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Final SITREP Sandbox 2023

This is my final SITREP for RFTW Sandbox for 2023.

This was your media crew this year, F-Stop (l), Cupcake(r) and me.

Thank you for letting us photograph you, tell your stories and document the emotional and intense days. There were moments of pain, moments of happiness, moments of fun. There was camaraderie among friends and a willingness to share it all with each other.

Friends made here are friends for life. Let’s stay in touch.

It was our honor to be there.

Peppermint Patti
Never forget

“There is no better exercise for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.”  John Holmes

P.S.  You know who you are. Thank you for what you did for our mutual friend. It was so very much appreciated. 💚💚💚

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Sitrep for Sandbox, May 30, 2023

Today. Complete a RFTW route. Sandbox Route.  Wall-to-Wall. Four routes, one mission. To promote healing, accountability and remembrance of all veterans.

It was another clear day and we headed to the Indiana Veterans Home. As we rode in, the driveway was lined with tall flags waving gently in the breeze. The grounds had people working and were beautiful. There was also someone hard at work building a gazebo.

My friend, Warren, steered me to a veteran who he had spoken with. Larry is a Purple Heart recipient from Vietnam. He’s now 75 years old as he just had a birthday.

Larry was in the Army and a Combat Tank Commander who initially rose from Private to Buck Sergeant in 30 days. He was in Vietnam 1971-1972. They were attacked during the night and he caught a round in the neck. They wanted to medevac him but he refused to leave because he knew the North Vietnamese Army would gain the ground.

He said he was in the South China Sea, Vietnam and all over. He zig zagged everywhere.

Larry said he’s been in the Veterans Home 3-1/2 years and he gets lots of visitors. He can walk but when he’s outside he likes to use a machine.

Santa Ed presented him with one of the Purple Heart belt buckles and we did a great group photo with so many people. I think Larry loved all the attention.

It was time for presentations in front of the Fallen Soldier Monument.  The sheet metal monument was made by a local artist from Battleground and is believed to be the largest one. It was made in three parts … helmet. Boots. Gun.

The group passed the hat this am raising more than a thousand dollars. RFTW matched up to $1,000. So RC Lurch handed over $2,300 and change.

The ride continued through beautiful green cornfields with new corn about 6-8 inches tall. There are wind generator farms that go on for miles. It’s a good place for them as we had wind coming through.

Our next stop was lunch at the 33-acre American Legion Park. There are so many beautiful parks.

There’s a place where a wreath will be layed and TAPS played. At that moment there was no one else around and made for a photo before the crowd descended.

At lunch we met a Gold Star family … parents Gwen and Scott, sisters Gabbie and Gracie and grandma Karen. There were friends there as well.

Their son, Army Sgt. Jeremy Sherman was killed in a helicopter crash in 2020 during a peace keeping mission on Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.  He was 23 years old and had only been there a month. He had  also served in Korea and Afghanistan.

They were presented with a Route Coordinator challenge coin and it was beautiful. Hopefully, knowing that we are saying his name will help this family heal.

I told Gwen we do this ride to remember and honor them. To not forget them. She said, “They do forget.”

Say their name. Tell their story.

Go Go had a scroll for people to sign. It’s been from California to D.C. and on to the MECW. Now it will go back to California to Go Go’s commandant.

He talked about the 22. He said people commit to all kinds of things. But no one commits to suicide. They fall victim to their demons and unseen wounds.

That ties in to a gentleman who spoke at the MECW after we arrived. Bill is with Nation of Patriots that has raised about $2 million. They work to prevent a veteran from being a part of the 22. They give out checks, one time only, to help with maybe a blown car engine, school supplies, a utility bill … stressful things that might push someone over the edge … and they try to do something / anything to help with the financial burden and that might change the course of history for that family.

They have a patriot tour and pass one American flag around the nation to every state. They raise funds when doing this and have done it for 14 years. The organization is run by volunteers and all the money goes to those in need. The current flag has been moving through the U.S. for two years.

