HOME / SOUTHERN / Route Coordinator Latest News

Southern Route Coordinator Latest News for 2014




All Southern Route Participants:

It was an honor and privilege to serve as the Southern Route Coordinator for 2014. I know we all choose to participate for different reasons and I hope the reason you rode was fulfilled. To all our FNG’s WELCOME HOME!!!

Please join me in thanking the entire Leadership Team for the hard work and dedication to the mission. Without them, the mission would not have been a success. Platoon Leadership, Road Guards, Advance Team, Chaplain Corps, State Coordinators, Ambassadors, Finance Team, Outreach Team and Route Support (Honor Guard Coordinator, Missing Man Coordinator,Photographers, Merchandise Team, Registration Team) I SALUTE YOU ALL!!! A special salute to all the Team Leaders, Road Guard Captain – “Ghost Rider”, Advance Team Leader – “Joker”, Ambassador Team Leaders – “Wookie” and “1st Nav, Senior Chaplain – “Hailstone”, Finance Team Leader –“Airborne.”

I would like to thank a few individuals and I am sure I will forget someone, so I apologize ahead of time:

“Bald Eagle” – Thanks for talking me into participating in RFTW 7 years ago.

“Dr. Maggie” - Thanks for making sure all my stuff was where it needed to be.

“Hoops” – Thanks for preparing all the Why We Ride Bios for each morning meeting.

“Hailstone” – Thanks for being at the right place at the right time when I needed a little extra emotional help.

“Chrome (aka One Thumb) “ - Thank you so much for keeping me on time and heading in the right direction.

“Flame (aka Squirrel)” – Thank you for making sure I was hydrated and forcing me to eat, even when I really didn’t want to.

“Airborne” - A big hug to you! Not only did you handle the duties of the Finance Team, but you wore many hats. Route Treasure, Mentor, Asst. Platoon Leader, Coordination of all the State Coordinators and anything else I ask you to do.

“Stoney” – What can I say!!! Not only if I had anything that needed to be done, you were there, but you also contributed quite a bit to our finances for being late and whining for 10 days.

Please join me in congratulations to “Stoney” for being selected, by the BOD, as your 2015 Route Coordinator. I know “Stoney” will do an outstanding job and trust me when I say that it is all about the Mission with “Stoney”. Love you brother.

Everyone please take a few minutes to submit the after action report. The report can be found at the bottom of the RFTW Webpage.

See you all in Kerrville!


“Mission Before Self”





Greetings to All,

It’s almost that time. Only 25 days before we leave Rancho on May 14, for Mission XXVI.

For our FNG’s, we will be having a meeting on Tuesday, May 13th in Rancho. The time is yet to be determined; however we will have notices posted at the hotel with that information.

As always we have made a few minor changes in plans and we will have inserts for your itineraries and make announcements at each morning meeting of any changes.

A reminder that the Southern Route is holding a special Raffle for those pre registering for the 2014 RFTW Southern Route.

So those of you that have determined to participate in the Run For The Wall Southern Route Mission in 2014 - it’s time to Register and get your name in the hat for the Raffle for Southern Route pre-registered participants.

The Southern Route webpage www.rftw-sr.org is now up and running. Please take a few minutes to visit the site and check back often for updates.

Be safe and see you in a few short weeks!

Semper Fi

Reid (Pops) Choate


“Mission Before Self”



Southern Route Campers

Thanks go out to Santa Ed for taking over this year as Southern Route’s Camping Coordinator. He has been hard at work getting all the locations set up and the following is a note from Santa:

Rancho - Parade Park, 16700 Euclid Ave. Chino Ca.   909-597-4260.   All campers are free to stay there two nights prior to leaving. Any early arrivals will be $34.00 per site, up to 4 tents per site then extra $5.00.              

Phoenix - Budget Inn 5259 McDowell Rd                    

Las Cruces - We will camp in the HD Dealership lot where dinner is that evening.

Odessa - Modessa Oil Patch R V 4220 S County Rd, Odessa, TX 432-563-2368. Cost #6.00 per tent.  

Grand Prairie - Loyd Park 3401 Ragland Rd. 972-237-4120. We will be escorted from evening meal and no cost.

Monroe - Again the great place of the Shriners Hall set tent or inside with air and lay out on the floor. 

Meriden - Same place we have dinner and stage in morning good showers and set up outside or under pavilion.

Chattanooga - Thunder Harley we can camp in there lot.

Wytheville - K O A camp ground about 10 miles from dinner place we will have area under the covered area again cost is $5.00 per tent.

Lynchburg - This is new place this year Tree of Ministries staying at their fellowship hall.

DC - The Arlington Assembly of God church 4501 N Pershing Dr, Arlington Va. 865-435-4305. Best keep secret of all D C area. A great place to set up great food and also a shuttle service.  

So once again no reservations are needed at any location. Just hang around after each evening meal and we will all have a great camp out.  

Santa Ed  




Greetings to All,

I hope all is well and everyone is looking forward to some spring weather as much as I am. It’s hard to believe that it’s only 65 days before we leave Rancho on May 14.

Now is the time that you should be concentrating on motorcycle preparation. Time to make sure that your bike is in top shape prior to leaving for the RUN. Not only does your motorcycle need to be in good shape but so do YOU!!! We experience all temperatures and conditions. While quite gratifying, this is an emotionally and physically exhausting 10 day Mission.

The Southern Route is holding a special Raffle for those pre registering for the 2014 RFTW Southern Route.

If you Pre-Register for and participate on the Southern Route, you will be eligible for a special raffle which will occur shortly after the Pre-Registration closes.

Pre-Registering will assist Southern Route leadership and our Southern Route hosts to determine the number of Southern Route participants for each of our stops. An example of a raffle prize is a wonderful room at a bed and breakfast in Wytheville, Virginia for the night we are visiting for four separate pre-registered participants and gift certificates from a few Harley Davidson dealerships across the country.

So those of you that have determined to participate in the Run For The Wall Southern Route Mission in 2014 - it’s time to Register and get your name in the hat for the Raffle for Southern Route pre-registered participants.

A list of Raffle Prizes will be posted no later than April 15th on the Southern Route website.

The Southern Route webpage http://www.rftw-sr.org/ is now up and running. Please take a few minutes to visit the site and check back often for updates. Thanks to Flagman for his hard work on the site.

We still have a few positions for volunteers to be filled and if are willing to help let me know. Be safe and see you in May!

Semper Fi

Reid (Pops) Choate


“Mission Before Self”






RFTW family and 2014 FNGs, 

The Southern Route is holding a special Raffle for those riding on the 2014 RFTW Southern Route.  

If you Pre-Register for and participate on the Southern Route, you will be eligible for a special raffle which will occur shortly after the Pre-Registration closes.  

Pre-Registering will assist Southern Route leadership and our Southern Route hosts to determine the number of Southern Route participants for each of our stops.  

An example of a raffle prize is a wonderful room at a bed and breakfast in Wytheville, Virginia for the night we are visiting for four separate pre-registered participants.  

So those of you that have determined to participate in the Run For The Wall Southern Route Mission in 2014 - it’s time to Register and get your name in the hat for the Raffle for Southern Route pre-registered participants. 

List of Raffle Prizes will be posted no later than April 15th on the Southern Route website.  

Looking forward to seeing the family as well as welcoming new participants to the family.  

Reid (Pops) Choate


“Mission Before Self”



All, Wishing you all a Happy and prosperous New Year!!!!! With 134 days to go, I understand we are all beginning to make plans for the 2014 Run. Your State Coordinators have been working hard on getting our Hotels lined up for the 2014 Run.  Some of the Hotels will not provide pricing and contracts until after the 1st of the year. With that said, we do have the Hotels finalized for Rancho and DC and are listed below. We should have the remainder all confirmed within the next couple of weeks. At that time we will post all hotels on the website.  


NOTE:  All rooms are plus tax and any additional hotel fees. 

Rates are subject to change. 

When making reservation, please indicate you are with "Run For The Wall."  

