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SR Day 1. Wednesday, May 17th

It’s here!!  Day 1 of our journey to D.C.   After an inspiring talk from RFTW Founder, James “Gunny” Gregory, & a brief opening ceremony, everyone started getting ready – and we were off!  It went relatively smoothly, getting out of Ontario and the whole L.A. area.  Then we headed to our first fuel stop at Coachella & Spotlight 29 Casino for a break & short meeting. This is always a very welcomed stop—they’re practically like family now.   And speaking of “warm,” the temp is already warm!  Let me rephrase that – it is HOT! Already 93° and it’s only 10 o’clock in the morning!

Now, on to Blythe, CA, where we know it’s even hotter…but the people treat us like royalty.   After lunch & lots of water, we gear up for the afternoon ride—which is long & very challenging.   This is where you quickly discover if you kept yourself sufficiently hydrated.   We made it to our afternoon fuel stop in Tonopah, AZ.   I would bet money that we were standing on the asphalt parking lot that was at least 120 degrees.   The air temperature was ranging from 100 to 102.  Wow….   

On to Casa Grande, though, for supper at the Elk’s Lodge.   And it was surely a welcomed site.   Many of the towns people were there, waving us in and greeting us at the Lodge.   They fed us a great supper of Mexican food, which really hit the spot.   The Elks people were just fabulous.   And what made it even more special was that we had some pleasant surprise visits from a few riders & road guards in the RFTW family that no longer ride with us.    Another great thing that happened today was that we were either right on time or early on our scheduled stops!    Getting in early rarely happens, which meant we got off the hot highway & bright sun.    Now—we’re off to the hotels for a cool shower & rest for Day 2.     After a grueling 406 mile day, tomorrow will be slightly easier at 354 miles.  Plus, the weather is SAYING that it’ll be cooler….  We’ll see!

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SR Pre-Run. Tuesday, May 16th

An early start today—-some of us were here in Lot D to send off the Midway Route on their journey eastbound to D.C.!  Yes—-Midway Route is leaving a day earlier, yet will be in DC at the same time.   Leaving a day earlier is something that has been talked about for several years, but 2023 is the first time it’s been implemented as a “trial run.”   They will be taking a little “down time” in Cookeville, TN.   But back to Lot D—-as in the past, the great folks from the local CMA chapters were out in full force with breakfast burritos, pots of coffee & snacks for the riders to take along.   The Elks Lodge was out there, as well, passing out various items & snacks.    After the brief opening ceremony, it seems everyone was ready to hear the infamous horn blow.   And finally, with a wave good-bye—they were off.

For the other riders who weren’t out there, many headed over to the Lodge, where the Elks people were fixing us breakfast burritos, as well!   In fact, they had a great line-up of meals planned, once more, for us today, as we conducted meetings & met up with friends.    The Elks volunteers have gone above & beyond for RFTW—there is no doubt in anyone’s mind.

This morning we had a leadership meeting, and the excitement was just buzzing.  For all who stayed for lunchtime at the Lodge, we were treated to some great entertainment from the 1st Division Marine Band of Camp Pendleton.  These band members are also active Marines!  They played everything from jazz to 1940’s classics.  Awesome musicians—especially since it’s not their primary job!   Of course, they ended with the “Armed Forces Medley” and “Stars and Stripes Forever.”

For this afternoon—both Central & Southern had the FNG and the All Riders meetings out at Lot D.   All I will say—-is it was acclimating us to the heat!  :-).    Seriously, though, as several members of the leadership team went over vital points, it was good to be reminded of things that we “old timers” had forgotten.     Once the meetings are over—-it’s time to buckle down & get yourself and your gear ready for tomorrow morning—-loading the bike in the dark and heading to Lot D to stage.   I remember well the last minute jitters….     Tomorrow—-for the FNG’s——it’s an adventure they have never experienced before—-and won’t ever forget.

