals of Run For The Wall® focus on accountability in wartime actions, "emphasizing that no one should be left behind." It took decades for a National Memorial to be dedicated to those thought (known?) to be Prisoners Of War or Missing In Action. The Tuesday before RFTW "Day One" is the opportunity to visit that memorial. A ride to Riverside National Cemetery will take place on Tuesday morning, May 16th, from the Radisson parking lot. Stage after 0730 on Tuesday, Rider’s meeting at 0830, and KSU at 0900 for the half-hour ride.

The National Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Memorial was dedicated in September 2005. Viet Nam veteran Lewis Lee Millett, Jr., son of MoH Recipient Lew Millett, sculpted the bronze statue which depicts an American serviceman on his knees with hands bound by his captors. The Fallen Soldier/Veterans’ Memorial is also at Riverside National Cemetery: erected in 2000, is dedicated to all service members who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Riverside National Cemetery is also home of the Medal of Honor Memorial and one of four recognized as a National Medal of Honor Memorial Site. Dedicated in 1999, its walls feature the names of all MoH recipients. Expect to be back to the host hotel by noon, unless you wish to spend more time at RNC, or to visit the March Field Air Museum nearby. Try to schedule your time to be in Ontario on Tuesday morning to join us. RIDERS AND PASSENGERS PARTICIPATING IN THIS RIDE WILL NEED TO BE REGISTERED AND DISPLAYING THE APPROPRIATE MARKINGS ON THEIR MOTORCYCLES AND WRISTBANDS. REGISTRATION WILL BE OPEN EARLY ON TUESDAY MORNING.

The itineraries are now being finalized and there are some changes. I cannot put out any specific information in that regard at this time as arrangements and contracts are still in the works. As for hotel accommodations, the hotel lists have been published.

As the next Run rapidly approaches, it is time to start thinking about next year’s Board Of Directors. At least one of our members will be stepping down, and we will need to fill his position. If you are interested in sitting on the BoD, you need to know that it is a three-year term and will begin the first of July. Contact any member of the Board for more information. We will need a resume, outlining your experience both with RFTW, and in your personal life in the real world.

That’s about it. A couple of reminders:


Be sure to make a special effort to WELCOME FNGs




Timing at venues is of prime importance. If anyone is considering inviting speakers, participants, entertainment, etc., that activity must be coordinated through Carol Olmstead or Harry Steelman. Last minute requests in Ontario will not be considered.


Once you get your wrist band WEAR IT AT ALL TIMES!


HELMETS are MANDATORY everywhere on the Run




Secure your gear


Do NOT leave your ride parked under the breezeway of ANY Hotel/Motel. They will restrict emergency access and may very well be towed.


Harry “Attitude” Steelman
Run for the Wall® Board of Directors

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President’s Message January 2017 (Hotels)

Run For The Wall Riders,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Happy New Year! I hope that everyone has made it through the Holiday Season unscathed and ready to RIDE! May will be here before we know it, but then again, not soon enough for some. We are all in the process of gearing up our preparations for another successful Run, which includes, of course, making our hotel reservations. I include myself in that statement. There are those who will say that being President of the Board, I have inside information and was able to make my reservations early. You should know that with only a few exceptions at hotels where I stay every year, the overwhelming majority of my reservations were made on January 3rd. I was not able to get into the Host Hotel in every case, and in one instance I needed to make a reservation outside of the reserved “block” of rooms. So be it.

That brings me to a critical reason for my writing a message at this particular time. It has been brought to the Board’s attention that at some locations and at some hotels some riders are not reacting well to the news that an establishment is sold out for the desired night or weekend. Some have become nasty and abusive. This is very unprofessional and totally uncalled for. I know how frustrating it can be when you want or need a room and can’t find one that meets your needs, be they location or financial in nature. Please remember that you represent hundreds of other riders when you communicate with hotel personnel and how you interact with them reflects on our group as a whole. The unfortunate situation in which you find yourself is not the fault of the hotel. They have set aside a particular number of rooms for us and when they are all accounted for, well, we have to move on to another. In many cases they must hold a number of rooms for their regular guests. We only come through once a year for one or two nights, while they have guests who regularly stay several nights every week or month. If they lose that business it can be a significant long-term issue. Sometimes the number of rooms relegated to us is set by their corporate office and the locals can do nothing to change it, at least not on the spur of the moment. In any case the desk clerk or reservation agent with whom you are speaking has absolutely no control over the matter and to grant a reservation outside of their delegated authority would put their job in jeopardy.

