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Southern Route – Day 12 – Rolling Thunder and Vietnam Veteran Memorial

The day dawned early for participants in Rolling Thunder. Staging began 5:45 am in the underground parking garage. SR road guards were responsible for escorting RT participants to the Pentagon parking lot this year. The responsibilities rotate every year.

After a quick ride over to the Pentagon, it’s a long wait for the ride to begin. The first rider rolls out of the Pentagon parking lot at 12:00 pm. It makes for a very long day. Disclaimer, I did not participate in the actual Rolling Thunder ride this year. I did go down to the mall to Thunder Alley (row of vendors) and walked around the mall during the event. Things get a little crazy down there. Nothing like Sturgis crazy, every one is respectful, and kind. Looking at the vests, most riders are veterans or supporters of veterans.

We walked over to the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial. I did not go with RFTW yesterday, it was a little too crowded and I needed a little space. As you can imagine, I am a little tired and my emotions are a little raw. We had a pleasant visit at the wall tonight. Lots of people paying their respects but there was a little breathing room.

A few photos from today and yesterday:

I ended up with the “Mission Accomplished” plaque in my room. We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to snap a couple photos with it. To all my fellow DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) members. Thank you for your support and encouragement. The plaque is right next to the DAR patch on my vest.

Yesterday, the “mission accomplished” plaque was laid at the apex of the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial.

This year I carried tributes of three KIA from the Vietnam Conflict. Two of the soldiers, I have POW/MIA bracelets for. I purchased them from Alice Kraatz, Michigan CAR (Children of the American Revolution) project. Alice is raising funds to send Vietnam Veterans on Honor Flights to Washington DC, to their memorial. If so inclined, please visit her webpage and purchase a bracelet. All proceeds go to Honor Flight.

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The other tribute I carried, Richard Swayze, he is the Uncle/brother-in-law of my California DAR friends. He is not forgotten!

In Memory if the Men & Women that served in the Vietnam War and later died as a result of their service. We all know many of these and continue to honor them and remember them.

A beautiful statue and reminder of the soldiers that served, boots on the ground in Vietnam.

I thought this “Boots on the Ground” tribute from American Legion Post 1, out of Jacksonville, Florida very powerful. More reminders of “why we ride”.

Well this wraps up the 2019 – Run for the Wall, sit-reps. This has been my third year serving as the Sit-Rep writer. I am not sure what next year will bring, if I will have this job or if it will be given to another rider. I’ve enjoyed sharing the run with you and hope you will tune in next year as we continue the mission of riding for those who can’t.

I am shamelessly going to plug the book I wrote, Run for the Wall – A Journey to the Vietnam Memorial. I wrote the book to raise awareness for the Run, for POW/MIAs and to support our veterans that feel so despondent that they are taking their own lives at the rate of 22 a day. The book can be ordered through the RFTW.us store and on my website at RFTWthebook.com or through Amazon. The book sells for $39.95, a fraction of what it cost to create the book. It’s a beautiful coffee table, pictorial of the run. If you know a veteran that needs the healing ride of the mission, I encourage you to send him a copy of the book Run for the Wall – A Journey to the Vietnam Memorial.

https://www.rftwthebook.com

In closing: “The Bible says the angels of heaven are God’s army; When you stand in Arlington, you know God has a damn good one.” Anonymous

“CHARLIE MIKE – CONTINUE THE MISSION!” Jim “Stoney” RFTW XXVII SR RC

See you in 2020, May 13 – 22, 2020

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Southern Route – Day 11 – Mission Accomplished – Washington D.C.

Today began early with staging in the Holiday Inn underground parking lot for the ride into Arlington National Cemetery (ANC). Run for the Wall is the only organization that is allowed to ride motorcycles into ANC. We are given permission for 400 motorcycles to ride in. All bikes must enter together and exit together. The FNG’s are given first priority to ride in to ANC. I am allowed to go as the social media rep. I am live on Facebook as we ride in and for the wreath laying. The videos are available on the official RFTW facebook page.

The ride into Arlington

Four selected riders are given the honor of laying a wreath at The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This year, Shirley Scott, long time supporter of RFTW was selected as the wreath layer for the southern route. I wrote about Shirley in an earlier post. She is a long time RFTW volunteer and works tirelessly all year long in support of veterans.

