Posted on 1 Comment

Day 4 – Odessa TX – Grand Prairie TX. 🎉 Surprise! ☀️Hot & 💨Windy

Day 4 began with a delicious breakfast provided by American Legion Post 430. After breakfast we took a 10 mile ride to The Permian Basin Memorial. For Vietnam Veterans, this is a very emotional stop. The angle of the helicopter coming in and the soldiers on the ground hoping for a ride out of the jungle brings back very vivid memories.

Southern Rider, Karoni Forrester “Hoops” Dad’s name is on this memorial. She graciously agreed to share her father’s bio with us.

Capt. Ronald W. Forrester, USMC
MIA 12/27/72 – North Vietnam

Ron was 25 years old when his plane was shot down over North Vietnam. Two days after Christmas, 1972 and one month to the day before the Peace Treaty was signed. Capt. Ron Forrester and his pilot, Cast Jim Chipman went on a solo night mission as part of Operation Linebacker II. Their A-6A Intruder never returned to base. It is believed their plane was hit with anti-aircraft artillery. Their crash site has not been accurately located. There are mixed reports as to whether either Marine was able to eject from the plane. Forrester and Chipman are MISSING IN ACTION

This is why we ride!

AMBASSADORS REPORT –

The Ambassador team paid tribute at the Texas State Cemetery to two of Texas’ fallen heros, who both earned the Metal of Honor posthumously. The team laid a wreath at each gravesite. Their citations are written in large plaques in the cemetery. Alfred Wilson, U.S. Marine was KIA when he jumped on a grenade to save the others in his squad, absorbing the full force of the blast. Marvin Young, U.S.Army, was critically wounded, he stayed behind to cover the withdrawal of his men and died on the battlefield.

After lunch at the Colorado City, Railhead Building we had two 100+ mile rides to Grand Prairie. Made it through Dallas with nary a hiccup, thanks for the LEOs and fantastic road guards. Gonzo out in front of the Pack is doing a fantastic job and Wild Cat is bringing up the rear. Road Guard book ends.

I think we’ll close with a quote about duty. Southern Route riders wear many hats, often times it’s not the job they were enlisted to do. Everyone pitches in and does what needs to be done. So…

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

Good Night, safe riding to all three routes tomorrow.

P.S. I am too tired to proof read or spell check. Sorry if there are mistakes.

Posted on 1 Comment

Day 3, Las Cruces NM to Odessa TX ☀️hot & windy 💨

Our morning briefing included a safety briefing from Captain, the Road Guard Captain. Las Cruces did not provide LEO escorts in town, nor would they allow our road guards to stop intersections or direct traffic. This created an interesting situation. Two road guards were assigned to each platoon as we travelled through town, obeying ALL the traffic signals, stop signs and turns. After my platoon made it to the memorial I went up to thank our road guard. I told him I had never led a platoon, having to obey all the traffic laws. He laughed and said, me either. Well, for first timers, it went quite well.

Check this out, 3 Southern Route leaders, sharing the bad news of no LEO escorts through Las Cruces.

A big shout out to our Road Guards, up early, standing out on the hot pavement, getting us down the road. THANK YOU!

Stopped at the Las Cruces, Veteran’s Memorial Park, there was a nice ceremony. A short video is posted on the Run for the Wall Facebook page and Instagram of the National Anthem. Very moving to start the day with over 100 veterans singing the National Anthem.

Made it to Texas today! Texas and Texans are amazing! This is the fourth state on our journey. Some states we pass through the people, stuck in their cars on the side of the road get angry at the inconvenience of having to wait for us. In Texas, the people get out of their cars and salute the veterans as they ride by. THAT’S IMPRESSIVE.

We had lunch in Van Horn, delicious home made salads. Corn bread salad, I’ve never had it, care to share your recipes?

On to Odessa with a quick pit stop in Pecos for a fill up and empty out. (if you get what I mean 😝)

After 345 miles we pulled into Odessa and a delicious dinner of fried catfish, fried chicken, hush puppies and homemade ice cream. All prepared by Catfish and Company and donated by Brazos Door and Hardware of Odessa, Texas. Thank you Crossroads Fellowship Church for opening your doors to us. It was very nice to get done after a long, hot day and walk into a nice air conditioned building. Thank you to you all!