SO – Please be cordial with the representatives of the hotels that we have contracted with for holding rooms and granting special rates. If they say that the block is sold out, just move on, don’t argue or make a scene. To do so only jeopardizes our ability to get any rooms set aside in the future. That could create a real problem for future years.

We historically publish the Hotel Lists on January 1st. This allows time for people to make a decision nearer to the actual Run than a full year in advance and gives FNGs a fighting chance at a room in the Host Hotel. On occasional years there may be snags in that system for any given route, but it has worked pretty well in the past. If you find an opportunity to make a reservation early and it works for you, well, then, more power to you, however going on the Forum and announcing that a particular venue is accepting RFTW reservations early will end up with that venue being sold out within a couple of days and pretty well defeats that system. We try to ask the hotels to refrain from accepting our reservations until after the list is published, but we have no control over when they “open it up”. SO – Think of the RFTW ridership as a whole and keep your “good Luck” to yourself or to a closely knit, limited group of friends.

Now, having gotten that off my chest, I need to remind everyone that we need to make sure that we are getting other things in order as well. Severe weather is, as I write this, dumping heavy rain, snow and ice on major portions of our great nation. Now would be a good time to get out to the garage and get your bike in shape. Make sure that you are gathering what you need for the run and making a list of what items you need to acquire. Our newsletter publishes a list of recommended supplies. Don’t try to take everything, but select those items that you feel you will really need. The Holidays are behind us and if you are like me, you have put on an extra pound – or ten; so we need to make sure that we are getting ourselves in shape as well. As most of our veteran riders know, RFTW can be quite demanding physically and emotionally and it is never too early to start preparing our minds and bodies for the ordeal.

As you make your preparations, please keep in mind who we are, what we do and why we do it; those we ride for and those who ride with us. Also – ALWAYS – remember those who support us along the way, whether they are business establishments, veterans associations, or dedicated individuals, they have earned our respect and we need to treat them with gratitude and courtesy. Many of us are very proud veterans of the military who have served the greatest nation on earth, or are supporters of those veterans, and we need to show the public that we are above the drama that seems so prevalent in our society these days. Personally, I was a soldier, I am a soldier and I always will be a soldier; I strive to maintain a POSITIVE AND CALM ATTITUDE in the most stressful of situations. My very existence depends on that — especially as I get older.

Thank You, and


Harry “Attitude” Steelman

President, RFTW BOD, 2016-2017
Remember All Who Serve — We Ride For Those Who Can’t

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President’s Message December 2016

San Juan Capistrano, CA

December 13, 2016

Wow, where has this year gone? Christmas already! And with the New Year just waiting in the wings. This, of course, means that we are over halfway to the next Run, but I’m afraid that the riders in some sections of our country will not be getting much riding in between now and then. Looks like a hard winter in the north central and north east, if what we have seen so far is any indication of what the future might bring. Every time a storm comes across Portland or San Francisco, the folks to our right get nailed. In So. CA we get nothing! This, naturally, is a blessing for most of us down/over here.

What has the BOD been up to? The usual stuff, working with our Coordinators to ensure that all is ready for the middle of May. They are all doing a fine job. All indications are that the Hotel list will be published right on time this year on Jan 1st and not a minute before. Unfortunately, Social Media has acted unofficially to announce that rooms were available in Arlington, VA and the Host Hotel seems to be sold out. So, if you by some minor miracle have some inside information, please don’t broadcast it far and wide. We need to make sure that our FNGs get a room in the Host City, at least, preferably at the host hotel. As for Ontario, we, and that does include me, do not even have the call-in number yet in order to make our reservations. Ken Hargrove, our Ontario, CA Hotel Coordinator informs me that there will be only one number made available for reserving a room in the RFTW block and that is the number we have yet to get. There is not a very big problem, however because the reservation desk has indicated that they WANT to take on the entire ridership!

