Central Route Coordinator Latest News 2015
April 4, 2015
The Central Route is ready as is the Southern and Midway Routes. It’s that time of year, our Mission before us. To complete this “Mission” we have assembled the very best Leadership Teams possible to lead the “Three Routes” across this beautiful country of ours. It has been my honor to be associated with Jim “Stoney” Stone and Billy “Tumbleweed” Smith this year as Route Coordinators. We will work together to assure our “Three Routes” arrive in D.C. to complete our “One Mission” at the Vietnam Memorial Wall, Saturday May 23, 2015.
As the Central Route Coordinator, I would like to at this time thank my Leadership Team that has worked with me since last June putting together the “Teams” that get us across country. Dave “Papa Smurf” Klemme, my Assistant Route Coordinator, has stepped up and done everything asked of him and more. Again, it takes a lot of volunteer time to make this Mission possible and I thank all Team Leaders for being part of RFTW XXVII – 2015 Central Route Leadership. I also thank each and every member of each of those Teams who volunteer their time and support to the RUN.
I posted the Ontario Agenda in my news last month. I look forward to greeting Leadership and their Teams per our schedule and of course just walking around saying hello. Most importantly, I look forward to greeting the FNGs who will leave with us from Ontario. The Central Route as of April 2nd has 345 pre-registrations. This is some 15% or more than last year. We do look forward to a strong FNG presence this year and I want our Central Route Mission to fulfill the healing needs for all those who participate. It is important to remember why we do this “Mission”, to promote that healing among ALL veterans, their families and friends, to call for the 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. This is why we do what “we” do.
Now it is time for the final preparations for our departure from Ontario on May 13th. You have seen it in the Forum, in all Route Coordinators News, about the importance of “Hydration”. Now is the time to start. Get your body moving, get out and exercise, ride as much as you can, have your bike properly serviced and in good repair. Be ready to ride! This Mission will change your life; you will never forget what you will see and experience as we parade across this beautiful country of ours.
I’ll see you in Ontario and remember, when asked, “HOW FAR ARE WE GOING?” we will reply, “ALL THE WAY!”
Ride hard, ride safe,
“FREEDOM ISN’T FREE”
March 18, 2015
Greetings, it’s about that time we all look ahead to complete our list of things to do getting ready for May 13. I have to say, it has been very busy this last month in preparation for RFTW XXVII. It looks like things have come together through our Central Route efforts. We do have all “Teams” in place, working and ready to go. As you probably know, Pretty Boy completed and posted our final “Itinerary” on the web site. I want to thank him again, and all those who contributed their input to make this happen. It has been requested of me to let you know Staging has need for just a couple more volunteers. You can contact Dick “Winky” McKay the Staging Team Leader if interested. You cannot be an FNG and it is preferred you go “all the way”.
I will be having a Nor-Cal “meet and greet” this Saturday, March 21 @ 11:30 AM. It will be held at Rudy’s Hideaway, 12303 Folsom Blvd. Rancho Cordova, CA 95742. This is a few miles East of Sacramento off Hwy 50. We will have lunch and a meeting, followed by a ride through some of our foothills. All riders and participants are welcome, especially FNGs. I look forward to seeing you there.
The following is a Central Route “highlighted” and revised edition of the Ontario agenda. Note the meetings and who attends. I hope all is well with everyone and you’re almost ready. Ride hard, ride safe!
