Well this is one for the books. We started in cold weather again with ice on our bike seats but no ice on the road. As we went further east to the mountains there was about an inch or more on the ground and the trees. It was a very beautiful site to see, pretty cold but beautiful. When we made it to the Route 66 Casino we were all chilled to the bone and we finally got warm again at our stop at the Sante Fe Harley Davidson. That turned out to be a great place also as they were most hospitable. Then we bundled up, as it was to get rainy and be cold, and we headed to Angel Fire. Turns out it was not very cold and no rain and we had a great ride. (If you have not taken the ride to and from Angel Fire, you might put it on your bucket list) The people are so hospitable here, they go above and beyond to make us all feel so welcome and tell us to come again any time. The Vietnam War Memorial here is a must visit and if you can take some time as it is 2nd only to the Wall in DC. The movie “Letters from Home” shown here, has always been hard to watch but it also is a must see. It deals fairly honestly with the culture and the war that was. It is a peaceful place. Tomorrow, who knows, it is almost 8:00 PM and it is snowing, so? I knew I should have bought the optional snow plow for my Can Am. Winky will address the situation in the morning and we pray it will not be as forecast, 400 two wheel bikes on ice in a canyon, now that will be something to tell our kids about, and the medics and the insurance companies and.
I had promised to give you a “Rider of the Day” when I first started and the days are screaming by so I may load up on some of them as they are too good to not do. There are so many good people on the RUN and I cannot do all of you so I have chosen ones that I know. I think highly of and have great respect for them. I have seen all of them in action over the years and they all have a great heart for the purpose of the RUN. Their Bios are written by them and it will give you insight into their lives
Today we will do TWO.
Our names are Mike and Delores McDole. Better known as Tanker and Girl Friend. This year will mark our 18th year of being on the RUN, 17 of which have been all the way. In 2015 we missed when Girl Friend caught a severe case of food poisoning and we were unable to go on our annual pilgrimage to the Wall. Both of us have been in different aspects of the RUN including Central Route Coordinator 06, BoD 2007 – 2010, Sit reps, Route finances and platoon leaders for the last several years.
Our first year was 2000, the result of much agonizing on my part whether it would be a positive thing, for me since returning from my tour of duty in the U S Army in Vietnam, I did not talk about the war and wanting nothing to do with anyone who did. It was the one year of my life I tried desperately to forget except for the birth of our first daughter Paula (Hugger) 8 months into my tour. Our participation in 2000 was the result of a good friend’s encouragement who had been on the RUN the previous two years. He and Girl Friend believed it would me connect with other Veterans and as a result start the long overdue healing process. Much to my surprise they were correct. Since our participation in 2000, we feel compelled to return each year and help others, especially FNG’s feel welcome and supported in their personal journey with us. The RUN offers a unique opportunity to experience the patriotism that exists across the heartland of our great country. From the countless volunteers in small town who prepare meals and care for us, to the hundreds of people who line the sidewalks and overpasses waving flags, to the many businesses, who provide free fuel stops to the one person standing alone along in the middle of a rain storm saluting as we pass by, you will be blessed and emotionally moved on every leg of the journey.
To those of you reading these sit reps and have not yet been on this amazing journey. we encourage you to join us for what promises to be an unforgettable experience that will change your life. To those of you who have been with us in the past and are reading these sit reps but were not able to make the run this year, we look forward to you joining us in the future. God Bless, Tanker and Girl Friend.
Tom “Bones” Pogue and Denise “Mrs. Bones”, Pogue.
1.) I’ve been on The Run since 2002 when I joined for 1 day and 1 night, expecting that to be a one time experience. In 2003 and 2004 I increased my time with the Run but still did not do the entire trip. I then went ATW in 2005 expecting that would be the only ATW trip, but have gone ATW every year since.
2.)I originally did the Run to show support and respect for our Military who were in the midst of the Mideast conflict following 9-11. Once on the Run I saw the large number of Vietnam Vets participating and it was very clear how much the “Welcome Home” they got during the ride meant to them. It was obvious this motorcycle trip had tremendous positive impacts on lives. I continue to do the Run because there are still many Vets who haven’t gotten a Welcome Home and I want to do my little part to help this mission continue so the opportunity exists for others to hear those words.
3.). My favorite part of the Run is also the part I hate the most. At the conclusion of a Missing Man tribute leg when I am face to face with a Gold Star parent who just rode in honor of their child who was KIA, I have the opportunity in a private setting to convey my appreciation for the loss they have endured. I hope that I can convey the sincerity of all RFTW participants our sense of gratitude and that our continuing the mission in a small way reminds our country to “NEVER FORGET”.
4.)As the Missing Man Coordinator it is my job to interview, vet, and assign individuals to ride as a Missing Man Escort. The Escort rides in the lead formation and the position immediately to their right is left unoccupied. That “empty” spot is for the person who is being honored. My duties require me to set a dignified tone prior to the Escort leg and council the Escort at the conclusion of their ride, and often times for the remained of the Run.
5.). My best memory of the Run(s) goes back to question #3. In Junction City KS I had the post ride with the Escort who was a Gold Star Father. We had just ridden through several blocks of hundreds of people holding American flags, all waving in the breeze. It was a beautiful sight. I expected this father to be overcome with sadness, remembering his son, reliving the initial pain of those words delivered, KIA. But his demeanor was just the opposite; it was serene, but also radiant at the same time. He told me that he and his wife’s biggest fear was that their son would be forgotten. As he looked past me towards all the hundreds of people with their flags, with tears in his eyes he said, “it looks like that won’t happen” Whenever I get weary on the Run and think I can’t continue on, I remember that scene and know that we have to continue to provide this opportunity for other Gold Star families to have the same experience as this Dad did.
I hope you enjoyed reading about these leaders on this great RUN.
Please pray for our safety!
Until tomorrow, Roger “Pops” Hageman, Sit Rep, Central Route