In case no one has noticed yet, we have put the Benevolence Fund page back up for those qualifying organizations and individuals needing some level of financial assistance associated with the Run and/or our mission. I will borrow some language from Kathy, our webmaster, who has done an excellent job over the past year in assisting us with this website endeavor:

“The Benevolence Fund exists to provide scholarship funding to organizations that support veterans and the Run for the Wall mission to promote healing among ALL veterans and their families and friends, to call
for an accounting of all Prisoners of War and those Missing in Action (POW/MIA), to honor the memory of those Killed in Action (KIA) from all wars, and to support our military personnel all over the world.

In addition, the Benevolence Fund provides scholarships to individual veterans or active duty military so they are able to participate in The Run. There is a large population of Vietnam Veterans, our “old warriors” that participate every year to receive a welcome home, respect and healing. However, taking a cue from the Native American culture these “old warriors” look to reach out and help the “young warriors” as they return from their service to our great country. While the younger generation of veterans probably will never face the persecution from the general public that Vietnam Vets did, The Run understands these warriors still face the
inevitable side effects—both physical and mental.”

The forms are available on our new website under the “About” tab at the top of the page, and then choose RFTW Benevolence Fund. Forms can be either mailed in or submitted on line. Under normal circumstances the paperwork is due in to the Board by the end of the year, but inasmuch as that milestone is already upon us, we have extended the due date until the end of February, but we will then absolutely have to shut is down to give us time to review the applicants and make some decisions. If you have any questions, my email address is posted below and on the website.

I know that it might seem early to mention this, but if anyone is considering stepping up to a leadership position, now is the time to make that known. Most positions have already been filled for this coming May, but things happen between now and then and I’m sure that some vacancies will develop. If you want to participate, let the Route Coordinators know now. If something comes up they can consider those who have expressed an interest. And there is always the Run in 2018. It does seem like it is still far away, but we start filling positions for next year on this year’s Run. By September, the cadre is pretty much identified. The senior positions require that you have completed the Run “All the Way”, but some of the others do not. For some of our existing leaders, there is always the potential to move on – Board positions open up every year. We do not encourage FNGs to take on any responsibility beyond getting themselves to Arlington safely. I know, you have been riding for 40+ years and handling a motorcycle has become second nature. BUT this journey is different. You will see. Brace yourself. It’s like no other experience you have had.

If anyone has any questions, comments or concerns, what so ever, I encourage them to contact a Board Member so that these concerns can be put on our agenda and discussed on our monthly meetings. Contact info for the Board of Directors is listed on the website. (My email is and my cell phone is: (949) 422-8325, but email is by far the best as I do still have a “real” job and can’t always take a call. Our monthly BOD meetings are by conference call and are held in closed session. Our next Face to Face will be in Phoenix in Feb., which will also be a closed session. I will report on what we discuss. Again I want to reiterate to all what an honor I consider it to be to be asked to serve you all in this capacity. I have taken a past president’s, parting comments to heart: We (expressly the BOD) need to always remember “Why we do this” and that “Providing a healing experience for the Riders should be our paramount concern.” In fact EVERYONE should strive to remember this as we prepare for our next journey.

My wife and I want to wish everyone the most joyous of seasons, regardless of how you may or may not celebrate it. I will write again after our Feb. face-to- face. In the meantime –


Harry “Attitude” Steelman
RFTW BOD – 2016-2017

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President’s Message Oct 2016

Well, I haven’t had a very good start this year at keeping riders and potential riders aware of the latest news by way of my President’s messages.  I was waiting for this new website to get up and running.  As these sorts of things go, we didn’t get it online quite as quickly as we would have liked.  It seems like that is the way the world operates these days.  But now we have it and I hope that everyone is becoming aware of the change and then is then finding the change to be a positive one.  I have been asked several times as to why the change, since to the average user the old site worked just fine, and my answer is that we are just trying to stay current and use more up to date technology.  I really does allow us more flexibility on the back end and works very well with our Registration and Merchandise modules.

