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Central Route Coordinator July 2024 Newsletter

Riders and supporters, I’d like to officially WELCOME YOU to the beginning stages of the 35th Annual Run for the Wall, which will commence on May 14, 2025.  I’d like to thank the RFTW BoD, and my predecessor Nick Hentges for the honor of being selected and appointed Route Coordinator for Central Route 2025.

I officially would like to welcome all of you to our 2025 Run and the Central Route.  Especially, I’d like to welcome all newcomers, riders, and FNG’s.  All are welcome to ride with us, whether you are a Veteran (from ANY era), Active Duty, or non-veteran supporter.  Some people think you need to be a veteran or have a military background to ride with us.  That is not the case. We welcome all people and riders from all walks of life.  Additionally, there are no Red or Blue teams on this ride.  We are one team and one family. This is a Mission, and we do this 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 honor and Ride for Those Who Can’t. If you ride, you are Welcome ride with on this incredible journey.

Not only will May 2025 be the 35th Annual Run, it also coincides with the 50th Anniversary of the official end to the Vietnam War, when the South Vietnamese capital city of Saigon fell on April 30, 1975 (link).  The signing of the Paris Peace Accords on January 27, 1973 did not hold.

Therefore, RFTW is declaring 2025, “The Year of the Vietnam Vet”, which is truly allowing us to honor our roots and our Vietnam Vets like never before.  There will be many special events and things focusing on this theme that will be revealed in the months to come.  Remember, many of our veterans still need their “Welcome Home”, so let’s make sure we reach as many of them as we can.

Focusing on “The Year of the Vietnam Vet” is also allowing us to say THANK YOU to those that came before us, so we can build upon and continue the legacy that James “Gunny” Gregory (our Founder) started in 1989 with the FIRST Run. It is extremely important that we honor our roots, history, and the foundation of RFTW, so we ensure the continuation of RFTW for the next 35-years and beyond.  We would not be here today, do what we do, look forward to every May, and most importantly “Ride for Those That Can’t”, if it were not for the Vietnam Vets that came before us.  They laid the foundation for what RFTW is today and what we will become, as we expand and grow to reach the NEXT GENERATION of vets, riders, and supporters.

For those that may not know me, I am not a Vietnam Era Veteran. I was 7-years-old in April 1975, when Saigon fell.  I went into the Navy in the summer of 1987 after graduating from high school. My father, Harlan Olson, is a Vietnam Veteran, and I do RFTW to honor all veterans from all wars and service, but especially him.  Dad was also the Central Route Coordinator in 2018 for the 30th Annual RFTW, so I am proud to be following in his shoes and footsteps.  To my knowledge, we are the first pair of father-son RFTW RC’s, and I certainly hope not the last.  My FNG year was 2009, and I have done almost every official RFTW since then.  I only missed the 2022 Run due to a broken shoulder.  Last year I served as the Assistant Route Coordinator.  I have also served as Road Guard Captain, Assistant Road Guard Captain, and as a Road Guard over the years.  I also served on the BoD as the Public Relations Director from 2016-2019.

You all may be wondering who the 2025 Assistant Route Coordinator is going to be… It is my privilege to announce that Jim McDonough has accepted the position as my Assistant (ARC) for the 2025 Central Route RFTW.  Jim was commissioned as an Ensign in 1983 and became a Naval Flight Officer in EA6-B Prowlers.  He left Active Duty in 1994, and transferred to the Naval Reserve, where he ultimately retired in 2014 as a Navy Captain (O-6).  Jim also is a retired Sergeant of the Kitsep County Sheriff’s Office in Port Orchard, WA. Jim has served both RFTW as a Platoon Leader, Asst Platoon Leader, and Quartermaster. I am truly thrilled and humbled to have him as my ARC in 2025.  Please join me in welcoming and congratulating him.

Believe it or not, planning for May 2025 and the 35th Run is already starting. All of the new RC’s will be meeting with the RFTW BoD in about a week and a half to officially kick things off.

Our very next order of business that is coming up immediately is the RFTW Angel Fire Reunion and workdayThis reunion will take place Friday, August 30 – Sunday, Sept 1, 2024.  Most people come in some time on Friday and leave on Sunday morning.  If you want to come a day early on Thursday, or stay later than Sunday, that is up to you.  There is great riding in the area.  I will re-iterate that this reunion is for anyone from any of our Four Routes.  Central Route does stop in Angel Fire as an official stop on our itinerary in May, but what makes this reunion special is that we lay memorial bricks along the walkways of the memorial. RFTW has adopted the memorial for many, many years.  Each brick has the name and service dates of any serviceman or servicewoman. Living or deceased. Each brick is read aloud and marched to its place on the memorial grounds by an RFTW rider.  The memorial provides our lunch on Saturday, Aug 31.  Part of your registration and sign-up fee will include dinner on Friday night and Saturday night.  You are responsible for  making your own lodging reservations in Eagle Nest, NM or Angel Fire, NM.

Go here to register for the reunion:

  • Please register. This helps us prepare for number of people and meals for the reunion.

There will be more to come in the coming months, leading up to our departure in May 2025.

In my 16-years of being involved with RFTW, I am sure I’ve messed up a time or two.  I want you all to know that I’m humbled and honored to be your Route Coordinator for our 35th Annual Run For The Wall.  I’ll  work hard and do my best to make it meaningful to you all.  Let’s make it count, and one to remember.

Until They All Come Home,
Kirk “Pretty Boy” Olson
Route Coordinator – Central Route 2025

Kirk Olson carrying his Father's Memorial Brick for placement at the Angel Fire Reunion, August 30, 2014.

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