I have requested reports from the Ambassador team and Out Reach team. Tonight we have our first Ambassador Report:

ANGELS WATCHING OVER ME – AMBASSADOR REPORT

The Ambassador team encountered heavy traffic entering El Paso. General’s Driver was very concerned they would not make the assigned stops when out of nowhere, a Texas State Trooper came to the front of the team, turned on his lights and escorted the team through the heavy traffic to the next fuel stop where he was thanked and given a run pin.

Since we are in Odessa tonight, birthplace of Chris Kyle and the location of his monument, we will end tonight with a quote of his.

“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 God Bless you Chris and your family for your service and sacrifice.

Posted on Leave a comment

Day 2 – Chandler AZ – Las Cruces NM ☀️Hot & Windy💨

A great day to be alive and a beautiful day to ride!

The day began, sunny and warm, a nice 70 degrees. Our first stop was in Marana, AZ. We gassed up at the Circle K and swung around to stage in the parking lot of a little bar. We were thrilled that the parking lot was paved this year and we didn’t have to deal with gravel. It’s the little things in life. We did need to use kickstand pads as the black top is so soft the bikes sink. Gotta love Arizona ☀.

Marana, AZ might be a small town out in the Arizona desert, but they have big hearts! The gas stop was donated by DVMA 3212, VFW Post 5990 Auxiliary, breakfast was donated by Mike Kemery and Maricopa VFW. Wow! a big Thank you from RFTW – Southern Route!

Gunny was in Marana and we got a peek at his new FNG Patch that was presented to him yesterday. Gunny and I discussed the other 15 original ATW riders. Looking forward to seeing Cowboy in Odessa, that leaves 13 missing riders. Perhaps someone will seek them out… hint, hint.

Before we knew it, it was time to hit the road. We crossed into New Mexico at 1:40 and crossed the Continental Divide at 2:40. That’s always fun. Next stop, Wilcox Arizona.

Wilcox is another small town in Arizona with a big patriotic heart! The kids come out with posters and flags welcoming the riders. The Elks lodge hosts our lunch. The VFW performed a flag ceremony. So much happened in such a short amount of time, I didn’t get the names of everyone involved in the program. The Wilcox PD lead riders in and out of town.

Upon leaving Wilcox we experienced a 100+ mile leg, 100 degree weather and 100 mile per hour winds. It was a fabulous day, because, it wasn’t raining!

I have a question for local New Mexico residents. There are signs posted telling travelers what to do in a dust storm:

1. Get off the road.
2. Stay buckled up.
3. Turn lights off
4. Take foot off the break.

What the heck is that? Seeing all the signs and the fierce wind, I wondered what we would do on motorcycles if we experienced such a dust storm.

The day ended at Barnett’s Harley Davidson Shop. They do such a good job hosting the riders of the Southern Route every year. One of the favorite high lights is the ginormous flag flying from the Fire Engine. Thank you Barnett’s for hosting us year after year.

I just have to give a shout out to my most wonderful husband. He gassed up my bike tonight so I could start working on the sit-rep. It’s a good man that will gas up your bike after a long day of riding. Thank you honey! (he never reads this, but what the heck)

We’ll end tonight with this thought:

POW/MIA

For as long as we have Wars
And we send our Young to fight
We’ll have Those who are Missing
And the POWs plight.
All People of this Nation
Have this Duty to fulfill.
We must keep Them in our thoughts
And, We must have the Will
To bring every One home
And do all we can to find
All those POW/MIAs
And leave NO Souls behind.

Good night and God Speed

Posted on 1 Comment

Day 1, Ontario CA – Chandler AZ, 50 mile detour

It was a beautiful morning to kick off the XXX Run for the Wall.
3 Routes – 1 Mission

To quote Board of Director President, Les Williams, “This is a mission, not a joy ride. We are here for our brothers & sisters. The rider’s meeting began with the usual, prayer, pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and The National Anthem.

As the National Anthem began a quiet hush fell over the crowd. Slowly and gently, voices could be heard joining in. The voices swelled in one united chorus. Brought chills to my bones and made me that much prouder to be an American 🇺🇸.

