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Southern Route 2017 – Day 3

Las Cruces, NM – Odessa, TX 345 Miles

Every year the run is different and every leg of every run is different.Today’s run certainly qualifies as different. This year the Southern Route decided to try something new, at least new to the Southern Route, I hear other routes already do it. What they do is switch up the order the platoons ride in the pack. For example, on Day 1, Platoon 1 rides at the front, on Day 2, the first Platoon goes to the very back of the pack and Platoon 2 rides at the front. Yesterday was day 2 and my Platoon was at the front, which is why I had such a fantastically good day. Well today was day 3 so platoon 2 was at the very back, behind the trikes, behind the can-ams and behind the trailers.

Now picture this, you have Platoons one and two at the very back of the pack, I think I better not tell that story. Let’s just say that on one leg I rode tail gunner. I was the last of the last, back of the pack. By the time I got into the fuel stop, gassed up, gulped down some water it was time to leave again. I didn’t have a chance to gather any material for a decent sit-rep. I can tell you the weather was good. Not really too warm. The food I gulped down was good. The people were friendly.

After a yummy breakfast provided by the American Legion Post 10 the mandatory morning meeting was held. As part of the morning meeting a hero of the day is shared. Today’s hero is Chris Kyle, U.S. Navy Seal and legendary sniper. Chris served four tours in the Iraq war and was awarded several commendations for acts of heroism and meritorious service in combat. During his four tours, he was shot twice and survived six separate IED detonations.

Chris was honorably discharged in 2009. After his service, he eventually paired with FITCO Cares Foundation, which helps veterans with disabilities or those suffering from PTSD. He also wrote his autobiography, “American Sniper,” an outstanding, gut-wrenching book, in which

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Southern Route, 2017 – Day 2

Phoenix, AZ – Las Cruces, NM, 398 Miles

Can you say, PICTURE POSTCARD PERFECT DAY? Today, the Southern Route had just one of those days. It began with staging at the Phoenix Holiday Inn at 5:30 am, followed by the usual, breakfast, flag ceremony, and a brief riders meeting. We were on the road at
6:58 AM under an azure blue sky and white fluffy clouds. The temperature was a whopping 68 degrees, can’t get much better than that☀️. The Arizona Highway Patrol escorted us through town, ahead of the rush hour traffic. I have to tell you, the Phoenix skyline was beautiful in the early morning light. Once we cleared the city the Arizona desert opened up before us and it was magnificent! The early morning sunlight shining on the saguaro cactus was indescribable ????????????????☀️.

Our first stop was at the Marana, AZ Circle K. For a small town they did a bang up job welcoming us. Flag waving Americans and many civic groups greeted us with ice cold water and snacks. The remainder of the rider’s meeting was held (as I said earlier, we were under a time crunch to get through Phoenix before the morning rush hour). One of the highlights of Marana was the flag ceremony performed by Golden Ranch Pipes & Drums Local 3832 Firefighters. There is a video showing it on Facebook @ Run for the Wall – A Journey to the Vietnam Memorial

After the brief stop at Marano, it was on to Willcox, AZ for lunch. Willcox is an amazing little city in the middle of the Arizona desert. After gassing up we paraded through town ending up at the Elks Lodge. We were greeted by local children, veterans and other civic groups. We were provided with a delicious lunch of pulled pork sandwiches, fruit and cake. The Willcox Police Department escorted us in and out of town. I was able to snap a photo of our escorts after lunch. I imagine that’s the entire police force ????????‍✈️. Gotta love small town America ????????.

Once we left Willcox, we had 193 miles left out on the road. We made a quick stop for gas and a break in Deming, NM and then onto Las Cruces, NM. The valley of Las Cruces, NM laid out before us (sorry if the valley has a name, feel free to comment if you know it) it was a spectacular sight. The sky was a crystal blue with more white fluffy clouds, it was truly spectacular. We pulled on into the Barnett Harley Davidson for a delicious Mexican food dinner.

I am telling you, life can’t get much better than today! Thank you to all the Veterans that make days like today possible. Today’s quote comes from General Robert E. Lee
“Do your duty in all things. You cannot do more, you should never wish to do less.”