He said the best thing is that sometimes down the road they receive a letter telling them someone’s story, how a life was changed and turned around.

The MECW is set along the banks of the Illinois River. Water sprayed up over the rocks making some rapids. It’s such a pretty setting for the Wall.

It was a busy place this afternoon. Riders placed their profiles, maybe a coin or a bracelet. Others that had come before us had placed a variety of items … beer, whiskey in shot glasses, flags. Even a bear wearing a Marine uniform. The list goes on. While not all are extremely emotional about being there, seeing someone you cared for on the wall can bring someone to their knees. There were a lot of hugs, shoulders clasped, stories shared. It’s healing and part of the reason for the mission.

There’s a museum on site and Bucky is the Curator of the Museum. In addition he’s a Jack of all trades, doing whatever is necessary, including moving mop buckets or signs. He used to put all the mementos at the police department but about 15 years ago they got the building.

There were some well-deserved awards and presentations and a prayer to end our day and the route.


Peppermint Patti

Never forget.

Don’t cry because it’s over.  Smile because it happened.  Dr. Seuss

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Sandbox SITREP May 29, 2023

Northstar Polaris provided breakfast. It’s always a great day when there’s breakfast.

The sun was coming up and the sky was a light golden-orange. It was promising to be a beautiful day although later the wind kicked up.

Small-town celebrations are best. There was a band and a flag group that performed the National Anthem and the Military Song Medley. The Mayor spoke as well as other dignitaries, and they welcomed us with open arms.

Honor guard.


Audrey read a poem a Gold Star member write specifically for Memorial Day. It was not about barbecues or fishing or boating. It was about the reason we have our country and our freedom.

It was about our veterans, our military, our civilians who have stood for our country. It’s about the reason we will never forget.

Last year Audrey and Jed ran ahead on the Sandbox Route to get on some of the overpasses to wave at the run as it came through. A couple stopped to find out what was going on. They explained RFTW to them. They stayed and waved. Then their son showed up. He was a veteran and also stayed. More and more people stopped and then stayed, including police.

This year we heard that that couple helped organize people and even had a fire department vehicle so there would be folks there and waving. The interest created by Jed and Audrey was amazing.

Going into Ohio Audrey, Dan and I ran ahead so they could give them yellow RFTW t-shirts and pins for creating the interest. We got to the overpass. Nothing. No one. So we went to the next exit. Nothing no one. Get along folks. Nothing to see here.

We decided to run back to the first overpass we’d gone to to see if anyone was there. Maybe they were late.

Kelsey, Carleen, Audrey, Larry, Jean. Dan, Kimber, Chip, Cindy.

Yep we had people and a fire department vehicle. It was awesome to see that enthusiasm for the RFTW Sandbox Route.

Hunters Moon Harley-Davidson opened their building so we could have our evening meal. It was hosted by Honor Bound and The Worship Church served it. Brisket and the trimmings. You can’t go wrong.

Mount Hope Church has done so much for us. And we thank them, as well as the City of Lafayette for all they’ve done to support us. Thank you.

Tonight was awards night as tomorrow we arrive at our destination early.

Bryan and Lurch. Bryan’s groups have made us very welcome, as has the City of Lafayette.

The evening closed as the sun shone on all of us and we sat with full bellies and shared friendship and camaraderie.

Peppermint Patti
Never forget

“These fallen heroes represent the character of a nation who has a long history of patriotism and honor — and a nation who has fought many battles to keep our country free from threats of terror.”  Michael N. Castle

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Sandbox Route SitRep May 28

Run For The Wall®

May 28, 2023
Sitrep for Sandbox, the night before leaving

It’s the first day on the road for the Sandbox Route. Everyone gathered for the morning briefing. We had the Pledge, then the National Anthem by our very own Siren that is always a treat.

Introductions always come … Gold Star families, Blue Star families, active duty and FNGs. We show our respect for them.