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SR Pre-Run. Monday, May 15th

What a way to start the day!   The great folks at the Elks Lodge not only opened up their place for our meetings, but also is providing us 3 meals a day at great prices.   And what do we have for today?   The awesome Ontario Fire Department, working with the Lodge,  came out, fired up the griddles & made us pancakes.   For lunch, we had hamburgers, & the smoke from the outdoor grills cooking those patties just made your mouth water.   To top it off—-they served an awesome steak dinner for the evening.   This place was hopping all day long—with meetings, registrations or just socializing.   Back at the host hotel, the parking lot was busy as well, especially the merchandise trailer.   Many other “logistic duties” & errands were getting done by all routes.

This afternoon there at the Elks Lodge, we had the special privilege of watching Army Specialist Stephen Peterson, from the Middle East Conflict, receive his bike from Combat Hero Bike Build.   This is always a great, yet humbling thing to witness.

Tomorrow will bring something entirely new to the Run!   Something not ever done before—it’s exciting, yet, with anything tried out for the first time, it’s nerve-wracking.  “Stay tuned” as they say.

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Pre-Run. Sunday, May 14th

It’s finally here!    MAY is upon us and the official 2023 RFTW Ride is only days away!

My name is Diann “Mojo” McKee, and I’m the Southern Route’s sit-rep writer for this year.   Of all the jobs I’ve held on the run during my years, I’ve never been sit-rep writer.   So—-here goes!    Just a note—-the sit-reps will not have any pictures attached.   This year, “Eyes,” our RC, has a Social Media person who will be taking & posting MANY pictures throughout the day and on all the media sites.  What a great way to really see what’s going on——all throughout the run!

Here it is—Sunday.   Excitement is building as the riders keep arriving during the day.   Hugs and handshakes are abundant.   The parking lot is filling up rapidly with bikes trying to find a spot, and the merchandise trailer is already doing a brisk business.   It’s wonderful seeing old friends, again—being glad that they were able to make it one more year.

Talk about organized chaos. All the different leadership teams were trying to get things distributed to their team members throughout the day. But excitement was everywhere. Tomorrow’s schedule is packed with many meetings, along with some special events.   And tonight offered a church service at the host hotel.    Yes, today was a time to relax (i.e. release some of the pent-up energy!) with our RFTW family. Then, getting a good night’s sleep—ready for leadership meetings— and seeing even more old friends AND greeting new FNG’s as they arrive.

As the evening progressed, you could see many gatherings of old friends in the different hotels. To see the riders getting together, socializing and catching up on their lives is what makes everything so worthwhile.  Not to mention that it helps calm the “run jitters,” despite how many times we’ve already done it.    THAT never goes away.   Comparing our similar little personal trials with each other seems to help us forge ahead for the intense days facing us.

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Day 10 – Friday May 27, 2022. Southern Route

Day 10!  We made it to Arlington – ALL THE WAY!  How far we going to go?  ALL THE WAY.

Today we started in Lynchburg and going planned on 256 miles to Arlington.  We had breakfast at the Tree of Life Ministries.  After breakfast, there were some presentations to not only the folks from The Tree of Ministries that took care of us but many of the unsung hero’s that helped pull this whole run off.

Probably the big point of this drive was the rain we ran into.  We had some heavy rain for quite a while.  We pulled off for a fuel stop at a Sheetz in Fisherville and then it was really coming down but 15 minutes later, things calmed down.  The rain gear really helped.  We went on to the next stop, Front Royal where we fueled up and had lunch in the parking lot at the Hilton Double Tree.  P&J Sandwiches.  Then, 66 miles to Arlington.  We had Police escort all the way through Virginia into Arlington.  I think everyone was thinking about getting to Arlington and that’s all that was on their mind.  Once we rolled into the host hotel, it was a great feeling.  We made it!

Thanks All Brothers and Sisters for being Run companions!  It’s been a great one.  See you next year!

