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Central Route Coordinator Newsletter July 2022

Run for the Wall Central Route

My name is Paul Marshall, and I have been honored by the Run For The Wall (RFTW) Board of Directors by being appointed as the 2023 Central Route Coordinator. This will be my first newsletter, with many more to follow, until we complete our mission for RFTW XXXIII.

Besides riding with RFTW for several years – sometimes in the pack, sometimes riding my own ride, and sometimes riding multiple legs – I’ve worked on the fuel team, and served as platoon leader for several years. For the past two years, I served as the Assistant Route Coordinator, working with Tom “Boomps” Miller, the 2022 Route Coordinator.

I joined the US Army in 1969. I served in Vietnam as an MP (1971-72), and in the Korean DMZ as an artillery surveyor and MP (1970-71).

After leaving the US Army in 1972, I joined the Sacramento Police Department in California. Over the next 30 years, I worked in two other police departments, and retired as a police captain from a police department in Southern California in 2004.

I was introduced to RFTW in 2002 by a fellow Vietnam veteran. Until that time, like many Vietnam veterans, I flew under the radar, seldom acknowledging my service, let alone my time spent in country. To say my first year on RFTW changed my way of thinking is an understatement. However, while it was an awakening of sorts – almost a rebirth of faith in Americans if you will – there remains a lingering feeling of guilt and loss.

Now, when I think of the mission of the RFTW (to promote healing among all veterans, their families and friends, to call for an accounting of all prisoners of wars and those missing in action to honor the memory of those killed in action from all wars, and to support our military personnel all over the world), I understand why two Vietnam veterans, James Gregory and Bill Evans, established RFTW in 1989 – to give all veterans a chance to find meaning in their service, and heal the deep scars left by that service.

In my first year (2002), I rode in the pack all the way from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. In those days, we rode in one long, continuously line of motorcycles, riding side by side next to riders we’d never met before. Fueling our motorcycles, and “staging” in preparation to leave a stop, was chaotic at best. When we left a fuel of meal stop, we shuffled into a side-by-side line as we entered the freeway. On the freeway, we often saw brake lights popping on, gradually making their way back through the pack – a very beautiful thing actually, until they got to one’s position. Things have seriously changed since 2002. RFTW is a well-practiced, and cross-country motorcycle ride.

When we launch RFTW XXXIII from Ontario, California on 17 May 2023, I will be joined by Assistant Route Coordinator, Nick Hentges, Road Guard Captain, Kirk Olson, and many more volunteer leaders.

Planning for the RFTW mission is underway. Since we completed the mission of RFTW XXXII in May 2022, state coordinators have been in constant contact with their supporters in eleven states. Several leadership teams are meeting to discuss the last run to Washington, D.C. Other volunteer leadership teams include road guards, fueling and staging crews, chase and last man crews, ambassadors, outreach volunteers, chaplains and medical personnel, to name a few.

Riding across this country, you will represent RFTW as we stop at VA hospitals, memorials, schools and community centers. And as a RFTW representative, you will be asked to be on  your best behavior by being courteous, showing respect and appreciation to the communities that support us on our ride to Washington, D.C.. After a day or two you will realize that RFTW is truly something special, and unlike anything you have ever experienced. By the end of this run, you will find that you have become part of the RFTW family.

As a new RFTW rider, you will be supported by a very large, and very experienced leadership teams that seek to maintain a safe, supportive and private atmosphere in which all participants can reflect and heal on your journey to the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. – “The Wall”. Regardless of your level of experience, you will find this ride to be very challenging, and well worth the effort. That said, it is not too early to begin your preparations.

You are encouraged to go to the RFTW website (RFTW.us). There you will find a number of resources to help you plan your ride, including suggestions on how to pack for the run. New riders can also check out the “Forum” to see what other riders are saying in their chats, and read after action reports that will describe previous rides. Next spring, as planning progresses, new riders will be able to read about activities in Ontario before we launch, as well as the day-by-day itinerary for the Central Route.

Get curious. Ask questions. And, get ready!

I look forward to seeing you all in Ontario, California.

Paul “Brush” Marshall
RFTW Central Route Coordinator 2023