Four Points by Sheraton - HOST11960 Foothill DriveRancho Cucamonga, CA91739 909-204-6100 $119.00 + tax  
SHERATON ONTARIO AIRPORT429 N Vineyard AveOntario, Ca. 91764 909-937-8000 $109.00 + tax  
ALOFT ONTARIO-RANCHO CUCAMONGA10480 Fourth StreetRancho Cucamonga, CA  91730 909-484-2018 $109.00 + tax  
Hilton Garden Inn11481 Mission Vista DriveRancho Cucamonga, CA  91730 909-481-1800 $129.00 + tax  
Holiday Inn Express9589 Milliken AveRancho Cucamonga, CA  91730 909-581-3846 $129.00 + tax  
Town Place Suites by Marriott9625 Milliken AvenueRancho Cucamonga, CA 91730 909-466-1101 $109.00 + tax  
Best Western Heritage Inn8179 Spruce AveRancho Cucamonga, CA  91730 909-466-1111 $79.00 + tax  
Homewood Suites by Hilton11433 Mission Vista DriveRancho Cucamonga, CA 91730 909-481-6800  $154.00 - $174.00 + tax  
Courtyard by Marriott 11525 Mission VistaRancho Cucamonga, CA  91730 909-481-6476 $154.00 - $174.00 + tax  


Holiday Inn Balston - HOST4610 N Fairfax Dr.Arlington, VA  22203 703-243-9800 $117.00 + tax  
The Westin Arlington Gateway801 N Glebe RdArlington, VA   22203 703-717-6200 $122.00 + tax  
Comfort Inn & Suites1211 N Glebe RdArlington, VA  22201 703-247-3399 $112.00 + tax  
CAMPING - Lake Fairfax Camping1400 Lake Fairfax Dr.Fairfax, VA  703-471-5414    
CAMPING - Burke Lake Campground7315 Ox RdFairfax Station, VA 703-323-6600    
CAMPING - Arlington Assembly4501 North Pershing Dr.Arlington, VA 703-524-1667    

Also, Pre-Registration is now open and I encourage all to pre-register for the 2014 Run.   

Reid (Pops) Choate


“Mission Before Self”




“A Veteran Is Someone Who, at one point, wrote a blank check made payable to ‘The United States of America’ for an amount of ‘up to and including their life.” Today is the day set aside to honor those who have done just that. Without those brave enough to have stepped forward and signed that check you and I would not have the privilege of living in a free country. Thank you to all our veterans! Your service to the United States of America will not be forgotten. 

Reid (Pops) Choate


“Mission before Self”





Please join me in congratulating James (Stoney) Stone on his selection as your 2014 Assistant Route Coordinator. Stoney has been participating with the Southern Route since 2007 and has served as a Road Guard for the last five years. I promise not to hold this against him, but he proudly served in the United States Navy from 1973 – 1977. 

Stoney’s RFTW experience and his leadership qualities make him an excellent addition to your 2014 Leadership Team.  


Reid (Pops) Choate


“Mission Before Self”





Please take time to reflect on the events of 30 years ago, (October 23, 1983, in Beirut, Lebanon) during the Lebanese Civil War when two truck bombs struck separate buildings housing United States forces. 

Suicide bombers detonated each of the truck bombs, in the attack on the building serving as a barracks for the 1st Battalion 8th Marines (Battalion Landing Team - BLT 1/8), the death toll was 241 American servicemen: 220 Marines, 18 sailors and three soldiers, making this incident the deadliest single-day death toll for the United States Marine Corps since World War II’s Battle of Iwo Jima, the deadliest single-day death toll for the United States military since the first day of the Vietnam War’s TET Offensive, and the deadliest single attack on Americans overseas since World War II.  Another 128 Americans were wounded in the blast. 

Semper Fi


“Mission Before Self”



My Brothers and Sisters, 

First of all I would like to thank Phil (1st Gear) Sloan for his leadership and contribution to our Mission. For those of you that did not make the Kerrville reunion Phil had to step down as the Southern Route Coordinator due to personal reasons. I want to say to Phil, it shows your qualities as a person and leader to put the “Mission Before Self”. Phil will still be a part of the Southern Route and I will be leaning on him for guidance and leadership in the upcoming months. 

My name is Reid (Pops) Choate and it is an honor and privilege to have been selected by the RFTW BOD to fill some pretty big shoes and only hope to come close to the job that I know Phil would have done. 

I am proud to have served in the United States Marine Corps, and yes I can count to 20 with my shoes on. I have been involved with RFTW Southern Route since 2008 and have served with leadership the past 3 years. On my second day as a FNG in 2008 I realized what this mission was really about when Southern Route Coordinator Roger (Cowboy) Mead, took the time to pick me out of the crowd, gave me a big Cowboy hug and welcomed me to my new family. From that second on I was hooked and made a vow to continue and do whatever in my power to make our mission a success for the years to come.  

One person does not make the mission a success but a team of dedicated people can, and the Southern Route is full of those types of people. With that said our motto for 2014 Southern Route is “MISSION BEFORE SELF”  

We are still organizing our Leadership Team for 2014 and have positions open. If you are up to long hours, very little rest, and are willing to put the “Mission Before Self” and would like to volunteer, please e-mail the Team Leader (listed below) and myself for the positions you are interested in with the following information: 

Full Name: 

Previous RFTW experience: 

What position you would prefer to hold: 

Any additional information you would like to include:  

Your Southern Route Team Leaders: 

Asst. Route Coordinator – Pending 

Finance Team Leader and Mentor – Laurie (Airborne) Clay - rftwsr2013@hotmail.com 

Road Guard Captain – Ray (Ghost Rider) Wyatt - rlwyatt55@yahoo.com

Advance Team Leader – Mike (Joker) Sotzen - joker195@gmail.com

Ambassador Leader – Edwin (Wookie) Craft – ferretfarm_56@yahoo.com

Registration Team Leader – Shirley (Top Sarge) Scott - angelluvers@att.net

Merchandise Team Leader – Carol Olmstead - carollolmstead@ymail.com

Again, it is an honor to serve as your 2014 Southern Route Coordinator and always remember why we ride!!!   

Reid (Pops) Choate


“Mission Before Self”



Hello all

My name is Phil “1st Gear” Sloan the 2014 Southern route coordinator. It is an honor to be selected for this position. I want to thank the RFTW BoD for accepting me, and Laurie “Airborne” Clay for the opportunity. I will do my best to make 2014 a great run

I am proud to have served in the U.S. Army as a Combat Engineer 82-88, I have ridden with RFTW since 05, serving in leadership since 08. For those that don’t know me, I’m a great guy and a people person, for those that do know me, people can change.

Thank you to all that have volunteered to help RFTW in the past, without you the run would not be possible. I hope to see all of you back in 2014.

I would like to introduce the 2014 team leaders for the southern route

Asst route coordinator, Reid “Pops” Choate, reidc195@gmail.com

Road Guard Captain. Ray “Ghost Rider” Wyatt, rlwyatt55@yahoo.com

Advance Team, Mike “Joker”  Sotzen, joker195@gmail.com

Ambassadors, Edwin “Wookie” Craft, ferretfarm_56@yahoo.com

Merchandise, Carol Olmstead, carollolmstead@ymail.com

Registration, Shirley “Top Sarge” Scott, angelluvers@att.net

More to follow

If you would like to volunteer for 2014, please feel free to contact me and the team leader for the job you’re interested in. Make sure you use the subject line for filing purposes, also copy the ARC on all emails

Again I want to thank everyone who makes RFTW possible

Phil “1st Gear” Sloan


Mission First





I want to congratulate Phil "First Gear" Sloan for stepping up as the 2014 Southern Route Coordinator.  He did an outstanding job in 2013 as my Assistant and I know that he will go above and beyond to ensure the Mission’s success in 2014.

I also want to congratulate Reid "Pops" Choate on his selection as Assistant Southern Route Coordinator for 2014 and Raymond "Ghost Rider" Wyatt on his selection as Southern Route Road Guard Captain.  I know both of these Veterans will ensure we fulfll our 2014 Mission.

