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Southern Route 2024 SitRep – Day 1

Greetings Everyone.  We had some technical issues with my access to the web site and they seem to be solved now.  So, catch up time.  Here is the first post which was written a couple of days ago.


Monday and Tuesday.  It’s amazing to gather all together here and see friends and family members we hadn’t seen for a year or two.  It’s great watching friends greet each other and catch up on the previous year of their life.  It’s a big family here with everyone being welcomed home.  There are many FNG’s.  Welcoming them into the fold is special and often very touching as they talk about the challenges they faced in life dealing with memories and lost friends or loved ones.  Our primary motto is: We Ride For Those Who Can’t.  A big follow up is: We Say Their Names So They Are NOT Forgotten! This year, the primary Hero I’m riding for is Travis J. Leyfield.  Travis was a 19 year old Marine that was KIA on April 6, 2004, so 20 years ago.  Travis is from my home town of Fremont, CA.  I’m riding missing man on Day 3, leg 4 for Travis so more to come on him this week.

Going on these rides and going through these towns where they really open up the town and line the sidewalks waving at us, often waving flags, feeding us a breakfast, a lunch or a dinner, it’s hard to describe the warmth we receive, the hugs as we stop by for our quick visit.  It’s overwhelming at times.  Again, some of the stories we hear from parents or siblings that are so pleased that we are doing what we do to keep their loved ones thought about, keep their names alive and keep pressure on the forces that be to keep looking for MIA or remains of KIA heros.  It’s a feeling of purpose for all of us.

This is my 2nd time as the SitRep writer, the 1st was in ’22, and this year I’m going to try to capture more of the experiences on the outreach missions.  I also want to try to capture “what the mission means to me” from many of the participants.  We will honor those that are missing, those that are KIA, those that have been permanently affected by their experiences in war, and those that walk among us having made it after sacrificing part of their lives so we can all live in freedom.  As they say, Freedom isn’t Free!

Something worth re-stating, words from our President, John Staub in a recent post:  Finally, before we go to KSU, I believe it is proper to remember why we ride. It is not about any of us, it is not about the color of the hat one wears, it is not about taking a cross-country motorcycle ride. It is about our Mission. We need to keep in mind that “We Ride for Those Who Can’t” is more than just a motto. This Mission is about calling for accountability of those 1577 still missing; it is about supporting those families still seeking answers. Our Mission is also about reflectionhealingeducating, and reminding America of the sacrifices our veterans, their families and friends made in defense of our Nation. It is about thanking those who served, those who are serving, and those who paid the ultimate price. Our Run is also a joyous annual reunion as we all regroup and set our sights toward that Mission. And though our Annual Run is certainly an event worth celebrating, please keep in mind that our Mission is real and should be treated with Honor and serious Commitment. It must not be treated like a party.


One story I wanted to relay is a member that has been involved for many years, Rob Reavis known as “Old School”.  Old School hasn’t been able to participate on the run as much lately and this year, he was planning to come to Ontario and ride as 2nd up (ride bitch) with Tin Man for the first leg from Ontario to the first fuel stop, in Coachella.  Old School’s health made it too hard for him to follow up with that so disappointment for him and a lot of us that wanted to see him down here.  Old School has still been going to the regional monthly meetings we have in Sacramento and that’s where I learned about this potential last RFTW ride for him but he’s rehabbing at home and following all the events on Facebook and this web site.  So, a salute goes out to Old School with best wishes for him to be feeling better.  At our last regional meeting, I had the privilege of hearing a little bit about his reason for staying with RFTW after his first run.  Like a lot of Vietnam Vets, the welcome home was not good.  Old School has been riding with RFTW since 2008 which was his FNG year and rode every year until 2019.  I asked him why he rides and he explained “I ride for my Captain, David Watson who is on The Wall.  Captain Watson we lost in April of 1969.  I ride for myself and my own healing I found within the RFTW group.  Before the mission, I wouldn’t talk about Vietnam, wouldn’t wear anything that associated me with being a Vietnam Vet, and after my FNG year in 2008, getting to the wall, having riders surround me, I could finally shed tears, shed the grief, get rid of the guilt, and then I found a family like no other family, within this mission.”  Taking this last ride will give Old School a chance to have closure with the mission itself and suddenly; not be there.  “It’s also great that my son-in-law and daughter have been riding for some years now and are continuing the family tradition as they carry on with our family.”  I also asked if he had any words of wisdom and his answer was on point for the first day of this great mission.  “Stay hydrated!  That and connect within the mission.”  “I stay on Facebook only because of the mission.  It allows me to keep up with, keep track of friends and family


Day 1:  From my perspective, it was a great day, a fun day and a very interactive day.  I spent the day with the Fuel Team.  They needed some help today and I was honored to spend the day as a member of the team.  That is a great way to meet many of the riders and learn where they are from and joke around with them.  The fuel team has a short window of time to grab some hydration drinks, maybe a quick snack and then get back on the road to make it to the next fuel stop to have the station ready for the main pack to come in and be fueled up for the next leg.  We can fuel up the whole pack in less than 20 minutes.  We usually cordon off 8 pumps for this process and have 2 bikes on each side of the pump.  As one finishes filling up, the pump handle is passed to the bike next to him or her and as they start filling up, the first bike pulls forward and another pulls up in it’s place, get the gas cap off and is ready for their turn.  It goes pretty fast and the pumps are never hung up until all the bikes are fueled.  We had a good lunch of BBQ burgers at the Blythe Colorado River Fairgrounds.  Again, everywhere we go, these locals spend a lot of their time raising money for this event, getting all the arrangements made, food prepped and then cooked freshly for us!  There are so many volunteers of all ages that are helping, it just warms your heart.  Thank You Blythe!

And then, we continued on to Casa Grande.  First I have to point out that there were many over passes as we get close to these towns, some we’re not even stopping at but folks are out there with flags and family members waving and encouraging us on!  It’s pretty cool.  I can’t take pictures of those but F-Stop (Jerry Lanier), our official photographer is usually stopping and taking pictures of these groups and at so many other events we are honored with.  He will get these picture up on his SmugMug web site in time after the run is over so please come back to RFTW.US and check all these great pics after the run.  Dinner in Casa Grande, AZ.  The Elks lodge goes all out to welcome us, feed us and make us feel very much at home.  I think maybe they have more fun than we do.  And, it’s not all fun, we were presented with a reading about the missing man table.  It’s very poignant and reminds us again of why we ride.  We heard stories of soldiers who became part of the 22.  The 22 soldiers that take their lives daily because of depression and PTSD.  There are often reminders that some of the signs are right in front of us and we don’t see because we’re too close or not understanding the full impact of what’s going on with them.  They fed us a great roast beef au jus sandwich and dinner salad.  A very full day with full bellies afterwards.

Thank You for reading our stories.


USAF ’72 – ’75

Mission Statement

To promote healing among ALL veterans and their families and friends, to call for an accounting of all Prisoners of War and those Missing in Action (POW/MIA), to honor the memory of those Killed in Action (KIA) from all wars, and to support our military personnel all over the world.

Casa Grande, AZ Presentations during dinner.

Our Photographer! F-Stop otherwise known as Jerry.

A nice dinner! Everyone feeds us so well and gives us a very warm welcome.

A Korean War Vet in Blythe, CA that greeted us asmwe came into the fairgrounds.

Stagers working early in the morning as we get ready to start in Ontario. The stagers are some of the unsung hero’s working hard in the background.

The first Missing Man slot. More to come to provide background on this emotional service.