RFTW lays the wreath at Arlington

Every year when I visit ANC with RFTW, I sit on the same park bench. Every year a veteran comes and sits by me and I have the opportunity to make a new friend. This year, I met Hacksaw, he met his Army buddy this year on the run. They haven’t seen each other or spoken in 50 years. Through tears he shared what a grand reunion they have had. He was in a motorcycle accident a few years back and never thought he would be able to ride again. How grateful he is to be at ANC and to be on the run. What an honor to meet such an American Hero.

After the laying of the wreath, riders return to their bikes to ride over to the Lincoln Memorial for the group photo of all three routes.

The southern route riders were asked to sign the “Together we Ride” banner. Pictured here holding the signed banner, are Southern Route leadership; Bugs, Captain America, BigVic and Slacker . Thank you for your service, gentlemen.

After the photo, riders walk over to the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial for the laying of the mission accomplished plaque and to pay tribute to those whose names are engraved upon the wall.

2019 Mission Accomplished🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸

If you’re interested in learning a little more about the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier… https://www.arlingtoncemetery.mil/Explore/Tomb-of-the-Unknown-Soldier

In closing this Memorial Day Weekend:

“They do not need our praise. They do not need that our admiration should sustain them. There is no immortality that is safer than theirs. We come not for their sakes but for our own, in order that we may drink at the same springs of inspiration from which they themselves drank. Woodrow Wilson, 1914

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Southern Route – Day 9 – Wytheville, VA to Lynchburg, VA

The day dawned beautiful and dry in Wytheville. I think it rains more in Wytheville than the sun shines so it was a welcome sight.

The “Why we ride” moment was shared by “Cobb”. He met the sister of Gregory Benton in Ontario and he carried him to the wall for his sister.

At the end of the rider’s meeting it was shared that a couple left their jacket on their bike. The jacket blew off the bike when they pulled out. The jacket was recovered but the $600 cash in the jacket pocket was not. A hat was passed to recoup at least some of the funds so they could get home. Guess how much was raised??? Yep, EXACTLY $600! Generous riders, looking after their family. Do you believe in coincidences?

As we were lining up on the streets in Wytheville, “Bugs” asked if I would like to ride at the front of the pack, next to him, in the Assistant’s position. Duh, YES!

Back to that coincidence thing. The ride out of Wytheville is my favorite leg of the entire mission. Riding through the Shenandoah Valley is breathtaking. Too many personal ties to share… just trust me to say, it was an experience I will never forget. Thanks Bugs.

After visiting with the children in Wytheville, we hop on over to Montvale Elementary School where we have lunch and watch a music program put on by the students.

Always a favorite of the riders. Enjoy the video clip:

“Chrome” is blowing the horn to alert rider’s that they have 10 minutes to get to their bikes, to prepare to pull out. Beautiful back drop to a beautiful day.

Our next stop took us to the D-Day Memorial. A beautiful memorial! Platoon pictures were taken and a wreath laid.

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Down for the night in Lynchburg, VA. On to Washington D.C. tomorrow.

NATIONAL POPPY DAY IS TOMORROW! MAY 24, 2019 –
🌺🌺🌺BE SURE TO WEAR A #RemembrancePoppy🌺🌺🌺
On September 27, 1920, the poppy became the official flower of The American Legion family to memorialize the soldiers who fought and died during the war. In 1924, the distribution of poppies became a national program of The American Legion.
Poppy Day is celebrated in countries around the world. The American Legion brought National Poppy Day® to the United States by asking Congress to designate the Friday before Memorial Day, as National Poppy Day.
On May 24, wear a red poppy to honor the fallen and support the living who have worn our nation’s uniform.
#NationalPoppyDay #AmericanLegion #Veterans

In closing:
“We sleep safely at night because rough men (women) stand ready to visit violence on those who would harm us”. Winston Churchill

While I am sleeping safely at night. I am not sleeping enough. Sorry about the typos, bad grammar and spelling. Tomorrow night and into the weekend will be better. There is so much I would like to share that I might have to continue posting until well into next week. Good night, see you all in D.C. tomorrow.

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Southern Route – Day 7 – Meridian MS to Chattanooga, TN

Another emotional day on the road.

Day began in the agricultural pavilion in Meridian, MS. The arena is for cattle auction. This city girl is not accustomed to cattle auction arenas. if it weren’t for the run I would not have the opportunities to see things out of my norm. Just another thing I love about the run.