Safety came next. There are always reminders each day because safety is first.

These are the things that will be done each morning. Recognition is so important for people, particularly those who have lost someone. The next leg will also be emotional as Sandbox Route goes to the Middle East Conflicts Wall, a living memorial to which b names are still sadly being added.  Say their names. Tell their stories.

There was a special gift to Gunny who is the inspiration for what is RFTW.

Gunny receiving his special gift.

Then it was time to go. Our first stop was gas. Disappointment. Baskin-Robbins wasn’t open. But Dunkin’ Donuts was.

We headed to the Stoystown Legion Post 157 in Pennsylvania for lunch. Old barns. Fences. Beautiful green pastures. Pretty purple flowers. Cows. Horses. And winding two-lane back roads.  The hills went up and down like a roller coaster. Then we made a turn and arrived. There’s even a covered bridge included.

The Flight 93 Memorial was the next stop. It’s a beautiful area, green with lots of trees. We took a winding road to the parking lot. In the distance you could see the wall with all of the names of those who heroically went down with the aircraft in 2011.

Story boards tell about what happened that day.

Story boards tell the story.

There was a wreath-laying ceremony and tears flowed freely. It’s a moving place and you can spend hours there. But it was time to go.

Part of the wall of those more than 40 names.

We had a gas stop and handed out dozens of pins and stickers. Then it was time to move along to our dinner stop in St. Clairesville, OH. North Star Indian Motorcycle hosted us for dinner.

Two Gold Star families were recognized. One spoke of her son, Peter.  He joined the infantry. His mom said that puts you up front, doesn’t it?  He then became a dog handler, of Duke. His mom said that puts you even further up front, doesn’t it?  Yes.

Peter was killed and his parents got his dog, Duke. He passed away since last year. His mom said Peter wasn’t a typical Marine. He wrestled at 112 pounds. He was infantry and they’re first in. With a dog they’re even further up front. It’s been 12 years now, but Peter was where he wanted to be. The hole is still there and the healing is constant. We thank you for helping to keep those memories alive.

Bugs and Polar Bear were recognized for their work for the Museum and their veterans.

We said thank you loudly multiple times then it was time to head to the hotels and get ready for tomorrow

Peppermint Patti

Never forget.

“If a man hasn’t discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live”  Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Sandbox Route 2020 “VIRTUAL” Sitrep Day 3

Sandbox Route 2020 “VIRTUAL” Sitrep Day 3

Day 3, May 26, 2020 – Lafayette, IN, to Marseilles, IL, 191 miles

We departed Gilman and headed to Starved Rock Harley-Davidson in Ottawa, IL, for lunch.  As always, the stops are more than hospitable to all of us.  After the lunch break, we staged by platoons to ride the 11 miles to Marseilles and the Middle East Conflicts Wall.

The Middle East Conflicts Wall – our destination.  The MECW commemorates the service men and women who have lost their lives in worldwide conflicts since 1967.  Dedicated in 2004, the project was conceived by Tony Cutrano and Jerry Kuczera and built with donated material and labor.  It’s the first of its kind to give honor to the fallen by name while a conflict is ongoing.  Names on the wall include fallen heroes from such diverse locations as Panama, Lebanon, the Balkans, Grenada, Somalia, terrorist attacks in Italy, Greece, an Israeli attack on the USS Liberty and the current conflicts in the Middle East.

This is where we would pay our respect and honor the sacrifices of those who have fallen.  Names continue to be added each year usually in June in conjunction with a motorcycle freedom run.  Text at the memorial affirms all those commemorated are heroes who died for freedom and will never be forgotten.

The Middle East Conflicts Wall is a memorial you have to want to see, to go visit.  It’s not in the middle of a big city; it’s actually kind of isolated.  But it’s a memorial well worth visiting, and I believe all of us can agree on that.

Memorials bring many emotions to the surface.  It can also be a not-so-kind reminder to those who have served.  There are those who need our help in healing, and visiting these memorials and sharing friendship, a hand, or a hug may be able to help them along that road.

