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RFTW SR RC Newsletter – AUGUST 2018 – Part 1

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Greetings from Pax River!

On Thursday, 16 AUG 2018 your previous and incoming Leadership Team gathered for a “Hot Wash” of events from RFTW XXX. Having reviewed all the AAR’s received so far (it’s still not too late to send…), we discussed what went well and started looking at improvements in some areas. In the end it was a very good gathering for the closest we have to a “Change of Command” as the reigns are handed off to the new team.

New Leadership Team Members
Speaking of the new team, we’ve now filled the Ambassador and Staging Lead jobs…
> Ambassador Lead: Michael “Wizard” Turner
> Staging Lead: Steve “Hard Rock” Powell
Both are very experienced RFTW riders and team members with a passion for the mission, our riders and the people we support. Later this week, I’ll be updating the leadership contact list on the web site at rftw.us/southern-route-contacts. If you’re interested in volunteering for one of the support teams, contact that team lead – they’re already building their teams.

Platoon Leadership Volunteers
Our Platoon Coordinator is assembling the recommended list for Platoon Leaders, Assistants and Tail Gunners and will be submitting that list to me at the Kerrville Reunion next month. If you submitted a volunteer card, then Big Vic has it and you’re on the list. If you didn’t, it’s not too late – but time is running short. Please contact Big Vic if you are unsure if you’re listed or if you need to sign up to serve.

Outreach Team Lead – Memorials
Karoni Forrester has done an outstanding job over the past years as our Outreach Team Lead and will continue to do so on RFTW XXXI. To allow her freedom to focus on the Outreach Visitation portion of that mission, I am seeking another Outreach Team Leader to focus on our visits to Memorials and Monuments along the Run. This Lead should have experience with outreach participation and be willing to prepare and present information on those various memorials as well as help guide the breakaway Outreach Missions. This Lead will also coordinate with the Honor Guard Coordinator as required to ensure wreath presentations are staffed and ready on these outreaches. If you are interested, please contact me or the ARC to volunteer.

SR Finance Coordinator
Another very important position yet to fill on the Southern Route is that of Finance Coordinator. This person must be an All The Way rider or participant who has a good background in Accounting, Finance or Bookkeeping. As a 501(c)(3) organization, our adherence to specific procedures for money handling and disbursement is extremely important. The Finance Coordinator will work closely with me and the ARC leading up to and during the Run to ensure all donations are properly collected and accounted for and that all our expenses, outgoing donations, educational grants, fuel bills, etc. are paid promptly and fully.  The Finance Coordinator also works closely with the Board of Directors with regards to all southern Route finances. If you are qualified, interested and want to be very involved, please contact me or the ARC to volunteer.

Kerrville Reunion: 21-23 SEP 2018
I always look forward to the Kerrville Reunion! Cowboy and Sam and many others work very hard to present an enjoyable and interesting weekend for the RFTW Family for a gathering in the interim between Runs. Besides the awesome Saturday Night Banquet, there is a Saturday morning breakfast, ride plans (including the Pie Ride), an open sitdown with some of the Board Members, and a Friday night VFW Mixer. Plus, your ARC and I along with many other Team Leads will be there to represent the Southern Route. For more information, go the RFTW Web Site Forums at rftw.us/forums/topic/tx- reunion-2018-for-all-rftw-riders. I hope to see you there!

Watch for Part 2 coming soon…
Bugs out!

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Southern Route Coordinator News – JUL 2018 – Part 3

Greetings from Pax River!  

FOCUS ON THE MISSION!!!

As many of you may have heard, I recently retired from the U.S. Navy after a rewarding career spanning over 37 years.  During my ceremony remarks, I spoke about how one mission in life leads to another and how my military service to my country has slowly transformed into a veteran’s service to military members and their families.  Right now, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) is reporting 1,597 Missing across Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and China from the Vietnam War.  One of our Mission Statement objectives is, “To call for an accounting of all Prisoners of War and those Missing in Action (POW/MIA)”.  That very important mission is taken up by ours and several other motorcycle centric organizations that may sometimes be confused with that of RFTW.  However, there are few if any other organizations that place as much emphasis as RFTW places on all our Mission Statements in such a proactive and dedicated way…

  • 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.

Your loyal dedication to those statements throughout the year culminating in a 10 day coast-to-coast pilgrimage of ACTION in May is what makes Run For The Wall a unique and special thread in the fabric of our great nation.  It is very frustrating to have the successes and accomplishments of our efforts attributed to another organization regardless of how sincere their efforts, but we must remain focused.  A true Patriot is not one who stands on the shoulders of others shouting to demand their rights, but rather a true Patriot is one who stands at the base of those rights to protect and preserve them ensuring our future generations may enjoy them as well.