The Flag ceremony was performed by the 2nd Battalion, 23rd Marines. Les dismissed them immediately so they could spend time with their families, as they are being deployed soon. May God Bless them and keep them. 🙏🏻

James Gregory “Gunny” was then presented with the one thing he’s never been awarded, an FNG patch. Hahaha! Les, dismissed the group with these words, “We will meet again in Washington D.C.” Amen! And we were off!

The Southern Route made it to their first stop, 92 miles, a little ahead of schedule. Wookie shared the story of Specialist Elliott Crook, assigned to Company A, 101st Aviation Battalion, 101st Airborne Division: “The Screaming Eagles”

On May 16, 1971 Spc Crook was the crew chief of a UH1H helicopter. Other crew members: Lt. Joseph P. Nolan, pilot; W1 Craig L. Farlow, aircraft commander, and SP4 Timothy J. Jacobsen, door gunner. The helicopter was the 7th to land on the LZ. On departing the LZ, pilots of 5th & 6th helicopters reported taking enemy fire. LT. Nolan reported that he was taking heavy ground fire, that his crew chief was wounded. Lt. Nolan immediately took off and at 250 feet, witnesses saw his aircraft rapidly lose roter RPM and crash into the tree tops, bursting into flames. No survivors were seen to exit the aircraft. The crew is missing in action.

THIS IS WHY WE RIDE!

“Man doesn’t die as long as he is remembered” WE REMEMBER!

We left Coachella ahead of schedule for the 92 mile ride to Blythe. Four miles in, we left California and entered Arizona. We also crossed the Colorado River. The ride was beautiful, saguaro Cacti on either side of the road. The cacti have new growth right now. The tops of the cactus look like they are growing hair. The ride was a little hot, my temperature gauge pegged at 120, but it’s a dry heat 🤪.

Blythe rolled out the red carpet. The Blythe JROTC conducted a beautiful remembrance ceremony.

I ate lunch with an MIA son, Joe Stuart, he is an FNG rider. I have his Father’s biography and will share it another day. We are honored to have Joe riding with us. We love you Joe and are glad you decided to join us.

Pulled out of Blythe, again ahead of schedule. Bee lined it for the Tonopah – Shell Station. Once in Tonapah, we learned there was a problem on the I10 and Arizona State Troopers would be escorting us on the detour. WELL, little did we know it was a 50 MILE DETOUR! Through the Sanora Desert National Monument Park, beautiful detour. The route was supposed to be 68 miles, it ended up being 114 miles. I was beginning to wonder if anyone at the front new where the heck the Chandler Harley Davidson was located.We finally arrived, enjoyed cheeseburgers and mac & cheese, called it a night and went to the host hotel.

I’ll end with today’s quote in the Southern Route itinerary. “My responsibility, our responsibility as lucky Americans, is to try to give back to this country as much as it ha given us, as we continue our American journey together.” GEN Colin Powell.

Posted on Leave a comment

Pre Run Day, -1, Ontario, CA

Southern Route FNG’s Started their 2018 run with an FNG Meeting. Route Coordinator Chad “Slacker” and Assistant Route Coordinator Billie “Bugs” were on hand to answer any questions and lead us on to DC.

We were taught this year’s meeting break out. Here’s how it goes:

Why do we ride? – Response: “For those who can’t”
How do we ride? – Response: “We ride with heart”
Where do we ride? – Response: “All the way”

1st Mission? Response: “Provide Healing”
2nd Mission? Response: “Show Support”
3rd Mission? Response: “Call for an accounting”
What does that mean? – Response: “Bring them home”!

At the conclusion of the FNG meeting a MANDATORY, All routes all riders meeting was held in the staging parking lot. The Marine Corps Band from Camp Pendleton played for the riders. Major General Smith from Camp Pendleton addressed the riders.

The Major General and the Marine Corps band were given copies of the book “Run for the Wall – A Journey to the Vietnam Memorial. Les Williams referred to the book as the history and accounting of the run.

Then one of my favorite parts of the pre-run events, the awarding of the Combat Hero Bike Build. This year’s bike went to Dylan Gray.

Time to prepare for tomorrow, hopefully by tomorrow I will figure out how to post photos. The pre-run jitters don’t help with writing Sit-reps😉

Safe riding to all riders on all routes – God Speed you on your journey 🇺🇸🏍

Posted on Leave a comment

Southern Route-2017-Day 11-D.C.