The riders’ meeting began with prayer and before we said the pledge we reviewed the correct way to say The Pledge of Allegiance of the United States of America. We call it the THREE COMMA Pledge. There are only three commas in the pledge. People tend to add a fourth comma after “One nation”. There is no comma after one nation, it should be said as one continues phrase with no pause. “One nation under God”. Now that you’ve been told, it will drive you nuts when it is said incorrectly.

Yesterday the gas stop at the Tallulah-Love’s Truck Stop was donated by “Stonewall” our road guard/LEO liaison. This morning, she shared with the riders her reason for donating this same gas stop every year. Her husband,Roger Edwards Phelan Jr. Major in the USAF. With a 27 year flying career, served in Vietnam and the Gulf War. Roger was an FNG in 2009. At that time he was being treated for four different cancers, all of which were in remission. While serving in Vietnam he was exposed to Agent Orange. Before going on the run, Roger was frustrated and unhappy. Stonewall shared that, the man she got back from the run was not the same man that left. He came home with gratitude and love. The run changed his life. Ultimately, Roger, lost his battle with cancer in February 2010. Before he passed, they decided that they would donate this same gas stop every year. Thank you Stonewall for your service, sacrifice and dedication to continuing the mission ❤️❤️❤️

This is why we ride!

If you read last night’s sit-rep, you read about the missing staging team. Good sports that they are, they came to the morning rider’s meeting ready to sing the little diddy I wrote last night. Hehehehe, I bet they don’t miss the turn next year.

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We left Mississippi under cloudy cool skies. As soon as we passed the Sweet Home Alabama sign, the road side was lined with “ginormous” magnolia trees. We’re talking huge, the size of a house. The trees were covered in large magnolia blossoms. It was a beautiful sight to behold. I thought my little magnolia tree back home in California was doing well, until I saw the Alabama magnolias.

We stopped for gas and then rode another five miles to the Tuscaloosa VAMC, Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

THE PRICE OF FREEDOM CAN BE SEEN AT YOUR LOCAL VA HOSPITAL.

The VAMC rolls out the red carpet, the sidewalks are lined with patients and staff, lots of flag waving and clapping. I posted a video of the pack riding in on the RFTW – closed facebook page, check it out.

Riders were escorted into the atrium/gym for a lunch of pork sandwiches, chips and cookies. From there, riders are encouraged to visit with the patients.

Last year Dustin & Brenda introduced me to Sgt. Shane Strickland who served two tours in Afghanistan and one tour in Iraq. He was injured in a training accident. He will spend the rest of his life in a VAMC. While he is physically injured, he is mentally all there. I have been conversing with Shane’s nurses and sending packages all year. To have the opportunity to go and visit him again today was a special moment for me. I was also able to get a new point of contact so I will be better informed on what Shane’s needs and wants are.

While talking with Shane, I was called away to do an interview for the local news station. I think I’ve given an interview every day on the run, but today, I cried. My heart is so full of gratitude and sorrow for our wounded veterans. I am frustrated that I am only one person and there are veterans like Shane in every VA hospital. This is why I ride, to show my love and support for our veterans.

“Top Sarge” has been collecting socks, underwear and toiletries to give to the veterans at the hospital. Yesterday when she didn’t have what she felt were adequate donations, she asked Bugs to pass the hat. She would go shopping at Walmart with the donated money and deliver it to the hospital. Riders donated $1,200 and Shirley bought a lot of personal items for the veterans. She shared with me that it was very fun to go shopping with someone else’s money. We thank you Shirley for your dedication to the mission and to veterans. Looking forward to watching you lay the wreath at The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

During lunch Bugs passed about four hats and asked riders to donate cash for the hospital to buy additional supplies for the veterans. The Southern Route RFTW was going to match whatever amount riders’ put into the hat. The generous riders’ donated more than $2,000 with the matching funds from RFTW, Southern Route donated more than $4,000 to the Tuscaloosa VAMC. Plus the close to $1,500 in supplies Shirley collected.

Way to go riders!!!!

On the road again, headed for the Ashville, Alabama, Piggly Wiggly. The Piggly puts on a wienie roast for the riders every year. It’s the best hot dog, I eat all year. Also, might be the only hot dog I eat all year. Riders’ dined on hotdogs, watermelon, ice cream, and chips. It’s a fun stop with plenty of locals out to cheer us on.