If you would like to volunteer to ensure the success of our Mission - give one of these individuals a shout. 

Good Luck and I’ll be right wherever you need me!!



August 28, 2013

Well it’s almost the end of August and one more month until the fiscal year ends.  As I’m sure everyone has heard or read, the VA is jumping through hoops to reduce our backlog and work the older claims.  As a result, I have been working a lot of overtime - getting back to actually rating cases - exactly what I dreamed of doing when I came to work for the VA.

There’s some updates that some may find interesting and I have posted my first on the forum - keep your eyes open and remember, if you have any questions, etc., regarding your VA disability benefits, let me know, if I can’t help, I probably know someone somewhere that can.

On to RFTW - well I know that Phil (First Gear) has been moving forward on his team for 2014.  If you want to volunteer for a position in 2014 for the Southern Route and haven’t already emailed Phil - here’s your chance - Phil - rftw1stgear@aol.com

This site will soon change to 2014 - so keep your eyes open and let Phil know if you have any great ideas, donations, desire to serve, etc.....

I can’t wait to see everyone in Kerrville, TX.   I’ll be attending the Ride Home in Georgia the weekend before - if anyone else is going, let me know!!

Be safe, keep in touch, and remember, I’m here if you need me!!!

Laurie "Airborne" Clay



June 25, 2013

I recently attended the National League of POW/MIA Families annual meeting.  What a learning experience and the people that I met are amazing.  I attended briefings with DoD, JPAC, DPMO, to name a few. 

Did you know the League has Associate Members?  I didn’t realize until recently and of course joined during the annual meeting.  Associate Member annual dues are $25.00.  The funds go towards public awareness and education and as you all know from your recently life-changing experience during Run For The Wall, more communities and children need to be made aware of the POW/MIA Mission.  If you are interested in becoming an Associate Member, go to http://www.pow-miafamilies.org/join-the-league/

POW/MIA Update:  June 22, 2013


AMERICANS ACCOUNTED-FOR: There are now 1,645 personnel listed by the Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) as missing and unaccounted-for from the Vietnam War. Most recently, DPMO posted the name of Lt Colonel Robert Pietsch, USAF, from OH, listed as missing in Laos on April 30, 1968. His remains were recovered August 2, 2006 and identified May 7, 2013. Also announced recently was Major Luis F. Guillerman, USAFR, from PA, listed as MIA on April 30, 1968, in Laos. His remains were returned on February 14, 2006, and identified on May 13, 2013.

The number of Americans announced by DPMO as returned and identified since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975 is now 938. Another 63 US personnel, recovered by the US and ID’d before the end of the war, bring the official total of remains repatriated from the Vietnam War to 1,001. Of the 1,645 missing for personnel, 90% were lost in Vietnam or in areas of Cambodia and Laos under Vietnam’s wartime control: Vietnam-1,276 (VN-469, VS-807); Laos-309; Cambodia-53; PRC territorial waters-7; 450+ over-water losses are on DPMO’s list as No Further Pursuit.

PRESIDENT OBAMA REAFFIRMS COMMITMENT: At Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day, the President made remarks, after laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns, affirming his commitment by stating in part ………"And that’s why, on this day, we remember our sacred obligation to those who laid down their lives so we could live ours: to finish the job these men and women started by keeping our promise to those who wear America’s uniform – to give our troops the resources they need; to keep faith with our veterans and their families, now and always; to never stop searching for those who have gone missing or who are held as prisoners of war."

LEAGUE 44TH ANNUAL MEETING: A full report will be included in the League Newsletter to be distributed soon, but overall, the meeting was the very positive for the issue, including special guest presentations by Deputy Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) David Shedd and Deputy PACOM Commander Lt Gen Thomas "Stash" Conant, USMC. The highlight of the 44th Annual Meeting Dinner was Vietnam’s Ambassador to the United States H.E. Nguyen Quoc Cuong, who brought a message of strong commitment from his government to increase cooperation with the US to achieve the League’s accounting objectives. This was the first time Vietnam’s senior official in the United States had ever been asked to deliver remarks, and the warmth of his reception was evident.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS ELECTION: Results of the election: Chairman Ann Mills-Griffiths, Vice Chairman Karoni Forrester, Secretary Susie Stephens-Harvey, Treasurer Mark Stephensen, and members Sue Scott, Pam Cain and Eldon Robinson, replacing David Gray, returned POW, who retired after serving 20 years.

DPMO DIRECTOR VISITS SOUTHEAST ASIA: In mid-May, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (DASD) for POW/Missing Personnel Affairs Montague Winfield visited Vietnam (including a field recovery site), Laos and Cambodia for talks with senior officials in each country. Assuming that points raised in each country were those prepared in advance, DASD Winfield’s visit was useful in reinforcing the importance that US officials, in particular the POW/MIA accounting community, and the American people attach to achieving longstanding League accounting objectives. DASD Winfield stopped briefly at JPAC Headquarters in Hawaii en route home.

VIETNAM OPERATIONS: JPAC launched an Advance Team on May 10th to make preparations for the main body that arrived on May 20th and conducted recovery operations, concluding today. Three Recovery Teams (RTs) and two Vietnamese Recovery Teams (VRTs) worked at five different locations in southern provinces, plus one Underwater Recovery Team (URT). The previously scheduled Investigation Team (IT) was canceled, then partially restored; even the Research Investigation Team (RIT) was reduced in scope due to lack of funding. That shortage was temporarily corrected with the Continuing Resolution at FY13 levels. Due to a freeze on hiring and potential furloughs, it is important for Congress to be asked to ensure reliable funding for JPAC operations. JPAC also hosted a senior Vietnamese Ministry of Public Security (MPS) delegation that was en route back to Vietnam after completing its program in DC at the invitation of the CIA. Another month-long JPAC mission, involving six RTs and two ITs, is scheduled August 5th – September 7th.

OPERATIONS IN LAOS: Another Joint Field Activity (JFA) in Laos that began on April 26th concluded June 15th. Four Recovery Teams (RTs) conducted excavation operations at four separate sites, but no Investigation Team (IT) deployed. At long last, the Lao Government renewed a business license for Helicopters New Zealand, the company JPAC previously contracted to provide smaller, certified-safe helicopter support for remote site access. 2

This welcome news was recently conveyed by US Ambassador to Laos Karen Stewart and subsequently confirmed by JPAC. The League deeply appreciates the Lao Government’s responsiveness to specific appeals for this decision and looks forward to a renewed pace of operations.

CAMBODIA FIELD OPERATIONS POSTPONED: Unfortunately, JPAC postponed the Cambodia JFA, scheduled to begin this past February that was to be comprised of two RTs and one URT. Despite sincere efforts by the JPAC Commander, recently imposed US legal requirements are unlikely to be met until later this fiscal year. Such legal hurdles involving contracting issues have never been necessary in past decades, but now appear to be required under new regulations. US Ambassador to Cambodia William Todd recently visited JPAC Headquarters and held a "round-table" with senior JPAC staff.

WORLDWIDE OPERATIONS: JPAC regularly deploys teams worldwide and continues to expand into more countries, recovering increasing numbers of US personnel who served and sacrificed for our country during WWII, the Korean War and the Cold War. JPAC’S team in South Korea met with Korean War Museum officials to discuss participation in the commemoration of the 60th Anniversary of the Korean War Armistice. Operations recently concluded in Germany and Burma/Myanmar; cooperation in planning for the latter mission was reportedly outstanding, including a good public reaction to a "hot line" set up for source reporting. In addition, JPAC teams were recently deployed to the Philippines, Solomon Islands, other European countries and Palau. A recent return to Papua New Guinea (PNG) was for a WWII site assessment. Phase Two Testing (P2T) in India, also on WWII sites, was scheduled May 8th – June 7th, but postponed by the Government of India. JPAC also hosted a team of Chinese archivists from the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) on May 21-22nd. The League is proud and grateful that our work since 1970 has brought the enormous effort now ongoing. We strongly support such efforts, so long as the fullest possible accounting for Vietnam War missing personnel is not reduced or jeopardized.