Don “EZ” Burns
Ontario 2015 Agenda
SUNDAY, MAY 10, 2015
4:00 –5:30 pm BOD Executive Session BOARDROOM -2015 RFTW Board of Directors
6:00pm- 7:00pm BOD, RC’s, spouses Registration Meeting- REGISTRATION ROOMS
SR/CR/MWR Registration Teams- BOD, RC’s, ARC’s, RGC’s
7:00 –9:00 pm Route Leadership Registration ONLY REGISTRATION ROOMS-EAST ENTRANCE - SR/CR/MWR Registration Teams
MONDAY, MAY 11, 2015
8:00 – 9:00 am BOD/Route Leadership Briefing Salon 1&2 BoD, RC’s, CR ARC
9:00 – 10:00 am Finance Orientation Salon 1&2
Ward, Brammer, RC/ARCs, Registration/ICO Teams, Route Finance Teams, Chase Drivers
10:00-11:00 am Merchandising Meeting Salon 1&2 Brammer, All Merchandise
12:00 - 1:00 PM Lunch
1:00 - 7:00 pm All Routes Registration REGISTRATION ROOMS- EAST ENTRANCE
1:00 - 7:00 pm All Merchandise Open RADISSON FRONT Parking Lot Brammer, Merchandise Teams
1:00 –3:00 pm MWR Leadership Meeting Salon 1&2 RC/ARC, Staging/Fuel/MOH/Chase Teams, Leadership Support, Hydration, RGC
3:00 –5:00 pm CR Leadership Meeting Salon 1&2 RC/ARC,
Staging/Fuel/MOH/ Chase Teams, Leadership Support, Hydration, RG’s, Platoon Leadership (PL,APL, TG’s), Ambassadors, MM Cord., Photographer, Steelman, Chaplains
7:00 pm Registration & Merchandise Close
7:30 - 8:45 am Limited Registration (RNC Run) REGISTRATION ROOMS- EAST ENTRANCE
8:00 – 9:00 am BOD/Route Leadership Briefing Salon 1&2 = Board, RC’s, CR ARC
8:30 am Staging for RNC Run REAR_ RADISSON Parking Lot. All wishing to Participate
9:00 am - 8:00 pm Merchandise Open (Closed from 5pm to 7pm) RADISSON FRONT Parking Lot Brammer, Merchandise Teams
9:00 am - 8:00 pm (Closed from 5pm to 7pm) All Routes Registration -REGISTRATION ROOMS- EAST ENTRANCE McKee, Hargrove
9:00 –11:00am SR Leadership Meeting Salon 1&2 RC/ARC,
Staging/Fuel/MOH/Chase Teams, Leadership Support, Hydration, RGC
9:11-9:30am Rider’s Meeting for RNC Run Tennis Courts All wishing to Participate
10:30-12:00 PM CR-RGs Parking Lot “D” RC/ARC
11:00-12:00am ‘4-Wheeler’ mandatory meeting- All Routes Salon 1&2
Hargrove, Steelman, McKee/ RC’s
12:00pm-1:30pm CR FNG Orientation meetings Salon 1&2
RC/ARC, RGC, Sr. Chaplin, Fuel Ldr, Staging Ldr, Steelman, Platoon Leaders
1:30pm-3:00pm MR FNG Orientation meetings Salon 1&2
RC/ARC, RGC, Sr. Chaplin, Fuel Ldr, Staging Ldr, Hargrove
3:00PM-4:30PM SR FNG Orientation meetings Salon 1&2
RC/ARC, RGC, Sr. Chaplin, Fuel Ldr, Staging Ldr, McKee
4:30 pm Blessing of the Bikes RADISSON Parking Lot Chaplain Corps
4:35 pm Presentation of Kias RADISSON Parking Lot Hargrove, Steelman, Wormmeester, Kia Reps
5:00 - 7:00 pm DINNER- Meet & Greet MAIN BALLROOM
ALL RIDERS attendance
4:35 pm Presentation of Kias RADISSON Parking Lot Hargrove, Steelman, Wormmeester, Kia Reps
4:50 pm Presentation to Casa Colina CEO : OCCVB: Radisson RADISSON Parking Lot
5:45 pm Presentation of the Colors Marine Corps Color Guard- MAIN BALLROOM
6:00 pm Presentation of Combat Hero’s Bike Build Project. MAIN BALLROOM
7:30 pm Interdenominational Prayer Time RADISSON Parking Lot Chaplain Corps
8:00 pm Registration & Merchandise Close
WEDNESDAY MAY 13, 2015
ONTARIO CONVENTION CENTER Lot ‘D’, West End Entrance
5:45 am Registration Opens
6:30 am Registration Closes
(Riders with clipboard “in hand” at 0630 may complete registration.)
