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 19-29, 2021 - CA to DC
May 30 - June 1, 2021 - Sandbox
Run for The Wall® is an annual motorcycle ride from California to Washington DC.
Register for 2021
One of our great U.S. Presidents, Theodore Roosevelt, said “Anything worth having is worth waiting for”. I am sure he was talking about RFTW XXXII. I guess he could have just asked, “Is it May yet?”.
The good news is, as Run For The Wall goes, it’s Reunion Season. Time to get the ride plans together, make reservations and RIDE. Details can be found on the Forum and in the RC Newsletters. This year we have: the Tour of Tennessee; Angel Fire in New Mexico and the TX Reunion in Kerrville, TX. Reunions are open ALL riders, Past, Present and Future.
A great many of you were able to get some riding in and took on the R.F.T.W. Quest 2020. Some took the additional challenge of the H.O.P.E. Quest. One couple Chris and Kristin Andrews knocked it out of the park, by creating and completing their own POW*MIA Challenge. Outstanding, especially since they would have been FNGs in 2020. I congratulate all who have, and encourage all who will take up the Quest. Because many of you are still restricted by local restrictions, I have extended the deadline to July 5, 2020.
We would love to see your pictures on the Photo Board. In case you forgot here is how you do that:
Go to the RFTW.us website
Select a Virtual Route
Click on RFTW Quest 2020
Scroll down to BIO Submissions section
Fill in the information and select your picture file and Submit
Your pictures will eventually show on the Photo Board
We still have a lot of work to do and some new challenges ahead in preparing for RFTW XXXII 2021. This “extra” time has allowed us to take an in depth look at every stop along the way and see what we might do to improve the Southern Route experience. Soon I will announce a few open positions on our support team, so if you are interested in volunteering, watch for that.
I’ve gotta tell you, I feel almost like I’ve been out on the Run for a few weeks and then magically appeared at home on the last day. These past 3 days of coordination with our SandBox Route folks has been a phenomenal experience that has made me even more proud of the strength and resilience of our RFTW family.
The SandBox Route Virtual Daily Briefings gave us a chance for face time with folks we’d have otherwise not seen, heard from people with heart touching stories of names on the MECW, had a little fun with daily drawings and in the end, built up a little more anticipation for next year’s Run while tapping that magic that recharges as all through the Mission itself. From my seat at the show, the Virtual Briefings were a huge success and I intend to conduct quarterly (at least) open SandBox Route Status briefings throughout the year as we prepare for 2021.
Before we walk away from 2020, I need to acknowledge some of the exceptional efforts and accomplishments that made this Virtual Run a Success…
Don “Ten-A-See” King, Mary “Cupcake” Pittman, Richard “Rags” Getchell, Brandon “Five-O” McCray, “Peppermint Patti” Bogan and of course, Gwynne “Ladybug” Dunlap – whether on camera or behind the scenes, your input, contributions and support made all this possible. To our Guest Speakers, Rosa Salinas, Dane Long and Darrin Isham – thank you for sharing a little about your connection with a person whose name is on the Middel East Conflicts Wall. Your message is very important to us all, even more so when we know your heart is doing the talking. Your presence with us on the Briefings brought this all home.
I also need to acknowledge you, the dedicated RFTW Rider, the RFTW Leadership Team Member, the RFTW Mission Supporter – all Patriotic Americans of the highest caliber! Your continued focus on the Mission and what it means to the Gold Star and Blue Star Families, the POW/MIA Families, the KIA/WIA Families, the Veteran and the Veteran’s Families CANNOT be over emphasized! This Mission lives in your heart and breathes through your actions. Thank you all for your unwavering support and exceptional contributions.
As we close out the logbook for this year’s efforts and start focusing on the year ahead, we all may see the light shining on May 2021 when we will join once again to Ride for Those Who Can’t. Until then ride safe, be well, stay strong and Continue the Mission! And always remember that all roads lead to all roads, so no matter where you go, TOGETHER WE RIDE!