H.R. 1520 INTRODUCED TO PREVENT HALT OF JPAC OPERATIONS: Representative Stephen Lynch (D-MA) introduced this bill on April 12th, to give flexibility to civilian personnel working in support of DoD efforts to account for missing US personnel. The measure would not exempt these DoD civilians, but would ensure that field operations can legally be scheduled and implemented. Without the exemption, field operations would have to be halted, due to the earlier stated requirement for affected civilians to take one furlough day per week. Field investigations and recoveries are longer than one week, thus scheduling would have been deemed illegal. The initial co-sponsor was Representative Glenn Thompson (R-PA), now joined by Representatives Danny Davis (D-IL), Brian Higgins (D-NY) and Mike Quigley (D-IL). Fortunately, recent statements by Navy officials indicated that furloughs may not be required. That is good news, but just in case, additional co-sponsors would be helpful.

ANOTHER HOUSE SELECT COMMITTEE PROPOSED: Representative Michelle Bachman (R-MN), just introduced H. Resolution 231, requiring "a select committee to be known as the Select Committee on POW and MIA Affairs" to be formed. This Select Committee would be charged to "conduct a full investigation of all unresolved matters relating to any United States personnel unaccounted for from the Vietnam era, the Korean conflict, World War II, Cold War Missions, Persian Gulf War, Operation Iraqi Freedom, or Operation Enduring Freedom, including MIAs and POWs missing and captured." If formed, this select committee would be empowered to hold hearings, hire staff and conduct interviews for the remainder of the 113th Congress, i.e. for two years until the next election is held for the House of Representatives. Comment: The League strongly opposes H. Res. 231, due to past experience about the detrimental impact that would likely occur. In a worst-case scenario, the League would consider supporting such a proposal, but only as a last resort.

OTHER CONGRESSIONAL ACTIONS: Also introduced by Rep. Michelle Bachman, H.R. 2091 would "amend Title 36, United States Code, to require that the POW/MIA flag be displayed on all days that the flag of the United States is displayed on certain Federal property." Introduction of this measure is appreciated, but chances of passage are almost nil due to the scope and financial impact of adoption.

Check the League Website: www.pow-miafamilies.org



I was honored to receive this FNG report from Matt Rodgers - HazMatt, and even more excited when he agreed to let me place here on my page.  This is just one example of why riders return to Run For The Wall year after year.  Airborne


Run For The Wall FNG (Freakin’ New Guy) “HazMatt” Ride Report - When Bugs asked me to join him on the last legs of the Run For The Wall, I accepted the invitation thinking it would be a good opportunity to take a long motorcycle ride for a good cause. To say it turned out to be so much more than that would be a tremendous understatement. The 350 mile push down to Wytheville, VA on Wednesday was a blast even though we were met with a cold rain about 40 miles from our final destination. Bugs got us to the parade grounds eight minutes after his planned arrival time and around five minutes before the group of riders from Chattanooga made it into town. Translation: Perfect Timing! After watching the over 500 bikes file in, Bugs and I registered to join them for the evening festivities. It was only then that I realized how special a group this really was. I had major apprehensions about how I would be received when joining a group made up almost entirely of veterans having not served myself (My Father, Grandfather and most of my Uncles did serve). If there were any prejudices as a result of this it didn’t show. Everyone was so gracious, so welcoming, and so inspiring. The realization of the sacrifices these men and women had made for our country……for me as a civilian…..for us all…was humbling. Once we got on the road the following morning, I learned just how important it was to carefully control your throttle, and judiciously apply the brakes. This was the first time I’d ridden in a group this size and it proved to be both very intense and completely satisfying. Seeing the outpouring of support from the small towns through which we passed was incredible and beyond anything I expected, as was the level of efficiency accomplished by the fuel and hydration teams during the stops. It was very emotional once we finally made it to the host hotel in Arlington, but it paled in comparison to the catharsis I witnessed from the veterans at the wall. I can’t imagine how much sorrow comes with seeing the name of a family member or fallen brother etched in that stone, but it was clearly overwhelming as there were many who rode proudly with us that were now sobbing deeply with their hand on the wall. I mentioned this to Bugs after the ride, but for a group of men and women who, in my mind, have every right to feel entitled, there isn’t an ounce of selfishness within them. They truly ride for those who can’t; those who have fallen, those who were captured, those who never came home, or those who did come home but were clearly changed. When it was all said and done, Bugs and I logged nearly 850 miles on our bikes though we were both clearly ready to keep riding…..a ride like that changes a person and it did me for sure. I was honored to share the road with Bugs and all the other incredible men and women who have done their part to ensure America stays the greatest nation in the world, and I can’t wait to do it again next year. 



Trish & I would like to thank everyone who turned out at the D Day memorial here in Bedford, Va on your way to D.C. It’s always a thrill and an honor to photograph this group and spend a few moments with you. Thanks to you, so far we have been able to donate nearly $100 to the D Day memorial, and hope to continue to raise donations through sales of the 25th anniversary group portrait.

If you would like to purchase one, check out our web page at www.jeffeastphotography.com/proofs . 8x10 prints are $20 plus shipping, larger sizes are also available. We have created a special 25th anniversary border that you can choose for your print at no extra cost if you wish. Again, we thank you for your service, and your generosity.
God bless you all.
Jeff & Trish East

Everyone worked together towards a common goal and for that I want to say "Thank you".  It is only because we did work together that we were able to successfully complete our Mission.

I am proud to have been your 2013 Route Coordinator, but must say it is because of how my leadership team worked together along with each of you that we were able to traverse our great land. 

The communities that we visited were excited before, during, and after our arrival.  When I traveled back through Bedford, Roanoke, and Wytheville folks were still talking about Run For The Wall and everything you and the organization represents.

Stay posted for further updates on the Mission, photos, and stories.

Again, thank you for your service, your sacrifice, and your dedication to the Mission.




Garry Thompson from Roanoke, attended the breakfast in Salem and snapped some great photos - check them out on his FLICKR site: 


Download PDF

Download PDF

The Vietnam War ended  38 years ago on April 30, 1975 


Here’s a little history most people will never know.

Veteran Statistics from the Vietnam Memorial Wall…

There are 58,267 names now listed on that polished black wall, including those added in 2010.

The names are arranged in the order in which they were taken from us by date and within each date the names are alphabetized. It is hard to believe it is 38 years since the last casualties.

The first known casualty was Richard B. Fitzgibbon, of North Weymouth, Mass. Listed by the U.S. Department of Defense as having been killed on June 8, 1956. His name is listed on the Wall with that of his son, Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Richard B. Fitzgibbon III, who was killed on Sept. 7, 1965.

There are three sets of fathers and sons on the Wall.

39,996 on the Wall were just 22 years old or younger.

8,283 were just 19 years old.

The largest age group, 33,103 were 18 years old.

12 soldiers on the Wall were 17 years old.

5 soldiers on the Wall were 16 years old.

One soldier, PFC Dan Bullock was 15 years old.

997 soldiers were killed on their first day in Vietnam.

1,448 soldiers were killed on their last day in Vietnam.

31 sets of brothers are on the Wall.

Thirty one sets of parents lost two of their sons.

54 soldiers attended Thomas Edison High School in Philadelphia.
 8 Women are on the Wall. Nursing the wounded.

244 soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War; 153 of them are on the Wall.

Beallsville, Ohio with a population of 475 lost 6 of her sons.

West Virginia had the highest casualty rate per capita in the nation. There are 711 West Virginians on the Wall.

The Marines of Morenci - They led some of the scrappiest high school football and basketball teams that the little Arizona copper town of Morenci (pop. 5,058) had ever known and cheered. They enjoyed roaring beer busts. In quieter moments, they rode horses along the Coronado Trail, and stalked deer in the Apache National Forest. In the patriotic camaraderie typical of Morenci’s mining families, nine graduates of Morenci High enlisted as a group in the Marine Corps. Their service began on Independence Day, 1966. Only 3 returned home.

