After we arrive in Washington, D.C. and visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (The Wall), we offer a fourth Route, the "Sandbox Route", that goes "Wall to Wall" from DC to the Middle East Conflicts wall in Marseilles, IL
May 17-27, 2023 - CA to DC
May 28 - May 30, 2023 - Sandbox
Run for The Wall® is an annual motorcycle ride from California to Washington DC.
My name is Jerry Wilkins, and I have been honored by the Run For The Wall (RFTW) Board of Directors by being appointed as the 2023 Midway Route Coordinator. This will be my first newsletter, with many more to follow.
I ride this year in memory of my Father, my Hero, Robert B. Wilkins, WW II Army Veteran.
In early 2004 Glen “Wombat” Waggoner, 2019 Midway Route Coordinator, told me about Run For the Wall. I participated in 2004. Upon my return I told my wife, Patti, I had participated in an event greater than anything else I have ever been involved in. I am not a Veteran. I knew in my heart and soul; this is a manner in which I could say thank you to those who have given so much to our Freedoms. Due to work restrictions, I was not able to go All The Way until 2011. Since that time, I have volunteered 2010 – 2013 as Central Route Fuel Team, Tailgunner and Fuel Team Lead, 2014 – 2019 Midway Route as Fuel Team Tailgunner and Fuel Team Lead, Asst. Advance Team Lead, Advance Team Lead, 2020 – and 2022 Midway Assistant Route Coordinator.
The Midway Route is not just a route but is a FAMILY. We have developed a family culture over the years and I intend to carry on that tradition. We don’t just say the words; it is part of our culture. We have a “servant leadership” that is there to help you get safely across the country. Everyone, whether in a leadership position or not, is here to answer your questions. The route is about you and the Mission and not about leadership. Everyone’s safety is of utmost importance.
Earlier this month, Midway Route long time supporters Bill and Cathy Clark, Merchandise Lead and Quartermaster informed RFTW they would not be able to participate in 2023. I would like to personally thank Bill and Cathy for many years of Service to Run For The Wall. For those of you interested in taking over this awesome task and giving back to the Run, feel free to contact me directly at email@example.com
Midway Route needs you to consider volunteering to help with both Staging and Promotions teams. The Staging process will be changed for 2023. Staging has come into the modern era with changes to the platoon placement markings making the job physically easier and less stressful. We will improve hydration opportunities and provide medical support. Staging is such an important aspect of daily organization on the route and we need your help. Please contact Gina Cutrer by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her directly at 225-202-5328. If you would like to volunteer for any position on Midway Route, please fill out the Volunteer Request Form (CLICK HERE TO VOLUNTEER). Between now and May 2023 there will be openings on different teams. By volunteering now, you will be on the ready list to be asked to join a team.
It is my Honor and Privilege to announce Don “Ten-A-See” King as Assistant Route Coordinator, Leo “Rucksack” Rachmel as Road Guard Captain and Ryan ‘Pipes” Long as Assistant Road Guard Captain. I know each of them personally and we all ride for the Mission.
Hope that all MIA and POW’s find closure
Honor all KIA
Healing for our Veterans and the 22 per day
Jerry “Corp” Wilkins
“Service Before Self”
RFTW 2023 Midway Route Coordinator
Four Routes, One Mission!
From a warm and NOT cold and snowy Pearland, Texas. I want to wish the entire Run for the Wall family a Merry Christmas and a happy holiday season. This time of the year finds most of us spending time with family, friends and loved ones and is something I look forward to every year. Hopefully you have the majority of your shopping and holiday preparations completed! Also, happy Birthday to all of the other December babies like myself!
The month of December is not just one of the longest months of the year, but many years, it’s the month with the longest and coldest nights. While many of us are looking forward to a well-deserved winter break, many others are struggling with their own mental health. From holiday stress to winter-related anxieties and negative thoughts, December and the holiday season as a whole is a time many struggle the most. There are many things we can do to help our mental health such as staying active, getting plenty of daylight, keeping a consistent sleep schedule, eating healthy, avoiding alcohol, and even volunteering!
Many of our fellow veterans and friends fall prey to their own mental health year-round, but the holiday season can amplify those issues. If you or someone you know find themselves struggling, please know “I’ve got your 6” and you can contact me at any time if you wish. You can also contact the VA Veteran’s Crisis Line by dialing 988 then press 1 or text 838255 and speak or chat with a qualified responder.