Day 3, May 26, 2020 – Lafayette, IN, to Marseilles, IL, 191 miles
We departed Gilman and headed to Starved Rock Harley-Davidson in Ottawa, IL, for lunch. As always, the stops are more than hospitable to all of us. After the lunch break, we staged by platoons to ride the 11 miles to Marseilles and the Middle East Conflicts Wall.
The Middle East Conflicts Wall – our destination. The MECW commemorates the service men and women who have lost their lives in worldwide conflicts since 1967. Dedicated in 2004, the project was conceived by Tony Cutrano and Jerry Kuczera and built with donated material and labor. It’s the first of its kind to give honor to the fallen by name while a conflict is ongoing. Names on the wall include fallen heroes from such diverse locations as Panama, Lebanon, the Balkans, Grenada, Somalia, terrorist attacks in Italy, Greece, an Israeli attack on the USS Liberty and the current conflicts in the Middle East.
This is where we would pay our respect and honor the sacrifices of those who have fallen. Names continue to be added each year usually in June in conjunction with a motorcycle freedom run. Text at the memorial affirms all those commemorated are heroes who died for freedom and will never be forgotten.
The Middle East Conflicts Wall is a memorial you have to want to see, to go visit. It’s not in the middle of a big city; it’s actually kind of isolated. But it’s a memorial well worth visiting, and I believe all of us can agree on that.
Memorials bring many emotions to the surface. It can also be a not-so-kind reminder to those who have served. There are those who need our help in healing, and visiting these memorials and sharing friendship, a hand, or a hug may be able to help them along that road.
Because of the wars including the conflicts mentioned on the MECW, wounds are not always visible, and 22 men and women commit suicide every single day. Mission 22 is committed to lowering that number, hoping to reach the point of elimination. One of the best ways of helping is to reach out … to someone that you think might be at risk. Or if you’re at risk, please reach out to others. Every person on this Run is dedicated to helping others and wants to help. Please let them.
Be proud that you’ve been a part of the RFTW, Sandbox Route, Wall 2 Wall mission. You can stand up and say, “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.” You’ve done it, and all of us hope to see you again next year.
“Nothing is strong as the heart of a volunteer.” Col. Jimmy Doolittle
Signing off for this year,
Photos for the Sandbox Virtual SITREPS courtesy of PhotosbyJerry.smugmug.com
Day 2, May 25, 2020 – Clairsville, OH, to Lafayette, IN, 359 miles
Bright and early we were at it again, and in for a long day. Briefings started at 6:30 AM. but there is breakfast at the North Star Indian, Polaris, Slingshot dealer, where we meet up and where we depart for the day. No one should ever go hungry on this mission … breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks.
If you were on the initial Run from California, you’re probably fatigued and running on adrenaline and caffeine. Be sure to stay hydrated. It’s important to your well-being and you’ll hear it time and again from the medical staff. Be sure to stop by the hydration station at every stop to get a drink and a snack. Don’t be a casualty. It won’t be pretty.
The VFW post in Union, OH, provided lunch for the day. There are usually some other treats in store, including music, memories or just time to get to know the people that are providing for us. Always try to get to know some of these folks as it’s one of the most rewarding relationships you can form along the route. Sometimes someone you’ll be seated near and chat with will relate their story of wars past. It’s an honor to have them share with us. A memory of theirs may hold a lot of anger or bitterness, but once that is shared with you, you have helped them to heal a bit. If it happens, share their tears, thank them and maybe give them a hug before you go on your way. Remember, one of the RFTW missions is to promote healing … and you will have just done that.
It was a long day and finally we arrived about 5:42 PM at our destination for the day, Hunter’s Moon Harley-Davidson. Dinner and the recognitions program for the Sandbox Route would go until about 8 PM. It was a long day as we rode for those who couldn’t. This is what we do. This is our mission.
“It was my duty to shoot the enemy, and I don’t regret it. My regrets are for the people I couldn’t save: Marines, soldiers, buddies. I’m not naïve, and I don’t romanticize war. The worst moments of my life have come as a SEAL. But I can stand before God with a clear conscience about doing my job.” Chris Kyle
I wish you all a blessed and grateful Memorial Day. Those of us with RFTW know that this is not a “Happy Memorial Day”. However, it is a wonderful day that our Nation has set aside as a day for us to remember and honor all of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country, families, and freedoms. We must NEVER FORGET!