Arlington & The Vietnam Memorial

Riders began staging their bikes in the underground parking garage of The Holiday Inn at approximately 6:00 AM. The Riders meeting took place at 7:45 am. I posted videos of the riders’ meeting on the official “Run for the Wall” Facebook page if you are interested in watching it. I also posted videos of the ride into Arlington on my  “Run for the Wall-A Journey to the Vietnam Memorial” if you would like to watch it.

Having Santa Ed participate in the wreath laying made it extra special. The guards were so kind and respectful to the RFTW honor guard, explaining what was expected of them. Can you imagine having such an honor? Wow! I live streamed the wreath laying and posted it to both sites. It is long but worth every second. The video shows the instructions from the guard all the way through to the laying of the wreath. The guard even allowed a few of us to stand in the area reserved for the press. Made for great footage. I was honored just to stand there. Watch the video!

!RFTW honor guard

After the wreath laying the RFTW riders were escorted out of Arlington National Cemetery over to the Lincoln Memorial. The riders are allowed to park their bikes on the lawn. You’ll only ever see bikes parked on the lawn once a year.

RFTW bikes on the lawn at the mall

Riders then walk over to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial for the annual group photo. It was not too hot this year which is a pleasant change from years past.

After the photo is the short walk to The Vietnam Memorial. The “Mission Accomplished” plaque is placed at the apex of the Wall.

Mission Accomplished

The biographies and mementos that have been carried across the country are also left at The Wall. I personally carried two biographies, a treasured memento from a Vietnam Veteran in my American Legion Riders Post back home and my necklace of PGR dog tags. This is a very emotional time of the mission as buddies names are found on the Wall. As a Run for the Wall family, we protect those that need to release pent up emotions, offering comfort and privacy from curious on lookers.

Biographies & mementos are left at The Wall

The other event at The Wall is the turning of the FNG pin. Here Old School is shown turning the pin of riders from his platoon.

Turning the FNG pin.

This has taken forever to write on my iPad. Just a couple more things and I need to call it a night. Going to try and get my computer to the App,e shop tomorrow. Maybe I will be back in business tomorrow.

The Southen Route collected 10 cases of toiletries to donate to the Tuscaloosa VAMC. Thank you Shirley for spearheading the project.

10 Cases of toiletries to the VA

And the final numbers are in Southern Route finished with a total registration of 516 riders!!!

More tomorrow! Good night & God Bless

Kristine “Eyes” Wood

Kristine.Wood@rftw.us

Too tired to proof read, excuse the errors????????

Posted on Leave a comment

Southern Route 2017 Day 10

Lynchburg VA – Arlington VA 255 miles

My electronics are not firing on all cylinders. I managed to get my iPad working. Sit-rep will still be abbreviated. More to follow when I get a working laptop.  Possibly dYs of sit-reps. I have so much yet to share.

Day began even earlier than normal when we gathered for the final morning meeting at the Tree of Life ministries.

Final rider’s meeting

Team leaders that attended every conference call were thanked and recognized.

Billie “Bugs” Dunlap was recognized and thanked for The Lockheed donation of $7,500. The platoon challenge raised $5,490.

The Virginia State Troopers that escorted us to Arlington Va were recognized and thanked.

Virginia State Troopers ????

And finally, the coveted Arlington zip ties were handed out to the FNGs. Don’t forget to bring something to rest your kickstand on. If you don’t your bike will fall  over on the wet grass. Please be respectful while at Arlington, no loud music or pipes. If you talk too loud at the tomb, the guards will holler at you, and I mean holler.

Handing out Arlington zip ties

Ghost Rider asked for riders to consider giving back to Run for the Wall by volunteering to be a Road Guard. To qualify you must have been all the way two years. If interested email Ghost Rider. Captain America encouraged riders to consider volunteering for platoon leadership. If interested email him at RFTWSPplatoon@gmail.com. Run for the Wall doesn’t just happen! We need volunteers! There are more hurting veterans that need the run. Help us give them the healing experience of the run. You can always email me here and I will forward it on. WE NEED YOU????????????????????????????????

We pulled out of Lynchburg right on time. The first couple legs were a little cold but we were dry and thankful for it. We rode through the Shenandoah Valley and it was magnificent. A 3,000 mile motorcycle ride gives you plenty of opportunity to enjoy the beauty of this great nation.

