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Midway Route January 2023 Newsletter

Midway Rout Coordinator News

Greeting’s from Southern California, I am hopeful your Christmas was blessed and your New Year has been plentiful thus far. Here in So Cal, we have had some decent riding weather from time to time, and it provides the opportunity to knock the rust off and hone our riding skills. Run For The Wall is not your typical weekend ride. I urge you to visit the Run for The Wall website at www.rftw.us and read the FAQ page to find preparation tips for riding in the Run.

It’s 128 days until we depart Ontario. Midway Route Leadership is putting the final polish on the Route itinerary to ensure safety and efficiency as we continue the Run For The Wall Mission.

On Day 7, Monday, May 22, 2023. Midway Route will have an extra day in Cookeville, TN to continue the Run For The Wall Mission like never before. We will have the opportunity through our Outreach Missions to visit VA Hospitals, Schools, and Memorials.  We are hopeful to have a positive impact on support and expansion of our mission opportunities. Your Tennessee State coordinators (Ed Butler & Phil Friedli) along with the leadership team have developed 3 to 4 Outreach opportunities for that day. Those Outreaches would start about 9-10 AM and end by 2-3 PM. You can have breakfast at the hotel, and it appears as if each outreach will have lunch provided. These outreaches are for 100% of the riders. This includes the Staging, Fueling, Advance Teams, and Trikes and Bikes with trailers who may unhook for the day, so they also have the opportunity to participate in an outreach they otherwise may not be able to do, and thereby experience its healing value. I would urge everyone to consider joining us on this incredible day.

If you have completed RFTW All The Way at least once, Midway Route needs you to consider volunteering to help with either the staging or promotions teams. The Staging process will be changed for 2023. Staging has come into the modern era with changes to the platoon placement markings making the job physically easier and less stressful. We will also improve hydration opportunities and provide medical support. Staging is such an important aspect of daily organization on the route and we need your help. Please contact Gina Cutrer by email at gina.cutrer@rftw.us or call her directly at 225-202-5328.  If you would like to volunteer for any position on Midway Route, please fill out the Volunteer Request Form (CLICK HERE TO VOLUNTEER). Between now and May 2023 there will be openings on different teams. By volunteering now, you will be on the ready list to be asked to join a team. In addition, Midway Route needs a volunteer to assume the responsibility of Quartermaster. Quartermaster distributes equipment, i.e. brassards, hats, windshield banners, and placards in Ontario and insures all required equipment is returned in DC. The Quartermaster must be going All The Way. If you are interested in volunteering for Quartermaster please contact me at jerry.wilkins@rftw.us.

 

HOTEL DRAWING. This was an fantastic fundraiser ! Congratulations to Donald Greman for having the winning ticket, well done. The money raised from this drawing will go to support our adopted schools and our fuel stops.

 

SUPER BOWL DRAWING fundraiser is underway. We are hoping to raise the money to support the fuel cost for every rider on the Midway Route this year by conducting various fundraising activities. So, we are offering a Super Bowl Football Board opportunity to support the Midway Route fuel costs. Winners will be receiving a gift card to use during the 2023 RFTW ride. Buy a Super Bowl 2023 square for $25.00, $100.00 buys you 5 squares, or buy as many entries as you like! The winning square at the end of each Quarter will receive a $100.00 Walmart Gift Card. End of game score is the fourth quarter, no overtime. 

The Board will be filled out from the top to bottom and left to right based on the time and date of the receipt of your entry and payment. The numbers will be drawn from the hat after a board is complete, so there will be no particular order. All entries must be received by January 31, 2023. 

How to enter:

  1. Send check made out to RFTW Midway Route to:

Gina Cutrer
33538 Nancy Drive
Walker, LA 70785

  1. Or pay via:

WWW.VENMO.COM (APP) to @Gina-Cutrer-1

Once the Board is filled and numbers assigned, the Board will be emailed prior to game start and posted to RFTW Facebook.  Those receiving gift cards will be contacted the day after the game to ensure we have the correct contact information for mailing the gift card to you. Thank you all for your continued generosity in this fundraising effort and GOOD LUCK. We appreciate and need your support for the Midway Route.

Also, please see just below for information on an additional fundraiser with the opportunity to win a set of Custom CFR Motorcycle Pipes. Instructions on entering are on the image.  Be sure to specify which fundraiser you are entering in for any donation.

(click on image to enlarge)

 

Hope that all MIA and POW’s find closure

Honor all KIA

Healing for our Veterans and the 22 per day

Mission First,

Jerry “Corp” Wilkins

“Service Before Self”

RFTW 2023 Midway Route Coordinator
Email- jerry.wilkins@rftw.us

Four Routes, One Mission!