This is the first time in 11 years that I have not paid my respects in Arlington National Cemetery and witnessed our wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. I must say that my heart is feeling a little empty this weekend. Something is definitely missing. Last year, on the Sandbox Recon, I was able to pay my respects to Cpl Johnathan Yale and Cpl Jordan Haerter at the Middle East Conflicts Memorial. These Marines were KIA on 4/22/2008 in Ramadi, Iraq stopping a terrorist suicide bombing attack from killing many people. These are the two young Marine heroes that saved my son’s life, along with about 50 other marines and many other Iraqis. On the recon, I was able to bring their bios and tell their story by their names at the Middle East Conflicts Memorial. I was looking forward to doing so again this year when I had to make a difficult choice to leave Gunny in Chattanooga and return home to take care of personal things. I will now have to wait until our 2021 Run but they are remembered now, today, and every day, as well as all who have given their lives for us. There are many of us with similar stories of family, friends, and other heroes that were taken from us by war. Let us be thankful and enjoy the freedoms and the country they have given us. May we never take their gifts for granted and may we NEVER FORGET them. This is why I ride!
We will be “riding for those who can’t” at our “Tour of Tennessee” reunion starting July 2nd. The hotel blocks will close on June 2nd. It is important that you register and make your hotel reservations now. We are hoping that this reunion will bring our RFTW family back together and that we see as many of you there as possible. Info is on the RFTW.US website under the Midway Hub.
Congratulations to Tamara “Tam Tam” Rickerson! Our very own Raffle Rouser finally won a prize instead of giving them. Tam Tam won the $1000 hotel prize. I thank everyone who participated in this raffle. We raised $2,200 that will be used for fuel on the 2021 Midway route.
I would like to close by asking all of you, in your own way, to keep all of our heroes who have died, those still missing POW / MIAs and their families who still morn their losses in your thoughts and prayers.
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.
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
Southern Route, VIRTUAL Sitrep, Day 11, Saturday, May 23
Today we went to the host hotel downtown to meet up w our RFTW road guards. Their mission today is to take 400 of us to Arlington National Cemetery. Most of us are FNGs as we get the first dibs to go into the cemetery itself which is out of the ordinary. You have to feel special as RFTW is the only motorcycle group allowed to go in.
All 400 bikes were staged in the underground parking garage. It was pretty full. They had us packed four wide between the pillars. It was so close I couldn’t pick up my bike until the bagger next to me got picked up.
There was a briefing by the local police department. We’d be going the wrong-way on the ramp, hang a couple of sharp turns and do a U-turn. Oh yay. Then we’d be going down the interstate. We had police support all the way and they were alongside of us as well. Was nice. It’s been awesome having interstates closed, ramps closed, red lights that don’t matter, stop signs that don’t matter. We’ll have to be careful after this, though. Can’t be blowing through any of that stuff.
Row-by-row we started our engines and rolled out. It was pretty awesome as we went down the road two-by-two. We got to Arlington and they got us parked.
I checked a landmark statue to be sure I could find the bike again. Yep. Another reason for not buying a black bike. It’s hard enough even with Barracuda Barbie being a sparkly silver.
We got down to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, just in time for the Changing of the Guard ceremony and two wreath-laying ceremonies. One of the wreaths was from our RFTW group.
I’ve been to this cemetery one other time. It was much quieter and more peaceful then. With 400 motorcycles and maybe 550 people, tourists and the holiday folks, it was anything but quiet. It doesn’t matter how many people, the surroundings are still peaceful and beautiful; the wreath-laying ceremonies and the changing of the guard are moving and fascinating.
The Tomb of the Unknowns is a monument dedicated to American service personnel who have died without their remains being identified. The impeccably-uniformed guards wear Army dress blue uniforms and always bear their M-14 weapons away from the tomb as a gesture against intrusion on their post. There is a cadence of steps, and exact steps and times … 21 steps, 21 seconds. The number 21 was chosen because it symbolizes the highest military honor that can be bestowed – the 21-gun-salute.