So, here we are and with a latest edition of the Newsletter also being released about now, it will be hard to make this a message that will have any sort of impact, if any ever do.  My message in the Newsletter covers the latest workings of the BOD, as well as some of our committee endeavors, so I will not repeat those., except to say that – One – Work on the SOP and Guidelines continues to be a major focus of the Board and – two – Committee work to provide winter outer apparel for the less fortunate children in Rainelle, WV promises to be a big success when the coats are delivered later this month.

We are informed by our Route Coordinators that the itineraries and hotel lists are well on their way to being completed.  The Hotel lists should be ready and posted to the website on the first or second of January, as is always our goal.  The more detailed itineraries will be finalized in time for publication somewhat closer to the actual Run date (which is May 17) at the same time that they are sent to the printer.  I have, in recent years found it handy to download the itineraries to my cell phone so that I don’t have to keep dragging out my hard copy, which always seems to get lost at some point anyway.

I believe that most of the volunteer spots have been filled for this year’s run, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t want to hear from you if you are interested in helping out.  There is always next year and the Route Coordinators and other leadership are always on the lookout for good people to fill much needed slots.  I have heard some FNGs stating that they want to get involved and help out along the way this year.  We don’t really encourage that.  FNGs will have their hearts and minds filled to capacity from the moment that we gather in Ontario until we place the “Mission Complete” plaque at the Wall – and beyond.  We would prefer that you focus on the events and in getting yourself and your passenger, should you have one, across this great nation safely.  At times the rigor of riding in the pack can be somewhat overwhelming, not to mention the emotional stress that can catch up with you as we share stories and meet the fantastic people that greet us and take care of us along the way.  BRING TISSUES!  There may be some isolated needs along the way, but please, focus on the Run.  And we do encourage everyone to ride in the pack, you really are safer there. This is not an individual effort; we depend on each other.  This is a healing experience for many of our veterans and if you fall into that category, you know that healing does not come easy.  Leadership and fellow riders are there to support each other every turn of the wheel.  Regardless of your motivation to join us on our pilgrimage to the “Wall”, you are in for the experience of a lifetime.  In the quite likely event that you should consider going “All The Way”, or do it again, your FNG year will always remain your most memorable Run.  Make the most of it.  Pay attention in the morning meetings, and listen to your leaders and Road Guards.  They have done this many times, and, although they may not have all the answers , and some of the answers that they do have may not be what you want to hear, they absolutely know what they are doing and will not steer you wrong.  You can depend on them to see you to Arlington!


That’s all for now,

Have a Happy Halloween,


Harry “Attitude” Steelman

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President’s Message Apr 2016

Greetings RFTW!

April. The clock is ticking. Are you ready? No, I mean Really Ready?

All over the country the RFTW Family is “Getting Ready to Get Ready.” I would like to take this opportunity to challenge You to take a hard look at Your readiness. To participate in the 10 day journey across our great country you need degrees of Determination AND Preparation. The Route Coordinators and their teams have created excellent Mission Focused routes and supporting activities but you have to do your part too.

It is pretty obvious that if you are riding your bike or trike has to be as mechanically sound as possible before you leave. If you do your own mechanic work have you taken the time to do a detailed check on everything? If you take your ride to the shop did you tell them about what you are going to do and ask them to take that extra little bit of time to poke, prod and look at your ride? Have your insurance papers? State Inspection good? Registration up to date? Have you done a test pack yet? Does everything fit SECURELY when you’re loaded to roll out? Have you ridden a few miles fully loaded as you would be when in a platoon rolling down the highway?

Are you Physically Ready? Have you been riding more? Brushed up on those skills that may have become a little rusty over the winter? We all have aches and pains but the better you prepare the better the daily ride will be for you. Are you carrying a passenger? Are THEY prepared to sit on that back seat hour after hour, day after day? Riding for 6 to 8 hours a day, day after day, in weather that could be sunny and 100 degrees plus or rain and freezing temps is a different animal from the HOG Chapter lunch ride or a poker run. There will be times when it is a grind — not fun or pretty. That is when you have to remember that it is a Mission – we Push On.

As we all get ready for next month’s Mission it would behoove us to remember the reason we ride: “For Those Who Can’t.” We are all ambassadors of not only ourselves and RFTW, but most importantly the message of Why We Ride. The message that there are those that did not come home. The message that We Will Not Forget…

Ride Safe!