The final gas stop was in Front Royal. After water and a delicious peanut butter & jelly sandwich a brief rider’s meeting was held to discuss the ride into the Holiday Inn and to give instructions for the ride into Arlington on Saturday. Ghost Rider also explained the turning of the FNG pin, the photo at the Lincoln Memorial and the placing of the “mission accomplished” plaque at The Vietnam Memorial. Riders were dismissed to the bikes to complete the journey across The United States.

Ghost Rider pointing the way to Arlington, VA

After the number of platoon leaders that missed off ramps, interchanges and on ramps, I think Ghost Rider felt the need to confirm the direction we were headed????????????????????????

Southern Route pulled into much cheering and many welcome home hugs. The mission is not accomplished until we go to The Wall tomorrow. See you then.

Two quotes tonight, one comes from Ghost Rider at the morning meeting, “surround yourself with knowledgeable people and they will make you look good.” He was referring to the team captains and what an excellent job they did. Amen to that!

“We sleep safely at night because rough me. Stand ready to visit violence on those who would harm us” Winston Churchill

Welcome Home

Kristine “Eyes” Wood

Kristine.wood@rftw.us

Posted on Leave a comment

Southern Route, 2017, Day 9 – Addendum

So happy to have functioning electronics again, the extended warranty has sure paid off this year. As promised here is a little more information, videos and photos from Day 9 on the Southern Route.

All of the riders were so happy to have the sun come out Thursday morning. It was nice and warm while we waited for the students to come out for the meet and greet. As you can see from the photos, we were not entirely convinced the rain had stopped, rain gear aplenty! The sun was so welcome and so warm, it was wonderful.

View this post on Instagram

Old School giving instruction at the morning briefing.

A post shared by Kris wood (@rftwthebook) on

Finally the children came out and the riders enjoyed shaking hands with the students and exchanging goodies. The students sang to the group and then went back to school. This was their last day of school. Fitting way to end the school year.

General’s Driver & Lt. Dan, enjoyed the student’s performance of “Bring Him Peace”. Everyone was happy to see General’s Driver and thrilled to meet Lt. Dan.

We staged on the street and pulled out of Wytheville with much flag waving and fanfare. Next stop Montvale Elementary School, lunch and student assembly. The assembly got off to a rousing start with the students chanting USA-USA and the riders chanting Montvale-Montvale.

The kindergartners sang “This Little Light of Mine” So stinkin’ cute!

The older students sang “We Honor You – The Heroes of Red-White-Blue.

Captain awarded a grant in the amount of $750 to Kirston Dooley.

From Montvale we rode to the D-Day Memorial. In my opinion, it’s one of the prettiest legs of the 3,000 mile journey to DC. Riding through the Blue Ridge Mountains is breathtaking. We were all so glad that it was NOT raining!

Riders had plenty of time to wander around the D-Day Memorial, to take photos and watch the wreath laying ceremony. After which, we took platoon photos and a group photo.

Southern Route – Group Photo – Taken By photography by Jerry. Thank you Jerry for snapping one with my phone. Jerry has been uploading pictures to Facebook. I think as of today there are 1,000 uploaded. Much better imagery than what my cell phone can do. Thanks Jerry!

From the D-Day Memorial we had a short ride over the the Harley Davidson of Lynchburg where we had a delicious dinner of pulled-pork sandwiches.

I have enjoyed writing the sit-reps this year. It’s been fun to capture the days happenings and share them with you, the readers. Thank you to all of you that have reached out to me and let me know you read the sit-reps. It’s nice to know, they’re actually being read.

Next sit-rep will be from Kerrville, Texas in September. We are looking forward to meeting up with everyone again! In the meantime, have a great summer, stay safe!

One final quote: “On the battlefield, the military pledges to leave no soldier behind. As a nation, let it be our pledge that when they return home, we leave no veteran behind.” Don Lipinski

Kristine “Eyes” Wood
kristine.wood@rftw.us

Posted on Leave a comment

Southern Route 2017, Day 9

Wytheville VA – Lynchburg VA 130 Miles

Finally a dry day!!! We have taken to calling Ghost Rider, Rain Dancer. My electronics still aren’t working. I’ll do the best I can on my phone.  As soon as I get a working computer I will amend and enhance the final few days of sit-reps.