During the summer months from April through Sept. 30, the changing happens every half hour. It’s interesting what all they go through, what their duties are and what they must continue to do even after their tour here.
From there we were to leave with road guard support. It turned into quite a mess. My group, I believe, lost its road guard, and ended up not at the Lincoln Memorial where we were supposed to be. It was a few minutes in another direction. So I followed folks again. Then ended up behind some guys who were going to a hotel. Ugh. Went through the roundabout again and followed some other folks. Got there and parked after riding onto the sidewalk and parking on the grass. (Just remember, grass is not my friend). I took a photo of the street sign and looked around. I was on the backside of the memorial. I hurried as I was afraid I was going to miss the big group photo. I was okay. And sat on the steps and chatted with other folks. I couldn’t see my friend Joe even though I stood up a few times and looked around.
Now I was nervous as I didn’t know where Joe was. My phone was dying, meaning no way to get in touch with Joe. And no GPS to get me to the hotel. Backup plan. Ask someone to get me to the host hotel and find someone who could charge my phone. Made my last couple of charge percents count. Called Joe’s wife, Verlie. Told her I couldn’t find Joe. She got him and he got me. Met up and did not let him out of my sight again.
Joe and I wandered about a bit and saw other new friends Peter and Elisa. We found Tapout and got our FNG pins turned from upright to upside down. I was going to have G-Rex do it but never saw him after yesterday. ☹️. Super nice guys. Wonder what their real names are.
Finally left the area and got back to our hotel and got fed.
It was an exhilarating but emotional day … all the memorials, all the people I’d traveled with, saying goodbyes. RFTW can change your life … maybe mostly for those who have served, but also people like me who have not served are affected. Your awareness goes up several notches and you begin to understand a bit of what those who have served suffered through, and still suffer from. I believe the years I’ve been riding have led me to this run … RFTW. Is it May yet?
Midway Route 2020 “VIRTUAL” Sitrep Day 11 Arlington/Washington D.C.
Jim “Hoofer” McCrain
DAY 11 – Saturday, May 23, 2020 Arlington VA
It is quiet. Four Hundred FNGs stand near their bikes, ready to mount up and ride onto hallowed ground. We are headed to Arlington National Cemetery.
Run For The Wall is the only motorcycle group allowed to ride into Arlington. It is an honor that we do not take lightly, and we do this with the utmost reverence for the Heroes that are buried here. As our group makes their solemn trek, you can see pride and honor on every face. We all experience a sense of awe and respect as we walk among the carved granite stones. At each turn you will hear a murmured “Wow! A Medal of Honor recipient” or “A-Four Star General!” or “The Shuttle Astronauts!” We are in the final resting place for great American Heroes, and we are all moved by our visit here.
As we gather on the steps of the Tomb of the Unknowns, a reverent hush falls upon us all. There are signs that ask people to be silent here, but our Riders don’t need them: we ARE silent! We wait and watch the Changing of the Guards. We listen to the booming silence as they carefully inspect their uniforms and weapons. We gaze through misty eyes as the Guard who walks exactly 21 steps, turns, shoulders his weapon, waits 21 heart-beats, then continues his walk.
And then from a doorway behind us, another of “The Old Guard” appears, followed by four weary members of RFTW. These representatives from all three routes have the distinct honor of stepping towards the Tomb and laying a wreath in memory of the Unknowns sacrifice. Gone are the pains and stresses of the journey. The eyes of our Brothers are as bright as the sun, as they pay OUR respects. Our Veterans will deliver a salute while we Civilians will hold our hands over our hearts. We stand tall and silent as we listen to the sound of TAPS being played. As the last echoes of the bugle drift into the distance, we return to our bikes in silence.
With barely a whisper of our motors, we now make our way to the National Mall where we will join the rest of our RFTW Family on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. It is finally time for our Family Portrait! It may seem like it takes forever, but just sit back and enjoy seeing several thousand Riders filling up every single step and even hanging onto the side staunches! There are a BUNCH of us! (I “almost” feel sorry for the non-riders/general public that are visiting today!) The three Route Photographers will be around to take any “last minute” photos of your new friends and riding partners, so don’t worry if you forgot your camera!