If you know of any other mental health hotlines or contacts, please share that information in a comment for all of us to see, use, and share!
Most importantly, please stay safe and enjoy the holidays. We really do want to see you in May!
Operation Just Cause
Operation Just Cause was the name given to the U.S. invasion of Panama in December 1989 for the purposes of removing General Manuel Noriega from power and extraditing him to the U.S. to face charges of drug trafficking and money laundering. Foreign relations between Panama and the United States had grown increasingly strained during the 1980s. Following the death of Panamanian leader Omar Torrijos in 1981, Lieut. Col. Manuel Noriega, who had participated in the military coup that paved the way for Torrijos’s rise to power, consolidated military and then civilian power in the Central American country. For decades Noriega had served as a paid informant for the Central Intelligence Agency. He also was a supporter of the contras, the counterrevolutionary force that sought to overthrow Nicaragua’s left-wing Sandinista government. It became known, however, that, in addition to monopolizing power in Panama, Noriega had lined his pockets by smuggling illegal drugs into the United States. Moreover, in the mid-1980s, allegations grew regarding Noriega’s involvement in the brutal murder of an outspoken opponent, Hugo Spadafora. In 1988 Noriega was indicted on drug trafficking charges by a U.S. grand jury. The administration of U.S. President Ronald Reagan offered Noriega a deal: if he agreed to relinquish power and depart Panama, charges against him would be dropped. Noriega wanted no part of the bargain.
Despite the presence of international observers, Noriega annulled the results of the May 1989 Panamanian presidential election when it appeared that it had been won by a wide margin by Guillermo Endara, the opposition civilian candidate. In addition to overturning the results of the election and installing a former classmate, Francisco Rodríguez, as a puppet president, Noriega had Endara and his supporters beaten in the streets. U.S. Pres. George Bush dispatched 2,000 troops to U.S. bases in the Panama Canal Zone. In the meantime, having survived a coup attempt in October, Noriega persuaded the Panamanian National Assembly to name him “maximum leader” on December 15, 1989. At his behest the Assembly also declared that a state of war existed between Panama and the United States. Within days an unarmed U.S. Marine officer dressed in civilian clothes was ambushed and killed by Panamanian soldiers.
On December 21, 1989, President George H.W. Bush reported that he had ordered U.S. military forces to Panama to protect the lives of nearly 30,000 American citizens living in Panama, protect the integrity of the Panama Canal, help establish democracy, neutralize the Panamanian Defense Forces (PDF), and bring General Noriega to justice. The total number of U.S. troops, 27,000, was more than double that of the PDF, and they had the advantage of additional air support—in the first 13 hours, the Air Force dropped 422 bombs on Panama. The U.S. gained control in just five days. On December 24, the true winner of the May 1989 elections, Guillermo Endara, was officially named president and the PDF was dissolved. By February 13, 1990, all U.S. forces were officially withdrawn from Panama.
Twenty-three brave U.S. soldiers were killed; in addition, it was estimated that 200 to 300 Panamanian combatants (soldiers and members of paramilitaries) and more than 300 civilians were killed in Operation Just Cause. Hundreds on both sides were wounded.
These 23 service members lost during Operation Just Cause 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!
Remember 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.”
CURRENT SANDBOX ROUTE STATUS
The Sandbox Route Leadership team continues its monthly meetings and continues to work on updating and improving the Sandbox Route. Logistics of stops is 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.
The 2023 Sandbox Route Hotel list should be posted on the RFTW.us website January 1, 2023. The list will include hotel names, date, and contact details. Please be polite and patient when you contact the hotels to make your reservations. We want to preserve the great relationships our state coordinators have developed with them.
Let’s meet some more of our new Sandbox Team Leaders! Our Advance Team Leader is Anthony “Goombah” Cercone and his Asst. Advance Team lead is Mikal “No Drama” Brevig. I want to thank them both for volunteering for this challenging position and their work to keep our group safe! I’d also like to introduce our Mission Man Coordinator Ray “Cornman” Cornmesser. Ray will be working to find volunteers and eligible riders to join us in the Missing Man formation.
VOLUNTEER’s – yes, we still need you!