Good Night and God Bless

Kristine “Eyes” Wood

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Southern Route 2017 – Day 1

Ontario, CA – Phoenix, AZ  – 335 Miles

The day began before the sun was up with all three routes staging in the convention center parking lot. I don’t care how many runs you’ve been on, that first day when over 1,000 bikes converge in one location is exhilirating!

Pulling out of Ontario we had approximately 325 registered participants on the Southern Route. Of those 325, approximately 170 hold some time of leadership position. It takes a lot of man power and lady???? power to make the run happen. Please consider volunteering for a position next year. With it being the 30th year, we anticipate even more riders than this year. To continue with the numbers, of those 325 registered riders, 40% are FNGs. A big WELCOME to our 2017 FNGs. They have done a great job so far. Not a single mishap today. CONGRATULATIONS, let’s keep it up.

After a brief Board of Directors welcome and introductions the routes split into their respective platoons for a brief platoon meeting. And then before we knew it, the signal was given to start your engines. The southern route pulled out at 7:35 am under gray skies. As we got down the road, we experienced a light drizzle and it was COLD. (I am from Southern California and 55 degrees is cold)! The sun finally came out about the time we reached Palm Springs. We pulled into the Stoplight 29 Casino in Coachella to a beautiful 70 degrees with a light breeze. Not like the heat we usually experience.

We had a brief riders meeting where Ghost Rider filled us in on a few more rules and expectations. We heard a few MIA stories. Tin Man shared the story of Captain Scott Spicer. Hoops shared a little bit about her MIA Father. After that it was back to the bikes for the leg into Blythe.

We could not ask for better weather. The temperature in Blythe was a wonderful 80 degrees. We were treated to a delicious lunch, donated by Subway Sandwiches, drinks donated by the Coca-Cola Company and program provided by the Blythe JROTC.

I just have to give a shout out to the citizens of Southern California. There were flag waving Americans on five over-pass bridges.  The CHP escorted us from ten miles out, into Blythe. The officers greeted the riders as they came into lunch.  Made this Californian proud to see that kind of support for the 2017 run.

Once again, it was back to the bikes for the two legs that would take us into Arizona and to our stop for the night. Once again the weather was wonderful! When we pulled into Phoenix it was a pleasant 80 degrees. We were greeted by lots of curbside clapping as we pulled into the Holiday Inn Parking Lot. A wonderful steak and chicken dinner was waiting for us.

That covers the facts of the day. I had a moment at lunch that I would like to share.   I sat down next to a couple and began exchanging pleasantries. I asked the usual…are you a Vietnam Veteran, yes…. Then we stood up for the flag ceremony and I saw a gold star patch on the Veterans vest. Yes, they are a gold star family. I looked at the woman and my heart swelled with gratitude and sorrow for the sacrifice she has made for this country. Before it was time to leave, I was able to give them a hug, with the promise of hearing about their son tomorrow. That is why I ride, for the sacrifices others have made for our freedom!

“This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave” Elmer Davis.

May we thank God everyday for the brave young men that protect us.

young soldier.png

Until tomorrow, God Speed and God Bless

Kristine  “Eyes” Wood

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Southern Route – 2017 – Day 0

Today the Southern Route began with a few more leadership meetings. The Platoon Leadership met, then the Ambassadors had a meeting and finally the Support Team met. All Southern Route Leadership is squared away and ready to go to work! We are committed to safely move the Southern Route across the country to Washington D.C.

The official Run for the Wall festivities began at 3:30 with a wonderful concert by the Third Marine Aircraft Wing Band. They performed marches, traditional patriotic music and the branches of service songs/hymns. Their performance lasted nearly an hour. They then joined the RFTW family, now nearly 1,300 members strong, for a “family” dinner. The hotel was bursting at the seams trying to fit us all in.

