This month’s message finds us about 80 days before kick stands up. As we close in on May 15, I am happy to let you know the planning process is in good shape. The Board of Directors and your Route Coordinators and Assistant Route Coordinators met in Denver for our winter planning conference where many plans were finalized. The route itineraries are nearly complete and will be submitted to the publisher in early March and available on the website route hubs the first week of April. These will have the most current information for riders available but keep in mind that Murphy’s Law is always looming over us during this phase. With that said, changes are possible at any time so I urge you to read the Route Coordinators’ monthly messages where they will announce changes and solutions.
We once again are having a mandatory all routes safety meeting in Ontario May 14 at 1500 in Lot D adjacent to the Gateway Hotel. Riders and leadership are expected to attend this meeting where riders can meet their platoon leaders, tail gunners, road guards and senior leadership. This meeting will have an opening ceremony prior to the briefing then each route will head to their designated area. The safety briefing not only will allow you to meet each other but brief you on how we ride and the safety measures needed to ensure a safe and orderly movement across the nation. You will learn the rules used by RFTW and if you have any questions do not be afraid to get them answered. We have allotted three hours for this safety briefing. The BOD received great feedback from nearly everyone last year regarding this briefing, and that is why we are doing it again—to increase the focus on safety for the 31st annual Run For The Wall.
I also want to let everyone know that the 2019 merchandise is on the web store and available. The new shirts are very nice and merchandise BOD Ray Brammer has some hi viz sweatshirts available at a very low price. Take a look before they disappear or he runs out of your size. The new RFTW pins are also on sale with an array of other 2019 gear.
The Benevolence Fund awards were presented for approval as is normal during the winter meeting. All of the applications submitted by riders were approved which will give those veterans a hand up for their FNG year. Awards for several veteran organizations also were made that will assist many in meeting veteran needs. A group known as Homes For Our Troops which builds adaptive homes for severely wounded warriors was made as they continued to build homes in over 42 states – many in our RFTW rider communities. If you would like to learn about them, you can find them at www.hfotusa.org. Awards also were approved for Combat Hero’s Bike Build, David Westphall Veterans Foundation (Angel Fire), Welcome Home Alliance For Veterans and US Veterans Motorcycle Club for scholarships for veteran children.
If you would like to donate to the Benevolence Fund, please note on your check or credit card memo line “Benevolence Fund.”
In the everyday business of RFTW I often learn of important efforts on behalf of veterans and what they have contributed to the freedom of our nation. Recently, I learned of an effort on behalf of a Korean War Navy fighter by the name of Captain Royce Williams USN (ret) to upgrade his Silver Star to a Medal of Honor.
The entire objective of the campaign fits perfectly with our mission: “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.” Since I learned of this mission to honor Capt. Williams, I felt it important to lend our voice to this campaign. He was involved during the Korean War on a mission where he shot down four Russian Mig-15’s—a feat never accomplished before or since.
Due to an unknown top-secret operation, his heroics were kept secret for 53 years. Royce was awarded the Silver Star for shooting down one Mig-15 so the Russians would not know what really happened. Capt. Williams is now 92 years young and the efforts to ensure an upgrade are being pursued. Recently a group of folks in San Diego who are expert documentary film makers have made Run For The Wall a custom trailer video that will introduce the video which will fully outlines the details of this heroic flight, “Forgotten Hero – Forgotten War.” See the trailer below, and this link that will then take you to the full video. The video is streamed on Amazon Prime. Searching “Forgotten Hero”, from your TV on Amazon Prime also works. Each click on the film will greatly assist the effort to upgrade this hero’s award to a Medal of Honor.
I want to thank two film makers, CJ Machado of Love Amazingly Productions and Mark Vizcarra at Speed Angels Productions, who made this all possible along with their donors. Also, a big thank you to the docents and museum staff of the USS Midway for their efforts to make this all possible. If you have not been to the Midway (home ported in San Diego) for a tour, put that on your list. It is well worth your time.
In photo above right, Capt. Royce Williams pictured with an F9 Panther.
Above left, docents, staff and film crew aboard the USS Midway. Photos used by permission.
Les “Easy” Williams, President
Run for The Wall Board of Directors