USAF ’72 – ’75

Breakfast at the Tree of Life Ministries

The send off at the Tree of Life Ministries

Our last stop at Front Royal prior to going to Arlington

Sheetz fuel stop

The Tree of Life Ministries – presentations


The Sheetz fuel stop with rain

The Sheetz fuel stop while we tried to keep out of the rain

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Day 9 – May 26, 2022 Southern Route

Day 9 – Thursday May 22, 2022. Southern Route

Today we travel from Wytheville Virginia to Lynchburg Virginia.  It will be an easier day than most with only 130 miles to be traveled for the pack.  Breakfast was at Withers Park with again, the people of Wytheville coming out to take care of us.  After a bit, the kids came around and started their show for us.  The children put on a fantastic show.  They obviously practiced long and hard for this.  They started with a patriotic entrance using flags for each branch of the service with the appropriate song of that branch.  Then they went into a very well done skit from Stripes where the kids were spot on with the acting and speaking parts.  It was very well done and brought the house down.  They did some readings and the meaning behind them.  They also carried the American Flag and the POW flag.  It was all very touching and very well done.  “Bravo” to the people of Wytheville to have a community like this.  We were impressed and very honored to have your support.  Thank You!!

Coming in for breakfast and the show at Withers Park

Our Israeli brother showing the banner that he will be bringing back home with him

Speaking to Thank Witheville and members who contributed

Some of the kids after the show and us getting ready to roll

Withers Park

Withers Park in the morning

I decided to spend some time with the Ambassadors so we went on our own for an outreach to a VA hospital.  That was also moving.  Many of the patients were outside in chairs waiting for us and I would expect this was an exciting event for them.  We roared in with our motorcycles and started mixing with them making conversations.  We all have something in common with the military service or having family in the military service but most people like to talk about themselves so it was easy to simply listen. Some of them had motorcycle stories so we had a good time hanging out with them.   This facility seemed to be taking good care of these warriors.  They were happy campers and enjoyed the visit.  The time spent with the Ambassadors was fruitful and interesting.  The Ambassadors do a lot of work on the periphery of the run.  The Ambassadors plow ahead of the pack to stop and visit most of the bridges that are greeting us as we go by.  They thank the bridge participants and give them a pin or another trinket to show our appreciation for their support.  They also go on out reach visits to family of KIA’s and MIA’s.

We then went onto the D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia.  I visited this memorial in 2019 and was super impressed.  I had never heard of it before that visit but it is a large and very well put together memorial.  I’ll include a few pictures but there’s a lot of stories to learn about here.  Bedford was chosen as the location for this memorial because they lost more men per capitia than any other city in the US at D-Day.  From the web site:

Bedford, Virginia… Like eleven other Virginia communities, Bedford provided a company of soldiers (Company A) to the 29th Infantry Division when the National Guard’s 116th Infantry Regiment was activated on 3 February 1941. Some thirty Bedford soldiers were still in that company on D-Day; several more from Bedford were in other D-Day companies, including one who, two years earlier, had been reassigned from the 116th Infantry to the First Infantry Division. Thus he had already landed in both Northern Africa and Sicily before coming ashore on D-Day at Omaha Beach with the Big Red One. Company A of the 116th Infantry assaulted Omaha Beach as part of the First Division’s Task Force O.

By day’s end, nineteen of the company’s Bedford soldiers were dead. Two more Bedford soldiers died later in the Normandy campaign, as did yet another two assigned to other 116th Infantry companies. Bedford’s population in 1944 was about 3,200. Proportionally this community suffered the nation’s severest D-Day losses. Recognizing Bedford as emblematic of all communities, large and small, whose citizen-soldiers served on D-Day, Congress warranted the establishment of the National D-Day Memorial here.

The Bedford Boys will be remembered along with all the others.  There are plaques for all that  died that day on the main circle.  And, the invasion was a success and this memorial is a significant place to visit and learn more history about the war.

From Bedford, we went onto Lynchburg and had a nice dinner at the Harley Davidson Dealer of Lynchburg.  Another good day.

P.S. – Sorry I don’t know how to format picture locations yet in this web site.