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Sandbox Route RC Newsletter – January 2023

Happy New Year and welcome to the Sandbox Route RC Newsletter for January 2023.

Visit the RFTW Sandbox Route webpage here.

I hope this first newsletter of the new year finds everyone in good health and good thoughts!

With the beginning of a new year, many of us find ourselves looking forward to new beginnings while others are just hoping for a better or easier way to cope with their current struggles. With the new year, we should also have a renewed focus on the Run for the Wall 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 memory of those Killed in Action (KIA) from all wars, and to support our military personnel all over the world.”

We may have made it through another Holiday season but for many the struggles within can remain an overwhelming force in their daily lives. I place a very high emphasis on the portion of our mission statement that reads “To promote healing among ALL veterans and their families and friends”. This emphasis does not make the rest of the mission statement any less important; but I like to place added emphasis on the “healing” portion of this statement. We can and do remember and honor the memory of our fallen and POW/MIA each time we say their names; but I believe we can make an even greater impact by helping, supporting and promoting healing among those veterans, families and friends that are still with us. The 2nd most common cause of death among active service members is suicide and unfortunately those numbers do not go down after separation from military service. These suicides have a direct impact on the mental health of the surviving family and friends. To anyone struggling I want you to know I’ve got your 6 and you can contact me at any time. I ask everyone to share the information below and possibly help save a life!

If you or someone you know find themselves struggling, please know you can visit the VA Veteran’s Crisis Line website, or contact them by dialing 988 then press 1, or text 838255 and speak or chat with a qualified responder.

Gulf War

The Gulf War was a 1990–1991-armed campaign waged by a military coalition in response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. The invasion of Kuwait was immediately met with international condemnation, including by the United Nations Security Council. British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and President George H. W. Bush deployed troops and equipment into Saudi Arabia and urged other countries to send their own forces to the scene. In response, an array of nations joined the American-led coalition, consisting of 35 countries forming the largest military alliance since World War II. Spearheaded by the United States, the coalition’s efforts against Iraq were carried out in two key phases: Operation Desert Shield, which marked the military buildup from August 1990 to January 1991; and Operation Desert Storm, which began with the aerial bombing campaign against Iraq on January 17, 1991 and ended with the American-led Liberation of Kuwait on 28 February 1991.

Operation Desert Shield

Iraq invaded the country of Kuwait in August of 1990 and had fully occupied the country within two days. Within hours of the invasion, the Kuwait and US delegations requested a meeting of the UN Security Council, which passed Resolution 660, condemning the invasion and demanding a withdrawal of Iraqi troops.

Acting on the Carter Doctrine policy, and out of fear the Iraqi Army could launch an invasion of Saudi Arabia, President Bush quickly announced that the US would launch a “wholly defensive” mission to prevent Iraq from invading Saudi Arabia, under the codename Operation Desert Shield. The operation began on August 7, 1990, when US troops were sent to Saudi Arabia, due also to the request of its monarch, King Fahd, who had earlier called for US military assistance. This “wholly defensive” doctrine was quickly abandoned when, on August 8, Iraq declared Kuwait to be Iraq’s 19th province and Saddam named his cousin, Ali Hassan Al-Majid, as its military-governor.

A series of UN Security Council and Arab League resolutions were passed regarding Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. UN Resolution 678, passed on November 29, 1990, gave Iraq a withdrawal deadline until January 15, 1991, and authorized “all necessary means to uphold and implement Resolution 660”, and a diplomatic formulation authorizing the use of force if Iraq failed to comply.

Operation Desert Storm

Operation Desert Storm began on January 16, 1991 (early morning hours of January 17 in Iraq), with a massive air campaign consisting of the aerial bombing and destruction of Iraq’s Air Force and anti-aircraft facilities. The air campaign’s third and largest phase targeted military targets throughout Iraq and Kuwait: Scud missile launchers, weapons research facilities, and naval forces. About a third of the coalition’s air power was devoted to attacking Scuds, some of which were on trucks and therefore difficult to locate. US and British special operations forces had been covertly inserted into western Iraq to aid in the search for and destruction of Scuds.