But now the time has come: the driving force behind our Mission. It is time to make a final walk to “The Wall.” Shoulder-to-shoulder, arm-in-arm, side-by-side, we shuffle towards that deep, dark wall of black granite. We will gather together, two thousand-strong, and watch as our three Route Coordinators place a plaque at the apex, commemorating all that we have experienced for the past ten days.
You won’t hear a word, but you might hear someone cry or gasp. You will see grown Men that have endured combat shrink away from the Wall, not being able to face the names of their comrades. But you will also see each one of those individuals disappear into a huddle of Brothers and Sisters that are going to support them, physically and emotionally, during this trying ordeal. They will also shield them from prying eyes and tourists with cameras. We will be a safe haven for those that need it.
Some of us will walk confidently up to the Wall only to breakdown as an unexpected name appears. Some will look tirelessly for a specific name, searching one panel to the next until they find their boy. Others know exactly where they are headed and make no hesitations. Some are looking for a friend, some for the Men that they commanded, some for the Soldier that saved their life. Some will be looking for a Family member. Some will look for the name of a Man they never knew, but have learned about during the Run. But ALL OF US will stand here together, to pay honor to their memory, to hold close the sacrifices made, and to dedicate ourselves to Loyalty, Integrity, Duty, and Honor.
There is one last act for our FNGs, those Fine New Guys and Gals. Over the course of the past 10 days, they have formed bonds of friendship and Brotherhood that will stay with them for the rest of their days. For each of them, there has been ONE particular person that has stood out from all the rest. One person that has been a mentor or confidant. One person that seems to embody the very essence of Run For The Wall. The FNG will seek out this person and bestow upon them the honor of turning their FNG badge upside down, signifying that they have completed the Mission and are now one of the “veteran Riders” of our Run For The Wall Family. This simple “right of passage” takes place at the end of our Mission, right HERE at The Wall. There can be no other more fitting place.
We are Run For The Wall, and this is what we do.
It has been my honor to write these few words for you, in the hopes that you can get a little idea of what our Riders go through each year. I want you to know that although this has been a “virtual” Run, each and every story that I have related has actually happened. I have tried to capture the spirit of the Run, but most importantly, to capture the spirit of our Riders. I owe these Men and Women my respect for what they have done, for their dedication to our cause, and for their trust and Friendship. They deserve far-better words than I could ever pen. I thank them all for allowing me to try.
Jim “Hoofer” McCrain
Midway Route SITREP Author (2020)
If you would like to follow along with our ride from last year, just follow this link:
Central Route 2020 “VIRTUAL” Sitrep Day 11 Arlington/Washington D.C.
May 23, 2020 – In Washington DC
Our mission is still not complete. The Saturday after we arrive in DC is just as busy as any day on the Run.
Since only FNGs can ride into Arlington Cemetery, they will stage at the hotel to ride to the Tomb of the Unknow Soldier for the laying of the RFTW wreath. If you have never seen this, please make sure you get there if you are in DC. RFTW will have 4 people represent the Run. What an honor.
The 2019 RFTW team is given instruction for laying of the wreath.
This is the Changing of the Guards.
Soldiers placed nearly a quarter-million U.S. flags at Arlington National Cemetery on Thursday as part of a Memorial Day tradition. The event is known as “Flags In.” More than 230,000 marble headstones line the landscape of the cemetery across 624 acres.
There are thousands of bikes all over the grass fields. This is only one parking lot.
There are thousands of bikes all over the grass fields. This is only one parking lot.
OH MY!!!!! Always a picture of the RFTW participants at the Lincoln Memorial.
Once the pic is complete, the RFTW riders head for the Vietnam Wall. You see many members tracing names of family and friends.
If you remember, there were lots of bios read in the morning meetings and people carried them across the country. Names were found on the wall and the bios are left.
Here you see many of them placed under their name.
The RFTW plaque id placed at the Apex of the Wall.
MISSION COMPLETE !!!!
Thanks for reading these reports. Let’s keep our thought and prayers for all those affected by the Covid 19 virus and their families.