D-Day Memorial in Bedford, VA

The D-Day memorial in Bedford

D-Day Memorial

Speaking with patients at the VA on our Outreach

More greeting at the VA Med Center – yes, the Mayor was with us!

More fun at the VA Med Center

More Visiting at the VA Med Center

Our Israeli brother with the banner he will be bringing home to his other brothers and sisters

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Day 8 – Wednesday May 25, 2022 – Southern Route

Day 8 – Wednesday May 25, 2022 Southern Route

Flying with the Fuel Team

We left Chattanooga Tennessee with the destination of Wytheville Virginia.  We were able to avoid rain, or should I say the rain avoided us.  We staged and had breakfast at the White Lightening Harley Davidson dealer.  We traveled to Bristol where we had lunch and then on to Wytheville, VA.  I’ll speak to the Wytheville in a little bit but first wanted to speak to the bigger part of my day.  I wanted to ride with the fuel crew to see what their days are like.  There are many unsung hero’s on this mission doing work in the background and they range from the folks doing registration, staging crew, fuel crew, nursing, Ambassadors, honor guard coordinator, Photographer, hydration team, leadership support, Road Guards, merchandise team, and of course the State Coordinators.  It takes a lot of people to pull this off in such an organized manner and being the first year as a Sit-Rep, I realized I need to see some of this and learn more about how they perform their roles, what they go through.  So, I decided to spend most of the day with the fuel crew.  The fuel crew is a tight group as they need to be to pull off the job they have.  They leave early to be at the next fuel stop way ahead of the pack.  After they get to a fuel stop, they start making arrangements to take over the pumps that will be needed to efficiently refuel everyone.  Of course, the gas station is aware of the big group of motorcycles coming.  Payment for the fuel has been arranged for and then they wait a few minutes for the first group to come in.  Usually, the Staging Crew will roll in, then the Ambassadors and then we wait another few minutes until the main pack comes rolling in.  So, the pumps are on and the bikes line up two abreast on each side of the pump with a fueler on each side of the pump.  The fueler hands the pump handle to each rider and they pump away until the pumps clicks off and that should be enough since most fuel stops average 100 miles.  The inside bike is now fueled, the outside bike is handed the pump handle, they start fueling while the inside bike moves forward and another bike moves up to the inside position to wait for their turn.  If it’s a pay stop, there’s a person that is collecting the cash to pay for the fuel, usually a $5 or $10 dollar charge.  This is going on each side of the pump for 4 to 6 pumps.  It’s a very efficient process and 400 bikes can be fueled in 20 minutes this way at a large station with enough pumps.  After the bikes are fueled, the pumps are turned off, the account is settled, and the fuel guys take off for the next fuel stop to get it all set up again.  What this also means is that they often miss out on many of the lunches that we enjoy or some of the memorials that we go to.  They will make some of the stops but they also miss some.  They have their own 4 wheeler (cage) that carries hydration and goodies to keep them going since they move fast and early.  What I found pretty cool about the time spent with them is that they work hard and have a lot of fun doing it.  They give each other a hard time in fun and everyone enjoys the play.  This team is an attestation of  “no attitude”.  One of the rules we all live by on this run is not having an attitude and these guys display this very well.  I would probably see a similar way of acting in the other support teams but it was real enjoyable to be part of this team and enjoy the fun of their acceptance.  The importance of doing everything correctly like clockwork can make it all go very smoothly or have a mistake add a lot of time to a fuel stop which reduces the amount of time the riders can go hydrate or take a bathroom break.  An example is doing a very natural thing to hang up a fuel pump handle after fueling a bike.  Well, that means the pump must be restarted and that can add a fair amount of time to that line of bikes waiting.  Of course, the offender is teased and as punishment for doing something wrong like that, there is a piece of jewelry the offender must wear for a day or so, depending on the infraction.  As a new guy for the day, I was told to wear the jewelry for part of the day and it added to the experience for me as part of my initiation onto the fuel crew.  Picture attached.