6:45 am Riders’ Meeting chaired by Ken “Wish” Hargrove, President, BOD
(6:45) Opening Prayer
(6:48) Presentation of Colors by American Legion Post 262
(6:51 )Pledge of Allegiance
(6:53) National Anthem
(6:56) Why We Ride:
“We Ride for Those Who Can’t”
“Honoring All of America’s Warriors”
Remembering the KIA/POW/MIA from Vietnam
Remembering the KIA/POW/MIA from Iraq/Afghanistan
(7:02) 2015 RFTW RIDERS WELCOMED by Ken “Wish” Hargrove
Active Duty Military
Medal of Honor Recipients
Blue Star Families
Gold Star Families
(7:06) Introduction of RFTW Board of Directors
(7:08) Recognition of Volunteer Leadership
(7:10) Introduction of SR, CR & MWR Route Coordinators
(7:12) Rider Orientation/Safety Briefing (Smith)
(7:18) Closing Prayer (Burd)
(7:20) Riders Dismissed to Plt. Leader.
Briefings at platoon staging areas.
15 minutes –Guaranteed!!!
7:35 am Midway Route Departs
7:50 am Southern Route Departs
8:05 am Central Route Departs
February 26, 2015
Greetings- Things are really starting to move. We are at 75 days and counting until we start this incredible Mission once again. I hope you all realize that that time will pass very quickly. Be ready, get things in order and meet us in Ontario in May.
I have good news that “we” the Central Route have posted our 2015 Itinerary. Thanks especially to Kirk “Pretty Boy” Olson and Mike “Dadbo” Owen for making this happen. Mike organized the on-line meetings we had to go over each day, stop by stop, and verify any changes we needed to make. Kirk, put together the format, made the changes and posted it on the web. I think you’ll find that there is a lot of good information provided and will answer many a question some of you may have about this year’s RUN.
I have also updated as of today the 2015 Central Route Leadership Contact s. As you will see, this Mission requires many volunteers working together as a Team, to make it happen. We still have a few positions to fill, but are confident they will be filled soon. I do have one request from our Fuel Team Lead, as he is looking for a few more volunteers for his Team. His contact information, as is all the Team Leaders, is posted here on the web. To volunteer, you may not be an FNG. You must have previously participated in the RUN.
I am also planning to put together a Nor- Cal, Sacramento area “Meet and Greet” for “all” riders and participants interested in RFTW. This will be open to any of our 3 Routes. We are one family. I would like to get a good response from Northern Calif. and even Nevada. Saturday March 21st, the day after the first day of spring, is what I am planning for. We will meet for lunch and then take a ride together somewhere in the area. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in participating. We may have time for a couple of such meetings before we depart in May. Time and place is still to be determined, contact me soon so I can make arrangements for the estimated participants. FNGs are especially invited. Contact me and meet with us to learn more about what we do: “We Ride For Those Who Can’t”.
Again, time is going by pretty fast. Get registered, make your plans. Be ready to depart on the “Greatest Mission in the Land”, RFTW XXVII. Ride hard, ride safe!
Don “EZ” Burns
January 31, 2015
Greetings – A few days ago we lost a true American Hero. For you that have traveled the Central Route for years, you may have had the Honor to meet William “Hoot” Gibson there at the Memorial in Angel Fire. I am compelled to pass this article on to you and thank Barbara Montoya for her notification of his passing. I am told that Harlan Olson and other RFTW riders will represent the Central Route and RFTW at his services today. Thank you, Harlan.
