Welcome to the SandBox Route RC Newsletter for March 2023.
Is it May yet?
We are rapidly approaching May and the official start of our Mission. Our Run For The Wall mission 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.”
OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM
March 20, 2003, marked the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) with preemptive airstrikes on Saddam Hussein’s Presidential Palace and military targets followed by approximately 67,700 “boots on the ground” with 15,000 Navy personnel on ships in the region. OIF was authorized when Iraq was found to be in breach of U.N. Security Council adopted Resolution 1441 which “prohibits stockpiling and importing weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).” Iraqi forces were overwhelmed quickly, and Baghdad fell a mere five weeks after the invasion began. With the invasion complete, an insurgency and influx of al Qaeda inspired fighters poured into the country which sparked guerilla warfare tactics against U.S. troops and civil war between the Sunni and Shia tribes.
On 15 December 2011, The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other top U.S. military leaders observed the official end of U.S. Forces Iraq’s mission after nearly nine years of conflict that claimed the lives of 4,419 U.S. service members (3,481 KIA, 938 non-hostile) and 31,994 wounded in action (WIA).
OPERATION INHERENT RESOLVE
After U.S. forces withdrew from Iraq, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) invaded areas of Syria and Iraq causing widespread causalities, destruction of the country’s infrastructure and barbaric practices against citizens. In response to the terrorist group, Operation Inherent Resolve began 17 October 2014. Operation Inherent Resolve claimed the lives of 86 U.S. service members (17 KIA, 69 non-hostile) and 80 WIA.
OPERATION FREEDOM’S SENTINEL
U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan ended on December 31, 2014. As part of Operation FREEDOM’S SENTINEL (OFS), U.S. forces remained in the country to participate in a coalition mission to train, advise, and assist Afghan National Defense and Security Forces and to conduct counterterrorism operations against the remnants of al Qaeda. Operation Freedom’s Sentinel claimed the lives of 80 U.S. service members (60 KIA, 20 non-hostile) and 471 WIA.
The US service members lost during Operations Iraqi Freedom, Inherent Resolve, and Freedom’s Sentinel 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!
I encourage everyone to visit the Middle East Conflicts Wall Memorial page HERE,
and become more familiar with the history of this memorial and the names included on this Wall.
Sandbox Route Status
Currently, there are 1022 total registered participants on all 4 Routes! The SandBox Route currently has 276 registered participants with 252 of those on motorcycles!
Many of us are less than 60 days from KSU marking the beginning of our Runs to the Run. Please remember that anytime you wear your Run for the Wall vest, you are representing Run for the Wall and our mission to the public and potential supporters. Please be kind, courteous, and respectful to everyone on your journey to Run for the Wall no matter where you may be joining us.
The Sandbox Route Leadership team continues to meet monthly and has pretty much finalized our 2023 itinerary. We have managed to incorporate a few changes to our schedule and stops. On day 1, our lunch stop has been changed to the American Legion Post #257 in Stoystown, PA. Our coordination with the Flight 93 National Memorial is ongoing and they are welcoming us as one of the largest groups to visit on a very busy weekend for them at the memorial.
Although we have been able to make some changes to our itinerary, the fact remains that we have a long distance to travel to our destination at the Middle East Conflicts Wall in Marseilles, IL on May 30, 2023. Even with the new changes to our itinerary this year, our first two days will still be fairly long days covering 300+ miles each day. Now is the time to start preparing your mind, body, and bike for the mission, especially if you are participating in one of the 3 cross country routes prior to the SandBox Route!
Our full itinerary is expected to be published soon with a targeted on-line publication date of March 15, 2023. The SandBox Route Itinerary can be found here:
The SandBox Route hotel list was published in January and can be found here:
Don’t procrastinate, now is your time to register for the SandBox Route!
The SandBox Route has multiple fundraising items being offered to riders, participants, and supporters from all Routes. These items include the knife shown below along with 2 quilts, jewelry, wall hangings etc. Additional photos of the items will be posted on the RFTW Facebook page as they become available. Items should be available for viewing 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! 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!
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!
Romeo – Tango – Mike
I encourage everyone to visit the Middle East Conflicts Wall Memorial page HERE and become more familiar with the history of this memorial and the names included on this Wall.
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