Ambassador report:

In 2015, four Marines; a Navy Sailor & a Marine Recruiter were shot & killed at a recruiting center in Chattanooga. The Ambassadors visited, all left a penny & paid respects for the Run.

Out Reach report:

“This is the sister of flight surgeon Bobby Jones MIA since Nov of 1972. This is the last known photo of her brother, he was always helping others and enjoyed helping the locals in Thailand.”

“We do an outreach to this family every year to visit Bobby’s mother who is now 102 and a half ,she calls us her boys and looks forward to us every year, she is a great hugger.”

I can’t believe tomorrow is day 8 and the run is almost over. I am not ready!

In Closing:

Do your duty in all things. You cannot do more, you should never wish to do less. General Robert E. Lee

The service in Chattanooga is bad. I didn’t even get to read through what I wrote. Sorry.

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Southern Route – Day 6 – Monroe, LA to Meridian, MS

As usual, the day began with the morning rider’s meeting. After the prayer, pledge and anthem, Bugs gave out the thank you plaques to the community supporters. Sam’s Club employees took up a collection and donated $2,239.24. An amazingly wonderful gesture.

Thank you Radar for posing with the check. You’re a good sport and an excellent route coordinator assistant. Thank you for your service and sacrifice, you’re the best! ❤️

Our numbers increase with every passing day. Platoons 3, 4, 5 and 6 each have 30 riders. Our total platoon numbers are 229 bikes, fuel team 21, staging team 18, ambassadors 21, road guards 21, for a total route bike count of 289 ish. That does not include the two up riders or the support vehicles and volunteers.

Rode a short distance to the Monroe, LA City Hall, escorted by the Louisiana State Police. Just gotta say, they are very easy on the eyes 👀.

At Monroe, a newscaster requested an interview with a veteran. I asked “Strings” if he would talk to the reporter, he graciously agreed. During the interview, he said,

“Because of RFTW, I am proud of my service. I wasn’t proud of my service before going on the run.” I thought that was very profound. The healing power of the run is real and it works!

From Monroe, we rode across the mighty Mississippi River and into the great state of Mississippi. Where patriotism abounds! We made a quick fuel stop and picked up the Governor of Mississippi.

Billie “Bugs” Dunlap and Governor Phil Bryant

You have to see the ride into Jackson, to believe it. Helicopters meet the riders at the state border and circle over head as the riders make their way to the Jackson Harley Dealer. We were treated to a nice sack lunch and an excellent Quarterdeck Ceremony. I managed to get a copy of the dignitary list, and it’s impressive!

To highlight a few of the invited guests:

Floyd James “Jim” Thompson was a United States Army colonel. He was the longest held American prisoner of war in U.S. history, spending nearly nine years in captivity in the jungle camps and mountains of Vietnam and Laos, and in North Vietnam during the Vietnam War.

Why we ride!

The keynote speaker was Major General James Livingston, three tours in Vietnam and the recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor. I pulled his bio from the Medal of Honor website. It was such an honor to be in the same room with him. I hope you will read the bio and recognize the extraordinary service he gave.

During his remarks he shared that there are currently only 70 Medal of Honor recipients left. He also said, “If we have to go to war, we have the finest military in the world.” AMEN to that!

After the ceremony, riders enjoyed touring The Trail of Honor. Earl of Jackson Harley Davidson brings in period, war reenactors, portraying the American Revolution up to and including World War II and Vietnam, including cannons.

A little situation occurred at Jackson. The Jackson stop is a little tricky. There isn’t a large parking lot to stage in, so every year much discussion takes place as to the best way to stage 300 motorcycles. I understand this year, hours of conversation took place. All I have to say is:

“WHERE OH WHERE HAS THE STAGING TEAM GONE, OH WHERE OH WHERE CAN THEY BE? WITH THEIR GPS ON THE FRITZ AND NO COMMS TO THEIR RANKS, OH WHERE OH WHERE CAN THEY BE?

Ambassador’s Report:

Today the Ambassadors visited the Museum that honors General Chennault & his acclaimed P40 Flying Aces. The American Volunteer Group, “The Flying Tigers”, combated Japanese bombing raids on China. The Chinese people continue to honor the General. “He saved our country” is an oft-repeated phrase spoken by all Chinese visitors.

In Closing:

“If we maintain our faith in God, love of freedom, and superior global air power, the future looks good.” General Curtis LeMay

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Southern Route – Day 5 – Grand Prairie, TX to Monroe, LA

Today began with church, not in the Wildwoods but in the Wal-Mart parking lot. I always enjoy the RFTW church service, it’s short and sweet but invites the Lord into the ride. From my earlier post, you already know that I believe he is with us.