Just this past weekend, Gwynne and I had the pleasure of a lunch visit with RFTW family.  I encourage everyone to stay in contact, attend the weekend gatherings and reunions.  This is what keeps our relationships strong throughout the year and will help us all stay focused on what’s important.

To all my Brother and Sister Patriots, I salute you and look forward to serving you in the coming year as we honor and support the objectives of Run For The Wall and CONTINUE THE MISSION!

Watch for August Newsletter series coming soon…

Bugs out!

Billie “Bugs” Dunlap

Southern Route Coordinator 

Run For The Wall XXXI

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Southern Route Coordinator News – JUL 2018 – Part 2

Greetings from Pax River!  

After Action Report Update…

Quite a few folks mentioned to me that they’d like to see some feedback on the AAR’s.  So far, the Southern Route Riders have generated over 50 After Action Reports (AAR’s) and I have read every one of them – thank you to everyone who took the time to write.  (It’s not too late – they are still coming in!)  The most commonly referenced items are addressed below along with the number of times they were referenced in an AAR:

  1. Rider Training (14) – This topic is extremely important and each of us as conscientious riders should take responsibility to ensure we are capable of handling our machines and always seeking to improve our skills.  Our Board President emphasized this very issue in nearly all his newsletters from last year.  With that being said, there are many different training opportunities out there and I encourage everyone to take advantage of them to improve their skills before RFTW XXXI.  I will be doing that very thing myself!
  2. Route Selection/Detours (9) RFTW XXX Southern Route experienced some extreme challenges with an unexpected arduous detour and the growing pains of a new stop along the route.  Your leadership team will be closely reviewing the issues associated with both in order to determine the best course of action for next year.  
  3. Schedule/Stops (8) – The Run schedule governing dwell time at each stop and the process by which that time is monitored are both under review.  Thank you all for the ideas on how to start and stop the clock as well as where we might shave some extended dwell time off a few of the locations.  You can expect some noticeable revisions coming for the RFTW XXXI Schedule.
  4. Staging (8) – There were some evident growing pains with the large number of participants on RFTW XXX as well as some issues with the equipment used to organize the multiple staging locations.  Many of the staging team members submitted AAR’s with ideas for improvement that promise to make next year’s operation better than ever.

There were several other issues touched upon such as Fueling Process, FNG Mentoring/Liaison, CB Requirements, and Trucker Coordination and almost all were constructive, thoughtful comments and suggestions – THANK YOU!  Your Leadership Team will be reading every one of these AAR’s to help generate actions improving our Run.

Watch for Part 3 coming soon…

Bugs out!

Billie “Bugs” Dunlap

Southern Route Coordinator 

Run For The Wall XXXI

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Southern Route Coordinator News – JUL 2018 – Part 1

Greetings from Pax River!  

I am extremely honored to have been confirmed as your RFTW XXXI Southern Route Coordinator and look forward to another successful and rewarding year serving you all and this great Mission.  

LEADERSHIP ANNOUNCEMENT!!!

For my first announcement as RC, I am very happy to tell you that Bob “Captain America” Nelson has been confirmed by your Board of Directors as the RFTW XXXI Southern Route ARC.  Bob has been a major contributor to the continued success of our Southern Route having served in a number of demanding leadership positions.  He recently served for two years as our Platoon Coordinator and just this year he qualified as a Road Guard.  As I write this he is in the middle of completing the Hoka Hey Challenge.  Please congratulate him when you get the chance and show him the same fantastic support that I’ve enjoyed over the past year.

Next, I’d like to send out a GIANT THANK YOU to everyone who put so much of their time, effort, donations and HEART into making RFTW XXX such a HUGE SUCCESS.  Chad “Slacker” O’Dell was absolutely the right leader for that Run and we all owe him a debt of gratitude for the enormous personal investment he made toward its success.  His was an investment that will pay off for us all in the years to come.

As the RFTW XXXI train starts rolling toward next May, we are all very fortunate to have so many of our great leadership team returning…

Road Guard Captain – Bob “Captain” Mazzone
Platoon Coordinator – Vic “Big Vic” Killion
Senior Chaplain – Jerry “Partner” Plent
Fuel Team Lead – Curt “Stitch” Bancroft
Registration Lead – Shirley “Top Sarge” Scott
Merchandise Lead – Carol Olmstead
Outreach Visitation – Karoni “Hoops” Forrester
• An many others…

 

Three very important leadership roles still not yet assigned are Ambassador Lead, Staging Lead, and Finance Coordinator.  If you have a heart to serve the Mission and the Riders of RFTW, then we need you on the team!  It’s not too late if someone out there is interested in one of these very important jobs.  As usual, I expect to have the entire team assigned by the end of the Kerrville Reunion.