The jewelry one must wear if they mess up – it gets heavy after a while

An empty gas station before the rush

Fuel Team chase vehicle and hydration vehicle – Thanks Scottie!

The fuel Crew with an extra dude today

Fuel crew parks where they can have easy access to leave after everyone is fueled up

First customers for the fuel crew

One of the ongoing traveling memorials we have on this ride is carrying a tri-folded flag from Ontario to Washington DC.  This flag is being carried by FNG’s only and handed off at each stop.  It’s bringing the concept of honoring the flag and it’s meaning closer to all of us.  Below are some pictures of one of the FNG’s going through the hand off procedure.  This flag is not commemorative for a particular warrior but in memory for all MIA’s and KIA’s as our American Flag and country that we defend.  They are not forgotten.  Pictures below.

Flag Relay

Flag relay

Flag Relay

Later in the day of Day 8, we rolled into Wytheville Virginia.  Wytheville is a unique town.  We see many small or medium towns that really come out in force to welcome us and greet us.  Wytheville does this with a force that cannot be beat.  The family’s greet us on the streets for a very long way as our procession comes into town.  Then we roll into Withers Park and circle the park on what is normally a round foot path wide enough to park two motorcycles.  The people of Wytheville converge with us, greet us, give us big hugs and make us feel very welcome and very special.  There were some great speeches, awards, patriotic events and a special Thank You to select people that make this event come together in Wytheville along the State Police that escorted us across the state.  One of the beautiful parts of the State Police escorting RFTW is that one of Wytheville’s own was part of that force.  A young man that grew up with RFTW coming into the park and the school, participating in the run as a young man and now escorting us as a motor police.  This town has really adopted us into their hearts.  It appears they look at the arrival of RFTW as an event as big as Christmas!  If Christmas is bigger, I think I want to be here next Christmas!  After the arrival ceremonies, we went off the hotels to check in and then went to the Moose Lodge for dinner.  Again, the food, a fabulous steak and/or chicken barbecued to perfection with a great salad and side dishes.  I know meat is expensive these days but the steak quality was very high.  Then raffles and auctions, some more honors and time to get some rest.

Thank You Wytheville.

The Virgina State Police that helped escort us across the state was honored in Wytheville

Withers Park

A really good dinner!

RFTW member and ex-mayor of Wytheville giving credit where due

Withers Park

Withers Park

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Day 7 – Tuesday May 24, 2022 Southern Route

Day 7 – Tuesday May 24, 2022 Southern Route


Today we went from Meridian, MS to Chattanooga, TN. We started at the Agriculture Pavilion in Meridian.  Of course, we were fed good stuff.  Always lots of food but it’s all so good and appreciated.  Everyone seems to enjoy taking care of us as we journey across the country.  We always have a big Thank You for all these great people and truly appreciate the number of people coming out to support us.  The laundry was ready for pickup!  An amazing service.  The big news of the day was the rain.  We were rained on for a couple of hours all together but it was a fairly warm rain.  We all had our rain gear on so it wasn’t a big deal.  It slowed us a little but we went through and got to where we needed to be.  We had some fuel stops, we left Mississippi, went through Alabama and a small part of Georgia to end up in Tennessee.  A total of 317 miles.  We had LEO escort in Alabama but not in Tennessee.  Going through Chattanooga there was quite a bit of traffic but we all made it through without incidence.  It’s hard to describe but if you’re a rider, and you’re with a friend or two, you can make it through the traffic areas without too much trouble but when you have a group as large as ours, it becomes a challenge and that’s where our Road Guards do a fabulous job of getting us through these difficult areas without an incident.  The reality is you have different skill levels with riders that don’t know each other’s driving habits real well.  The size of the group is so large, even broken up into platoons, it’s a challenge because we’re trying to stay together yet some cars are trying to squeeze into our group to make an exit and it can become a challenge.  Most of us are experienced enough to know when to let people through and when not to so with the guidance of Road Guards and Tail Gunners, we did well.  Thanks Guys and Gals.  Dinner was at the White Lightening Harley Davidson Dealer.  Great pulled pork sandwiches and goodies.  Then onto the hotels.  I had some other details I wanted to pass on but my sources haven’t forwarded details yet, hopefully I can update later tonight or tomorrow.  Till next time – Boots out.