We will get thru this and come out strong next year. I hope all works out and I can report live next year. I leave you with the below.
POW / MIA Poem
We need to remember them every day. They went to fight in a place so far away, They gave their all when their country sent out a call Not ever knowing that their name would end up on the wall, No matter how we honor them no matter what we do We should always remember that they paid the highest price For the red, white and blue. So when you look up at the flag flying in the wind on a clear blue day Remember it’s there because of the POW and MIA
It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived. General George Patton
On the Run, we said the Pledge every day. I see this flag and took lots of pictures last year. Every time I see it waving in the air, it is telling me I am free. And that right is protected by our men and women. Let’s continue to try and bring them all home.
I hope as we wrap up the “Virtual Run For The Wall” you all found some comfort in all the videos and pictures. From the feedback I have received and the number of hits on the website it was welcomed in all quarters. I want to thank RFTW BOD communications director Nick Hentges, webmaster Ted Kapner, Sitrep writers Jean Gault CR, Jim McCrain MR and Patti Brogan SR/SB for an outstanding job in making the “Virtual RFTW” happen.
I suspect there are many of you who would like some info on how this all ends for RFTW 2020. As you know we have continued a legacy of placing a plaque each year at the Vietnam Memorial Wall.
Obviously, this year the “Mission Completed” part did not occur, however today, May 23, at Approximately 1230 a plaque was placed at the apex of the Wall to honor this mission “…on behalf of all RFTW riders and supporters.” John Staub, our DC coordinator, and James “Gunny” Gregory, founder, were invited to conduct the final portion of RFTW 2020.
For those who would have ridden on the Sandbox look for the posts from Billie Dunlop as they head to Marseilles, Ill., via another Virtual RFTW Sandbox Route.
It’s been awhile since I wrote about RFTW without a camera and the associated props. After the videos and the emails promoting RFTW merchandise our family responded with vigor. Thank you all for supporting RFTW in a big way. We are hoping the sales remain steady throughout the summer so I’ll be mentioning them from time to time. Right now, we are flush with pins resulting in great sales on this item.
In a normal year we would be asking routes to return pins that were left over and, in some cases, folks just showed up with bags of left-over pins. Frankly pins have always been a way for RFTW route staff to have a good will offering to our supporters on our ten-day journey to Washington and Marseilles. If we take a big loss this year it will be on these pins. I understand they are a small item but when we buy 30,000 or more it becomes a big problem. So, if I can ask our family, one more time, to purchase our heavily discounted pins we would be grateful. (https://rftw.us/run-for-the-wall-merchandise-shop/)There will plenty of opportunities this summer and fall to pass out our “good will” offerings to everyone you meet at the reunions and other summer outings. Ray has also started the 50 percent off Memorial Day sales on merchandise which should make your shopping much easier.
In other business the board met last week and elected John Staub, our Washington DC coordinator, to the Board of Directors. John lives in central Pennsylvania and recently retired as assistant fire chief of the Army. John will be taking over responsibilities of operations director and will begin his new position July 1 as operations director Doug Lyvere completes his final term of office. Doug has faithfully served RFTW for six years as a member of the board and a long-time road guard for the Southern Route. Doug will continue his road guard duties and we wish him the very best as he moves forward.
Now, that the COVID-19 virus seems to be waning we all must look ahead to the hidden consequences of this virus. As you all know we are all supported by our state coordinators who arrange stops at both commercial entities as well as schools/service-related organizations. The consequences of a national shutdown can and will cause RFTW to be vigilant of who is still in business and those who did not survive the draconian shut down. Good intelligence from our riders will be important in the coming days to keep your route leadership briefed on these closures so adjustments can be made for 2021. If you find one our wonderful vendors struggling, please make an effort to support them once they open up. This matters both for our friends and Run For Wall 2021.
On behalf of the Board of Directors and route coordinators we want you all to know how grateful we are for your support. Stand fast – this hidden enemy will be gone soon as we all work to get America on her feet again.
Is it May 2021 yet?
Respectfully submitted, Les “Easy” Williams President Run For The Wall, Inc