The Sandbox Route continues to be on the lookout for volunteers for all positions. If you have questions about any specific team, please reach out to those Team Leaders to get some insight on 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!
I hope December finds all of the Run for the Wall family and friends healthy and happy. I am sure we are all looking forward to spending time with loved ones. Like most of you, I am frantically purchasing gifts, wrapping presents, baking cookies, attending parties… Every year I swear to scale back, buy less, do less, start earlier…as usual, it didn’t happen this year. Consequently, this will be a short, to the point newsletter.
As mentioned in previous newsletters, we are offering a pre-paid fuel option for the 2023 Run. If you struggle remembering to stop at the bank for wads of cash, digging in your pocket for gas money at the hectic fuel stop, this might be something you’re interested in. Yes, you read it correctly a pre-paid fuel option. What’s the cost to you? The estimate of the cost of non-donated fuel stops will be $150.00 per rider.
How does it work? Scan the QR code on the flyer, from there you can purchase pre-paid fuel with a credit card. You may also pay for pre-paid fuel when you arrive in Ontario and check-in. Once you pre-pay for your fuel, you will be issued a wrist band and a receipt. When you pull into the gas stop, show the fuel team member your wrist band and you will not be charged for fuel. Yes, you read that correctly, fill your tank and ride on through. We will all arrive at the staging area quicker, with a little more time for rest, hydration and snacks.
All riders will still be required to fuel their bikes after the dinner stop. Every rider WILL HAVE A FULL TANK WHEN THEY ROLL OUT IN THE MORNING!
Now for the questions that are running through your mind:
How can $150.00 be enough money for fuel? Historically, the remaining fuel expenses are donated stops.
How do I know my bike’s fuel usage will be $150? The stops that are not donated fuel stops will all be $10 stops.
What if you’re not going all the way? This would not be a good plan for you, unless you want to donate your unused gas money to the chase vehicles’ fuel expenses, because NO REFUNDS WILL BE GIVEN
What if you lose your wrist band? You will have to show your receipt to be issued a new wrist band.
What if you do not complete the run? There again, you will be making a donation to the chase vehicles’ fuel expense fund. NO REFUNDS WILL BE GIVEN.
Will this impact donated fuel stops? NO, the generous donors on the route will still donate fuel stops.
Hotel List The 2023 Southern Route hotel list will be posted on the RFTW.us website January 1. The list will include hotel names, date and contact information. Please be kind and considerate when you contact the hotel to make your reservation. Our state coordinators work hard to develop relationships with the hotel staff and we want to ensure good relationships continue.
A big thank you and shout out to our state coordinators. They work behind the scenes all year to coordinate and organize each and every gas stop, meal, hotel, camping site, and law enforcement escort. It is a long, never-ending job and these volunteers deserve our utmost gratitude. During the Run this year, when you see the state coordinators, please thank them for the many hours they put in to get YOU safely and comfortably to DC.
Volunteer We still need volunteers for the staging team and platoon leadership. If you have been on the run before, we need you to volunteer, the mission will not continue without volunteers. Charlie Mike
Registration Early Bird Registration ends January 31, at which time there will be a price increase of $15.00. Please register early, it helps tremendously with our planning.
Your leadership team has been laying low the month of December to allow for time with friends and family, to enjoy the holiday season, to rest and rejuvenate because, come January we are going to hit it hard!
We need You to:
COMMIT TO REMEMBER THE MISSION
ROMEO TANGO MIKE
A very Merry Christmas to you and yours from our little farm in Idaho. May you have a colorful Christmas full of bright lights, hot drinks and warm loved ones.
May no Grinch, foreign or domestic, be able to spoil your holiday. Wishing you a Christmas where everyone is happy and grievances are at a minimal.
Winter has arrived in south central Pennsylvania. The earth is resting and relaxing in anticipation of the upcoming spring. We too take this time of year to relax a bit; to reconnect with family and friends; to begin building our stores of energy for the upcoming spring. As you know so well, spring is a very important season for RFTW. Your Board of Directors is ready, willing, and able to move forward. Is it May yet?
When I relax, I often like to do a bit of reflective thinking. My thoughts often come around to RFTW and the Mission; to those who contribute so much and those who have given so much. I think of resilience, dedication, commitment. I think of how those words describe the volunteers who make RFTW what it is.