I would like to report that we are working on and finalizing the 2015 Central Route Itinerary. This should be available in early in March for publication. Also I would like to point out that Runs to the Run and Runs from the Run have been moved to the Forum. You may read them there as they are posted, but to post a Run to the Run, you must join and become a member of the Forum. This is not hard to do so don’t let it stop you from getting your information out there. Many riders look forward to hooking up for their trip to Calif. each year.
Please check out the latest RFTW Newsletter, January 2015. I have provided a Central Route update there in the letter for all to read. No sense in repeating myself here. As always, I hope you are as anxious as I am to meet in May. 101 days!! Ride hard, ride safe.
Don “EZ” Burns
“Please read attached”:
William "Hoot" Gibson
Former Angel Fire Mayor Pro Tem William "Hoot" Gibson, passed away Jan. 24 at the VA Regional Hospital in Denver after a three-year battle with cancer. A memorial service with full military honors will be held Saturday (Jan. 31), 3:30 p.m. MST, at Horan & McConaty, 5303 E. County Line Rd, Centennial, Colorado 80122.
Posted: Thursday, January 29, 2015 2:00 pm
Former Angel Fire Mayor Pro Tem William "Hoot" Gibson dies By Gabriel Weinstein — Assistant Editor SangreChronicle.com | 0 comments
ANGEL FIRE— For William “Hoot” Gibson, there was nothing better than life in Angel Fire. Gibson,a retired Air Force colonel and long time Angel Fire resident, relished every day on earth. Gibson passed away Jan. 24 at the VA Regional Hospital in Denver, Colorado after a three-year battle with cancer.
“When you asked how he was he would always say ‘It doesn’t get any better than this,’ ” recalled Angel Fire Mayor Pro Tem Chuck Howe, who served with Gibson on village council and the David Westphall Veterans Foundation board.
Gibson was born April 4, 1931 in El Paso, Texas. He grew up on a farm in west Texas and graduated from the University of Texas at El Paso with a degree in civil engineering and spent 31 years in the Air Force. A command fighter pilot, he flew F-84 E/F/G, F-86, F-100 D/F, RF-101C, RF-4/C and F-4 D/E aircraft and accumulated over 4,400 flying hours, including 600 combat hours. His career in the Air Force took him all over the world including stops in South Korea, Japan, Turkey, Germany, Italy and Vietnam. He retired as the DOD Director of Joint Testing at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque.
His wife June Gibson said Hoot loved his military experience. He enjoyed serving his country, flying and the camaraderie he shared with his fellow pilots she said.
“He was happiest when he had people to lead and people to mentor and to watch them progress,” June told The Chronicle Monday (Jan. 26).
The Gibsons moved to New Mexico in 1981. They soon found Angel Fire and moved to the area full-time in 1998.
Gibson became active in the community serving two years as president of the Association of Angel Fire Property Owners and he served eight years on village council, six of them as mayor pro tem and was involved with many other local organizations. He became close with Victor Westphall, who spearheaded the creation of what is now Vietnam Veterans Memorial State Park.
Gibson was passionate about helping fellow veterans. He spent hours poring over applications for the National Veterans Wellness and Healing Center’s post-traumatic stress disorder therapy programs and providing phone counseling to couples struggling with PTSD.
Angel Fire resident Dick Dickerson experienced Gibson’s mastery as a mentor. Gibson’s energy and passion always left Dickerson refreshed and energized.
“A dose of Hoot helped me through some rough times,” Dickerson said. In his last years, Gibson refused to let a “touch of cancer” slow him down. He still split wood, snowplowed, skied and escorted wayward cattle off his property and helped out with the efforts to bring a state veterans cemetery to Angel Fire. He even skied last winter while getting his nourishment through a feeding tube.
“He was the most focused, tenacious person I met in a long, long time,” Dickerson said.