The Buddies of Midvale - LeRoy Tafoya, Jimmy Martinez, Tom Gonzales were all boyhood friends and lived on three consecutive streets in Midvale, Utah on Fifth, Sixth and Seventh avenues. They lived only a few yards apart. They played ball at the adjacent sandlot ball field. And they all went to Vietnam. In a span of 16 dark days in late 1967, all three would be killed. LeRoy was killed on Wednesday, Nov. 22, the fourth anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Jimmy died less than 24 hours later on Thanksgiving Day. Tom was shot dead assaulting the enemy on Dec. 7, Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.

The most casualty deaths for a single day was on January 31, 1968 ~ 245 deaths.

The most casualty deaths for a single month was May 1968 - 2,415 casualties were incurred.

For most Americans who read this they will only see the numbers that the Vietnam War created. To those who survived the war, and to the families of those who did not, we see the faces, we feel the pain that these numbers created. We are, until we too pass away, haunted with these numbers, because they were our friends, fathers, husbands, wives, sons and daughters. There are no noble wars, just noble warriors.


There will be a special raffle - check out the flyer below!!  Start saving those $5.00 bills!

Download PDF

April 14, 2013

We are 31 days out from the start of our Mission.  For some it will be their first Mission, for others it’s their 2nd 3rd...... or 18th like mine, and for a very few, it’s their 25th Mission.

Each year we have new participants but a number of us return - our reasons for returning are many but all reasons have a single bond - our brothers/sisters that have been left behind in a foreign land.  Although this year is Special because it is Run For The Wall’s 25th Anniversary - I, like many, dream that Run For The Wall’s mission would have or will change - if the focus changes it’s because our brothers & sisters have returned home to their families.  

Throughout our journey, you may have the opportunity to meet former Prisoners of War (FPOW), Medal of Honor Recipients (MOH), family members of Prisoners of War, Missing in Action (MIA) or those Killed in Action (KIA) still unaccounted for.  You may also have the opportunity to listen to their history - their history must live on.  Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.  Let’s ensure our Countrymen and women do not forget these heroes’ past.  

I’ve established a special outreach team - their Mission is reaching out to those Heroes and/or family members that cannot come to our location. Additionally, I’ve added three additional wreath laying ceremonies to our Mission this year.  These ceremonies will be conducted by either our Ambassadors or an Honor Guard team.  

Each year Karoni Forrester, one of our MIA daughters that joined the Mission each year, prepares a number of Bios and Photos of those MIA & KIA still unaccounted for from all wars.  These heroes are escorted across our Country and honored along the way in various ways by those that wish to do so.  Additional information on who you can contact will be posted at the hotels.  If you are interested in escorting a Hero during your Mission, please communicate your desires prior to Wednesday morning in Rancho or upon your joining the Mission.   

On Tuesday morning in Rancho, there will be a Run to Riverside National Cemetery.  This event is a RFTW sanctioned event, therefore, to participate you must be registered.  Additional information will be posted in the lobby of the Hilton hotel with times and location for riders meeting and KSU time.  

As in the past, we will gather in the Hilton parking lot for our traditional celebration and dinner Tuesday evening.  During this time together, we will be joined by special guests while enjoying some good food and great entertainment.  This is a time for all of us to meet new friends while enjoying the company of those we’ve come to call family.  This is also a time to reflect on why each of us joined Run For The Wall XXV and how we can help each other complete the Mission.   

Thank you all for your service to each other and to our Heroes that wait for their return home. 

Laurie “Airborne” Clay,  Southern Route Coordinator  2013 

“Mission First”

April 8, 2013

We are just shy of 37 days out from the beginning of the Mission.  I know that everyone is excited, have had their bikes serviced, have started packing, and are just waiting for the day to travel to Rancho.

State Coordinators are the folks that make everything happen for Run For The Wall as we travel across this great nation.  Please ensure that you thank each of the State Coordinators and their assistants as they have volunteered their time and energy to ensure all details are coordinated so you have the experience of a lifetime.

Saying that, our current Eastern Texas State Coordinator (SC)/Assistant State Coordinator (ASC), Cynthia & Ben Gurganus; Virginia SC/ASC, Tammy Grubb and Bob Atwell; and our DC Coordinator, Carl Hinkle, are all ready to pass the torch.  Each of these individuals has done an outstanding job for Run For The Wall over the years and I want to thank them for their dedication to the Mission. 

If you are outgoing and detailed oriented and like to meet folks throughout your community, this position is perfect for you.  If you live in any of these areas and would like to take on the coordination as SC/ASC of the hotels, police, food, fuel stops, events, schools, memorials, just to name a few activities, please email me and tell me a little about yourself, your history with Run For The Wall, and which area you would like to take on.

As a past state coordinator, I can say that this position was very rewarding.  To see everything come together and everyone enjoying the fruits of your labor, gives you a sense of accomplishment.    

I’m looking forward to receiving a lot of emails!!!

Laurie "Airborne" Clay


Additional Las Cruces Hotel

Las Cruces Hotels are booked so Bill has been able to obtain a few additional rooms at the following hotel:

Comfort Inn - 1300 Avenida De Mesilla, Las Cruces, NM - 575-527-1050

Check back frequently as other hotels will probably be posted.


"Mission First"

Additional Arlington Hotel Contracted


DC Coordinator, Carl Hinkle, has contracted with an additional hotel in Arlington. The hotel will begin taking reservations from April 1, 2013 through April 30, 2013. We only have 30 rooms available at the RFTW rate of $119.00 for a suite & breakfast, however, if additional folks call within the 30 day period, the hotel will try and honor the RFTW rate. Parking will be $10.00 day.

 RESIDENCE INN ARLINGTON BALSTON 650 N. Quincy St. Arlington, VA 22203 1-888-236-2427You must ask for the "Run For The Wall" rate when making reservations. Thank you Carl for all your hard work!!Airborne"Mission First"

Billie Jo "Skittles" Frazier
NM Run For The Wall Family Member & PGR Member
Albuquerque, NM, 03-24-2013 Billie Jo “Skittles” Frazier passed away on March 17, 2013 as the result of a motorcycle accident.  Skittles was active in various organizations including Run For The Wall with which she participated along with her father in 2012 as a “ Central Route Road Guard, Tail Gunner”. Her proud father, Bill “Rocket” Rager a Senior Ride Captain with NM Patriot Guard Riders also introduced her to honoring the fallen with PGR. She is survived by many loved ones, including her loving parents, Bill and Karen Rager, two sisters, her loving husband, Orlando Frazier and three children, William, Katrina and Sasha.  She is also survived by her heartbroken New Mexico Patriot Guard Riders and Run For The Wall families. 

POW’s Prayer

                                                                                            Father, Your own Son was a prisoner.

Condemned, he died for us.

Victorious, He returned to bring us the gift of

life everlasting.

Comfort us now in our longing for the return of the

Prisoners of War and those Missing in Action.

Help Us Father;

Inspire us to remove the obstacles.

Give courage to those who know the truth to speak out.

Grant wisdom to the negotiators,

and compassion to the jailors.

Inspire the media to speak out as loudly

as they have in the past.

Protect those who seek in secret and help them to succeed.

Show us the tools to do Your will.

Guard and bless those in captivity, their families,

and those who work for their release.

Let them come home soon.

Thank you Father.


By: Jean Ray and L. Vancil

March 15, 2013

We are 60 days out and I just wanted to thank everyone that has pre-registered.  Doing so not only saves you $10., but also assists the registration folks on both routes.  Those of you pre-registering - don’t forget to bring all the necessary paperwork and show the registration team the documents upon your arrival in Rancho or wherever you may be joining RFTW.  Registration is very important and both routes do an outstanding job getting everyone their run packets and, of course, their Welcome Home hug. 

Here are some stats on Southern Route pre-registration through March 4, 2013:

Southern Route has 352 registered - 117 are FNGs.  Of the 352 registered, 266 are going All The Way and of the 266 going All The Way, 72 are FNGs.  

On-line registration is only open until May 1, 2013.  Afterwards, you will only be able to register in person in Rancho or a morning/overnight stop - check the itinerary for more information.