There was a short formal meeting where board members that have completed their three year term were given a plaque and thanked for their service. A new sustainability committee was announced. Their function will be to ensure the continuance of Run for the Wall. They will be looking at ways to appeal to younger veterans and riders. Board member Kirk Olson asked that as we post to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter that we ALWAYS use the following hashtags: #runforthewall #runforthewall2017. I hear over and over, “what’s a hashtag?” Trust me, you don’t need to know, just do it. Plug those two hashtags in at the end of every post you make to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It will help Run for the Wall! If you want to know more about it, seek me out and I will explain it.

The last official event of the evening was the awarding of the Hero Bike. This is one of my favorite events of the run. Imagine being young, injured and unable to ride and someone gives you the gift of mobility and “wind therapy”. I watch every year as “that look of happiness” crosses the recipients face. This year was no exception. Ken Kraft was awarded a custom-made Harley Davidson that was donated by a generous American. The bike then was customized to accommodate Ken’s specific needs and wishes. Can you tell from the five pictures included in this Sit-Rep that Ken is an Army Veteran? Ken lives in Oregon and will be serving as the President of the VFW. Congratulations Ken on your new bike. We look forward to riding with you next year. (If you would like to see the video of Ken learning to ride his new bike, it will be posted to the Run for the Wall Facebook Page).

My Mama always said, “Early to bed, early to rise”, so Good Night and God Bless.

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Southern Route 2017 – Sit-Rep, Day -1

Welcome to the Southern Route 2017 Sit-Rep. Today starts us off with the first post of the run as -1, tomorrow will be 0 and then Wednesday will be our first post of the run. Woohoo, RFTW2017 is finally here!

I’d like to begin this first post by introducing myself. My road name is “Eyes”, AKA Kristine Wood. This will be my 4th year going all the way. In previous years I have been a tail gunner and have helped with 50/50. I also wrote a book on the run, hoping to bring the Run for the Wall message to ALL Veterans. This is my first year as sit-rep writer, bear with me as I learn the ropes. This year, I am also the Assistant Platoon Leader for the 2nd Platoon. During the run the sit-reps might be brief, somedays I just might not be able to write a lengthy report. I will do my best to keep you informed and up to date. I want you to experience the run at it’s fullest! Sit back, turn on a fan, now point it at your face, pretend you’re receiving much needed wind therapy as you read. ????????????????

Today was filled with meetings. From the Board of Directors to the merchandise personnel, platoon leadership and road guards. Southern Route held their ALL platoon leadership meeting. Everyone wearing a colored hat or sleeves was in attendance. The meeting was lead by Route Coordinator, Ghost Rider, Raymond Wyatt. The meeting lasted approximately 90 minutes. Ghost Rider shared with us the mission statement he chose, which is, Mission > Self. Mission Greater than Self. Everyone in leadership should not be in this for themselves. It is for the mission:
To promote healing among ALL veterans and their families and friends
To call for an accounting of all Prisoners of War and those Missing in Action (POW/MIA)
To honor the memories of those Killed in Action (KIA) from all wars
To support our military personnel all over the world

I would like to take this opportunity to share with you some of the information Ghost Rider shared with the Southern Route leadership:

1. As of today, there are 1,611 POW/MIAs still missing from Vietnam. When you are riding and feel like you are in a blast furnace, think of the 1,611 and what they would give to throw their leg across a motorcycle and ride across the desert.

2. Be courteous and respectful to all riders, especially make our FNG’s feel welcome. There are 517 riders currently pre-registered on the Southern Route, 40% are FNGs or approximately 220. Take good care of them, talk to them, include them and WELCOME them.

3. Always wear a helmet, even if riding across the parking lot.

4. Don’t park in the Fire lane.

5. This year we will once again have the honor of escorting an Alaska Airlines Hero Cart to Dallas Fort Worth Airport.

6. PROMOTE THE CAUSE – Run for the Wall should not be a footnote in your life. Support the mission all year! Don’t just make it about 2 – 3 weeks a year. Attend a Veteran’s funeral, visit a Veteran…


Positive comments would be appreciated. What are you interested in hearing about? Is anyone out there in cyberland reading this?

Thank you, good night and God Bless, until tomorrow.

Kristine “EYES” Wood