Gibson is survived by his wife June, sister Eleanor Rix, sons Mark, Brock and Thad, daughter Cheryl Gibson Cunningham. He was preceded in death by his brother Ed, daughter Julie and son Clay. Memorial services will be held this summer. A memorial service with full military honors will be held Saturday (Jan. 31), 3:30 p.m. MST, at Horan & McConaty, 5303 E. County Line Rd, Centennial, Colorado 80122.
December 17, 2014 – Greetings,
It’s December already and things are coming together. 2015 RFTW registration is open and on the website. We are finalizing the Central Routes Hotel and Camping list as I write this update. It will be available January 1st as planned. Dave “Papa Smurf” Klemme, CR ARC, working with all State Coordinators have put this together. There will be some changes this year so look for it when it becomes available. Get your reservations made right away. We will also be working on getting Runs to the RUN and Runs from the RUN up and working soon after the 1st. Look for that as well.
We will soon begin work on the itinerary for the Central Route. I don’t anticipate many changes to the scheduled stops with the exception to the dates of course. There will be a couple additional “Breakouts” this year which will involve just one or two Platoons at a time. We have a State Coordinator and Assistant in VA this year besides our RFTW Arlington Coordinator. There are some issues with arrival in Arlington this next year, as the Marymount University parking lot will not be available for us to pull into. We are doing a RECON on this situation and will of course have it resolved before publishing the 2015 Itinerary. Our VA State Coordinator, Walt Reichard and Assistant John Stuab, are looking over a possible lunch stop change on our last leg to Arlington. That again, will be decided soon.
I hope all those who are new to the RUN or are just considering joining have had time to look over rftw.org, our website, as a lot of information is available. Join the Forum if you wish, you’ll get answers to most of your questions or concerns. I know Ray “ZZ” Brammer, our Director of Merchandise, has been working hard to get new designs together for 2015 tee-shirts and hats. Look for them soon in the RFTW Store. Maybe it will be in time for Christmas???
Last but not least, I want to wish all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Thank you for your service and Welcome Home! Ride hard, ride safe.
Don “EZ” Burns
November 14, 2014
Greetings, I hope all had a happy Veterans Day! Time is moving along and we are closing in on the holidays. The Central Route State Coordinators have begun to negotiate hotel rates in the cities we stop and stay in, crossing our beautiful country. These of course will not be available until Jan. 1st of 2015. I have continued to work putting together a great team that will get us there. This and many other details are being worked on to make our Mission successful. We are excited that our hotels are together again this year in Ontario, Ca. for a more organized registration and meeting area. We will also stage and depart from that same area this year. Do your part to prepare. Talk to those who may want to do this Mission. Get out and ride together. Make plans that will allow you to meet with us in May. Plan to go “all the way” for a ride you will never forget.
I am sorry to say we lost our Brother, Richard “Spaz” Cripe. His interment with honors will take place Nov. 20th at 1400 @ Southern Utah Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City NV. (Just South East of Las Vegas). I will be riding down on the 19th from Northern Calif. Contact me if you wish to join me.
Yesterday there was some confusion based on an article from the Register Herald in West Virginia. “Veterans’ biker group says it’s bailing on Rainelle in dispute with mayor”. There was a picture attached of RFTW parading into town. It was us, but we are not the Veterans’ group bailing. A local chapter of the VVA, associated with Rolling Thunder, was the ones with the issue. RFTW Central Route will continue to visit and support the children of Rainelle, WV!
I hope all of you have a “Happy Thanksgiving”. Ride hard, ride safe.
Don “EZ” Burns
October 25, 2014
I’m very sorry to say that one of our Brothers is very ill and in Hospice. Those of you who know Richard “Spaz”Cripe will want to send your prayers. Spaz is a long time Road Guard who started the RUN, I believe, in 2000. Others might recognize him riding by Mach 1 on his Suzuki Hayabusa Motorcycle with some kind of crazy headgear. Spaz has Creutfeldt-Jakob disease. I spoke with one of his daughters again today and she informed me he is in and out, but still able to eat and drink some. A quite a few of you have made the trip to Las Vegas to visit him. The family is truly grateful. He has been transferred from the hospital to St. Joseph’s Transitional Center at 2035 W. Charleston, Las Vegas Nevada 89102. Please send a card, and again, your thoughts and prayers.