The entire Southern Route Leadership Team is looking forward to leading you across our Great Nation in 2013. 

Go Far Are We Going?


So a few things to consider between now and May 15, 2013


1.  If a minor will be traveling with you on Run For The Wall, a release form must be signed by BOTH parents or legal guardians. The forms are available from the American Motorcycle Assn. (http://www.americanmotorcyclist.com/).  Please ensure that you bring all the paperwork required to your registration location - no matter if you register on-line or in person. 

2.  Persons interested in providing VIP Escort (Gold Star Family Members) for Rolling Thunder may contact Joseph Baum at 973-670-3671 or email at jbaum60@hotmail.com . There are a number of requirements that are a must in order to be an escort. Must have a helmet for the rider and passenger, passenger back rest, foot pegs for the passenger, motorcycle endorsement on drivers license, registered bike, and proof of insurance. The most important thing is the desire to give a VIP Passenger (weather they be a Gold Star Mom, or Wife, or any other passenger that Rolling Thunder designates as a VIP) a safe ride. Additionally "NO TRAILERS" are allowed with the escorts.

3.  Each year SgtMaj Doug Lyvere has coordinated entry for a number of RFTW participants into the Marine Corps Evening Parade at "8th and I" on the Friday night we arrive DC and this year is no different.  If you are interested in attending this wonderful event on the evening of May 24, 2013, please contact SgtMaj Doug Lyvere at 415-309-2510 or email at doug@lyvere.com

4.  If you are finding that contracted hotels are booked across America, please ensure you ask the reservation clerk if they have a "sister" hotel they can refer you to.  Normally, this is a hotel in the same general price-range in the local area.  The State Coordinators have worked extremely hard this year to obtain hotel rooms at a reasonable price.  Please ensure that you "thank" them for the hard work that they have done to make this year’s Mission as smooth as possible. 

5.  Last but not Least - don’t forget to check out the Runs to the Run and the Runs from the Run.  A lot of folks are looking for others to ride with - remember, it’s always safer and more fun in numbers.

See y’all in May.

Airborne                                                                    "Mission First"

61 Days and Counting!!

It’s that time again to start thinking about yourself and your bike - are they ready for a journey of a life time?  Have you been taking care of both your body and your bike.  Remember, we could possibly travel through various types of weather - cold, hot, rain, hail, even snow.  So be prepared - ensure that you are healthy and that your bike has been properly serviced.  Have you looked at your tires lately, how’s the battery or do you need any additional gear?

It is important that you do a check up on both yourself and your bike before your depart for Rancho or wherever you plan on joining the Mission. We want you to help us all successfully complete the Mission because its not just about one person - it is about everyone that believes that our Mission is important.  We must continue to educate and remind those that we meet that the US still has POW/MIAs and KIAs still unacccounted for in foreign lands.  It’s time for us to bring them home to their families.

How Far Are We Going?

Airborne                                                      "Mission First"

I would like to clarify a recent email you may have received regarding Run For The Wall’s official position with respect to the previously discussed Petition; calling for a full accounting of the POW/MIA and to press the United States Government to fully fund the Joint Prisoners of War, Missing in Action Accounting Command (JPAC) and Defense Prisoner of War Missing Personnel Office (DPMO).
This worthy cause was not brought to the entire Board of Directors for Run For The Wall (RFTW) until their executive meeting in February 2013. Due to this, the Board determined there was insufficient time to move forward with the petition this year in the manner which this cause deserves. Additionally, during this meeting the full Board voted unanimously to support this cause and formed a Committee to determine how to proceed. It had been incorrectlystated that the Board of Directors for RFTW did not support this petition drive. In fact, the Board-Approved Motion specifically states; “In this 25th year of RFTW, the RFTW Board of Directors will form a Committee to increase the visibility of our Mission and the plight of the American POW/MIA through a RFTW driven Petition with the objective to deliver one in May 2014.”
The Board has assigned members to this “Committee to Increase Mission Visibility”and chartered them to determine the strategy and objectives to align RFTW’s Mission commitment and resources to such a vehicle. Furthermore, this Committee is to determine the most appropriate venue and message to deliver such a pressing document to appropriate members of our Government so as to have maximum impact. The Board feels that RFTW can bring its considerable resources and nation-wide exposure forward to put the full weight and intentions of like-minded citizens in front of the appropriate members in Congress and the Administration.
I hope that this clarifies any questions regarding the direction, support and commitment to the Mission by Run For The Wall. 

February 28, 2013 

No matter what Route you choose to ride on – we only have One Mission.  You will see Stan and I share information that will assist everyone, no matter what Route you ride. 

The following is from Bill "Jetman" Peterson who rides the CR, but like all those that participate, is part of our RFTW Family.

What to Bring? What to Bring?

I realize this could turn into a whole barrel of snakes because there are as many answers as there are riders.  Even then, with specific riders, it tends to evolve and change over the years of experience.  One of the best trips I ever took was a couple of weeks long but it started with only one credit card, a leather jacket and an antique motorcycle on the other side of the country that I was just going to go "look" at.

But first, let’s start with how much to bring and how to handle it. It really isn’t any different than any long motorcycle trip. The main things to remember are these;

1. Bring a minimum, and divide that into "Must Have", "Like to Have", and "Only room" categories.  Lay that out into a piles on the floor.  Let it lie for about a week as you add forgotten items that you happen to think of. Next, try to pack it on the bike.  If it fits you are all done (Sadly, this will NOT happen). Now start moving things from "Like to have" over to "Only if there’s Room".  Assuming your basic "Must Have" pile wasn’t too big to start with, this will eventually work for you.

2. Remember, you aren’t going to be on the surface of the moon. You can always buy additional socks, jeans or whatever while on the trip.

3. You have additional options in shipping things.  This means both ways.  You can ship some stuff to the destination. It will be there when you arrive and you can toss the old stuff into the box and either throw it out or ship it home.  An instant fresh start.

4. You need to be ready for a possible temperature range from 30 degrees to 105 degrees.  The stuff you need to operate your body and a motorcycle in this range is the important stuff.  Your motorcycle gear can do double duty and get you by during the afterhours at the hotel.  Your after-hours attire (no matter how fashionable) will not take care of you on the road.  Pack the m/c stuff first. These items plus personal make up most of the "must have" pile I spoke of earlier (Fortunately, cigars don’t take up much room so I put those in the "Must Have" pile).  If your bike uses a lot of oil make sure you have a couple days’ supply.  Again, you can find more oil on the way.

5. I presume that if you were to ride at the back of the pack and stay downwind from the rest of us, that you could get by with two pair of jeans and three or four shirts (underwear optional). If you have or want no friends you can stop reading here.

6. One helmet is enough.  Usually one pair of boots and maybe some tennis shoes.  Add a few pairs of socks in different weights.  Shaving gear (also optional).  Different weights of gloves.  Be sure you tuck a spare key and that you know the security code for your bike’s alarm system.

7. Watch out for space killers.  Your bag of electronic goodies can get to be huge. Cameras, phones, laptop, and chargers for each of them.  Extra boots are really nice if you got the first pair soaked but just make sure you have the room.  Jackets, spare oil and sweaters also take up a lot of room.  Do you really have to bring a bike cover?  How do you plan to secure the bike?

8. Try to have your bike packed at least a couple of days prior to departure.

9. Pack things where most of it is deep but the stuff you might need on the road is still quickly accessible.  Things like heavier gloves, water, cash, credit cards, sunscreen, Chap Stick, map, protein bars, windshield cleaning cloth, hotel confirmations and phone numbers, registration, license, and insurance.  Whatever tools you bring can be deep; we aren’t going to need them.  With the rain suit, well, maybe a little closer to the surface.  Yes for rain, but also as one additional windproof layer for an unexpected temperature drop that you didn’t figure on.

10. If you are one of those folks that straps things all over the outside of the bike, then you can bring extra stuff from the "Only if There’s Room" pile but just make sure you can still get access to the Tour Pack or saddle bag underneath without field stripping the bike on the side of the road.  Also be aware that you are affecting your bike’s balance, weight and handling.