 

Iraqi anti-aircraft defenses, including man-portable air-defense systems, were surprisingly ineffective against enemy aircraft, and the coalition suffered only 75 aircraft losses in over 100,000 sorties, 44 due to Iraqi action. Two of these losses are the result of aircraft colliding with the ground while evading Iraqi ground-fired weapons. One of these losses is a confirmed air-air victory. In the early hours of January 17, 1991, US Navy LCDR Michael Speicher was flying an F/A-18 Hornet fighter when he was shot down by Iraqi Air Force (IQAF) aircraft 100 miles west of Baghdad. His plane crashed in a remote, uninhabited wasteland known as Tulul ad Dulaym. He was the first combat casualty for American forces in the war. On August 2, 2009, Captain Speicher’s remains were found in Iraq by US Marines and he was finally brought home.

On January 29, Iraqi forces attacked and occupied the lightly defended Saudi city of Khafji with tanks and infantry. The Battle of Khafji ended two days later when the Iraqis were driven back by the Saudi Arabian National Guard, supported by Qatari forces and US Marines.

Both sides suffered casualties, although Iraqi forces sustained substantially more dead and captured than the allied forces. Eleven Americans were killed in two separate friendly fire incidents, an additional 14 US airmen were killed when their AC-130 gunship was shot down by an Iraqi surface-to-air missile, and two US soldiers were captured during the battle. Saudi and Qatari forces had a total of 18 dead. Iraqi forces in Khafji had 60–300 dead and 400 captured.

The US service members lost during Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm are engraved on the Middle East Conflicts Wall in Marseilles, Illinois.

Don’t let them die a second death, say their names, say them out loud. Never forget!

This is why we ride!

Registration

Don’t forget to get registered! Beginning February 1, 2023, through April 30, 2023, we will enter the Regular Registration time frame and the registration fee increases for all routes; so be sure to register early and save some money! Currently, we have 207 registered riders/participants for the Sandbox Route. Great job to all those registering early!

RFTW Registration Link is here.

Current Sandbox Route Status

The Sandbox Route Leadership team is making great progress on the planning of the upcoming run in 2023. The logistics and changing of couple stops are still ongoing in an effort to improve the overall Route. Our State Coordinators continue to do excellent work on getting our stops confirmed and have done an excellent job preparing our overnight stops and hotels and camping accommodations for those camping. The Hotel and camping list has been posted and published. If you have any difficulties with making reservations, please let us know so that they can be addressed promptly. Please be patient and courteous with hotel staff when making reservations and remember you represent RFTW even while making those reservations.

RFTW Sandbox Route Hotel List Link is here.

Sandbox Leadership

Let’s meet some more of our new Sandbox Team Leaders! Our Platoon Coordinator is Paul “G-Rex” Steigleder. G-Rex is actively looking for Platoon Leaders, Asst. Platoon Leaders, and Tailgunners. Remember, you must have Comms installed on your bike for these positions. Our Ambassador Team Lead is James (Jed) “Squirt Gun” Gilman and his Asst. Ambassador is Jeff “Mug” Atchison. If you’d like to join the Ambassador Team, reach out to Jed to find out if you can join them. A big thank you to them all for volunteering for these challenging positions and their hard work.

To reach Paul or Jed visit the Contacts Page on the RFTW Website here.

VOLUNTEER’s – yes, we still need you!

The Sandbox Route continues to be on the lookout for volunteers, especially for platoon leadership positions as mentioned above. If you have questions about any specific team, please reach out to those Team Leaders to get some insight into what each team does and how you can help! Remember, the same volunteer form is used for all the Routes, just select the Route or Routes you are volunteering for and the position(s) you are interested in! If you volunteer on one of the 3 cross country routes, please consider bringing your experience to the Sandbox Route!

RFTW Volunteer Link is here.

And remember, “Nothing Great is ever accomplished alone!” Let’s work together to make the Sandbox Route great! Together we will Continue the Mission safely and successfully!

Ride safe!

Darin “Lurch” Koch

Sandbox Route Coordinator

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Southern Route Coordinator News – June 2022 Epilog

RFTW XXXII 2022 RC Newsletter

June,  2022 Epilog

 

 RFTW Southern Route Family,

This is my last RC Newsletter for 2022.  (save the applause).

First, I want to Congratulate Kristine “Eyes” Wood on her BoD confirmation to be the Southern Route Coordinator for RFTW Mission XXXIII 2023.   Her work in support of the RFTW Mission, starting even before her FNG year, and especially as ARC these past 3 years, is proof that Kris earned this position.  Her patriotism stems from multiple generations of Military Service dating back to the Revolutionary War.  I have extreme confidence in Kris’ ability to Lead and Manage the Southern Route Mission.

Secondly, I would like to say what an Honor it has been to be the Southern Route Coordinator since 2020.  We, I mean ALL OF US, have been through a lot in the last 3 years to get Mission XXXII complete.