October has been a busy month getting Leadership Teams together and many other aspects of RUN planning started. Dave “Papa Smurf” Klemme, ARC, has begun work with the State Coordinators to prepare Hotel/ Motel and Camping listings as well as other itinerary changes that need to be made. Ken “Wish” Hargrove, RFTW B.O.D. President, has put together a new venue in Ontario Ca., next door to Rancho Cucamonga, for Hotels and our starting point for 2015. Check out the “Presidents Message” on our website. I have also posted the “first” Central Route “Contacts”, and will update as Team Leaders put together their Teams. Remember, it takes a lot of volunteers to make this RUN possible each year, so I encourage you to contact me or other Team Leaders to offer your services. Not all jobs may be available, but others might. Be sure to include a brief RUN history of yourself.
The Central Route looks forward to having the honor in welcoming Medal of Honor Recipient MSGT Leroy Petry to the RUN in 2015. Leroy’s dream of being able to ride again was made possible by the presentation of a modified Harley Davidson Trike this August in Albuquerque, NM. For those of you that made this possible though hard work and dedication to see Leroy ride again and to those who so generously donated to the Trike Build, Central Route RFTW thanks you! Leroy is riding and loving it. He will be ready for the RUN. We are still short of funds to pay off the final costs. If you can, send your donations, check payable to: The Military Order of the Purple Heart Society (MOPHS) on the memo line note: MOH Trike donation. The MOPHS is a 501 (c) (19) qualifying charitable organization, Fed ID# is 59-0829647. Please mail your checks to Jenny Ward, 6006 Gothic Place, Dayton Ohio, 45459. Thank you again.
We are working hard to make this a safe and successful “Mission”. Our philosophy is: “We strive to maintain a safe, supportive and private atmosphere in which all participants can reflect and heal on their journey to the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. in hope they can return home to a new beginning”. It’s not too early to start making your plans. May will be here before you know it. Be ready to ride! Please feel free to contact one of us for any questions you may have. To all of our Veterans, thank you for your service and WELCOME HOME.
Don “EZ” Burns
September 30th 2014
Greetings, October is here already and our summer is over. I hope all enjoyed some riding time and had a chance to reflect about this year’s RFTW. On the weekend of Aug. 29,30 and 31, Labor Day Weekend, the Central Route once again hosted its’ annual reunion in Angel Fire NM. It’s a great ride from anywhere in the country and a very meaningful reunion- event. Not only is it a time for us to get together after the RUN, it is a time we as a group can respectfully give back to those who served by our support and participation in the annual “Brick Laying Ceremony” at Vietnam Veterans Memorial State Park in Angel Fire NM for the David Westphall Foundation. This reunion and ceremony would not be possible without the planning and coordination of Barbara “Happy Feet” Montoya, Central Route New Mexico State Coordinator and Bill “Rocket” Rager, Central Route Assistant State Coordinator. Their hard work and dedication along with those who participated in the weekend cannot be thanked enough.
The weekend started a little early on Thursday this year with the “Trike Presentation” @ Thunderbird Harley Davidson in Albuquerque NM for M.O.H. Recipient MSGT Leroy Petry (Retired), who also participated in the weekend events riding his “ own” Trike. A number of us who were able to attend the presentation on Thursday, had the honor to ride with and escort Leroy to Angel Fire and Eagle Nest on Friday where a “meet and greet” was scheduled @ 5:00 PM at the Laguna Vista Restaurant and Saloon Courtyard. This was a new location for our “meet and greet” and worked out well. A great start to our weekend.