R “Boots”
USAF ’72 – ’75

“Accept the challenges so that you can
feel the exhilaration of victory.”
General George Patton Jr.

Below are some words from a gentleman, Frank L. Vance, that read to us during one of our fuel stops.  It was very touching.

People like my Father and all Soldiers make me very proud to be AMERICAN. My wife’s father was  in the Navy during WWII. My father graduated Glider Pilot flight school from South Plains Air Field. He served in the European Theater. His name was Frank L. Vance  III. They have a Silent Wings Museum in Lubbock , Texas  at South Plains Air Field that Honors all Gliders Pilots. There was a picture of his 306th TCS in the museum, the same picture we have at his house.
My father passed on Dec.30th, 2013.He was a WWII Glider Pilot. He was in the Army/Aircorp 9th Corp,442nd TCG,306th TCS. He flew CG-4A  Gliders and C-47’s in Holland, France, Belgium and Germany. His main mission was Operation Market Garden. Many British and American men died in that battle. He received the Air Combat Metal for his Service. He was my HERO and my BEST FRIEND. He always said the HERO’S were the ones that gave their lives during the war. He said he was not a HERO. I always thought he and all men like him were HERO’S. I’d like to share a poem I wrote a few weeks after he died. It’s called “Soldiers Pain” Thanks, Frank L. Vance IV, Dedicated to Frank L. Vance III and all soldiers:

Soldier’s Pain

He is my eternal flame,
Many have come before and after,
but they are all the same

Young girls and boys protecting the world
and always taking the blame.

They didn’t ask to be in this
situation, but do their job
because they love their nation.

They never have time to cry
or be afraid, something we
take for granted every day.

I owe a great amount of appreciation
because my father was part of
the Greatest Generation.

There’s a place in my heart for all the
families that are mentally and physically
so far apart.

Many lose their life and some
come home to their husband and wife.

The ones that are sane settle
back in society and sustain,
but the ones that gave and
saw pain will never be the same.

If they make it back sane
I think they wonder why we all complain.

So, if you see a soldier
give them a hand shake and
a hug because freedom is
not free and they sacrifice
everything for you and me.

We will never know a
Soldiers Pain because they
risk and give their lives for our gain.

By: Frank L. Vance IV      January 2014

Most of the laundry bags are already picked up.

After dinner relax at the Chattanooga White Lightening Harley Davidson Dealer.

Relaxing after dinner at the White Lightening Harley Davidson Dealer.

Dinner at White Lightening Harley Davidson Dealer.

Bikes parked at the White Lightening Harley Davidson Dealer. This is a pano you can zoom in on.

Bikes parked at White Lightening Harley Davidson Dealer.

The afternoon gas stop with a reading of what it means to be a warrior. This gentleman’s own words.

The afternoon gas stop with a reading of what it means to be a warrior. This gentleman’s own words.

The Tuscaloosa (T-Town) Harley Davidson shop where they fed us a good lunch.


One of today’s Missing Man.

Morning in Meridian where we started putting the rain gear on.

Morning briefing in Meridian.

Leadership getting ready for morning briefing.

Meridian staged bikes ready for depart.

Ready to go.

Reckless talking with one of the ladies involved in processing out laundry.