We started the pre-Mission festivities by celebrating the marriage of Santa Ed and Den Mother.

It was our first time in Casa Grande, AZ, and the folks there showed us great hospitality.

Hats off to the FNGs, overall, I would say that the vast majority adapted to platoon riding quickly and comfort levels increased daily.

Did everything go perfectly?  No.  Will it ever?  Doubtful.   We had to make several changes leading up to the start and they continued throughout the Mission.  The fact that most riders never knew about all of the behind-the-scenes juggling and hoop jumping actions, is a testament to the Leadership Team and State Coordinators commitment.  A HUGE THANK YOU, to ALL of you.  You deserve all the credit; I’ll take any of the blame.  I was blessed with the Greatest Bunch of Volunteers that money can buy. LOL.

*** For those of you who ordered the special 20th Anniversary T-shirts and have not picked them up, they will be mailed to you soon.  We are trying to get them mailed before the end of June.  Thank you for your patience ***

If you haven’t submitted your After-Action Report yet, Please do.  That is your opportunity to express your thoughts about this year’s Mission.   If you have ideas on how we can improve the experience, we would like to know.  Use this Link

Don’t forget the Angel Fire, NM Reunion over Labor Day weekend and the

Kerrville, TX Riders Reunion September 21-25, 2022, details on The Facebook page 

Only 333 days before Kick Stands Up May 17, 2023, I hope to see everyone there and many new faces too.

“Captain America, Out”

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Day 3 – 5/20/2022 Southern Route

Day 3 – May 20, 2022 Southern Route

 

Today we started out in Las Cruces, New Mexico.  We started with breakfast at the American Legion.  A great breakfast was served with biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs, sausage and bacon, yum.  Does it seem like we eat a lot?  Yes we do, the folks and the organizations that greet us are feeding us some awesome food and we are very honored to be treated so well and greeted so warmly.  There was a raffle from the Legion where they handed out tickets to win $100.  This story is unique because the lady that won the Golden ticket to have all her gas paid along the run this year also won this raffle.  I don’t know her given name, my apologies for that but we all know her as Lucky now.  She wears the smile very well.

Lucky Wins again!

We then went on to the Las Cruces Veterans Memorial Park.  It’s a very nice park that is well put together.  Some pictures are below.  There was a very nice wreath laying ceremony and we had LEO (Law Enforcement) escort all the way through town and later on onto Highway 10 and quite a ways out of town.  We were traveling on towards Odessa Texas which is our stop tonight.  Most of the way through Texas we also had LEO escort.  They are clearing the highway, keeping cars and trucks from entering the freeway for our line of bikes which is running about a 2.5 mile footprint on the highway.  When we get to highway exits and head for a refuel stop; and afterwards we go to another location like a legion post or church to be fed, we don’t stop at lights or stop signs, it feels like we’re a long parade.  We are honored!  It’s quite a feeling and everyone is so nice and warm to us.  It’s a big change to the ‘70’s when you didn’t wear your uniform state side when not needed because you were worried about the reaction you’d get.  I’m sure a lot of you remember those times. And then we get into these places and everyone has big hugs and lots of Thank You(s).  There were significant greetings on the highway.  Overpasses with people waving, One place had a lady on a hillside riding a horse with a big flag!  Fire Trucks with the ladder extension hanging a flag off the side of the freeway all timed out for when we drive by.  It’s mind blowing.  Some of these smaller towns that coordinate with leadership and state coordinators to host us look at this like a huge opportunity and it’s one of the big events of the year for them.  The majority of the town comes out to greet us, wave flags, it’s all very cool.  And, I venture to say very little of this would come together without the hard work of the state coordinators that are working in the background all year long to make this happen.  Big Kudu’s to all the state coordinators for all the routes.  It’s amazing work.

“Reckless” (Rod Runyon) went with some bikes to an outreach to Old Glory Memorial, a memorial for all American citizens to honor all who have served our Country and those that have given their lives in the name of the freedoms we enjoy every day.  El Paso Texas Flags Across America has erected a 180 foot flagpole on the Trans-Mountain Campus of El Paso Community College and is flying a United States Flag, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and lighted at night.  On special occasions, EPTFAA will be flying a beautiful 50 foot by 100 foot united states flag.  Fifty (50) state flags, six (6) Armed Service Flags and six (6) Territorial flags.  Some pictures from the outreach are below.  Words spoken by Reckless (words worth keeping in your heart) at the outreach:  “There are many ways you can keep our fallen, as well as our injured and ill veterans, in your mind and heart throughout the year,  Countless ways to give back to those who have endured the physical, psychological and emotional wounds that may arise from military service.  Working together with friends, neighbors, veterans groups and entire communities, we can ensure that the sacrifices made by our nations finest and bravest never go unappreciated and that their memories are never forgotten.  I thank you all for joining in today’s tribute.  I hope you keep our military man and women – and all the sacrifices they made – close to your heart today and throughout the year.”