Saturday proved to be very busy and worthwhile. Over 400 bricks were laid again this year, and thanks to those who helped prep the ground, the Brick Laying Ceremony went very smooth and was completed ahead of schedule. It was a great honor once again to lay bricks myself and to be a part of the entire day. The Angel Fire Memorial is a special place…. The riders’ forum and dinner Saturday evening went very well. We had a “full” house and actually had more in attendance than expected. Harry “Attitude” Steelman brought the riders’ up to date with a brief B.O.D. report and all enjoyed a dinner catered by Jane Solois and the hospitality of Eagle Nest Mayor Richard Cordova and wife Terry.
The weekend ended Sunday morning with a service at the Angel Fire Memorial Chapel given by our Senior Chaplin for 2015, Curtis Hubbell. After goodbyes at the Memorial, some of us participated in a planned “Lunch Ride” to Questa NM, with M.O.H. Recipient MSGT Leroy Petry. It also turned out to be a special day as we participated in a Ceremony at the Veterans Memorial in Questa to recognize 2 of their own who survived the Bataan “Death March” of WWII, Tony Reyna and Valdamar Deherrera. Lunch then followed and the group split up, some heading for Colorado and others, including Leroy, back to Albuquerque NM. It was truly a memorable way to end a very special weekend. Again, thank you all that were able to attend.
I will update things once again in October. The RUN will be here again before we know it. We have a lot of work and planning to do to make this happen. I look forward the challenge of a safe and successful RFTW 2015.
Don “EZ” Burns
FREEDOM ISN’T FREE
August 11, 2014 - Greetings!
My name is Don “EZ” Burns, the 2015 Central Route Coordinator. It is my honor that the RFTW Board has approved me to carry out these duties and lead the Central Route across America. I am a Vietnam Veteran, having served in the U.S. Navy from 69’ to 73’ aboard the U.S.S. Carpenter DD-825 stationed out of Pearl Harbor. Yes, I am a “Tin Can” Sailor and did (2) Westpac deployments, the first in the summer of 70’ and the second late 71’ into 72’. Our duties in the Gulf of Tonkin and on Yankee Station included providing screen and plane guard services for the carriers which were; the USS Bon Homme Richard (CVA-31), USS America (CVA-66), USS Shangra La (CVS-38), USS Midway (CVA-41), USS Oriskany (CVA-34), USS Coral Sea (CVA-43) and the USS Constellation (CVA-64).
I would like to thank Ken “Catfish” Ward the 2014 Central Route Coordinator. Ken did an “outstanding” job as a leader which resulted in one of the safest and most successful RUN’s in recent history. I did take a lot away from Ken and his 2014 Leadership. I intend to carry on that success.
Personally, it took me a few years “looking” at the RFTW web site and finally making the decision to do the RUN in 2011. Not knowing what to expect I answered a “Runs to the Run” on the web page late in April 2011. I had immediate second thoughts. Who were these Vets? How would they receive me? Was I worthy to ride with them? Stuff like that….. Maybe I shouldn’t go. Maybe I’ll go next year. Then after 2 or 3 days I get a call from this guy Ed Hocking, a.k.a. “Big Ed”, a.k.a. “Hound Dog”. We talked for a few minutes and he says, “OK, I’ll meet you at the Sutterville Rd. exit off I-5 at 0630 on Sunday May 15”. I said, “OK I’ll be there”. I had committed, he had just made up my mind for me. I was an “FNG”. When I got off my bike in Rancho Cucamonga that Sunday afternoon, I was greeted by people I didn’t know, but in particular, “Tanker” and “Girlfriend” Mc Dole. “Welcome home”, welcome to the “Family”…. From Rancho to DC, “Big Ed”, “Tanker” and “Girlfriend” and many other riders made me feel welcome, helped me with my regrets and shame I felt for not serving beside my fallen classmates and friends who did not come home, helped me understand the many levels of healing RFTW provides and took me to the “Wall” to pay my respects for the first time. I knew then, I will do the RUN as long as I can. I want to give back. I want to help and be a part of this “Mission”.
