Welcome to the SandBox Route RC Newsletter for April 2023.
Link to the Sandbox Route Home Page
Is it May yet? No, but we are less than 60 days from KSU for all routes!
May is just around the corner and many of the RFTW participants are ready, while others are still busily preparing for their journeys to Ontario, CA for the start of one of the 3 cross country routes. The Southern Route (SR), Central Route (CR), and Midway Route (MR) depart Ontario, CA on May 16th (MR) and 17th and travel cross country arriving in Washington DC on May 26th. The SandBox Route (SB) follows the 3 cross country routes, departing Washington, DC on May 28th and arrives at the Middle East Conflicts wall on May 30th.
We are 1 Mission, 4 Routes! Our Run For The Wall mission for all 4 Routes is “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.”
The SandBox Route may be the newest route, but our mission remains the same and we look forward to adding new RFTW members to this Route. If you are brand new to the RFTW family and this will be your first time participating in RFTW, welcome home! We look forward to seeing you in Arlington, VA; St. Clairsville, OH; Lafayette, IN; Marseilles, IL or wherever you will be joining us!
Thus far, the percentage of Veterans registered for SandBox Route and listed as having served in the Persian Gulf and Middle East Conflicts is way up over last year – 49.6% vs 33.2% and 38.4% vs 21.7%, respectively. Our goal is to increase the participation of veterans, families, and friends of those who served during the War on Terror, the Persian Gulf, or the Middle East Conflicts on the SandBox Route each year.
We currently have 281 participants registered for the SandBox Route. Of the 281 participants, 222 of us will be riding all, or a portion of, one of the cross-country routes (SR, CR or MR) and an additional 59 of you will be joining us for the SandBox Route. I want to ask everyone to please be safe in your travels leading up to our departure for the SandBox Route. If you haven’t already, please begin your pre-run checklists and begin getting your bikes and bodies ready to include hydration. Beginning proper hydration does not begin the day before your departure, it begins weeks, if not months prior to your departure for this mission!
If you are brand new to RFTW and have not ridden all or part of one of the RFTW Routes prior to the SandBox Route this year you will indeed be an FNG! As that “Funny New Guy/Girl” please take the time to review the RFTW.us web site and review the rider guidelines, frequently asked questions, and emergency information form.
Link to the RFTW Registration Page
Link to the RFTW Rider Guidelines
Link to the RFTW Frequently Asked Questions
Link to the RFTW Emergency Information Form
OPERATION EAGLE CLAW
Operation Eagle Claw was a failed operation by the United States Armed Forces ordered by U.S. President Jimmy Carter to attempt the rescue of 52 embassy staff held captive at the Embassy of the United States, Tehran, Iran on April 24, 1980.
The operation, one of Delta Force’s first, encountered many obstacles and failures and was subsequently aborted. Eight helicopters were sent to the first staging area called Desert One, but only five arrived in operational condition. One had encountered hydraulic problems, another was caught in a sandstorm, and the third showed signs of a cracked rotor blade. During the operational planning, it was decided that the mission would be aborted if fewer than six helicopters remained operational upon arrival at the Desert One site, despite only four being necessary. Field commanders subsequently advised President Carter to abort the mission, which he did.
As the U.S. forces prepared to withdraw from Desert One, one of the remaining helicopters crashed into a transport aircraft that contained both servicemen and jet fuel. The resulting fire destroyed both aircraft and killed eight US servicemen and wounded 4. Additionally, the operation left 1 helicopter and 1 transport aircraft destroyed and 5 helicopters abandoned.
OPERATION PROVIDE COMFORT/PROVIDE COMFORT II
Operation Provide Comfort and Provide Comfort II were military operations initiated by the United States and other Coalition nations of the Persian Gulf War, starting in April 1991, to defend Kurdish refugees fleeing their homes in northern Iraq in the aftermath of the Gulf War, and to deliver humanitarian aid to them.
On April 5, 1991, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 688, calling on Iraq to end repression of its civilian population. On 6 April, Operation Provide Comfort began to bring humanitarian relief to the Kurds. A no-fly zone was established by the US, the UK, and France north of the 36th parallel, as part of the Iraqi no-fly zones. This was enforced by US, UK, and French aircraft. Included in this effort was the delivery of humanitarian relief of over an estimated 1 million Kurdish refugees by a 6-nation airlift operation commanded from Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, involving aircraft from the US, UK, France, Germany, Canada, and Italy. Soviet aircraft participated in logistical aspects of the operation. During the 31-day airlift, more tonnage was delivered, and more air miles flown, than in the entire Berlin Airlift. Operation Provide Comfort officially ended on 24 July 1991; Operation Provide Comfort II began the same day and was military in nature with a mission to prevent Iraqi aggression against the Kurds. On 14 April 1994, two USAF F-15 Eagle fighters on patrol mistakenly downed two US Army Black Hawk helicopters carrying 26 Coalition citizens, killing all aboard. Operation Provide Comfort/Provide Comfort II claimed the lives of 5 U.S. service members (25 WIA) and 26 coalition citizens.
The names of the US service members lost during Operations Eagle Claw, Provide Comfort/Provide Comfort II are engraved on the Middle East Conflicts Wall in Marseilles, Illinois.
Don’t let them die a second death, say their names, say them out loud. Never forget; This is why we ride!
Please take the time to visit the Middle East Conflicts Wall Memorial page here, at https://middleeastconflictswallmemorial.org/ and become more familiar with the history of this memorial and the names included on this Wall.
Sandbox Route Status
The 2023 SandBox Route itinerary has been posted on the RFTW website. Please download and review the itinerary and become familiar with the route prior to our departure. All FNGs to RFTW will receive a printed copy of the itinerary during check-in. It is strongly recommended that all participants also upload a copy of the itinerary on their smart phone for easy access at your fingertips. Having a copy of the itinerary easily accessible will assist participants in managing their time at stops. The last thing anyone wants is to be left behind when it’s time for the pack to depart.
Link to the Sandbox Route Itinerary
The SandBox Route hotel list was published in January and can be found at the link below. Please keep in mind that some of the hotels on all 4 Routes may have cutoff dates to be able to reserve rooms under the RFTW negotiated prices. This is the case for the Hampton Inn and Homewood Suites in Lafayette, IN. The cutoff date is currently set for April 29, 2023, so if you haven’t already, please make your reservations ASAP!
Link to the Sandbox Route Itinerary
The SandBox Route has multiple fundraising items being offered to riders, participants, and supporters from all Routes. These items include those pictured below. Additional photos and items will be posted on the RFTW Facebook page as they become available. Items should be available for viewing along with details at the SandBox Registration in Ontario, CA and Arlington, VA. All funds go directly to RFTW SandBox Route in support of our mission.
The Sandbox Route still has some openings for Leadership Teams such as the Ambassador Team and a few Platoon leadership positions! If you are qualified to volunteer and are looking for a way to continue your commitment to the Mission please complete the volunteer sign-up form using the link below!
Link to the RFTW Volunteer Sign Up
And remember, “Nothing Great is ever accomplished alone!” Let’s work together to make the Sandbox Route great! Together we will Continue the Mission safely and successfully!
Leave no one behind does not end on the battlefield!
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.
Darin “Lurch” Koch
Sandbox Route Coordinator