Happy New Year and welcome to the Sandbox Route RC Newsletter for January 2023.
I hope this first newsletter of the new year finds everyone in good health and good thoughts!
With the beginning of a new year, many of us find ourselves looking forward to new beginnings while others are just hoping for a better or easier way to cope with their current struggles. With the new year, we should also have a renewed focus on the Run for the Wall 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.”
We may have made it through another Holiday season but for many the struggles within can remain an overwhelming force in their daily lives. I place a very high emphasis on the portion of our mission statement that reads “To promote healing among ALL veterans and their families and friends”. This emphasis does not make the rest of the mission statement any less important; but I like to place added emphasis on the “healing” portion of this statement. We can and do remember and honor the memory of our fallen and POW/MIA each time we say their names; but I believe we can make an even greater impact by helping, supporting and promoting healing among those veterans, families and friends that are still with us. The 2nd most common cause of death among active service members is suicide and unfortunately those numbers do not go down after separation from military service. These suicides have a direct impact on the mental health of the surviving family and friends. To anyone struggling I want you to know I’ve got your 6 and you can contact me at any time. I ask everyone to share the information below and possibly help save a life!
If you or someone you know find themselves struggling, please know you can visit the VA Veteran’s Crisis Line website, or contact them by dialing 988 then press 1, or text 838255 and speak or chat with a qualified responder.
The Gulf War was a 1990–1991-armed campaign waged by a military coalition in response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. The invasion of Kuwait was immediately met with international condemnation, including by the United Nations Security Council. British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and President George H. W. Bush deployed troops and equipment into Saudi Arabia and urged other countries to send their own forces to the scene. In response, an array of nations joined the American-led coalition, consisting of 35 countries forming the largest military alliance since World War II. Spearheaded by the United States, the coalition’s efforts against Iraq were carried out in two key phases: Operation Desert Shield, which marked the military buildup from August 1990 to January 1991; and Operation Desert Storm, which began with the aerial bombing campaign against Iraq on January 17, 1991 and ended with the American-led Liberation of Kuwait on 28 February 1991.
Operation Desert Shield
Iraq invaded the country of Kuwait in August of 1990 and had fully occupied the country within two days. Within hours of the invasion, the Kuwait and US delegations requested a meeting of the UN Security Council, which passed Resolution 660, condemning the invasion and demanding a withdrawal of Iraqi troops.
Acting on the Carter Doctrine policy, and out of fear the Iraqi Army could launch an invasion of Saudi Arabia, President Bush quickly announced that the US would launch a “wholly defensive” mission to prevent Iraq from invading Saudi Arabia, under the codename Operation Desert Shield. The operation began on August 7, 1990, when US troops were sent to Saudi Arabia, due also to the request of its monarch, King Fahd, who had earlier called for US military assistance. This “wholly defensive” doctrine was quickly abandoned when, on August 8, Iraq declared Kuwait to be Iraq’s 19th province and Saddam named his cousin, Ali Hassan Al-Majid, as its military-governor.
A series of UN Security Council and Arab League resolutions were passed regarding Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. UN Resolution 678, passed on November 29, 1990, gave Iraq a withdrawal deadline until January 15, 1991, and authorized “all necessary means to uphold and implement Resolution 660”, and a diplomatic formulation authorizing the use of force if Iraq failed to comply.
Operation Desert Storm
Operation Desert Storm began on January 16, 1991 (early morning hours of January 17 in Iraq), with a massive air campaign consisting of the aerial bombing and destruction of Iraq’s Air Force and anti-aircraft facilities. The air campaign’s third and largest phase targeted military targets throughout Iraq and Kuwait: Scud missile launchers, weapons research facilities, and naval forces. About a third of the coalition’s air power was devoted to attacking Scuds, some of which were on trucks and therefore difficult to locate. US and British special operations forces had been covertly inserted into western Iraq to aid in the search for and destruction of Scuds.
Iraqi anti-aircraft defenses, including man-portable air-defense systems, were surprisingly ineffective against enemy aircraft, and the coalition suffered only 75 aircraft losses in over 100,000 sorties, 44 due to Iraqi action. Two of these losses are the result of aircraft colliding with the ground while evading Iraqi ground-fired weapons. One of these losses is a confirmed air-air victory. In the early hours of January 17, 1991, US Navy LCDR Michael Speicher was flying an F/A-18 Hornet fighter when he was shot down by Iraqi Air Force (IQAF) aircraft 100 miles west of Baghdad. His plane crashed in a remote, uninhabited wasteland known as Tulul ad Dulaym. He was the first combat casualty for American forces in the war. On August 2, 2009, Captain Speicher’s remains were found in Iraq by US Marines and he was finally brought home.
On January 29, Iraqi forces attacked and occupied the lightly defended Saudi city of Khafji with tanks and infantry. The Battle of Khafji ended two days later when the Iraqis were driven back by the Saudi Arabian National Guard, supported by Qatari forces and US Marines.
Both sides suffered casualties, although Iraqi forces sustained substantially more dead and captured than the allied forces. Eleven Americans were killed in two separate friendly fire incidents, an additional 14 US airmen were killed when their AC-130 gunship was shot down by an Iraqi surface-to-air missile, and two US soldiers were captured during the battle. Saudi and Qatari forces had a total of 18 dead. Iraqi forces in Khafji had 60–300 dead and 400 captured.
The US service members lost during Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm 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!
Don’t forget to get registered! Beginning February 1, 2023, through April 30, 2023, we will enter the Regular Registration time frame and the registration fee increases for all routes; so be sure to register early and save some money! Currently, we have 207 registered riders/participants for the Sandbox Route. Great job to all those registering early!
Current Sandbox Route Status
The Sandbox Route Leadership team is making great progress on the planning of the upcoming run in 2023. The logistics and changing of couple stops are still ongoing in an effort to improve the overall Route. Our State Coordinators continue to do excellent work on getting our stops confirmed and have done an excellent job preparing our overnight stops and hotels and camping accommodations for those camping. The Hotel and camping list has been posted and published. If you have any difficulties with making reservations, please let us know so that they can be addressed promptly. Please be patient and courteous with hotel staff when making reservations and remember you represent RFTW even while making those reservations.
Let’s meet some more of our new Sandbox Team Leaders! Our Platoon Coordinator is Paul “G-Rex” Steigleder. G-Rex is actively looking for Platoon Leaders, Asst. Platoon Leaders, and Tailgunners. Remember, you must have Comms installed on your bike for these positions. Our Ambassador Team Lead is James (Jed) “Squirt Gun” Gilman and his Asst. Ambassador is Jeff “Mug” Atchison. If you’d like to join the Ambassador Team, reach out to Jed to find out if you can join them. A big thank you to them all for volunteering for these challenging positions and their hard work.
VOLUNTEER’s – yes, we still need you!
The Sandbox Route continues to be on the lookout for volunteers, especially for platoon leadership positions as mentioned above. If you have questions about any specific team, please reach out to those Team Leaders to get some insight into what each team does and how you can help! Remember, the same volunteer form is used for all the Routes, just select the Route or Routes you are volunteering for and the position(s) you are interested in! If you volunteer on one of the 3 cross country routes, please consider bringing your experience to the Sandbox Route!
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!
Darin “Lurch” Koch
Sandbox Route Coordinator