11. Speaking of strapping things on the outside; this is an acquired skill.  When you finish packing, grab hold of the load and shake it.  If the bike moves, you’re okay.  If the load moves and the bike doesn’t; start over.  Now look for straps or hooks that are touching painted surfaces.  With that part done, consider what part of your load you would want to stay dry in a rainstorm and then decide on factory rain covers, trash bags or what you are willing to wear until it dries out again.

12. I find it really handy to have a cargo net strung on the outside of my otherwise completed packing job.  This is where the layers go that are shed as the day warms up without me having to repack.

13. Camping raises the amount of required items exponentially.  Of course it also reduces the amount of cash needed so, if you camp, you already know how to pack for that part. If you camp towing a trailer, then you have WAY more room for those optional things that the other 90% of us can only dream of bringing.

14. Pack several empty zip lock bags and a couple of trash bags.  Wonderful inventions. Bring a couple extra bungee cords or a cargo net.  Depending upon size, these can corral loose stuff, hold new stuff you acquire along the way or even your entire load.

15. This may sound odd but one of the best things you can pack is a hole.  Come on, you don’t think you’re going to go that far and that long without accumulating mementos along the way.

16. The RFTW web site has a couple of thought provoking lists with a large one being in the FAQ area.  Remember this isn’t a mandatory must have list, nor does it have everything you personally might need, but it is a very good place to start.  Do print it out and scan it over adding and deleting items to suit your own requirements and it will get you to thinking.

17. Here’s something that takes no room at all.  Bring along a good attitude. This MISSION is special and the trip itself can be just as rewarding as the destination.  For ten days in May you will have a new family.  

18. Now, did somebody mention coming back home?  Well, this is a little more relaxed trip with plenty of time for laundry, shopping, maintenance, shipping and whatever makes your trip better.  One of the handiest things I carry for this "unorganized" portion of the trip is the H.O.G. road atlas.  If you happen to ride a Harley you are in luck. It comes with your national membership. There are other substitutes and it really doesn’t matter what you ride but in your hand you now have a complete list of every HD dealership in the country complete with telephone numbers and addresses. Lost your sunglasses?  They’ve got you covered. Need an oil or service or a fresh T-shirt or even a referral to a local shop that might handle your brand of bike; give them a call.  At least you have a good reference with a quick place to start.

Load it up and we’ll see you on the road!

Contributed by; Bill "Jetman" Peterson

Jetmen – Thank you for putting all this good information in one document.  I hope that our RFTW family finds it useful.   

Respectfully; Laurie "Airborne" Clay RC/SR RFTW 2013 “MISSION FIRST”

                                                    OPERATION HOMECOMING

Forty years ago, a C-141A Starlifter transport jet with a distinctive red cross on its tail lifted off from Hanoi, North Vietnam, and the first flight of 40 U.S. prisoners of war began their journey home through Operation Homecoming.  Newly freed prisoners of war celebrate as their C-141A aircraft lifts off from Hanoi, North Vietnam, on Feb. 12, 1973, during Operation Homecoming.  The mission included 54 C-141 flights between Feb. 12 and April 4, 1973, returning 591 POWs to American soil.  By the day’s end, three C-141A aircraft would lift off from Hanoi, as well as a C-9A aircraft from Saigon, South Vietnam.  In a steady flow of flights through late March 1973 under terms set through the Paris Peace Accords, 591 POWs returned to American soil.  Americans were spellbound as they watched news clips of the POWs being carried in stretchers or walking tentatively toward U.S. officers at the awaiting aircraft for the first flight from Hanoi’s Gia Lam Airport. Newly freed prisoners of war celebrate as their C-141A aircraft lifts off from Hanoi, North Vietnam.

The POWs ranged from privates first class to colonels, all wearing new gray uniforms issued by the North Vietnamese just before their release.  Air Force Tech. Sgt. James R. Cook, who suffered severe wounds when he bailed out of his stricken aircraft over North Vietnam in December 1972, saluted the U.S. colors from his stretcher as he was carried aboard the aircraft.  Also on the first flight was Navy Cmdr. Everett Alvarez Jr., the first American pilot to be shot down in North Vietnam and, by the war’s end, the longest-held POW there.  He spent eight-and-a-half years in captivity.  Celebration broke out aboard the first aircraft -- nicknamed the "Hanoi Taxi" -- as it lifted skyward and the POWs experienced their first taste of freedom.  Historian Andrew H. Lipps captured the magnitude of the moment in his account, "Operation Homecoming: The Return of American POWs from Vietnam." "Imagine you’re imprisoned in a cage; imagine the cage surrounded by the smell of feces; imagine the rotted food you eat is so infested with insects that to eat only a few is a blessing; imagine knowing your life could be taken by one of your captors on a whim at any moment; imagine you are subjected to mental and physical torture designed to break not bones but instead spirit on a daily basis.  That was being a prisoner of North Vietnam," Lipps wrote. "Then imagine one day, after seemingly endless disappointment, you are given a change of clothes and lined up to watch an American plane land to return you home.  That was Operation Homecoming." Aeromedical teams assigned to each aircraft tended to the former POWs during the two-and-a-half hour flight to Clark Air Base in the Philippines, the first stop on their trip home.  Meanwhile, many of the POWs joked and smoked American cigarettes as they caught up on all they’d missed while in captivity: fashion trends and the women’s liberation movement, among them.  "Everything seemed like heaven," recalled Air Force Capt. Larry Chesley, who, after being shot down over North Vietnam, spent seven years in the notorious "Hanoi Hilton" and other POW prisons.  "When the doors of that C-141 closed, there were tears in the eyes of every man aboard," he said.  

Air Force Maj. Gen. Ed Mechenbier, the last Vietnam POW to serve in the Air Force, recalled the emotion of his own journey out of North Vietnam on Feb. 18, 1973.  "When we got airborne and the frailty of being a POW turned into the reality of freedom, we yelled, cried and cheered," he said.  The POWs arrived to a hero’s welcome at Clark Air Base, where Navy Adm. Noel Gayler, commander of U.S. Forces Pacific, led their greeting party.  Joining him were Air Force Lt. Gen. William G. Moore Jr., who commanded 13th Air Force and the homecoming operation at Clark, and Roger Shields, deputy assistant secretary of defense for POW/MIA affairs.  Speaking to the crowd that lined the tarmac to welcome the aircraft, returning POW Navy Capt. Jeremiah Denton -- who would go on to earn the rank of rear admiral and later was elected to the U.S. Senate, representing Alabama -- elicited cheers as he thanked all who had worked for their release and proclaimed, "God bless America.

" Air Force Lt. Col. Carlyle "Smitty" Harris, who spent almost eight years as a POW after being shot down over North Vietnam, joined the many other POWs who echoed that sentiment.  "My only message is, ’God bless America,’" he said, dismissing assertions in the media that the POWs had been directed to say it. "With six, seven or eight years to think about the really important things in life, a belief in God and country was strengthened in every POW with whom I had contact," he said.  "Firsthand exposure to a system which made a mockery of religion and where men are unable to know truth made us all appreciate some of the most basic values in ’God bless America.

’" Air Force Col. Robinson Risner, the senior Air Force officer at the infamous "Hanoi Hilton" honored today by a statue in his likeness at the U.S. Air Force Academy, choked back emotion as he arrived on the second C-141 flight from Hanoi.  "Thank you all for bringing us home to freedom again," he told the crowd. After receiving medical exams and feasting on steak, ice cream and other American food, the former POWs received new uniforms for their follow-on flights home.  Their aircraft made stops in Hawaii and California.  The first group of 20 former POWs arrived at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., on Feb. 14, 1973. News clips of the arrival reveal the deep emotion of the freed POWs as they arrived on the U.S. mainland.  Navy Capt. James Stockdale, who went on to become a vice admiral and vice presidential candidate, was the first man to limp off the aircraft.  Stockdale paused to thank his countrymen for the loyalty they had showed him and his fellow POWs.  "The men who follow me down that ramp know what loyalty means because they have been living with loyalty, living on loyalty, the past several years -- loyalty to each other, loyalty to the military, loyalty to our commander-in-chief," he said.  