Boots
USAF ’72 – ’75

Las Cruces New Mexico Veterans Memorial Park

A lady there to remember her MIA father

The man who helped document all NM KIAs and MIAs

Part of our greeting committee

Outreach to Old Glory Memorial

Pic from the day

 

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Day Two – Thursday May 19, 2022. Flagstaff, AZ to Albuquerque, NM. 337 miles.

Wow!  What a day!  WHAT A DAY!!!  SO much has happened, and there is still stuff from yesterday to tell, that I am WAY behind!  And I really can’t get to the “meat” of todays post until I get some of the “clerical stuff” out of the way.  And by that, I mean just what does it take to organize the Midway Route, and how does it all shake out as we roll down the highway?

First, there is no “I” in RFTW.  It takes a team.  A BIG team!  (I won’t even bother to explain what the Board of Directors do, because that is all of the ‘legal’ stuff.)  The Individual Routes have a hierarchy that starts with a Route Coordinator and his Assistant Route Coordinator.  The RC and ARC are responsible for overseeing the daily logistics of the entire Run.  It is an incredibly difficult role, and Midway has been blessed to have Ken “Six-String” Dugas as our RC for THREE years!  (Just because the Run didn’t happen for two years doesn’t mean that there weren’t plans put in place.  It just means that He had to start over three times!)

Six-Strings Team consists of a Missing Man Coordinator, and Honor Guard Coordinator, 4-Wheel Coordinator, Hotel Coordinator, Camping Coordinator, Leadership Team Support, an MIA Outreach Coordinator, an entire Promotions Team, a Merchandising Team,  a Registration Team, an Ambassadors Team, a Chaplain Corps, Chase Vehicle Teams, Medical Teams, Hydration Teams, a Road Guard Captain (and 30+ Road Guards), an INCREDIBLE Fuel Team, a Staging Crew, and Platoon Leaders.  Most of these Teams have between 4-8 people on them, and the “crews” can have 20-30 people involved.  All told, there can be over 100 people doing various jobs just to coordinate and then safely move our Riders across the Country.  It is an unbelievably complex system with hundreds, if not thousands of moving parts.  And they ALL have to work, or none of it does.

But the volunteers for RFTW love what they do.  They are willing to sacrifice their time, energy, effort, and personal finances to make this Mission work.  And it DOES!

What the public sees is simply a bunch of motorcycles riding down the highway.  But even this seemingly random bunch of bikes has a hierarchy of it’s own.  I could try to explain it, but instead I will post a link to a quick 2 ½ minute video that I made back in 2019.  It visually explains what the “pack” looks like, who rides where, and in what order.  You can see the video at https://vimeo.com/341649711

Okay, that is enough of the “logistics” for this evening.  Let’s step back to yesterday so I can tell you about a very solemn and moving experience that we are doing on the Midway Route.  During our “opening ceremony” back in Ontario on Wednesday, each Route Coordinator was presented with a special folded flag that is to be carried all the way from California to Washington DC.  On the Midway Route, the flag is being carried by an FNG (first time Rider), with this flag escort being transferred to a new Rider three to four times a day.

It may sound like a simple thing, to carry a flag in your saddlebag.  But there is more to it than that.  What the Rider is REALLY carrying is every ideal and virtue that our Country stands for.  It is the symbol of the blood that has been shed defending our freedom.  It is the visual reminder of those that we have lost.  It is the flag that we pledge our allegiance to each morning, and that our Military Personnel have sworn to protect.  And if you don’t think that our Riders take this task seriously, just look in their faces.  You will see the respect and honor that is held in their hearts.  You can see the determination in them to keep this flag safe and to deliver it to the next Rider.  It is another position of honor that really makes Run For The Wall special.

Today started out in a most amazing way.  Normally when we wake up in Santa Fe, we have to know frost or even snow and ice off of our bikes.  Not today!  We woke to refreshing temperatures in the high 40s, which soon became the perfect 50s and 60s that bikers LOVE to ride in.  Oh Yeah, we had clear skies, too!  WooHoo!  So we got to truly enjoy the ride through Arizona.  It is a beautiful State!