Greg “Pied Piper (sometimes Yoda)” Smith

Posted on

President’s Message Jan 2016

Greetings RFTW!

I hope you all had a joyous holiday season and your New Year is starting off Great!

As most of you know all plans for RFTW 2016 are well down the action path. Registration is open, hotels are set, fuel stops identified, leadership teams are being fine-tuned, and all over the country the RFTW Family is making plans to participate in some if not all of the activities. The Route Coordinators have been working diligently with their teams to create the best Mission Focused routes and supporting activities for several months, but now is when the old adage “the devil is in the details” comes into play!

A key part of each Route is the State Coordinator for each state. These are the key contact points for every fuel stop, lunch, breakfast, supper, school visit, memorial and hospital visitation, camping resource, hotel room block, and a myriad of other details. Their work for the next Run begins as we go through their area of responsibility the current year. Always keep in mind that they, like the rest of the leadership, are Volunteers. We all do our best but since nothing in Life is always perfect there are bound to be hiccups. Also keep in mind that when we arrive at a location we are not “business as usual” for many spots. When you are standing in line at some hotel, tired and ready for a hot shower after a long day on the Run and the line doesnt seem to move — just take a breath. Imagine if YOU were at work and (even though you knew they were coming) 200+ people showed up at your counter/desk/door and all wanted service at the same time.

As we all begin preparations for May it would behoove us to remember the reason we ride: The Mission. We are all ambassadors of not only ourselves and RFTW, but most importantly the message of Why We Ride. The message that there are those that did not come home. The message that there are Those We Do Not Forget.

Ride Safe!

Greg “Pied Piper (sometimes Yoda)” Smith

Posted on

President’s Message Oct 2015

Greetings RFTW Riders and Friends!

Well, here we are well down the path to 2016 Runs! The Route Coordinators have been hard at work arranging their teams to create Safe, Healing, and Mission-Aligned Runs along the three Routes.

The RFTW Board or Directors has been meeting regularly (both in person and via monthly conference calls) to assist the Route Coordinators as needed, and to conduct the affairs of the corporation. We on the BoD often receive questions or comments on things that that we should change about the different Routes to make them Safer, Better, etc. Sometimes these issues are event-driven and sometimes they are process driven. To give you all a little insight I am going to share some of how RFTW works.

As many of you know, RFTW, Inc., the corporation, is a 501 c-3 non- profit. As such it is governed by its Bylaws relative to conducting its business affairs in alignment with its mission statement. However, the Bylaws do not specifically cover the operations of the annual Run For The Wall Event. This is covered by the Standard Operating Procedures. This is a control document that outlines the framework of much of how the annual event will be conducted. I say “much” because there has to be some degree of leeway for the cultures of the different Routes, and for the Route Coordinators to actually manage their respective Routes. To assist in the efforts there are also Guidelines for some of the Leadership Team positions such as State Coordinators, Road Guards, etc. When the BoD reviews the After Action Reports (AARs) post-Run each year we look for discrepancies between the SOPs, the Guidelines, and the events described in the AARs. If the SOPs or Guidelines are not covering a situation described in an AAR that they could reasonably be expected to affect, we take action to revise the appropriate document. If the AAR describes a situation that was driven by events “in the moment” we use the AAR as a “Teaching Tool” to share with the next Route Coordinators so they can plan for contingencies if the same or a similar event occurs again. The BoD takes the AARs very seriously. These are our windows to things that we can’t be there to see. As such they are an important part of concluding the business of each year’s events and are a line item on the agenda for both our face-to-face meetings and our conference calls.

To close this particular posting: We are always interested in hearing the thoughts, ideas, and concerns of the participants each year. All of the BoD members are listed on the web page with our contact info. If you have something to say we would like to hear it. Just remember that Communication is between a Sender and a Receiver, and the roles constantly reverse as dialog continues. Reach out to us, but make sure we can contact you in return. You may have emailed a Fine idea but we need more of your thoughts to get the full picture. Make sure we can reach you – include a valid email address and/or phone number!!

Thanks and Ride Safe!

Greg “Pied Piper” Smith
President 2015-2016 RFTW, Inc.