The Southern Route Coordinator News will be published throughout the year in several parts per month so that you can read through quickly and stay informed.

Watch for Part 2 coming soon…

Bugs out!

Billie “Bugs” Dunlap

Southern Route Coordinator

Run For The Wall XXXI

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Southern Route Coordinator news February 2018

Southern Route Coordinator News – ARC Edition – FEB 2018
 
Howdy from the east coast, y’all!  As an introduction… I am Billie “Bugs” Dunlap, your Assistant Route Coordinator for the Southern Route of RFTW XXX, the 30th Annual Run For The Wall.  It has been my distinct honor to have been associated with this great Mission for the past 8 years and I have many people to thank for the mentoring and guidance along the way.  Just a few of these are first, my original RFTW recruiter and mentor to The Run who continues to instill in me the spirit of the Mission – Jim “Stoney” Stone.  Next, one of the early and continuing RFTW leaders whose guidance and advice was invaluable to me as I took my first Platoon Leader assignment – Roger “Cowboy” Mead.  And finally, none other than our founder himself, James “Gunny” Gregory whose personal example, guidance and advice inspires me to keep this Mission close to my heart.  I’d also like to thank our RC, Chad “Slacker” O’Dell – a fine man and determined leader with whom I have had the distinct privilege and great pleasure of working closely over the past 4 years – thank you for having me as your ARC.  You are a Patriot and a great American and it has truly been an honor, but luckily there is much more to come.
 
A few days ago, I posted on social media from Denver International Airport while sitting in the USO (a fantastic organization, by the way) and posed a simple question:  “94 days, 18 hours to KSU… Are you getting ready?”  From the responses received, there is no doubt that we are all mentally and emotionally ready to roll out of Ontario on 16MAY2018 to begin RFTW XXX.  But we also know that getting your head and heart ready are just the first steps to successfully completing this epic 10 day Mission.  So, with this edition of the newsletter, I’d like to add some clarification of the deeper intended meaning of the question and then ask again later…
 
Just as in any mission planning scenario, there are three major aspects for which your preparation for this mission should address:  Personal, Mechanical, and Logistical.
 
PERSONAL:  Given that we are all ready for Kick Stands Up (KSU) as mentioned above, we should also be physically preparing for the long days in and out of the saddle.  The intensity of your physical fitness preparation is of course dependent on your abilities and it’s always a good idea to consult with your medical professionals before engaging any new exercise routine.  That being said, a critical look at your current diet and exercise routine with an eye towards preparing for long days in the saddle with interludes of walking, talking and representing our Mission could definitely help any of us enjoy those days even more – and yes, I’m looking directly in the mirror as I write this!  Exercise is important, but its complimentary and equally critical counterparts are diet, hydration and rest.  All physical exertion requires fuel and the fuel requires water to burn properly, followed by rest to reset and do it again.  A good balance of all these factors will get you to Ontario well prepared to enjoy the fellowship of The Run and to successfully carry out the Mission.
 
MECHANICAL:  You’ve likely all heard that Run For The Wall is the largest organized long distance motorcycle ride in the world.  That statement drastically simplifies what we do and I don’t know if it’s even true – though I would be very surprised if it weren’t.  But true or not, a 10 day, 3000 mile motorcycle trip is a grueling adventure for any machine, regardless of the color and shape of the emblem on the side of your tank.  Everyone should be familiar with the daily “pre-flight” acronym T-CLOCK:  Tires, Controls, Lights, Oil, Chassis, Kickstand (or Jiffystand for us Harley Folks).  You can find a great breakdown of this inspection on the Motorcycle Safety Foundation website at tinyurl.com/MSF-TCLOCK.  However, even a good T-CLOCK can’t catch everything – just last year I had an exhaust bolt snap off as I was coming into New Mexico on the way to California.  Since everything else was well maintained and working, it took only a simple temporary repair to get me on to Ontario where a full repair was completed.  In preparing for this motorcycle adventure we should all take the daily inspection routine one step further and have an expert give our rides a thorough once-over.  Especially considering the fact that the 3000 mile tour is only half or less of the total ride most of us complete for this Mission and hardly any of us enjoy the security of a chase truck outside The Run itself. 
 