Okay, I already have to correct myself.  Yes, I DID enjoy my morning ride.  But it wasn’t really a “ride.”  I had a special Mission to perform first thing today.  I have ridden through the town of Winslow Arizona MANY times.  Over the years, I have come to know some of the shop owners in this quaint little town.  One in particular is a former Marine and a true Patriot.  Several times in the past he has asked me it Run For the Wall could PLEASE stop in the town and say Hello.  He WANTS to wave a flag at us!  I was honored to get to lead “Cowboys Desert Renegades” through the town one year on the way out to California.  With only a few hours “warning” this shop owner arranged to have 100 people lining the streets to greet us!  So my Mission for the morning was to go say “Howdy” and deliver a few of our RFTW lapel pins.  It is a small gesture, but it is greatly appreciated.  This is a Mission that I took on by myself, but with the blessing of our Ambassador Lead.  As I was getting off of my bike, who should roll up but James “Gunny” Gregory and his lovely wife Patti.  It seems that Gunny had the same idea!

I had timed my stop so that I would have just enough time to reach an overpass outside of town to get a few photos of our Riders.  I made it with just a few minutes to spare!  And what a site it was!  Yesterday was our first day or riding together.  The Pack looked like it had been riding together for years!  They rode perfectly!  The spacing was impeccable.  The lines were razor straight.  The Riders were all sitting tall in the saddle and waved and honked at this lone photographer standing on a bridge.  They gave me my own personal parade!  Thank You to all of the Midway Route Riders!  You brought tears to my eyes!

I rejoined the pack just in time to enjoy a special treat for a Rider.  I have mentioned an LEO Escort before.  But today e got what is known as a “presidential” escort, which means that the Police SHUT DOWN THE INTERSTATE for us!  And it happened TWICE today!  It is an amazing experience to be heading down Interstate 40 and not have to worry about traffic.  In the morning, it gave me an opportunity to get some really cool pictures of ALL of our Riders and their great formation.  In the afternoon, going through Albuquerque, it gave us smooth sailing through the (normally) congested highways and streets.  It is quite a rare treat, and it was greatly appreciated!

At one of our fuel stops, I saw a couple of elderly Native American Women sitting in chairs out in the parking lot.  They were waving and yelling “We Love You” as the Riders went by.  Something compelled me to go visit with them.  They are Native Navajo.  I am sorry to say that I don’t know enough about their culture to use the proper term for them.   But I was saved from embarrassing myself TOO much when one of our own Riders came up to say Hello, and suddenly we had THREE Navajo Women together, talking in their BEAUTIFUL native tongue!  Turns out, our Rider belongs to the same clan as one of the Ladies, so they are pretty sure that they are related!  This kind of interaction is exactly what we mean when we say “The Magic of the Run!”  Our two guests were such delightful Ladies, and I just wanted to hug them!  I could have spent all day with them, but I had to tear myself away.  I jokingly said that she would just have to tell me to go away our I WOULD stay.  She smiled at me and winked, then told me to leave and do what I needed to do … in her Native language!  We both cried tears of happiness as I walked away, after one more hug!

Our lunch today was at Milan Elementary School in Milan New Mexico.  Let me state right here and now, I am not a big fan of Kids.  (I didn’t like them when *I* was a kid!)  But THESE Young Men and Women are SPECIAL!  It was the highlight of my day!  They line the circular driveway and wait patiently for our arrival.  And then they burst out with screams of delight and chants of “U.S.A., U.S.A., U.S.A.!”  They wave American flags and Red White and Blue hearts. They will give a high-five to anyone that puts out their hand!  Even your Photographer and SITREP Author ended up running around this (BIG) circle slapping hands and yelling along with these young Patriots!  Once inside, we ALL stood for the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem, young and old alike.  The children sang a few patriotic songs for us, and they sounded GREAT!  I can’t believe it, but they make me kind of like kids!  These people are WONDERFUL!  They also serve a very good lunch!  Thank You Milan Elementary!  I know that I am looking forward to seeing you again next year!

After eating a hurried lunch (I had been a bit busy), I joined an outreach program that rode a few miles to the City of Grants New Mexico, to pay respects at their Vietnam Veterans Memorial.  This is a very simple but meaningful memorial, comprise of five flag poles, a large bronze medallion for each branch of our Military, and two large stone markers that honor our Vietnam Veterans.  To make it just a little MORE special, there was a brief “ceremony” for “Jet”, one of our slightly more unusual Riders.  “Jet” travels around the country, riding with various Riders if and when a seat is available.  He has even ridden with ME once.  Jet’s Mission is to go where his Best Friend can’t, and to pay honor to a special person in both their lives.