Day 9 began in a very wet Wytheville Memorial Park. Before too long, the sun came out and began drying everything out. It was heavenly!

General’s Driver gave a $2,000 donation for a Spiller Elementary School grant.

The children sang Bring him Peace. I am not able to add links to the sit-rep from my phone. You can view the video on my Instagram account, RFTWthebook or my Facebook page, Run for the Wall – A Journey to the Vietnam Memorial. I will upload them here as soon as possible.

After the visit in Wytheville, we headed to Montvale Elementary School. The ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway was spectacular. After the rain storm everything was Clean and sweet smelling. The sun was shining which made for a perfect ride.

Once we arrived at Montvale,  we enjoyed a box lunch, a musical performance and a slide show. The school principal was presented with a Run for the Wall plaque and a check for $3,000 for a grant. Another grant was awarded to Kirstin Dooley in the amount of $750. Kirsten will be majoring in biology in the fall.

We then rode 13 miles to the D-Day Memorial. We enjoyed viewing the exhibits and the beautiful scenery. A Route photograph was taken as well as platoon photos. Like I said, I’ll post them as soon as I can.

It was then onto Harley Davidson Lynchburg for pulled pork sandwiches, t-shirts and the repair shop.

Every year I make notes on things I want to remember for next year. The 2017 list of things to remember for 2018 goes something like this:

* waterproof rain gear, isn’t waterproof

* HD tour packs are not waterproof

* put all electronics in double dry bags

*bring an extra laptop

Tonight’s quote, which I wholeheartedly agree with, “There are two ways to do something. The right way and again.” The Navy Seals

Ride safe into D.C. Tomorrow. Looking forward to visiting friends on other routes and hearing how their ride went.

Good night, ride safe????????????❤️

Kristine “Eyes” Wood

kristine.wood@rftw.us

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Southern Route, 2017 Day 8 -Addendum

Chattanooga TN – Wytheville VA, 285 miles

My laptop is in the shop getting repaired (I hope it’s repairable). Now that I am home and have a working desktop computer I thought I would add what didn’t get in the original sit-rep.

After the morning briefing, the riders walked behind the Harley Davidson dealership to the Silverdale Confederate Cemetery. I have a serious soft spot for cemeteries. Could be because I used to be a funeral director. Anyway, every year the caretaker of the cemetery is on hand to meet, greet and discuss his beloved Silverdale. Jerry Wormesley began caring for the cemetery in the early sixties. He was still working full-time so did not have a lot of time to devote to it’s care. As time went on and he had more free time he became more diligent in caring for the cemetery and it’s inhabitants.

View this post on Instagram

Riders visit the Silverdale Confederate Cemetery.

A post shared by Kris wood (@rftwthebook) on

A brief history of the cemetery: A field hospital used to be in the location of the new hotel just behind the cemetery. When a soldier died at the hospital, he was buried in the adjacent cemetery. All the medical records and interment records were burned when Sherman burned Atlanta. To quote Jerry, “Sherman was very careless with matches.” Which according to Jerry had just been invented. The cemetery fell into the hands of a local farmer. When he passed away it went to his wife. In 1904 the property was purchased by a Veteran’s group for $75. In 1946 the stone arch you see in the photo was erected. By 1962 the woods had encroached on the cemetery. About this time the cemetery came to Jerry’s attention and he began clearing the trees and brush from the grounds. In June 1979, the cemetery came to the attention of the Chattanooga Area Relic and Historical Association (Jerry is a member) and the United Daughters of the Confederacy (Lynne Fouraker) is a member. Both groups began to care for the cemetery.

Jerry and Lynne are the movers and shakers that connect the cemetery to Run for the Wall. Santa Ed was given the task of auctioning off the last cemetery patch but instead he passed a hat and requested donations for the cemetery, $1,300 was donated by riders. I asked Jerry what he would do with the money. The first thing he mentioned was paying for subscriptions to Ancestry and Fold3, both on line genealogy services. He needs them to continue his research in identifying the unidentified 116 soldiers interred in the cemetery. Stay tuned for next year,  I have it on good authority that there will be a new cemetery patch for sale.