Resilience – I remember being out staging the pack one cold morning in Angel Fire, NM. It was dark, around 20 something degrees, and we were getting ready to ride through a mountain pass above 8000 feet in elevation. I was cold and feeling a bit of self-pity. Then I caught myself thinking of those who are still unaccounted for, who may still be a prisoner of a foreign government. Those who would probably give anything to trade places with me. Suddenly, I realized I didn’t have it so bad. I looked around and saw the Road Guards working, the Staging Team working, leadership meeting, all so we could carry our message across this wonderful nation of ours. Resilience – determined to carry-on despite conditions or circumstances that mere mortals would shirk from. We are resilient!!
Dedication – I often say a silent thank-you for the dedication of the many, many people who really make the Run happen. Our state coordinators work so many hours, drive so many miles, meet with so many people to ensure the riders have food, fuel, and a warm place to sleep. Our route leadership teams meet countless times, pour over a myriad of details to ensure Mission success. All this so that our riders can carry the message across the nation. Dedicated to the Mission, our philosophy, and to achieving our goals. I am thankful for their dedication and feel a sense of comfort knowing we will succeed because of their efforts. We are dedicated!!
Commitment – I think of our riders, the people who truly execute our Mission. I think of the countless acts of silent heroism many have made so that we could be where we are today. The danger so many have faced so bravely. The continued determination to ensure our message is heard, despite age issues, health issues, perhaps even family and job issues. Many of our riders and volunteers spend vacation time away from family and jobs to ensure the success of our Mission. Many of us may not be as young as we once were, but WE ARE COMMITTED!!
We came off two years of COVID restrictions and pulled off RFTW 2022 because of the resilience, dedication, and commitment of all involved. I ask that in this holiday season, regardless of whatever your beliefs are, that you too take a moment and reflect on the Mission, on healing, on our philosophy. Let us be determined to make RFTW XXXIII even better than previous Runs.
After careful, considerable deliberation, last night, the RFTW Board of Directors voted to remove Ron “Sky” King as a member of the Board. We wish Ron the best and look forward to his continued support of the RFTW mission.
Current Vice President/Chairman John “Turkey” Staub will be acting president until the Board conducts an election. Once that happens, another announcement will be forthcoming.
The Board of Directors wishes to share that Jim “Bruzer” Bruzewski has, for personal reasons, stepped down as the RC for the Midway Route for 2023. Bruzer has long dedicated his free time to advance the mission of RFTW, and as we move forward with our 2023 planning, his zest and energy will be missed. Jerry Wilkins agreed, and the BoD has approved, his appointment as Midway RC. Jerry will nominate his ARC and the BoD will act on that nomination as soon as possible.
Happy Holidays! Like our Thanksgiving celebrations last month, December is the time to gather with family and friends, to reflect on our lives and blessings, and to prepare for a new year of opportunities and hope.
Registration: As of 1 December, 528 patriots have registered for RFTW XXXIII. The cost of registration will increase on 1 February 2023. So be sure to register for the Run as soon as possible and save yourself some money.
When you do register, you’ll be asked to select the route you want to join. As you make your route selection, keep in mind RFTW recently added a fourth route, the Sandbox Route. This route is dedicated to veterans of gulf conflicts, and is in keeping with the RFTW mission. Sandbox riders will depart Washington D.C. on the Sunday following the arrival of all three routes from California, and will ride to the Middle East Conflicts Wall Memorial in Marseilles, Illinois. If you are a veteran of gulf conflicts, a friend or family member of these veterans, or a supporter of these veterans, you need to experience this ride. It is important to note, however, the number Sandbox participants is extremely limited. You can register for the Sandbox Route alone, or add it onto the end of one of the CA to DC routes, but you must register soon.
In January 2023, you will be able to make hotel reservations across the country. State coordinators are working hard to finalize the list of hotels and camping locations available to riders. Their work will be completed by 15 December, and the final list of hotels and camping locations will be published on the RFTW website at midnight, 1 January 2023.
Prepare: With the December holidays upon us, we all know that time will be limited, and mostly devoted to family. Still, it’s important that we find some time to begin preparing ourselves, and our motorcycles. That may seem an obvious next step, but it’s worth repeating. And, given the no-show rate for RFTW XXXII (about 40%), we thought it wise to discuss the probable reason for some of the no-shows, and review many important preparations that have proven effective in past Runs.