LOGISTICAL:  Any military commander throughout history would tell you that logistics is at the crossroads of success and failure…
“The line between disorder and order lies in logistics…” – Sun Tzu
“My logisticians are a humorless lot… they know if my campaign fails they are the first ones I slay.”  – Alexander the Great
Of course, our Mission does not require a battle plan, but proper attention to personal logistics is just as important to the success of our Mission as supply lines were for General Patton’s 3rd Army in WWII.  The primary RFTW logistics for route, fuel stops, most meals and available lodging are being diligently coordinated by your route leadership.  But your personal logistics for funding, care of your home and family, time away from work, holding your mail, transportation/lodging/fuel to and from The Run and many other issues are very important and most effectively dealt with in planning before The Run.  When you’re showing love and respect to a WWII veteran at the Tuscaloosa VAMC or listening to a 2nd grader at Montvale Elementary tell you about learning the Pledge of Allegiance, you won’t want to have the worry of issues back home clouding your focus on that moment.  The time to prepare for those issues is now.
 
My intent here was obviously not to lay out a detailed plan for your preparation for The Run, but to provide a general overview of some areas on which we should all place the effort of good planning.  So, with all that being said, I ask again…  ARE YOU GETTING READY?
 
Finally, no (A)RC Newsletter is complete without a reference to the current status of issues remaining at the focus of our Mission…  As of the latest report by the DPAA (Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency – www.dpaa.mil) on 05JAN2018, there are still 1601 Americans unaccounted for in Southeast Asia.  The DPAA updates their reports often, but to compare the level of success they are having, that number was 1617 a year ago on their report dated 25JAN2017, 1624 in JAN2016, and 1637 in JAN2015.  That may seem like slow movement, but somewhere out there I’ve got to believe that there are 16 more families this past year who can now feel some closure knowing their loved ones are finally accounted for.  But there are many more out there…  Such as Col. Oscar Mauterer, USAF shot down over Laos, 52 years ago TODAY – still classified MIA!  As long as we keep hope alive, CONTINUE THE MISSION, and have the strength of brave women like Karoni Forrester, Shannon Spake, Judy Wormmeester, and Col. Mauterer’s Daughter, Pam Cain to keep the light shining on concerns of the POW/MIA family, the collective efforts of RUN FOR THE WALL will continue and we will NOT let this GREAT MISSION fade away.
 
“…To call for an accounting of all Prisoners of War and those Missing in Action…”
 
RIDE WITH HEART
 
Very best regards,
Billie “Bugs” Dunlap
Assistant Route Coordinator
RFTW XXX Southern Route
 
 

 

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Southern Route Coordinator News – January 2018

Greetings from sunny southern New Mexico! I know that many of you have been buried under piles of snow over the past few weeks, but Spring is coming, and you know what is right behind that!

We are now less than 4 months to KSU on May 16 in Ontario, California and your Southern Route leadership crew has been working hard to make this 30th Run the best it can be. There will be a few changes this year that should ease some of the route challenges we’ve had in the past and we’ve built on lessons learned from last year with a revised plan for Platoon rotations. I’ll publish more of the details as they become final but here’s an overview of where we’re heading…

Day 1 Destination – Getting out of Phoenix from the west side of town on Day 2 has always been a challenge. The early morning rush passing through town presents us all with an immediate thrust into heavy commuter traffic just as all our riders are beginning to settle into the Run. To alleviate much of this issue, we’ll be landing on the east side of Phoenix at the end of Day 1 where we’ll be hosted by Chandler Harley Davidson. These extra few miles will allow us to pass through the heavy afternoon traffic in the relatively well protected HOV lane before exiting directly to the host location. The next day’s departure should be much easier as we roll out on I-10 well beyond the heavy inbound traffic.

Day 5 Route – I think I’d rather ride crossways over a railroad track than ride over the 15 miles of humps and bumps along I-20 through Shreveport, Louisiana – especially with 400 bikes flowing through behind me! With the construction completed on the I-220 bypass, we’ll be taking the extra 2 miles to get around that less than desirable stretch of highway with smoother sailing on a new stretch of pavement. Unfortunately, we’ll still be galloping along over the rest of I-20 into Monroe but we all know what will be waiting for us at the Shriner’s Hall – WORTH IT!!!

Platoon Rotation – Like it or don’t, the Platoon rotations last year were an experience that generated a lot of discussion. This year, we’ll be running a revised rotation plan that gives everyone a shot at the smooth air near the lead of the pack but will be accomplished over a shorter span of days at the beginning of the Run. When we cross the Mississippi River into the dense traffic of the southeast, we’ll all be settled into place and looking good!

