Posted on Leave a comment

Day –1, Monday – Ontario

Today I got to sleep in. What a luxury. It only gets worse from here. As we move east we loose an hour sleep three times. So by the time we get into Eastern Daylight Savings Time, we’ll have lost three hours. So when our alarms go off at 0500, back here in Ontario, CA it will be 0200. Enjoy getting up at your leisure while you can. Soon it all changes.

Many more people arrived today. More warm welcomes and hugs. Anyone tired of getting hugs? I didn’t think so.

A group of riders was collecting near where I stood by my bike and one rider came over to me for a welcome hug. He told me a group of them were getting ready to help escort the recipient of the Bike Build from the airport and asked me if I wanted to assist. I strapped my helmet on and started my Harley. About fifteen of us rode together to the airport, parked around the limo there to transport our hero and his family, then got off our bikes and formed a line to the limo door. Minutes later our hero walked out of the airport with his family. We were called to attention and ordered to “present arm” while our hero got into the limo. We were then given the command “order arm” and dismissed to assemble on our bikes and escort our hero to the host hotel. That was a real treat for me. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. Maybe. Some may think these things happen by chance but I don’t. It believe it was a blessing to me. For me the blessings continue. How have you been blessed so far? How is RFTW a blessing in your life? More on that in a minute.

We had our Midway leadership meeting today and it was instructional, interesting and historical. First, we will be doing things a little different. Here are a few examples:

    • Last year eight of ten state coordinators departed. This year eight new state coordinators joined RFTW. Their activity coordinating the run through their states was recognized and applauded.  The amount of work these folks accomplish is monumental.
    • Timing of daily itineraries were determined to be unrealistic and adjusted accordingly
    • Stop less relevant communication on the highway
    • Stop radio checks just before leaving any venue
    • Platoon Leaders shall set better examples for platoon members at fuel and venue stops
    • Ignore panhandlers. Please donate in tip jars at venues.
    • More coordination between Platoon Leaders and Road Guards to help clear difficult areas.

Les Williams, RFTW BOD Chairman informed us about the new Sandbox Run. This new route is being considered to help enlist the younger audience. RFTW is being extended to allow riders to visit memorials dedicated to veterans of Middle Eastern conflicts. This year the “Recon” run will determine the route and establish ties to state resources necessary to make this route function just like our other three routes. Just as the Midway Route was set up by the Midway Route Recon Team back in 2013, the Sandbox route will be set up for future rides to visit memorials of more recent conflicts. The Sandbox Route will be a historical run and those able to attend will be in on a game-changing ride that will cement together riders from multiple conflicts extending the mission of Run For The Wall for generations to come. Les also mentioned it was possible that memorial walls for more recent conflicts are being considered for development in Washington DC. If this idea becomes reality, it may be possible Run For the Wall may become Run For The Walls.

Many new leaders have stepped up and all were recognized. After many had introduced themselves Sgt Rock stood and was recognized. He said that he’d been a participant of Run For The Wall for 18 years (I hope I got the number right). Rock said that Run For The Wall had saved his life. The room got quiet. He said it had given him reason for living. He spoke about being an orphan, having no family and being alone until he entered the military. After that he didn’t know where his life was headed until someone introduced him to Run For The Wall. A few years ago, he was the recipient of the Bike Build and received a custom motorcycle he could operate much easier than what he was used to. Since receiving that bike, he has put more than 100,000 miles on it and loves participating in the Outreach Program. Sgt Rock was asked how far he was going this year and said only to Amarillo. I said “ALL THE WAY to Amarillo” followed by a few chuckles.  As, Sgt Rock continued to talk about how he felt RFTW riders were his family and would do anything to help him, he started to get a little emotional. We stood, applauded and moved toward Rock to offer hugs. Rock said he was going to be okay.  We all said, we will all by okay.  How has Run For The Wall blessed the life of Sgt Rock? How has it not? Rock is an amazing veteran, an amazing man, an amazing brother. God bless Sgt Rock.

After the meeting, my team and I collected our gear and talked about how we would brief our platoon. I think we covered most of the bases, but you never know.   We have instructions to review that have been established and updated through the years to help lead our platoon effectively. Like checklists, instructions help us remember what needs to be said and what doesn’t.  There are probably more things that don’t need to be said than do.

Tomorrow we have several significant events happening. Check the Pre-run itinerary. I’ll just mention a couple. First Jim “The Mayor” Frost is leading the traditional run to Riverside National Cemetery. Although this event is primarily for FNGs, all are welcome. I have spent many hours traveling in escort with the Patriot Guard Riders to RNC. It is a marvelous place. If you have not been, you need to go. According to the itinerary, staging begins at 0700. The riders meeting is at 0800 and KSU is 0840. Line up at the east curb of the hotel. There will be Law Enforcement Officer escort. Second, the Bike Build presentation is at 1300. I heard this will be the biggest presentation do date. You don’t want to miss this.

“We Ride For Those That Can’t”

Tom “Twotone” Lystrup – Midway Route SitRep Writer

I’d appreciate your comments. For those that have emailed me their comments, my thanks and my love to you all.