Jerry has been very successful in his research. Thus far he has identified 39 of the 155 soldiers at Silverdale. This is painstaking work. Researching the doctor’s records of who was in the hospital and who might be buried in the cemetery. Once he has confirmed that a soldier is in the cemetery he begins the painstaking work of finding a living family member. Only a living family member can request a grave marker from the U.S. Government. Without a family member there is no money for a marker. In lieu of markers, Jerry had these two tablets made with the names of the 39 identified soldiers listed on them.

One success story Jerry is very happy about is that of William Youngblood. After identifying Mr. Youngblood as being interred Jerry began the search for his family. Jerry found a living grandson, yes grandson, in Texas. The grandson requested the grave marker and Jerry had it placed at Silverdale. In January of 2015, Mr. Youngblood’s grandson, great grandson and great-great grandson came to Silverdale to meet Jerry and to pay their respects to their grandfather. How is that for a great story! We ride for those that can’t, for POW’s and MIA’s. The soldiers interred at Silverdale Cemetery have been MIA’s for well over 100 years. A big thank you to Lynne Fouraker and Jerry Wormseley for giving riders this unconventional way of fulfilling the Run for the Wall Mission.

 

Once again it was time to mount up and ride the leg to Knoxville Truck Stop, a 79 mile seemingly easy leg and then on to Greenville, Davy Crockett truck stop, another easy 89 mile leg. HAHAHA, it proved to be anything but easy.  After we pulled out of the Thunder Creek Harley, it began to rain in earnest. We thought it was raining before, little did we know what lay ahead. It rained cats and dogs, lightening and thunder. It rained so hard it was difficult to see the bike right in front of you. The pack slowed down and moved to the number three lane. About that time, trucks and cars came between the number one and two platoons. This split the pack into two groups. I happened to be leading the 2nd platoon and consequently the entire back half of the pack. Remember my road name “Wrong Way Eyes”. I was laughing hysterically, if they only knew who was at the front. Luckily we were able to catch up to the front of the pack and made the proper turn at the transition. Well, 5th platoon was a little further back and did not see Road Guard, Wicked frantically waving his arms at the transition. Yep, 5th platoon took a wrong turn. Luckily they were able to right it rather quickly. At one point the pack was split into three groups. Riding in the rain certainly offers new challenges. By the time we pulled into Greeneville and the Davy Crockett Truck stop, the entire pack was safely back together.

When we reached the Davy Crockett Truck stop riders were told not to leave their bikes that we would be pulling out as soon as the last bike fueled. At that time a severe weather warning alert came out from the weather service. Riders were then told to get inside the Davy Crockett Truck stop. Yep, 500 soaking wet bikers squeezed into the Davy Crockett truck stop. I felt so bad, their floors were a sopping wet disaster. We sheltered in place in the store until it appeared that the worst had passed. Then we got on our bikes and rode right into the storm. ⛈????????

 

We stopped for lunch at the Bristol-Black Wolf Harley Davidson shop. We normally eat outside on their back lawn. It’s a beautiful stop and a beautiful shop. This year we were huddled under the tent set up in back, trying to dry out before it was time to saddle up. We rode on into Wytheville, riding into the same storm for the third time. Any  normal, sane person would have taken shelter for the DAY and not rode into the same storm three times. As you know, Run for the Wall doesn’t have that option so we ride on! There were no accidents or mishaps due to the weather. Just goes to show when we are all paying attention and at the top of our game, we can do it!

 

After the riders dried out a bit they were treated to a delicious steak dinner at the Wytheville Moose Lodge. Ghost Rider thanked the volunteers on the Southern Route, (170 of them) Fueling team, Ambassadors, chaplains, finance team, registration team, out reach team, $5 Marty, 50/50 team, daily raffle team, sit rep writer, Quartermaster, medical team, route photographer, honor guard coordinator that helped make the run possible. I am hoping next year we can get group photos of the various teams. Ghost Rider also announced that Santa Ed was selected to represent RFTW at The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Wreath Laying Ceremony. My heart melted ❣️, what an honor.

Rider’s retired early for a hot shower and much needed rest. Everyone trying to figure out how to dry their gear.

I will add to the last two days of the run as life permits. I have videos of Montvale and coming into Arlington. Be patient with me, other responsibilities beckon.

“America without her soldiers would be like God without His Angeles” Claudia Pemberton

Mission > Self

Kristine “Eyes” Wood

kristine.wood@rftw.us