After the church services, “Bugs” opened the rider’s meeting with the pledge, National Anthem and Prayer. “Hoops” introduced the “why we ride” speaker for the day, Shannon Spake. Shannon is an MIA daughter. Her Father, LCDR Dennis S. Pike’s plane was shot down on March 23, 1972. Shannon explains more in the short attached video.

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We ride for Shannon’s Dad!

Shannon and I first became acquainted, on the run and then through Daughters of the American Revolution, of which we are both members. I am proud to have Shannon as a friend and wish her all the best on her next trip to learn more about her Father. God speed Shannon❤️❤️❤️

Our first stop took us into Terrell, Texas. This is a great little town with very patriotic citizens. The various organizations come out with gifts, and homemade treats with plenty of hugs and welcome home wishes. This is a special stop for me as members of the Kings Fort Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution come out to wave flags and give hugs.

Part of the wonder of the run is the people you meet in the towns we ride through. Year after year riders return to see the same smiling faces and receive hugs. Because of RFTW, I have family all over the country.

A 90 mile leg took us into Longview Texas. Oh did I mention, we had another picture perfect day. No rain, not too hot, beautiful green countryside, yep, just another lovely day for the southern route.

Okay, back to Longview, after a gas and go, we staged at the Longview Fairgrounds for lunch and entertainment. This is one of my favorite stops, but as I was told, I say that at every stop. Doesn’t mean it’s not true! We dined on a good old fashioned American lunch; sandwiches, chips and apples. It was yummy and filling.

There is a man that sings for us and I meant to get his name but I was called away for something else and didn’t get back to get it. He is there every year, and every year, sings some great patriotic songs. I requested he sing, God Bless the U.S.A. I think he gave an excellent rendition and as you can see in the video, the riders thought so too.

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In Longview as we were finishing up inside, rider, James Dalton asked to speak to me. He shared with me, that James Yettman was in the parking lot asking for me. Mr. Yettman reads the Sit-reps every night and he wanted to thank me and let me know that he is following along with us in spirit. He would like to go to the wall to pay respect to his friends whose name’s are engraved there on, but his health will not permit him to go. He asked James Dalton to carry his picture with him to the wall. If he couldn’t be there in person, maybe just his picture could go. James Dalton and I both shed a tear as he was relating this experience. As you can imagine, James Dalton is honored to take Mr. Yettman’s picture with him.

Mr. Yettman, if you’re reading this tonight, we’ve got your six. We will say a prayer for you and your buddies when we arrive at the wall.

You Mr. Yettman, are why we ride!

All you Vietnam Veterans, you’re not getting any younger. If you aren’t a biker and don’t want to ride with Run for the Wall, check into Honor Flight. They are taking more and more Vietnam Veterans to the wall. Don’t wait until it’s too late!

From Longview we had an easy 179 miles (two legs) to Monroe, LA. As soon as we crossed into Louisiana, I swear you could see the humidity in the air, it’s thick stuff.

Pulled into the Monroe-Shriner’s Hall for some homemade, delicious Louisiana gumbo. Really, really good stuff, the rider’s look forward to the gumbo every year.

Bugs gave out several thank you plaques. The Louisiana state officers that escort us across the state received a standing ovation. I am hoping tomorrow we’ll get a skill demonstration. I’ll record it and post it tomorrow, it’s impressive.

The JROTC did a very nice POW ceremony. Upon completion of the ceremony riders were dismissed.

In Closing:

“Above all, we must realize that no arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women. It is a weapon our adversaries in today’s world do not have.” President Ronald Reagan

I am sure the grammar and spelling are getting worse with each passing day and the lack of sleep is catching up with me. Sorry 😔

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Southern Route – Day 4 – Odessa Tx to Grand Prairie, TX

Today was a picture perfect day to ride, azure blue skies, white fluffy clouds, shirt sleeve temperatures and wild flowers galore🌸🌺🌼🌻!

The day began at the Odessa, TX American Legion Post 430 with a delicious breakfast of eggs, sausage, bacon, biscuits and gravy. Yum – Yum!

