“TwoTone” had to return home unexpectedly today, so I will be filling in for the Daily Sit-Reps for a while.
My name is Jim “Hoofer” McCrain. I am the Midway Route Photographer for 2019, and this is my sixth year to participate with Run For The Wall. I started on the Southern Route as an FNG, then served as a Tail Gunner and a Road Guard. Three Years ago, I moved over to the Midway Route as a Road Guard (two years) and now as the Photographer.
Let me state right now that I am not a Veteran. It is important for you to know that fact, because it allows me to see things a little differently than the majority of our riders. Where the veterans see and experience emotional healing, I see Heroes helping each other. I experience a small portion of the Brotherhood that these Men and Women share, but in a way that is hard to explain. Sometimes I feel a little “out-of-place” standing amongst these great people, but they welcome me as one of their own, and I am proud that they call me “Brother”!
So it is with great honor and pride that they would trust me to give you a daily “Situation Report” on our activities. I hope to serve them well.
First, let me give you a “run down” on what our days are like. We get up early, have a morning safety meeting, and then ride down the road. There will be a lunch stop, maybe a visit to a memorial site, school, VA Hospital, or some other event. More riding takes place in the afternoon with many of the same activities, followed by a supper and then off to the hotel rooms. We repeat that same process ever day, so I don’t plan to “bore you” with the “little details.” That is what we DO on the Run.
What we EXPERIENCE is vastly different each and every day. And that is because each individual sees and perceives things in their own fashion and manner. Each of the Riders will go to the same places, but they will each have their own story to tell. And THAT is what I hope to impart to you. This is “Run For the Wall, Midway Route: 2019” as I see and experience it.
Today’s story starts with the weather! Our Senior Chaplain (“Good Wrench”) started our morning meeting with a prayer. He mentioned that we were all grateful to be able to ride this day, even with the threatening severe storms, and that if God needed to throw a storm our way, we would just rely on his grace to see us through it. He DID say that we would “prefer” good weather, but we would still praise God for whatever he sent us. Well, Good Wrench must have a direct connection to the Man Upstairs, because we didn’t get a single drop of rain all day! What a magnificent gift we were given on this day, to ride with storms all around us, but the safety and security we need to get these Heroes on their journey!
So we rode on, making our way to the little town of Shamrock, Texas. Keep in mind that although this is a “small” town, it is also a fairly busy place. Our reception was amazing, as the City SHUT DOWN the entire Main Street intersection so that we would have a place to park our bikes. The entire street! They opened up the Route 66 museum so we could have a place to rest and relax. They treated us all like “Kings”, even showing us the diner booth that Elvis Presely, the “King of Rock and Roll” used when he came to town. Thank You, Shamrock!
But that was just the beginning. From there on out, almost every over-pass was filled with people waving flags and holding up banners. Fire trucks spanned several of the bridges, along with construction vehicles, county maintenance trucks, and personal cars, all waiting just to see us pass by. Texas and Oklahoma certainly rolled out a warm Welcome for us. The amount of patriotism shown just today was enough to give us all hope for the future of our country.
Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, we were greeted in Weatherford, Oklahoma by a group of Scouts, all rendering a salute for the Riders as we entered our afternoon stop. Then, they presented the Colors (Flags) with just as much dignity and honor as an adult would have done. For those of you who know me, you know that I am not overly fond of “kids.” But THESE Young Men and Women give me Hope! These will be our future Leaders, and we will all be okay because they have been raised to respect their Country, their Flag, and their fellow Americans. Thank You, to all of the Scouts for your dedication to OUR country!
And speaking of Heroes and our Country, We had a very unexpected and unplanned honor today. When we stopped at the “General Thomas P Stafford Air and Space Museum,” we found out that they were preparing for a 50th anniversary meeting for the Apollo space program. Several dignitaries had come in a day early to “get ready”, and WE got to meet some of them! It went something like this: A distinguished looking, older Gentlemen heard all of our bikes pull up, so he sauntered over to take a look. He asked one of the Riders what we were doing, and the Rider proceeded to tell him all about RFTW. Then the distinguished Gentleman noticed that he was talking to a Chaplain and that there were several of them around. He asked if HE could take a picture with THEM. HE wanted to stand with some Heroes. Did I mention that the distinguished Gentleman was an astronaut that had walked on the Moon? And he calls US Heroes!
And then as we were about to leave, I was asked if I would like to meet another distinguished Gentleman. I asked if I could have our Route Coordinator (Wombat) and the Assistant Route Coordinator (Six String) be in a photo instead. The request was granted. So here is a photo of Glenn Waggoner and Ken Dugas standing with General Thomas Stafford himself, in front of his own statue! What an honor for them, and for RFTW as a group. (As a side note, I DID get to shake the Generals hand and “coin” him as well. He smiled and said “Thank You!”)
Okay, I know this has been a long “Sit Rep” but it is only a small fraction of what I experienced today. I wonder what stories the other 350+ Riders have?
Jim “Hoofer” McCrain
Please visit www.jimmccrain.smugmug.com/Run-For-The-Wall to see more pictures from our journey across this great country. I will post a few every day, and then hundreds more once I get home and can go through them all. All of these photos are free to download. Enjoy! “Hoofer”