We know that COVID had a dramatic effect on RFTW. Cities, counties and states shut everything down, blocked community gatherings, and essentially made it impossible for RFTW to execute its mission. The RFTW Board of Directors (BOD) was forced to cancel the Run for 2020 and 2021. We believe these cancellations, and the possibility of a third year, may have caused some would-be participants to withdraw from the Run.
All that said, if you have been waiting for the right time to go on this Run, that time is now, and now is the time to begin your preparations. COVID is gone, and the restrictions on travel and gatherings were actually lifted before RFTW XXXII. Prospective riders can once again feel confident that RFTW XXXIII will continue the mission, and can now focus on preparations. How?
Your motorcycle – Ride it! Go on 100+ mile rides; gradually increase your distances. Plan overnight rides of two or more days, keeping up the miles each day. Pay attention to your bike’s performance. And, take your bike in for service and a safety check before you begin your journey to Ontario, CA, and then on to Washington D.C.
Equipment and clothing – bring the right kind, and the right amount. Check out the RFTW website for the recommended equipment list. If you know someone that has participated in RFTW, ask them about the clothing and equipment they brought. My recommendation – pack light. In selecting clothing for the Run, consider commemorating your ride, and supporting RFTW at the same time, by taking a look at the RFTW Store for T-shirts, hats, patches and many other items.
Personal – begin at least a moderate physical fitness regime. Riding your bike will help. Bring your prescribed and allergy medicines, vitamins and a first aid kit. Having done your best to plan and prepare for the Run, rest assured that your CR leadership team will do what it can to support all riders on their journey across this country. Typical rider support includes:
Chase vehicles (Team Leader – Tommy “Two Chains” Cranford): This a group of volunteers with their own vehicles and trailers. These team members pick up disabled motorcycles and/or riders who are unable to continue riding due to illness or some other condition. Keep in mind team drivers sometimes are unavailable because they are picking up motorcycles and delivering them to a repair shop. To avoid the possibility of long waits along the road, ensure you have a provision for roadside assistance in your motorcycle insurance.
Hydration team (Team Lead – Nathan “Big Foot” Masten): This team consists of several volunteers who, with their own vehicles and trailers, travel with the pack across country, picking up supplies and providing refreshments (drinks and snacks) to all riders at stops along the route.
Medical team (Team Lead – Wade “Big Country” Wills): This team consists of several trained medics, even a doctor, offer health guidance and/or first aid to riders.
Volunteer Positions: Thanks to all those who have volunteered to help the Central Route. We’re still inviting volunteers to help with the Staging and Fuel Teams. Keep the request forms coming.
Just like your Central Route (CR) leadership team, we realize you all have a lot of planning to do in preparation for the Run. Despite moving into the Christmas season, CR planning is actually accelerating. We are reviewing plans in some detail, and soon, we will finalize our hotel and camping list, and riders can begin making reservations. We are eager for RFTW XXXIII to begin, and we look forward to meeting you all in Ontario. Keep up the good work, and stay healthy.
Homes For Our Troops Invites You to Join Us for Volunteer Day!
Army CPL Blake McMinn
Please join us as we landscape CPL McMinn’s future specially adapted custom home in Fort Worth, TX.
DATE: Saturday, December 3, 2022 TIME: Registration begins at 9:30 am Start Time: 10:00 am RSVP: www.hfotusa.org/mcminn LOCATION: Shuttle Location to House (4 Minute Shuttle Ride)- Calvary Baptist Church, 625 Williams Rd, Fort Worth, TX 76120
Grab your garden gloves and roll up your sleeves. All volunteers will receive lunch and a HFOT T-shirt.
For more information, please contact:
Manager of Community Engagement email@example.com or Cell: 774-226-5173
On #GivingTuesday, join us in making a donation to Run for the Wall at donate.rftw.us. You decide where your contribution ends up by donating to RFTW in general or by picking a specific route. Choose between the Central, Midway, Southern or Sandbox Route to directly receive your contribution.
Run for the Wall, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization which means your donation is tax-deductible.
We greatly appreciate your support and generosity this holiday season and look forward to seeing everyone in May.