Because of the wars including the conflicts mentioned on the MECW, wounds are not always visible, and 22 men and women commit suicide every single day.  Mission 22 is committed to lowering that number, hoping to reach the point of elimination.  One of the best ways of helping is to reach out … to someone that you think might be at risk.  Or if you’re at risk, please reach out to others.  Every person on this Run is dedicated to helping others and wants to help.  Please let them.

Be proud that you’ve been a part of the RFTW, Sandbox Route, Wall 2 Wall mission.  You can stand up and say, “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.”  You’ve done it, and all of us hope to see you again next year.

“Nothing is strong as the heart of a volunteer.”  Col. Jimmy Doolittle

Signing off for this year,

Peppermint Patti

Photos for the Sandbox Virtual SITREPS courtesy of

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Sandbox Route 2020 “VIRTUAL” Sitrep Day 2

Sandbox Route 2020 “VIRTUAL” Sitrep Day 2

Day 2, May 25, 2020 – Clairsville, OH, to Lafayette, IN, 359 miles

Bright and early we were at it again, and in for a long day.  Briefings started at 6:30 AM. but there is breakfast at the North Star Indian, Polaris, Slingshot dealer, where we meet up and where we depart for the day.  No one should ever go hungry on this mission … breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks.

Here is a Link to this morning’s Virtual Brief Video for those who missed it. Go to the following link to get the link for tomorrow’s Brief.

If you were on the initial Run from California, you’re probably fatigued and running on adrenaline and caffeine.  Be sure to stay hydrated.  It’s important to your well-being and you’ll hear it time and again from the medical staff.  Be sure to stop by the hydration station at every stop to get a drink and a snack.  Don’t be a casualty.  It won’t be pretty.

The VFW post in Union, OH, provided lunch for the day.  There are usually some other treats in store, including music, memories or just time to get to know the people that are providing for us.  Always try to get to know some of these folks as it’s one of the most rewarding relationships you can form along the route.  Sometimes someone you’ll be seated near and chat with will relate their story of wars past.  It’s an honor to have them share with us.  A memory of theirs may hold a lot of anger or bitterness, but once that is shared with you, you have helped them to heal a bit.  If it happens, share their tears, thank them and maybe give them a hug before you go on your way.  Remember, one of the RFTW missions is to promote healing … and you will have just done that.


Cpl Jason Dunham, USMC KIA Iraq 2004

It was a long day and finally we arrived about 5:42 PM at our destination for the day, Hunter’s Moon Harley-Davidson.  Dinner and the recognitions program for the Sandbox Route would go until about 8 PM.  It was a long day as we rode for those who couldn’t.  This is what we do.  This is our mission.


“It was my duty to shoot the enemy, and I don’t regret it.  My regrets are for the people I couldn’t save:  Marines, soldiers, buddies.  I’m not naïve, and I don’t romanticize war.  The worst moments of my life have come as a SEAL.  But I can stand before God with a clear conscience about doing my job.”  Chris Kyle

Peppermint Patti

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Sandbox Route 2020 “VIRTUAL” Sitrep Day 1

Sandbox 2020 “VIRTUAL” Sitrep Day 1

Day 1, May 24, 2020 – Arlington, VA, to Clairsville, OH, 300 miles

Hi, and welcome to RFTW Sandbox Route – Wall 2 Wall.  I’m Peppermint Patti, your sitrep writer, virtually this year.  I hail from Alaska, born and raised.  I’m 73 years old and still hopping on a motorcycle, hopefully for many more years.  I’d be honored if you’d find me and say hi and share a few words with me.  With that, let’s get started.

As always there’s excitement in the air when a group of motorcyclists get together.   It’s even more exciting when you know that the ride you’ll be participating in is in its inaugural year.  Welcome all to the Run For The Wall XXXII, Sandbox Route. 

