Welcome Home to the 64 FNG’s currently signed up to ride with us on the Southern Route. We look forward to reconnecting with the 245 riders that have ridden in previous years. Southern Route registration currently stands at 302 participants with 932 registered on all routes.
Southern Route Leadership, team-leads and state coordinators are planning welcome home events clear across the country. One of the mission goals of RFTW is to promote healing among ALL veterans and their families and friends. Vietnam Veterans were not welcomed home as they should have been which added salt to the wounds of the already suffering Veterans. One method of promoting healing for you, the Vietnam Veteran, is through the welcome home ceremonies held in the communities we ride through. From California to Arizona, Mississippi to Virginia, the state coordinators and community volunteers are planning meals, ceremonies and greetings. Please, come ride with us and allow American communities to help rectify the wrong done so many years ago.
Southern Route leadership is meeting monthly as are the state coordinators, to fine tune every aspect of the Southern Route. From platoon leaders, to the gas stops to the law enforcement escorts, every detail of the 3,000 mile journey is being analyzed, picked apart and looked at again, 2023 Southern Route is going to be great! You will not be sorry you signed up and rode with us. This ride will change your life!
We still need a few good volunteers! If you have riden with us before, please consider volunteering for a leadership position. Platoon leadership and stagers are a little short staffed. The run cannot take place without the 125 plus volunteers, Southern Route NEEDS YOU!
The itinerary is being compiled and it too is being scrutinized before it is released to the public. Please be patient with us. We are hoping to have it posted on the RFTW website by March 1.
As Southern Route leadership prepares for the run, what are you doing to prepare? No, I don’t mean packing your bike or changing the oil. I am referring to your personal health.
- Get that yearly physical you’ve been putting off.
- Make sure any meds you take are at the proper dosage.
- Start exercising 30 minutes a day. The run is arduous, are you ready for long hot days?
- Work on strengthening your clutch hand (it’s for sure to get a work-out).
- Get mentally ready. The run is ten long and emotional days. You will need mental stamina to get you to DC.
Why I Ride
Every morning on the run we hold a mandatory “all rider” meeting. One aspect of that meeting is the “Why we ride” message. At a recent leadership meeting I asked Senior Chaplain, Dustin “Leatherneck” Taylor to share with us why he rides. He shared a very moving story that emphasizes what we call, “the magic of the run”. Please read his story here and Remember the Mission, why we ride and why you are riding this year. Romeo Tango Mike.
Why I Ride – Dustin “Leatherneck” Taylor
“Run For The Walls’ mission statement is “We ride for those who can’t”. This is one of my stories of why I ride.
My father-in-law is a Vietnam Veteran, and that’s all my wife and her brother really ever knew about that part of his life. Like many others that served in Vietnam they don’t talk much about their experience. My wife and her brother never knew that he was a Purple Heart recipient, until one night he and I were talking and I being a Marine Corps Veteran myself asked him a few questions and he began to open up about his service to our Country.
He shared a story about an individual named Lamb that he had gone to basic with and that they had been stationed together with the same company in Vietnam. He told of a battle he was in on May 4th, 1970, where he was injured pretty bad, and his friend Lamb was killed. He began to talk about his friend Lamb and what he could remember of him, like where he was from and that he was married. You could tell that this causality of war still weighed heavy on his heart. He told a story that he probably hadn’t told ever or at least for several decades. You could feel the emotions in the room as he shared what had happened to him that so many years ago.
My wife and I started doing some research on Lamb (Floyd Wetzel Lamb JR) and we found out that he was from Chuckey Tennessee, which just happens to be a few miles off the path of the Southern Route. In 2018 my wife and I broke away from the pack outside of Chattanooga and set out to find the final resting place of SPC Floyd W. Lamb JR. After a beautiful ride through the hills we came to Chuckey Tennessee. We quickly found the church where he was buried and after several minutes of searching, we found his grave site.
A long story turned short story is my wife and I happened upon an individual at the church that knew the Lamb family and pointed out that Floyd’s 93-year-old mother still to this day lives in a house across the street from the church. I left my contact information with the gentleman to give to the family. Three hours down the road I received a call from Floyd’s mother. I explained who we were and that we were headed to Washington DC with Run for The Wall and that my wife and I were honored to ride in memory of Floyd. She could not believe that after so many years someone would take the time to find a family they had never met and ride in honor of their son/brother. More to making a story short we have made the Lamb Memorial and Lamb family a part of the Southern Route Outreach.
“Why I Ride” …I ride for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our Beloved Country and didn’t make it home to their families, like Floyd (Jason)Wetzel Lamb JR, and for the people like my Father-in-law that still carry the burden of war with them every day, in their scares, their memories, and in their heart.”
In 2022, as assistant route coordinator, I was able to go on the Lamb outreach and was blessed to meet the Lamb family. I took several photos of the family and the cemetery(shared here). This year, we have had patches made honoring Jason Lamb. The riders that are selected to visit with the Lamb family will receive a patch to place on their vest.
For ten days, Southern Route riders, remember and honor the heroes that gave their life in service to America and the 1,581 still missing. We pray for answers.
Romeo Tango Mike
Kristine “Eyes” Wood
Southern Route Coordinator 2023