Day 5 Sunday May 21, 2017
Do you remember the tornado warning a couple years ago in Shawnee that made us all evacuate to the lower floor in the middle of the night? Well, no such warning last night thankfully. The weather was great today. We seem to be in between storms as we are traveling east, a great place to be when you’re riding on a motorcycle for hundreds of miles.
After packing and breakfast we gathered in the Walmart parking lot for a short worship service. Our chaplain gave a very encouraging talk about how the things we say and the things we do have a ripple effect that can make people around us feel better or worse basically. The idea I drew from this is we should say and do things that help people feel better. When people feel better, they may be able to help others feel better as well.
Our platoon gained a couple more riders this morning, so we covered all the bases with them and we all set out for our first fuel stop in Sallisaw, OK. It was a little chilly, but not freezing. Of course, if you have electric gear like some of us do, it can be as comfortable as you want. The welcome into town was tremendous. There was a large American Flag hanging from a fire truck over the road and the truck had its siren going as we pulled in for another sponsored fuel stop. Thanks again. Dennis Okie-D Freie the Oklahoma State Coordinator pulled out all the stops. The people there at the gas stop were warm, inviting and happy for us to visit again.
Then, another welcome LEO escort. Our next fuel stop was only a short distance, and again it was sponsored. So far I think all of our fuel stops have been sponsored. Practically like being paid to ride a motorcycle. That’s got to be the best job in the world. Someone might argue my point, but I don’t think I’ll let them. Anyway, I am certainly grateful as I know everyone else is to have fuel donated. The Fuel Team is really thankful. It makes their jobs much easier not having to count cash and all. The entire Run has been a marvelous experience.
On a personal note: It appears to me that most of our FNGs have become rather adept at riding in formation. I think my platoon has improved a great deal. No one seems to be nervous about riding up close to one another or next to someone. I think that’s great. It helps increase the safety factor for sure. It doesn’t mean that you are safe however. We all are behind the controls of our own machine (except passengers of course). Ride with confidence, but also ride with awareness.
Soon we exited Oklahoma and entered Arkansas where LEO teams swapped around and the escort continued. We were on our way to the little city of Ozark and then to the VFW Post 8532 in Coal Hill, OK. This was a nice change since most of our riding has been on the “slab” as we call the interstate. I thought the narrow sweeping roads were a welcome change. The Staging, Fuel, Road Guard and Ambassador Teams were all at the entrance of the VFW and saluted when we arrived. Very sharp and very professional! They do the same thing at our other venues. We love these guys and gals on all our teams. The welcome by the VFW members was also wonderful and the food was marvelous. The food is always great, but the BBQ chicken was to die for, a nice smoky, sweet, savory taste that made your mouth smile from ear to ear. I needed a few extra napkins. While we were having lunch, Bandit brought in a special guest, Diesel. We all stood and applauded. He made the trip up from Louisiana to see us. We were happy to see him as well. Some special presentations were made and then we were given 10 minutes until we had to depart. There were some long lines at the bathrooms. I wonder how many actually got to go. Oh well. We were off again to our next fuel stop in Maumelle off again, this time to Forrest City and the Ridgewood Baptist Church. A couple years ago it was pouring rain here, but this year it was sunny and dry, lovely riding weather. Again all our teams were there to welcome us including many members of this wonderful church. Members, servers and cooks all greeted us with open arms. The food was great just like last year, fried chicken, mashed potatoes & gravy, rice, green beans, and biscuits. Bandit asked Good Wrench, our Chaplin Corp Leader to offer a blessing and we ate. There were plenty of deserts as well. After many plaque presentations, this time by Diesel, we were privileged to hear from one of Arkansas’ Senators. He talked about how great it is for the service we do to help other veterans and to serve in whatever capacities we do to help make our country great. He then presented Bandit with a certificate to RFTW stating our mission which is for healing of our veterans of all wars, for requiring accountability for our POWs and MIAs, for honoring our KIAs and for supporting out military wherever they may be serving. Seems to me we are the grateful ones, yet we were honored to be thanked for what we do. After this we were excused to our hotels.
On a side note: I received an inquiry from a young man in Cookville. He wanted to show his patriotism by thanking us when we arrived. He’s deaf. He wanted to know if “Talking Hands” (Laurie Waggoner) would be with us. I texted back she would. He has been grateful for the SitReps I’ve written and he loves following our progress toward the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Wall. He’s really happy we stop in Cookville and wants to express his appreciation to us somehow. His name is Michael Hill. You won’t miss him I’m sure. Just look for the guy in red, white and blue. His call sign is Mr. Patriot. Say “Hi” to him. I don’t know how to sign myself, but I understand saying “hi’ in sign language is pretty similar to a salute. With your hand up to your temple in the form of a basic salute extend it forward. So when you see Michael, say “Hi”.
**** Number of names on The Wall for Arkansas (592), for Forrest City, AR (2) ****
Day 5 is in the books. The run is half over. Does it seem like it is already? There’s still a lot of great stuff ahead.
We Ride For Those That Can’t
Tom “Twotone” Lystrup / Platoon 6 Leader / SitRep Writer / email@example.com