Jet is a little stuffed Bear in a Flight Suit.  He belongs to our good Friend Shannon Spake.  When Shannon realized that she couldn’t join us for the Run this year, “Peppermint Patti” offered to take Jet with her.  “Jet” is Shannon’s representative this year.  He is paying tribute to Lt Commander Dennis Pike, Missing In Action for 50 years.  Dennis Pike is Shannon’s Father.

THIS is Why We Ride!

Jim “Hoofer” McCrain

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May 18 2022 Southern Route

May 18, 2022

Today was the day we started!  We left Ontario California on time and started riding our bikes towards today’s destination, Casa Grande, AZ. Before we left, there were some ceremonies, thanks and plaques given to many groups that assisted us with getting our start this year.  Organizations like the Ontario Police and Fire Department and some companies that donated and helped in various ways.  We also had opportunities to thank the leadership of our great organization like the BOD and RC’s.

It was a long day, I think it’s the longest we’ll have on this run, 402 miles.  We had an awesome lunch in Blythe, CA which is very close to the AZ border.  The Blythe towns people hosted us at the local fair grounds with hamburgers, hot dogs and lots of goodies along with a very warm reception welcoming us to their town.  It was a very nice experience and we felt honored.  We toured through many other towns and made it to Casa Grande where it seemed the whole town was there greeting us with flags waving, people gathered on the sides of the road for a couple of miles.  We went to the Elks Lodge and were fed a great dinner of chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes and corn.  It was again, a very warm welcome with friendly people with some hard working cadets that were serving the dinners and cleaning up.  Awesome town.

I had a chance to speak with the gentleman from Israel that is riding with us.  He has some great stories but one I thought was worth passing on was that last week, he helped deliver an ambulance to Ukraine.  So one week he’s delivering an ambulance to Ukraine and the next week he’s here doing the Run with us.  What a life?  They drove the ambulance up to Ukraine and provided it to the folks providing medical care so they can transport patients as needed.  We see on the news there are a lot of needs there.  We hope they can come up with enough gasoline to drive it as much as it seems they need to.

I also ran into Arnie.  Arnie is an FNG and he has his grandson with him who is active military.  They are on a CanAm Spyder.  Arnie has 8 fellow patriots that were either MIA or KIA.  The two MIA’s are Major Walsh and Major Perchello.  He started putting the info together for 602nd Air Commando Squadron remaining pilots from 1967 through 1968 and had a strong positive reaction where these remaining pilots appreciated the “keeping the names alive”.  Arnie then learned about Run for the Wall and realized this was the perfect opportunity to continue the mission.  Arnie has 8 patriots he is honoring during the run and obviously at the Wall when we get there.  There are more details so if you run into Arnie, ask him to tell you about the guys which have family still waiting for them and kids that are now grown and didn’t get to know their dads as well as they should have.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tomorrow we do about 50 less miles and end up in Las Cruces, NM.  Good Night!

 

“As you become a part of Run For The Wall,

the Run becomes a part of you.”

– Bob “Captain America” Nelson

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Southern Route Coordinator News -May 2022 Part 4

RFTW XXXII 2022 RC Newsletter

May,  2022 Part 4

 

 

ONE MORE THINK or 2

Today Ron discovered another Harley Dealer that wants to assist RFTW with service.

He will give a military discount and will prioritize RFTW Bikes. It is in Loma Linda, CA but just a short drive down the 10.

Quaid Harley

25160 Redlands Blvd

Loma Linda, CA 92364

1-909-796-8399

Speak with Joe Pedersen

Reminder – If you are in a 4-wheel vehicle you must travel at least 2 miles in front of or back of the pack.  On Wednesday leaving Ontario, do not park in the staging area.  I suggest you leave right after the Morning All Hands Meeting.  The only exceptions world be the Chase vehicles and the Nurses. 

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Southern Route Coordinator News – May 2022 Part 3

RFTW XXXII 2022 RC Newsletter

May,  2022 Part 3

 

 

This is it, The last Pre-Run list of good things to know.  Some of these you have already heard or should have.