My RUN experience has been rewarding. In 2011 of course, my FNG year, I went all the way. In 2012 I was Assistant Platoon Leader for “Big Ed” and Platoon # 5. In 2013 our 25th Anniversary, I had the honor to be asked by Stan “Ironfish” Handley to be Platoon Leader of the 8th platoon. In 2014, again it was an honor to serve with Ken “Catfish” Ward as his Assistant Route Coordinator. This next year in 2015, it will be an honor and privilege to lead the Central Route as Route Coordinator across America. My focus this year and as in the past as a part of Leadership, will be to assist getting riders across the country in a safe manner. I want the healing to continue for our Vietnam Veterans, Iraq/ Afghan Veterans, Gold Star Families and ALL Veterans, their families and friends.
Our Angel Fire reunion is at the end of the month, August, 29-31. I look forward to seeing a lot of you there again. Speaking of reunions, I want to thank Harlan Olson, Dick Mc Kay and all the Colorado RFTW people for last week’s Colorado Springs Reunion. Great job and good to see people from all (3) Routes represented. Now back to Angel Fire. I will be on my hands and knees laying bricks once again. To me this is an honor to interact with families who’s loved ones are remembered by the “Brick Laying Ceremony” on Saturday. We will have a “meet and greet” Friday evening at the Laguna Vista Saloon Courtyard. Saturday evening we have a riders’ meeting forum and dinner. Sunday Aug. 31st we will have Chapel Service at the Memorial. I would like to thank, in advance, Barbara “Happy Feet” Montoya, Central Route New Mexico State Coordinator, for her hard work putting this all together. Please contact her for your dinner and patch reservations and any other questions about times etc. I invite all riders and RFTW participants, Central, Midway and Southern to attend this reunion. I especially invite any FNG’s from 2014, and any that are considering the RUN next year. Come see what we do. Be a part of the RFTW Family. This year is very special at Angel Fire. We will be honored once again by the presence of Medal of Honor Recipient MSGT Leroy Petry (Retired) for the weekend. This time however Leroy’s wish to ride again will happen. Again, Barbara “Happy Feet” Montoya was instrumental in making it happen. Working with Ken and Jenny Ward who took it upon themselves to find and purchase a Trike for Leroy and making modifications as needed, the three of them, on behalf of the Central Route will present this Trike to Leroy on Thursday Aug. 28th, at a ceremony at Thunderbird Harley Davidson, 11:00 am in Albuquerque N.M. Come if you can. Contact Barbara, Ken or Jenny, as we are still in need of funds to cover the costs of this very special “Trike Build”. Funds are being collected through a 501 (C) (19) charitable organization. Contact them for details please.
Lastly, let me say again, it is an honor and privilege to be your 2015 Central Route Coordinator. Our Assistant Route Coordinator this year will be Dave “Papa Smurf” Klemme of Colorado. Thank you Dave for accepting the challenge that leadership presents. Yes, we also will have Medal of Honor Recipient MSGT Leroy Petry going “all the way” with Central Route this year, and I am told we may have the honor once again to have Medal of Honor Recipient Sp4 John Baca travel with us from Rancho to Angel Fire. Again our focus will be to provide a safe and healing experience from LA to DC. This year as last, RFTW will have “Three Routes, One Mission”! That Mission is: To promote healing, among ALL Veterans, their families and friends. To call for an accounting of all Prisoners of War, 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. Please feel free to contact me thru email: email@example.com or cell phone: (916) 849-5112 (Pacific Time).
To our Vietnam Vets, to our Iraq / Afghan Vets, Veterans from all conflicts past or present, and especially FNG’s, Welcome Home! Thank you for your service.
Don “EZ” Burns
RFTW 2015 CR RC
FREEDOM ISN’T FREE