Greetings from Weatherford, Texas!
I would not have believed on 01 JUL 2018 when I became a Route Coordinator the first time that my last Newsletter wouldn’t be published for another 4 years – yet here we are. It’s one of life’s mysteries. But as the Admiral said, “The end is inevitable.” But not till tomorrow. So, I’ll spend my last night as an RC here at the keyboard, speaking to my RFTW and SandBox Route family one more time.
Some notes about the Route…
Country Roads – Please raise your hand if you read or heard me say many times over the past three years that we’d be traversing some Pennsylvania country roads on this route. Although some didn’t get the message, everyone did a great job on the crossing as we completed not only those segments, but every segment with no accidents and no major incidents. That is a testament to your ability to adapt and to safely and carefully control yourselves and your bikes through challenging conditions. I am very proud of all our riders who made that happen.
Flight 93 National Memorial – Some folks who talked to the Park Rangers were told they didn’t know we were coming. What they didn’t tell you (because apparently, they didn’t know) was that your SandBox Planning Team had months earlier attained a coordinated and fully approved Special Use Permit with the National Park Service for staging in front of the Visitor Center and a formal Ceremony at the Memorial Plaza at the south end. The NPS never coordinated that permit with the on-site Rangers, which resulted in our dismal parking situation. Now you know.
Long Days – As advertised! I know that many folks were too spent to attend the after-dinner events on days 1 & 2, and I certainly don’t blame you. However, those that still had the energy were treated to some of the most memorable ceremonies of the Route. From the Morning Ceremony in St Clairsville that started our day to the Gold Star Family Memorial Ceremony in Lafayette, this will stand out as one of the most meaningful Memorial Days I have ever experienced. But the thing that made it really special was experiencing those events with you, my RFTW Family.
Gold Star Family Recognition – We made the honor and recognition of Gold Star Families along the SandBox Route one of our highest Mission priorities. Although I would like to have done more, and I had a few personal missteps along the way, I believe we as a Route were very successful in that regard. “Say their names!” was a resounding chant each day as we stood to honor their memory by saying and hearing the names of those who made that ultimate sacrifice. Those were some of the most special and heart-rending moments along the way.
Now for some Admin…
Leadership Rocker Patches – If you are due one and didn’t get it, please contact your Team Leader to see if they have yours. If your Team Lead doesn’t have it, they’ll collect your name, and we will ensure you get one.
After Action Reports – Please keep them coming! I have seen some very insightful comments with constructive ideas for improving our Route. Those are the ones that your 2023 Leadership team will find the most valuable for their planning and preparation activities next year.
Now for some Recognition…
I spoke at length on the Route of how our Team Leads worked hard over the past three years to make this Route possible. Then on the Road, they and their teams took all that Planning and Preparation and turned it into Performance to create this epic event. I won’t try to list them all here (see the complete list at https://rftw.us/sandbox-contacts/) but there is one group that I failed to recognize on the Route, but would like to highlight now as they usually work in the background, and no one knows. Those are our State Coordinators!
Our State Coordinators are AWESOME!!! Gail Dippel (DC), Sam Warner (MD), Tom Schultz (PA), David Cain (WV), Brandon McCray (OH), Bryan Courtney (IN), & Ed Samuel (IL). These folks and their assistants are responsible for coordination of all our stops and the support along the way and you all know we had some fantastic stops. Thank you all for the hard work, the extra meetings, taking my occasional urgent calls, and for generally creating the framework for our successful Run. Y’ALL ARE THE BEST!!!
The RFTW Mission Statement provides the base framework for what we do on all the 4 Routes. The various Routes have their own ways of doing things in serving the Mission and one of our challenges on this melded Route was to bring the best of them all together to bear the load of our Mission. As we go forward, I challenge all SandBox Route participants to keep in mind that all of us serve the same Mission with “All The Heart”, even if you’re used to seeing things done differently on another route. Whether it’s Promoting Healing, Calling for an Accounting, Honoring the Memory, or Supporting our Military, all four tenets of that Mission Statement are important and will remain the focus and the binding tie between all our Routes.
Four Years Before the Mast
About an hour to midnight here in Texas now and time to wrap this up. Whether across 9 years in command in the Navy, several years in civilian management or 4 years as an RC, my intended role has always been that of a Servant Leader promoting a Covenant of Trust with folks on my teams to know that my primary task is to support their efforts in making our organization successful and meaningful. Another of my goals as a leader is to continually search for my replacement. Despite the circumstances that led to his selection, I have full faith and confidence that Darin “Lurch” Koch will take up that mantle of leadership and be the SandBox Route Coordinator that this Route and that this Mission needs to be successful as we continue into the next 30 years.
It has been one of the greatest honors of my military and motorcycling experiences to have served with the great Patriots and Veterans of Run For The Wall as a Route Coordinator – I’m doubly honored to have served there twice on two separate Routes. Tomorrow I step into a new role with new responsibilities but the same goal – to sustain our Run, support our Riders and most importantly, CONTINUE THE MISSION!
I look forward to seeing you all next May! Until then…
Remember, all roads lead to all roads so wherever you go, TOGETHER WE RIDE!
WALL 2 WALL!