MIA daughter “Hoops” introduced KIA son that she met on the internet. In the attached video he explains who is father and why he has a destroyer named after him:

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Donald G. Cook, P.O.W., died in captivity in South Vietnam, Saigon. His son W. Thomas Cook is the man speaking, accompanied by his son, Donald G. Cook and daughter Cleo Cook. Thank you for sharing your personal family experience.

Why we ride!

We went to bed worrying about a tornado warning but when we woke, the storm had crossed our path and moved further north. Made for beautiful day with only puddles visible.

We rode a short ten miles to the Permian Basin Memorial, a beautiful Vietnam Memorial. Southern route honor guard coordinator has gone above and beyond. He had custom vests made, and had the military patches sewn on, to represent all the military branches. He also included white gloves, another symbol of respect. Check out how how nice they look in these photos. Thank you Chaplain Bill, you rock!!!!

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We lunched in Colorado City at the the Rail Head City building. The Sweetwater Municipal Band performed live music. One of my favorite was the playing of the theme song for each military branch. Makes me cry, every time!

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Many riders ended the day with a massage at the Dubiski Career High School, including me. The perfect ending to a beautiful day. This is my sixth year on the run and nobody ever told me about this secret massage section. Thanks Roadrunner for cluing me in!

Yeah! hooray! We have an Ambassador’s report. Took a little technological maneuvering but we did it!

“Today Ambassadors were honored to visit the WASP WWII Museum in Sweetwater, Tx. In 1942 women answered the call of their country & joined the Women Air Force Service Pilots. They trained male pilots in flying high powered pursuits & bomber aircraft. Today there are 36 surviving women ranging in age 96 to 103.”

“The Ambassadors, with humility & the greatest honor, dedicated RFTW Memorial Wreaths to 2 Medal Of Honor recipients in Odessa, Texas.
Alfred Wilson, Corporal, Marine, in action against hostile forces in Vietnam gallantly gave his life for his country. His courage, valor & selfless devotion to duty upheld the highest traditions of the U.S. Marines.
Marvin Young, Staff Sargent, Army, distinguished himself at the cost of his life in Vietnam, while serving as a squad leader reflecting great credit to his unit & the U.S. Army.
Let us never forget.”

In closing:

“The soldier is the Army. No Army is better than its soldiers. The soldier is also a citizen. In fact, the highest obligation and privilege of citizenship is that of bearing arms for one’s country.” General George S. Patton

We ride for those who can’t.

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Southern Route – Day 3 – Las Cruces, NM – Odessa, TX

My day began very early this morning. My husband, “Doc” is a Road Guard in Training “RGIT”. They had a team meeting at 5:15 am in the hotel parking lot. I admire and respect the road guards, first off because they are very skilled riders (or crazy) jury might still be out on that one, secondly, they work so dang hard, all day long.

I shot this short video of the road guards pulling out of the hotel parking lot to position road guards to guide riders to the breakfast/morning staging location.

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Rider’s enjoyed a delicious breakfast of biscuits and gravy, eggs, bacon and sausage, provided by American Legion Post 10 of Las Cruces, NM.

After breakfast we headed over to the Las Cruces Veterans Memorial Park. This year we enjoyed a police escort, a change from last year. I think they realized it was easier to join us, hehehe, don’t quote me on that. Watching the road guards work in conjunction with the police department was poetry in action.

The park was a short four miles from the legion post but it was through Las Cruces.The road guards and police officers did what is called a “bump and run”. Meaning the motor officers with their lights flashing would secure an intersection and then once a road guard was available, they would “bump” the officer to free him/her up to go secure the next intersection. It was fun to watch them “bump and run” through the intersections as we traveled to the park.

Speaking of road guards, one very special road guard has 41 adopted nieces and nephews following his trip across the country with Run for the Wall. They call him “Uncle Joker” he is known to southern route riders as “Joker”. His sister’s 4th grade class from The First Baptist Church School, known as the patriots of Shreveport, LA. are following “Uncle Joker”, through the tracking device he has on his bike. The teacher is sharing, photos from the RFTW Facebook page and Instagram of the events through out the day. She is also reading the daily sit-rep to the class. A huge shout out to the Patriots of Shreveport! Pins and stickers are on the way!

To finish today’s focus on the road guards I have one other collage of road guard/LEO liaison “Stonewall” receiving the first ever “KMA” pin. What it was awarded for, we do not know, perhaps “Bugs” or “Stonewall” will tell all. The other photo is of “Chrome” & “Wildcat” preparing to blast the 15/5 minute warning. Upon hearing the blast, riders better be at their bikes, gearing up, because the pack is leaving.