If you’ve done a RFTW you know what it’s about … The POW/MIAs, and keeping the awareness high, and supporting past and present service members, family and friends from all wars.  However, this route focuses more on the service, sacrifice and contributions for the Sandbox era warriors. The Sandbox Route is special as it’s to raise awareness for the Middle East Conflicts Wall. This wall honors those Sandbox era warriors who have served and fallen.   

Usually the rides start early, and this one is no exception. Pre-registration check in starts at 6 AM as well as registration if there are any spots available as the RFTW Sandbox route has only a limited number of spots.  That’s a difference from the 10-day RFTW that runs from California to DC and gains and loses riders each day.  There are always mandatory briefings, and for those who are new to the Run (FNGs/Friendly New Guys/Gals??), this one is no exception.  That briefing starts at 6:30 AM.

Here is a Link to this morning’s Virtual Brief Video for those who missed it. Go to the following link to get the link for tomorrow’s Brief.

From briefings we go to the all riders meeting and we have a prayer for the safety of everyone, the Pledge of Allegiance and announcements.  Sometimes we may have a speaker with an experience to share.  Sometimes we have 50/50 and raffle rousers selling tickets as we raise funds for the Run or a charitable organization.  Whatever is going on here, the enthusiasm, the eagerness to get started continues to build until we break off into our platoons, get our platoon briefing that includes safety tips – including stay off the brakes and the zipper – and then we saddle up.  Get those engines started. 

Watching the platoons ride out, led by the leadership and us following, Platoon 1, 2, 3 for however many we have, is thrilling.  This Run, this mission, is the best of the best … the Inaugural Run for the Sandbox Route and those of us on it have received a huge honor to be a part of it.

As the Sandbox riders file out, there will be people cheering, people on overpasses flying flags, shouting encouragement, giving the thumb’s up.  It’s chilling and emotional, but it doesn’t get any better than this. The miles today total 300, with two fuel stops … words to the wise?  Get your road pegs up, follow instructions from the fuelers, get in and get out and back into your platoon lineup.  Sometimes our fuel is donated to us as people want to show their support for what we do.

Lunch today will be at the Pleasantville Post 9219 in Schellsburg, PA.  Everyone treats us so well … food, and sometimes handing out little souvenir patches or pins, maybe sunscreen or hand sanitizer.  You never know until you do the mission. 

At precisely 12:56 PM the Run is scheduled to roll out and head to Stoystown, PA, the location of the Flight 93 National Memorial where there will be a wreath-laying ceremony by the RFTW Honor Guard.  If you have an opportunity to be a part of the honor guard, take it.  It’s truly an honor to march in step with others, to salute or put your hand over your heart, and lay a wreath honoring those who have passed by giving their lives to save others.

We have time to wander around the memorial.  Inside there are phones where you can listen to some of the last calls made by those on the flight to their loved ones.  As I write this I have chills going up and down my spine.  When I visited, I could only listen to a couple of them.  It was too heart-wrenching, too emotional, and tears fall even now as I think about it.

There is so much memorabilia to see from the aircraft and those heroes who gave up their lives, and a beautiful path to walk around the crash site with a wall containing their names.  It inspires awe for those who sacrifice themselves.

Too soon it’s time to take our lives in our hands and venture onto the Pennsylvania Turnpike and head to our next fuel stop and then today’s destination in St. Clairsville, OH., where we’ll enjoy dinner courtesy of North Start Indian, Polaris, Slingshot.  We thank all of those who support us, knowing their hearts and minds are with us as we ride for those who can’t.  We also need to thank those in our leadership who have put this mission together, along with our fuelers, stagers, road guards, and so many others.

As you reflect upon the day’s journey, you’ll most likely find it quite intense and very different from any other run you’ve done.  It’s emotional, but so rewarding.  Enjoy your evening, and tomorrow – same time, so get some rest.

I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast; for I intend to go in harm’s way.  Capt. John Paul Jones

Peppermint Patti