  • You will get a copy of the Southern Route Itinerary when you “Check In”.  Study it. Where you need to be and when you need to be there is all right there.  A LOT of time and effort when into its publication, it is not intended to be a souvenir program.  The best prepared Riders have the least stress. 
    • Every exit is there in Bold and the arrival and departure times also.  Many Riders will write the exit numbers each day on the back of their windshields with a dry-erase marker to keep track
    • Be aware we will cross several time zones.  We lose an hour each time.  Make sure that your timepiece is correct, otherwise you will be late.  Getting a good night’s rest is crucial.
    • Keep your itinerary handy, pay attention at the Mandatory Riders’ Meeting for last minute changes.
  • Don’t forget to check your tire pressure.  It is often overlooked.  Under or Overinflated tires are unsafe.  Recommended tire pressure can be found in your owner’s manual or a sticker inside of a side cover, NOT on the tire.  While you are there, double check the tread all the way around the tires.
  • There are still open spots for the FNG Flag Relay.  You can be a part of this special mission by carrying the folded flag for one leg of the Southern Route Run.  Contact Rod Runyon by email to sign up.
  • One more time, HYDRATE !, HYDRATE !, HYDRATE!

See Y’all Soon. In the words of my cousin Willie, ” Just can’t wait to get on the road again”.

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Southern Route Coordinator News – May 2022 Part 2

RFTW XXXII 2022 RC Newsletter

May,  2022 Part 2

 

Greetings from Snowy Northern Nevada,

Hard to believe, but there is actually snow in the air.  But like the postman or postwoman,  Nothing will stay us from our appointed Route.      Happy Mother’s Day!! 

Today I bring you: More good things to know.

  • We will have Daily Raffles; they will include 50/50 and prizes. The prizes are collected and donated by the Southern Route Riders.  If you have something(s) you would like to donate that is small enough to be carried by the winner, please bring it to Ontario, or wherever you are joining us. 
  • We also have so many wonderful hand-crafted raffle items, including several beautiful quilts, bamboo cutting board and special wooden boxes. The special tickets for these items and others will be sold beginning in Ontario and along the Route.  The drawing for these will be in Wytheville, VA at the Moose Lodge dinner.   You need not be present to win, and larger items will be shipped home for you. Beside an awesome meal, there will be other special items available, so you don’t want to miss out.
  • There will only 400 tickets available to win a commemorative stained-glass panel, that was made and donated by our Road Guard Captain, Bob “Captain” Mazzone, He made one for each of the 4 Routes
  •  
  • We will be visiting with students from 2 elementary schools, 1 middle school and 1 high school. The younger kids love the “trinkets” we bring to give them.   Things like pencils, pens, lanyards, stickers, wrist bands, beads, and pins are all very popular.   I am bringing 2 grosses of special pencils, between Southern and SandBox Routes, I may only have handful left when I am done.
  • Be sure to explore our RFTW Facebook Page  it’s a great place to have some casual conversation also find and share knowledge.
  • Our Merchandise Trailer will be loaded with all manner of RFTW gear. It’s your one stop shop for RFTW Swag
  • Those who ordered the special 20th Anniversary Southern Route T-shirts they will be available for pickup in Ontario and along the Route.  Watch the message board for times and location
  • We also nave a limited number of The 20 Anniversary patches for sale
  • If you are already on the road, Be Safe, watch for loonies they are everywhere

Stay Safe, Stay Healthy, Stay Flexible and Stay Positive.

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Southern Route Coordinator News – May 2022

RFTW XXXII 2022 RC Newsletter

May,  2022

 

Greetings RFTW Southern Route Family,

IT’S MAY !!  And less than 2 weeks before KSU.  I am going to get right to it.    Things you need to know

  • There has been some discussion about Parade Size Flags. While every Patriot loves the American Flag.  We cannot permit them to be unfurled while riding in the pack. 
  • Make sure that your Registration, Insurance and Driver’s License (with proper endorsement) are up to date and unexpired when you show up to “Check In”.
  • The GOLDEN TICKET Raffle Tickets will be available for sale in Ontario. They will cost $5 each or 5 for $20.  We will sell Only 2,000 tickets and the number of winners will be based on the number of tickets sold.   If we sell all 2,000, we will have 10 winners.  Each winner will be considered prepaid at all non-donated fuel stops along the 2022 Southern Route.  You are still obligated to show up at morning staging with a full tank.   This excluded 4-wheeled vehicles. Drawing to be held at the Day 1 Morning Riders’ Meeting.  You must be present to win
  • If you haven’t already, fill out and sign your Emergency Information Form  . Click on the link to download the fillable pdf file.  Print 3 copies, one for your person, one to carry on the bike and a spare, just in case.
  • I know no one wants to hear this but, we may enter places where masks are required. So, pack a few.
  • For the FNGs, the Southern Route FNG Orientation will be on Tuesday 5/17 at 1:00 -2:00 PM
  • The MANDATORY ALL HANDS meeting will be held in LOT D at 3:00 PM
  • Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate!
  • Semper Gumby, be Always Flexible, Things don’t always go as planned. Be Patient, we’ll get there.

See y’all soon…..