A huge thank you to all of the Southern Route road guards. I’d name you all individually but I left the list in my tour pack. Just know, the riders love you and appreciate you❤️❤️🏍🇺🇸

The visit to the Veterans Park was amazing! I had a very special tour guide today. “Gump” whom I mentioned last night hung back and showed me around the Bataan Death march monument. Gump grew up in Las Cruces, so he knows a lot about it. How can you have a more meaningful experience of a POW monument than when walking and talking with a repatriated POW?

This is what I learned, in a nut shell:

April 9, 1942, we surrendered to the Japanese which began the seven day, sixty-five mile Bataan Death March. 70,000 started the march, of those 70,000, 1,000 Americans and possibly 15,000 Filipinos died before reaching Camp O’Donnell. New Mexico had the highest per capita Japanese P.O.W. population in the nation.

I asked Gump;s permission to take his picture with the monument. Not something you see everyday. A repatriated P.O.W. and a monument to his home state’s P.O.W.s. You’ll see in the photo, footprints in the clay. The footprints coincide with the soldiers from New Mexico. A very moving tribute to the sacrifice they made.

It was an honor to tour the Bataan Death March monument with Gump. An experience I will not forget. Thank you Gump for sharing your heart, compassion and understanding of the plight of POWs, with me today. Love ya! ❤️


From the Veterans Park we rode 77 miles, and crossed into Texas, where the trucks are BIG and dirty! A big shout out to all the cowboy hat wearing, flag waving Texans that lined the streets to cheer us on our way.

The second leg of the afternoon was very hot, riders did as they were told and drank a lot of water and gatorade.

We ended the night at the Odessa Crossroads Fellowship Church. They lay out the best meal ever! Sweet Tea, fried cat fish, chicken, corn bread, beans. What more could a hot hungry rider ask for??? Thank you “Mojo” & “Wicked” for arranging for the great hospitality in Odessa.

Working on getting Ambassador and Outreach reports. Might do a photo dump of all three days events.

Since we are near Chris Kyle’s home, we’ll end tonight’s sit-rep with a quote from Chris:

“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 naive, 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

Thank you for reading and God Bless America!

Please excuse grammar and spelling, too tired to care.

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Southern Route – Day 2 – Chandler, AZ to Las Cruces, NM

So much happened today, it’s hard to know where to start. Let’s start at the beginning… the stagers are responsible for staging us in platoons so we can roll out in an orderly manner. It’s a thankless job, riders tend to grumble when the stagers don’t get things perfect. The staging team like all the other RFTW teams are volunteers and work hard all year. This year our stage leads are Joe Erychleb and Steve “Hard Rock” Powell.

They decided they wanted really good signs this year. So they thought and thought and decided pizza pans with reflective tape would make great platoons staging signs. So they made 14 sets of signs for all the platoons. Joe made the top, pizza sign and Steve made the poles. Let me tell you, they are large and visible it makes staging easy for the riders when we come around the corner. We are lucky to have such dedicated volunteers. A big shout out to the entire staging team. Thank you for your dedicated service to all the riders.

As always, Marana, AZ welcomes the riders with open arms. The Golden Ranch Fire Fighters Pipes and Drums, Local 3832 presented the colors. After the colors were presented, Amber Simons O’Neill sang Hallelujah, a beautiful tribute to military, written by Sailor Jerri. It’s a beautiful song. Enjoy the video.

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Now, for one of the more emotional experiences I’ve had in six years, I’ve been on the run. If I ever needed a reminder that there is a God who knows and cares, today was it.

As we were preparing to leave Marana for Wilcox, Gump the Missing Man coordinator came up and told me, “as the six pack, APL, it’s your job to fill in if someone falls out of the missing man formation. I thought oh, okay, glad I was told before too many days went by, no biggie, I can do that.

Thirty minutes after Gump mentioned this responsibility to me, I hear over the radio, “Kristine, Kristine, missing man has fallen out, we need you up here now”. I quickly tap out of my platoon, zip on up to the missing man formation, (only going 5 over the speed limit), of course. I tap in and take the spot that was vacated.

If you’ve ever ridden in the missing man formation, you know how emotional it can be. Well today, once I settled into the spot, I began to think about my day and how it all went down. When I walked out to staging today, Radar shared with me a poem his daughter, Sydney Ley, wrote about the missing man. Very insightful and beautiful.