Our Road Guard Captain, Bob “Captain” Mazzone has done a great job so far in coordinating an awesome cadre of Road Guards and has a plan to make this another safe Run For The Wall. Big thanks to Kelley “Gonzo” Perry for working out the route and timing details.

Also a big thanks to all our State Coordinators for their hard work in arranging the hotel accommodations and group rates that play such a big part in making this Run affordable. But you should all keep in mind that they do MUCH more than just call ahead to the hotels. They also plan ahead for all of our stops, act as the point of contact for supporting organizations all across the country and generally put themselves out as the Face of the Run until our thundering herd arrives on the appointed day in May. So when you see one of these folks in a maroon colored “State Coordinator” hat – be sure to give them a big Thank You Hug as they welcome you home in their state.

I would like all riders to remember why we ride. We ride for accountability for our POW’s and Mia’s from all wars. There are many things that go on in our everyday that we lose sight of the mission, but for some of our run family there is never a day that goes by without losing sight because their loved one’s that have not come home. After many years of involvement on the run I have become close with a small number of those families and it’s my personal mission to help bring closure for them. I am not a veteran but many of my family members are and have done their part to protect and serve this great country and allow us our freedoms. My way to give back is to help organize and lead the 30th run to keep our mission strong and remind the public that are people who do care and will continue to push forward this mission.

That’s about it for now, Bugs is calling me again and I gotta get back to work!

See you all in May!

“Ride With Heart”

Chad “Slacker” O’Dell
Southern Route Coordinator 2018

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2018 RFTW Hotel Lists Posted

The Hotel Lists for all three routes: Central, Midway, and Southern are now posted within the respective Route Hubs under > Run Info from the Main Menu of the RFTW Website.

These also include booking links for Ontario, CA and Washington, DC/Arlington, VA.

Central Route Hotels
Midway Route Hotels
Southern Route Hotels

See you in May!

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Southern Route Coordinator News – November 2017

It’s hard to believe November is here! The month we give thanks for family, friends, health… This past month has taken a toll on our Southern Route, with the sudden loss of way too many of our RFTW family. I have seen many touching tributes and dedications and truly believe that those great Americans live on through the lives they touched.  Our hearts and prayers are with all those who love them, as these brave souls move on to their final mission. We are all better people for having had the opportunity to know every one of them.

With that loss comes a greater responsibility for us all to take up and share the load of our mission and to use it to inspire the next generation of patriotic riders to join our ranks. This mission heals, it shines light into the darkest of times and has saved lives. “Riding For Those Who Can’t”, does not have to mean riding only for our 1600 MIA’s still waiting to return to American soil from Vietnam. Instead, we ride for all our fallen soldiers lost in war, those warriors who made it home, but left a piece of themselves behind, and those we have lost due to health issues and also to tragedy. And we ride for the loved ones who grieve their absence.

This family builds bridges and fills the empty spaces of the hearts of those in the shadow of loneliness.  Donna Elliot, the longtime supporter of RFTW and MIA sister, lost her battle with cancer. The mission touched her life and helped to fill the gap left by her brother Jerry Williams Elliott, Staff Sergeant, missing in Vietnam since 12/21/68. Her dying wish was to be escorted to her place of rest by as many RFTW brothers and sisters as possible, because her mission to find her brother, our mission to ride for those who can’t, meant the world to her. She got her wish because she too has blessed the lives of so many on this Run.  Thank you to all who made the trip to her service, as I know you were joined in spirit by many more.

So we give thanks. We are grateful for the service of those who have and continue to fight for our freedom, as well as the loved ones who wait for their return. We are thankful for the mission that unites our paths and helps to bind together this incredible and unique group of misfits we call family.

“Ride With Heart”

Chad (Slacker) O’Dell
Southern Route Coordinator 2018

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Southern Route Coordinator News – July 2017

Good Morning Run For The Wall!

My name is Chad (Slacker) O’Dell. I would like to take a moment to thank you for the honor to have been selected as the Southern Route Coordinator for the 30th Run For The Wall 2018.

The Springfield, MO BoD face-to-face meeting was held July 7-9, 2017 and at that time my selections for ARC and RGC had been confirmed, and they are Billie (Bugs) Dunlap as Assistant Route Coordinator, and Robert (Captain) Mazzone as Road Guard Captain.

In the coming weeks I will begin to get the core team in place and start the planning for the 30th RFTW. If you have identified yourself as a potential candidate for a leadership position on The Run — Thank you. If you would like to volunteer for a position, and have not done so, Please forward your request and contact information to me at: Chad.ODell@rftw.us.

We Ride for those who can’t

Chad (Slacker) O’Dell
Southern Route Coordinator 2018