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Day 6 – Monday May 23, 2022 Southern Route

Day 6 – May 23, 2022 Monday – Southern Route

This morning we started in Monroe Louisiana and ended up in Meridian Mississippi.  Another good day for traveling.  We had a little bit of rain drizzle for about 15 minutes and that was it.  It was refreshing and did not get those of us very wet that have fairings.  It was a total of 225 miles.  We started with a full tank and made 2 fuel stops.  We started at Sam’s Club parking lot with MacDonalds sausage and biscuit sandwiches along with some fruits and other goodies.  The first ride was very short as we went to the Monroe City Hall to have a wreath laying ceremony at the Veterans Memorial that is there in front.  It’s a nice memorial for locals that had given all for WWII, The Korean War and the Vietnam War.  I was pleased to see it etched in stone that it was the Vietnam War and not the Vietnam Conflict like they pushed in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s trying to avoid the idea we were at war and war was never declared!  We headed towards Jackson MS.  We had LEO escort the remainder of Louisiana and all the way through Mississippi.  Before leaving the Sam’s Club parking lot, we had a couple of the Motor Police do a little show for us on their Harley’s.  Very talented riders.  I’ll put a link to a movie to try and show case the riding.  I mentioned having their escort.  They basically shut the highway down not allowing vehicles to get on the highway in front of us and keeping them off until the entire pack had passed.  They were doing a bump and go where the police would block the entrance with their lights going, a RFTW Road Guard would stop and take his place, then the LEO would continue on to the next entrance with a few of his buddies doing the same thing with other entrances further up.  I was lucky enough to be close to the front of the pack and could see the actions which included 16 to 18 Motor Police riding side by side with all of them flashing their blue lights.  It looked like a moving island of flashing blue lights, then there was a bunch of Road Guards right behind them with their yellow and white lights flashing, it was a colorful morning and very impressive.  And, almost all the over passes had people waving at us with American Flags displayed.  There were quite a few of the smaller towns that had their firetrucks out there on the over pass with lights flashing and often big American Flags hanging off the ladder trucks.  We all felt pretty special.  It was a huge welcome from the State of Mississippi.  We crossed the Mississippi River, very large and continued on to the first fuel stop.  The escort took us off and back on claiming the highway to be ours again.  It was a fun time.  In Jackson, MS, we stopped for lunch at the Jackson Harley Dealer.  It started with a ceremony where the Quarter Master announced the celebrity military hero’s that graced us with the presence.  To mention a few, there was a Baatan Death March Survivor, a Tuskegee Airman, 32nd Fighter Group, an Iwo Jima Survivor, a Prisoner of War survivor and last but not least, Michael Thornton, a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient.  Lt Thornton has quite a list of achievements as a Navy Seal and if you’d like to read a bit more, a link to an informative web page is:

I was able to get a picture of Lt Thornton, myself and Flat Stanley in front of the dealership, it is below.  Most everyone on the ride is familiar with Flat Stanley but he’s a character from a beginning reader book series and the Montvale Elementary School in Virginia asked one of us to carry Stanley on the ride with us.  I was honored to do so.  Flat Stanley is a character that children will make in school, mail him to friends and family around the world and they will have pictures sent back of Flat Stanley having adventures.  Kids seem to really like the stories and anything to encourage reading is a good thing.  He’s easily Googled if you want to learn more.

From Jackson, we went to our final stop of the day in Meridian MS.  We were escorted to the Ag Center where they had a great meal laid out for us.  Smoked meats, veggies and potatoes with a long table of homemade deserts.  I have some pictures of the Smoker below.  They converted an old fire truck into a drivable smoker with a very large drum to smoke the meats.  Pretty impressive if you like smokers.  Another wonderful service is also offered here in Meridian.  Here we are on day 6 and we all have some dirty laundry.  There is a group that comes up from Florida and gives us plastic bags with our names on them to fill with our dirty clothes.  Tomorrow morning, the bags will be available for pickup, all nicely folded and clean.  Amazing people.  I understand they have a large truck that is outfitted with washer / dryer equipment, and they travel to disaster spots to help people that are without these services.  An exciting day.  Tomorrow, we head towards Chattanooga, TN.  PS – sorry I don’t know how to format these pages very well.  Being new at this role, I didn’t have much time to learn the nuances of formatting.