“Missing Man.
Those two words echo in my mind and in the wind as we ride. Nothing but the steadfast rumble of the bike beneath me and the sound of the wind rushing by.
If you’re still, you can hear their voices, calling for remembrance.
So many emotions and no words to say.
So here I sit, with the Missing Man.
In Silence, a quiet prayer.
To all the Missing Men and Women, who have given the ultimate sacrifice for their Country, for all their Brothers and Sisters to enjoy the freedom so heavily priced…Thank you. Gone, but NEVER Forgotten!”

As Gibbs of NCIS says, “there’s no such thing as a coincidence”. It was not a coincidence that Radar chose today to share Sydney’s poem with me. It was not a coincidence that Gump, thought to mention to me that it was my job to fill-in if anyone in the missing man formation taps out. It was not a coincidence that a rider did tap out. It is also is not a coincidence that Gump is our missing man coordinator.

Let me tell you a little bit about Joe “Gump” Hudson, Repatriated POW. Gump was a Prisoner of War, March 23, 2003 – April 13, 2003. He was held captive with seven other Americans, five were released, two were not. As you can imagine, the Missing Man Formation is very near and dear to Gump’s heart. I believe that the Lord’s hand was in the sharing of the poem, and the getting the Missing Man Formation completed. I don’t have the thought process to explain all there is to the missing man formation, please google it to learn more, to understand the honor and respect it gives to our Missing in Action and Killed in Action. Thank you Gump, we love you! ❤️

I think that’s all the words I have to share tonight. It’s just too much emotion to try to put into words. God Bless our Blue star families, our Gold Star families and our active duty military through out the world.

🏍🏍🏍🇺🇸We ride for those who can’t.We ride together-together we ride🏍🏍🏍🇺🇸

In closing:

“Do your duty in all things. You cannot do more, you should never wish to do less.” General Robert E. Lee

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Day 1 – Ontario, CA – Chandler, AZ 348 miles

Oh what a beautiful day ☀️ to ride across the Mojave desert into Arizona. We pulled out of Ontario about 10 minutes ahead of schedule. A smooth start to Run for the Wall-2019. We rode through a light overcast, 60 degrees. About 10 miles out we rode into fog which dropped the temperature slightly. Rode in the fog for about 10 minutes and then the sun came out and it was beautiful. We had light cross winds through California, as the day went on the cross winds became a little stronger. The wind keeps the temperature down or the perception of heat down, so it’s all good. It’s a dry heat 😂, right.

Lifestyle Cycles donated two gas stops today, at California prices! Do the math on that one! If you live in Southern California, it’s a great shop with great prices!

After gassing up, we pulled into the Blythe fairgrounds. The small town of Blythe does a tremendous job of feeding us lunch and putting on a patriotic program. The Southern Route has been riding into Blythe for twelve years, receiving a warm welcome.

It was an easy ride into town with three law enforcement agencies escorting us; Blythe P.D., California Highway Patrol and Riverside County Sheriff. Thank you!

The JROTC performed a Missing Man Ceremony that was very moving.

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Leaving Blythe Fairgrounds, we crossed the Colorado River into Arizona and cheaper gas! Pulled into the Tonapah Love’s Travel Stop, gassed up and…. my bike wouldn’t start 😢, DEAD Battery. Two nice fuel team members pushed my bike out of the way, (I was clogging up the works). Chad “Slacker” O’dell gave me a jump so I could get into the staging area. Then he gave me another jump when it was time to ride out. Thank you Slacker and Bob “Captain America” Nelson for having the jumper pack, enabling me to get on down the road.

Once we crossed into Arizona we had two LEO (Law Enforcement Officers) escorting us through Phoenix. They did a tremendous job, blocking traffic. A big HOORAH for our road guards. Keeping us safe as we move on down the road.

Pulled into Chandler to a warm, patriotic welcome from the Patriotic Guard Riders who formed a nice flag line. Here is where my sit-rep ends because, I had to purchase a new battery and lend moral support to my husband as he changed the battery. I missed the ceremony and program. The good news, I have a new battery, the bike started right up and I’ll be back in business tomorrow.

In closing:

“If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen.” Samuel Adams

Excuse grammar and spelling mistakes. It’s been a long day as we
RIDE FOR THOSE WHO CAN’T❤️🇺🇸🏍