Good day from chilly south-central PA. November is now upon us with many making plans for the upcoming holiday season. Another year has gone by producing no resolution to the POW/MIA and KIA/WIA issues that so many of our families face daily. As we gather around our tables with families and friends this holiday season, let us take a moment and remember those who are not with us, those who struggle daily with memories of sacrifices made in answering the call to duty. We Ride For Those Who Can’t is more than our motto; it describes what we do and why we do it.
A special thanks goes out to Denise “Zoom” Murray. She very graciously allowed us to use her Zoom account for our first-ever RFTW BoD Town Hall Zoom meeting on 2 November. We had a high capacity (500 seat) meeting planned, but a temporary glitch caused it to stop accepting logons at 100. Denise was able to quickly fix the issue and we had a total of 117 participants. Mike “Bonehead” Kyser was also there lending support and ensuring we were able to capture and document all the questions posted in the chat. The BoD fielded lots of good questions, eliminated some false, lingering rumors, and the consensus of our feedback is that the call was successful. We learned through this initial experience and plan to have more in the future. Thanks to all who called in and a special thanks to those who asked questions. For those who were unable to log on, our sincere apologies. As sometimes happens in an inaugural event, there was an unanticipated glitch, but we are confident we can prevent that from happening again. We hope to soon have the audio recording posted on our website, so those who were unable to attend and listen to the complete meeting recording.
Some good news from the Arlington/D.C. front. Despite what might have been unwelcome news, our Washington DC Coordinator, Gail Dippel was able to secure our host hotel for 2024 in Arlington where we have been for years. We are confident that this location will work for RFTW 2024 but do anticipate having to move in 2025. More to follow as the situation evolves.
One of the benefits of partnering with similar organizations is we often have access to tools and media devices that might be useful to those we meet. One of those partner organizations, https://www.vietnamwar50th.com, has made a Teachers Toolkit available. This resource is free to all and may assist teachers and other educators in developing academic studies related to answering the call to duty. If you have contact with or know an educator or educational institution, you might take a moment and offer this link: https://vietnamwar50th.com/history_and_legacy/teachers_toolkit/ (Teachers_Toolkit_2023_v3.pdf (vietnamwar50th.com). The file is quite large, so it may take a bit to download. The website describes this as “…a downloadable Toolkit that (sic) provides a comprehensive packet of materials and resources that educators can use inside and outside the classroom to support efforts to thank and honor Vietnam veterans and their families. These resources include website links, recommended activities, books, and films, and many other materials that accommodate all ages from elementary schools and after-school programs to college-level students.” So many of our riders and volunteers contact a variety of educational institutions, this might be just the resource some are looking for.
I recently received an email telling me about an organization out of the UK that is remarkably like ours (https://www.rttw.org/). Their website describes their mission as “…a unique motorcycling event which gives motorcyclists an opportunity to gather together at a place of remembrance, to pay their respects to our serving and fallen service men and women and in doing so, raise funds solely for the purpose of perpetuating their memory and recognizing the sacrifice made.” A video of their 2023 mission can be seen at: https://www.facebook.com/walter.d.matthews/videos/1721516728322129?idorvanity=112498421427. The similarities between our organizations and ours are striking.
Some of our riders may remember meeting navy Capt. Royce Williams, the Korean War hero that, in 1952, shot down four out of seven Soviet MIGs in an engagement that remained classified for decades. The Navy originally awarded him the Silver Star in 1953; then on January 20th, 2023, the Navy upgraded his Silver Star to the Navy Cross. As early as 2014, many senior leaders thought his actions were deserving of the MOH. In 2022, the MOH upgrade action received approval by the House through the Defense Authorization Act. The House then forwarded the approved amendment to the Senate. Sad to say, the action to upgrade the Navy Cross to an MOH is still sitting with the Senate, with no action yet taken.
Speaking of 2024, if you haven’t yet registered, I encourage you to do so before 1 February when the registration fee goes up from the “Early Bird” rates. Currently, our registration numbers are slightly behind last year. We kept registration fees at the 2023 level and there is still time to take advantage of the early registration discount. Since the accuracy of our registration numbers drive the State Coordinators’ planning, if you haven’t yet registered, please CLICK HERE to register today!
Please keep in mind that your RC and ARC are your primary points of contact for questions regarding route activities. While we all have our Mission and rider’s best interests at heart, they are the primary movers and shakers for their respective routes.
No one left behind is more than a standard we all live up to. It is a way of life. It is part of our Mission. If you or someone you know find themselves struggling with their mental health, please know you can contact the VA Veteran’s Crisis Line by dialing 988 then press 1 or text 838255 and speak or chat with a qualified responder.
Let us remember to keep our focus on the Mission. It is why we ride!
Back to Basics. Back to the RFTW Mission.
Is it May yet?
John “Turkey” Staub
President, RFTW, Inc.
2011- CR FNG
2012 – CR Participant
2013 – CR Staging Team
2014 – 2015 – CR Staging Team Ass’t. Lead
2016-2017 – CR Staging Team Lead
2022 – CR Platoon Coordinator
2023 – CR and Sandbox Road Guard
2020 – Present – RFTW BoD member