The Ag Center in Meridian MS


IMG_5132  <—— Link to movie of LEO on bike.


Ag Center – Meridian MS

Two new FNG’s that joined us this morning in Monroe. They rode in from Shreveport area early.

The Smoker, up close

The Smoker in Meridian

Lt Thornton, Flat Stanley and me

Quarter Master announcing special people

Monroe MS Veterans Memorial

Monroe MS Veterans Memorial

Monroe MS Veterans Memorial

Monroe MS Veterans Memorial and the wreath

Sam’s Club parking lot. good people

The first Missing man of the day




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Day 5, May 22, 2022 – Southern Route

Day 5 – May 22, 2022 Sunday – Southern Route

A great day where we avoided being rained on.  It looked threatening at times and after pulling into the hotel after dinner, it did indeed start raining a bit.  So, we were blessed with good weather for our riding today.  We started in Grand Prairie Texas and ended the day in Monroe Louisiana.  We had breakfast provided by a MacDonalds in the Grand Prairie Super Walmart parking lot where we staged for leaving.  There were 3 fuel stops with lunch at the Longview Texas Fairgrounds in Longview.  At the Fairgrounds is a large building that we take up a big chunk of as they feed us and entertain us.  Good sandwiches, lots of baked goodies with very warm greetings.  There’s a gentleman that sings to us with karaoke tracks running and it’s good entertainment.  We surely get that “appreciated” feeling along this route and today was another day to get that feeling.  Some of the troops went on an outreach this morning to the Texas Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Fair Park.  There are some pictures of that below with a wreath laying by members of our ride volunteering to be the honor guard.  After lunch we headed towards Monroe, LA.  Once we hit the Louisiana border, we had State Motorcycle Police escort us with them blocking the highway entrances to not have traffic coming into our long procession of motorcycles.  With the traffic stopped, one of our road guards would take that spot and the State Police Officer would head down to the next area that needed blocking and it continued all the way to our destination.  Those officers came to dinner with us at the Monroe Shriners Hall where we were all treated to really good Catfish, Pork or Chicken along with Coleslaw and Hushpuppies that had a bit of a spice byte to them – great stuff. Oh, then the long tables filled with baked goods.  We’re not going hungry this trip.  We rode 323 miles.  One of the fuel stops in the morning needs to be acknowledged is the town of Terrell Texas.  It’s a large store parking lot where after filling up with fuel, the local folks gather to greet us, give us drinks and snacks.  Along with the RFTW State Coordinator and her connections with the Daughters of the American Revolution, things were put together to make this stop a reality again.  With Covid over the last couple of years, it almost slipped the minds of important players but it did come together with the Mayor and City Council also proclaiming May 22, 2022 to become the official Run For The Wall day.  At the Longview lunch, they also declared that in the City of Terrell, May 22, 2022 is also going to be Run For The Wall Day.  Now we just have to work on the rest of the country!


The picture of a Bio in a sleeve in the parking lot needs a bit of explanation.  The Missing Man is an important part of Run For The Wall.  As we travel along on our mission, FNG’s have the opportunity to ride up front with the Missing Man platoon and ride for someone with a personal connection to them or choose one of the Missing Men that’s on a list, longer than we like.  Each leg of the journey (between fuel stops) is another opportunity for an FNG to participate in this honor to remember the Missing loved ones.  The formation is set up where the Route coordinator and the Assistant Route Coordinator are side by side, then the FNG is immediately behind the Route Coordinator with an empty spot next to the FNG representing the Missing Man.  After the FNG and the empty spot is the Missing Man Coordinator Judy “Not Airborne” Wormmeester and the Missing Man Chaplin Bo Pearson, also riding side by side.  We are riding to remember those that have been lost.  Tomorrow we go to Meridian Mississippi as we get closer to Washington DC.

R “Boots”
USAF ’72 – ’75


Flat Stanley assisting the platoon.

Terrell Texas – good folks coming out to greet us and give us a warm welcome.

Missing Man Memorial that rides with RFTW