Southern Route Coordinator News – ARC Edition – FEB 2018
Howdy from the east coast, y’all! As an introduction… I am Billie “Bugs” Dunlap, your Assistant Route Coordinator for the Southern Route of RFTW XXX, the 30th Annual Run For The Wall. It has been my distinct honor to have been associated with this great Mission for the past 8 years and I have many people to thank for the mentoring and guidance along the way. Just a few of these are first, my original RFTW recruiter and mentor to The Run who continues to instill in me the spirit of the Mission – Jim “Stoney” Stone. Next, one of the early and continuing RFTW leaders whose guidance and advice was invaluable to me as I took my first Platoon Leader assignment – Roger “Cowboy” Mead. And finally, none other than our founder himself, James “Gunny” Gregory whose personal example, guidance and advice inspires me to keep this Mission close to my heart. I’d also like to thank our RC, Chad “Slacker” O’Dell – a fine man and determined leader with whom I have had the distinct privilege and great pleasure of working closely over the past 4 years – thank you for having me as your ARC. You are a Patriot and a great American and it has truly been an honor, but luckily there is much more to come.
A few days ago, I posted on social media from Denver International Airport while sitting in the USO (a fantastic organization, by the way) and posed a simple question: “94 days, 18 hours to KSU… Are you getting ready?” From the responses received, there is no doubt that we are all mentally and emotionally ready to roll out of Ontario on 16MAY2018 to begin RFTW XXX. But we also know that getting your head and heart ready are just the first steps to successfully completing this epic 10 day Mission. So, with this edition of the newsletter, I’d like to add some clarification of the deeper intended meaning of the question and then ask again later…
Just as in any mission planning scenario, there are three major aspects for which your preparation for this mission should address: Personal, Mechanical, and Logistical.
PERSONAL: Given that we are all ready for Kick Stands Up (KSU) as mentioned above, we should also be physically preparing for the long days in and out of the saddle. The intensity of your physical fitness preparation is of course dependent on your abilities and it’s always a good idea to consult with your medical professionals before engaging any new exercise routine. That being said, a critical look at your current diet and exercise routine with an eye towards preparing for long days in the saddle with interludes of walking, talking and representing our Mission could definitely help any of us enjoy those days even more – and yes, I’m looking directly in the mirror as I write this! Exercise is important, but its complimentary and equally critical counterparts are diet, hydration and rest. All physical exertion requires fuel and the fuel requires water to burn properly, followed by rest to reset and do it again. A good balance of all these factors will get you to Ontario well prepared to enjoy the fellowship of The Run and to successfully carry out the Mission.
MECHANICAL: You’ve likely all heard that Run For The Wall is the largest organized long distance motorcycle ride in the world. That statement drastically simplifies what we do and I don’t know if it’s even true – though I would be very surprised if it weren’t. But true or not, a 10 day, 3000 mile motorcycle trip is a grueling adventure for any machine, regardless of the color and shape of the emblem on the side of your tank. Everyone should be familiar with the daily “pre-flight” acronym T-CLOCK: Tires, Controls, Lights, Oil, Chassis, Kickstand (or Jiffystand for us Harley Folks). You can find a great breakdown of this inspection on the Motorcycle Safety Foundation website at tinyurl.com/MSF-TCLOCK. However, even a good T-CLOCK can’t catch everything – just last year I had an exhaust bolt snap off as I was coming into New Mexico on the way to California. Since everything else was well maintained and working, it took only a simple temporary repair to get me on to Ontario where a full repair was completed. In preparing for this motorcycle adventure we should all take the daily inspection routine one step further and have an expert give our rides a thorough once-over. Especially considering the fact that the 3000 mile tour is only half or less of the total ride most of us complete for this Mission and hardly any of us enjoy the security of a chase truck outside The Run itself.
LOGISTICAL: Any military commander throughout history would tell you that logistics is at the crossroads of success and failure…
“The line between disorder and order lies in logistics…” – Sun Tzu
“My logisticians are a humorless lot… they know if my campaign fails they are the first ones I slay.” – Alexander the Great
Of course, our Mission does not require a battle plan, but proper attention to personal logistics is just as important to the success of our Mission as supply lines were for General Patton’s 3rd Army in WWII. The primary RFTW logistics for route, fuel stops, most meals and available lodging are being diligently coordinated by your route leadership. But your personal logistics for funding, care of your home and family, time away from work, holding your mail, transportation/lodging/fuel to and from The Run and many other issues are very important and most effectively dealt with in planning before The Run. When you’re showing love and respect to a WWII veteran at the Tuscaloosa VAMC or listening to a 2nd grader at Montvale Elementary tell you about learning the Pledge of Allegiance, you won’t want to have the worry of issues back home clouding your focus on that moment. The time to prepare for those issues is now.
My intent here was obviously not to lay out a detailed plan for your preparation for The Run, but to provide a general overview of some areas on which we should all place the effort of good planning. So, with all that being said, I ask again… ARE YOU GETTING READY?
Finally, no (A)RC Newsletter is complete without a reference to the current status of issues remaining at the focus of our Mission… As of the latest report by the DPAA (Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency – www.dpaa.mil) on 05JAN2018, there are still 1601 Americans unaccounted for in Southeast Asia. The DPAA updates their reports often, but to compare the level of success they are having, that number was 1617 a year ago on their report dated 25JAN2017, 1624 in JAN2016, and 1637 in JAN2015. That may seem like slow movement, but somewhere out there I’ve got to believe that there are 16 more families this past year who can now feel some closure knowing their loved ones are finally accounted for. But there are many more out there… Such as Col. Oscar Mauterer, USAF shot down over Laos, 52 years ago TODAY – still classified MIA! As long as we keep hope alive, CONTINUE THE MISSION, and have the strength of brave women like Karoni Forrester, Shannon Spake, Judy Wormmeester, and Col. Mauterer’s Daughter, Pam Cain to keep the light shining on concerns of the POW/MIA family, the collective efforts of RUN FOR THE WALL will continue and we will NOT let this GREAT MISSION fade away.
“…To call for an accounting of all Prisoners of War and those Missing in Action…”
RIDE WITH HEART
Very best regards,
Billie “Bugs” Dunlap
Assistant Route Coordinator
RFTW XXX Southern Route