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Sandbox Route 2020 “VIRTUAL” Sitrep Day 1

Sandbox 2020 “VIRTUAL” Sitrep Day 1

Day 1, May 24, 2020 – Arlington, VA, to Clairsville, OH, 300 miles

Hi, and welcome to RFTW Sandbox Route – Wall 2 Wall.  I’m Peppermint Patti, your sitrep writer, virtually this year.  I hail from Alaska, born and raised.  I’m 73 years old and still hopping on a motorcycle, hopefully for many more years.  I’d be honored if you’d find me and say hi and share a few words with me.  With that, let’s get started.

As always there’s excitement in the air when a group of motorcyclists get together.   It’s even more exciting when you know that the ride you’ll be participating in is in its inaugural year.  Welcome all to the Run For The Wall XXXII, Sandbox Route. 

If you’ve done a RFTW you know what it’s about … The POW/MIAs, and keeping the awareness high, and supporting past and present service members, family and friends from all wars.  However, this route focuses more on the service, sacrifice and contributions for the Sandbox era warriors. The Sandbox Route is special as it’s to raise awareness for the Middle East Conflicts Wall. This wall honors those Sandbox era warriors who have served and fallen.   

Usually the rides start early, and this one is no exception. Pre-registration check in starts at 6 AM as well as registration if there are any spots available as the RFTW Sandbox route has only a limited number of spots.  That’s a difference from the 10-day RFTW that runs from California to DC and gains and loses riders each day.  There are always mandatory briefings, and for those who are new to the Run (FNGs/Friendly New Guys/Gals??), this one is no exception.  That briefing starts at 6:30 AM.

Here is a Link to this morning’s Virtual Brief Video for those who missed it. Go to the following link to get the link for tomorrow’s Brief.

From briefings we go to the all riders meeting and we have a prayer for the safety of everyone, the Pledge of Allegiance and announcements.  Sometimes we may have a speaker with an experience to share.  Sometimes we have 50/50 and raffle rousers selling tickets as we raise funds for the Run or a charitable organization.  Whatever is going on here, the enthusiasm, the eagerness to get started continues to build until we break off into our platoons, get our platoon briefing that includes safety tips – including stay off the brakes and the zipper – and then we saddle up.  Get those engines started. 

Watching the platoons ride out, led by the leadership and us following, Platoon 1, 2, 3 for however many we have, is thrilling.  This Run, this mission, is the best of the best … the Inaugural Run for the Sandbox Route and those of us on it have received a huge honor to be a part of it.

As the Sandbox riders file out, there will be people cheering, people on overpasses flying flags, shouting encouragement, giving the thumb’s up.  It’s chilling and emotional, but it doesn’t get any better than this. The miles today total 300, with two fuel stops … words to the wise?  Get your road pegs up, follow instructions from the fuelers, get in and get out and back into your platoon lineup.  Sometimes our fuel is donated to us as people want to show their support for what we do.

Lunch today will be at the Pleasantville Post 9219 in Schellsburg, PA.  Everyone treats us so well … food, and sometimes handing out little souvenir patches or pins, maybe sunscreen or hand sanitizer.  You never know until you do the mission. 

At precisely 12:56 PM the Run is scheduled to roll out and head to Stoystown, PA, the location of the Flight 93 National Memorial where there will be a wreath-laying ceremony by the RFTW Honor Guard.  If you have an opportunity to be a part of the honor guard, take it.  It’s truly an honor to march in step with others, to salute or put your hand over your heart, and lay a wreath honoring those who have passed by giving their lives to save others.

We have time to wander around the memorial.  Inside there are phones where you can listen to some of the last calls made by those on the flight to their loved ones.  As I write this I have chills going up and down my spine.  When I visited, I could only listen to a couple of them.  It was too heart-wrenching, too emotional, and tears fall even now as I think about it.

There is so much memorabilia to see from the aircraft and those heroes who gave up their lives, and a beautiful path to walk around the crash site with a wall containing their names.  It inspires awe for those who sacrifice themselves.

Too soon it’s time to take our lives in our hands and venture onto the Pennsylvania Turnpike and head to our next fuel stop and then today’s destination in St. Clairsville, OH., where we’ll enjoy dinner courtesy of North Start Indian, Polaris, Slingshot.  We thank all of those who support us, knowing their hearts and minds are with us as we ride for those who can’t.  We also need to thank those in our leadership who have put this mission together, along with our fuelers, stagers, road guards, and so many others.

As you reflect upon the day’s journey, you’ll most likely find it quite intense and very different from any other run you’ve done.  It’s emotional, but so rewarding.  Enjoy your evening, and tomorrow – same time, so get some rest.

I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast; for I intend to go in harm’s way.  Capt. John Paul Jones

Peppermint Patti

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