Of the 591 POWs liberated during Operation Homecoming, 325 served in the Air Force, 138 in the Navy; 77 in the Army and 26 in the Marine Corps.  Twenty-five of the POWs were civilian employees of U.S. government agencies.  In addition, 69 POWs the Viet Cong had held in South Vietnam left aboard flights from Loc Ninh.  Nine other POWs were released from Laos, and three from China.  Forty years after their release, two of the former POWs serve in Congress: Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Rep. Sam Johnson of Texas.            [Source: AFPS]


As Capt Stockdale reported, those POWs were loyal to each other, to the military and to their commander-in-chief - isn’t it time for us to show our loyalty to all those left behind?



February 11, 2013


If you are in need of the RFTW 2013 flyer and/or RFTW 2013 Trucker Flyer, shoot me an email.  I haven’t figured out how to upload it to this site yet.  I will also ask the BOD if it is possible to upload to flyers to the RFTW.org site for easier access. 

The trucker flyer should be placed in truck stops everywhere so all truckers are aware of the Mission and keep an eye out for us as we travel across country.  You can utilize the RFTW 2013 flyer to assist in getting the word out about our Mission.  In past years, these flyers have been placed at Harley, Honda, etc Motorcycle dealers, Veteran’s Service Organizations, community organizations and/or handed out during community events and meetings.    

Please let me know if you have any questions.



January 15, 2013

Everyone - I jumped the gun and posted the POW/MIA Petition prior to full BOD approval.  So, for now, please hang tight and additional information will be forthcoming.

Thank you for your understanding and patience (and flexibility).



January 9, 2013

Additional hotels are being listed as well as contract rates being confirmed.  If you identify a location that is all booked, please let me and/or the state coordinator for the location know so that we can try and obtain additional rooms and/or hotels!



Everyone is working hard to get everything in place and please thank your State Coordinators this year when you see them for all their hard work.  The Mission is only successful as a result of all the folks that have stepped up and took on a volunteer position within the Southern Route. Thank you all!!! 





January 3, 2013



Is it May Yet?



I know that everyone is getting excited for May and Run For The Wall’s 25th Mission.  When I started riding with RFTW back in 1996, I never imagined that I’d be in a position to be writing to you on the route coordinator page 17 years later - I’m still in awe and have never been so honored to serve those that I look up to and respect.



PLATOON MAKEUPS - The equipment and hotel listings have been completed and I’m finalizing the leadership positions.  Rumor has it that the bikes with trailers and trikes/trikes will trailers will be in one gaggle.  I always say that you shouldn’t believe rumors and this is one example why you shouldn’t - the Southern Route will have up to nine (9) bike platoons, two (2) trike/trike will trailer platoons and two (2) bike with trailer platoons.  Each platoon will have a platoon leader, assistant platoon leader and bike only platoons will have two (2) tailgunners while bike/trike & trailer platoons will have one tailgunner.  All platoon leadership will be posted soon!



FLYERS - For those of you that participate in your local Veteran Service Organizations, PGR, HOG, etc., two flyers will soon be posted on the RFTW website - one flyer has been prepared to assist us in getting the word out to organizations regarding RFTW while the other flyer is to help us notify the local truck stops, etc of our Mission.  Please feel free to utilize these in your communities.  The more folks know about RFTW, the safer we will be on the highways, especially when it comes to the trucks transporting goods across our Great Nation.  If you’d like me to email you the flyers prior to them being posted, shoot me an email request and I’ll get them out to you.



ITINERARY - I will be working closely with each state coordinator this month to finalize the itinerary, which will include a second gas station for the trikes/bikes with trailer platoons where possible. 





RUN FOR THE RUN AND RUN FROM THE RUN - This site will be up and running in the next few days.  If you utilize this site, please ensure that you provide as much information as possible so that we can post it as quickly as possible.  If we don’t have the necessary information, Stan (CR) and/or I will be coming back to you for more information - so please completely fill out the questions on the site.



If you have any questions, concerns, or recommendations, please feel free to contact me, 1st Gear (Phil Sloan), or the lead of the specific team - we are here to assist you in preparing for the Mission you’ll never forget!



"All The Way"






January 3, 2013

The Raffle Tickets have been printed and $5. Marty has already sold a number of them - but there will be more than enough for everyone to join in on the fun in May.  The raffle tickets only will be $5 per ticket and 5 for $20. in 2013.  As soon as the raffle prizes are completed (handmade quilts/blankets, jewelry, etc...) pictures will be posted so that everyone is aware of what prizes are available.  If you want to get your tickets now or have any questions - give Marty a call - 714-612-6699. 


January  1, 2013



I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Years.





Leadership has been working hard the last few months.  The Hotel listing is now posted on the RFTW.org site and the new Registration site is now open.   Please register as soon as possible so I can notify our supporters across our Journey of the number of participants.  This will assist them in their fund raising activities, etc.



I am looking forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones in May 2013 as we join together in our Mission to call for an accounting of all Prisoners of War and Missing in Action (POW/MIA), remember and honor those Killed in Action from all wars, promote healing among all Veterans and their families and friends and support those that are currently serving all over the world.  



Your Southern Route Leadership is here to assist you with your questions, so please feel free to contact us - contact information is also posted on the www.rftw.org Southern Route Contact page.  The Southern Route website will be up soon so check back often.



Have a wonderful January!!








December 24, 2012



As I sit here with my family I realize how blessed I am to have Katie, Chantel, and Mike (Chantel’s fiancé) here with us in Louisville, Ky for the holidays.



I know there are a lot of families across our Country still wondering where their family member is as the service member never returned home from war.  Our Mission is to be the voice for our brothers and sisters still Prisoner of War or Missing in Action.  Although our journey is 10 days, I know that many of us continue the Mission all year long by talking with others about RFTW and the plight of our Prisoners of War and Missing in Action service memebers.



So tomorrow morning while all the hussle and bussle is happening around you, pause and remember those that came before and after and those that have been left on foreign soil.  We will  continue to ask for an accounting of all our POWs and MIAs from all wars but we must educate our children so that they can continue the Mission.




As you sit with your family tomorrow, pause and say a prayer for all service members and veterans.  I hope that each of you has a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.





"Mission First"




December 23, 2012 


The 2013 Hotel Listing has not been published yet - so if you are looking for it on line - please be aware that the hotel list and the itinerary on the RFTW website are for 2012 only.  

The hotel listing for 2013 will be published on the website on January 1, 2013.

Please let me know if you have any questions.







December 14, 2012

Cherry Boy - You have put the emotions of so many of us into words and for that I thank you.

Message from Cherry Boy:

What really is Run For The Wall?

Is it an annual bike ride? Is it part of a protest started years ago? Or is it, what I believe to be a living breathing organization that takes all kinds of people to make it work? A colossal event that can not be equaled. It can not be distracted or have it‘s Mission interrupted. This extremely large organization started with a single thought. A single grain of sand one might think, One Man, one idea and one letter! Of course the one man was Ray Manzo, but because of his dedication Rolling Thunder was born in 1988.

Run For The Wall (RFTW) was started in 1989 as an effort by James Gregory and Bill Evans. They were a couple of Vietnam Veterans who traveled across the heartland of America on motorcycles, talking to local radio, TV, and newspapers about the fact that we had thousands of men and women still unaccounted for from all of our wars. The need for this awareness continues today and we continue this tradition every May.

These were and are very important people in the ongoing growth of Run For The Wall as many others were and still are! Run For The Wall, is like a machine that is composed of many parts. Each part dependant on the other.

Jere Bice was one of these parts as was many of our family members, who have passed. He played an essential role for the “Trailer Trash,” as that platoon likes to be called. His knowledge, experience, and wisdom will be missed as well as Jere Himself.

Jere himself would tell you the importance of FNG’s and their role in this Mission. As FNG’s you become the parts Run For The Wall need now and will need in the future to keep this enormous machine working and growing.

Jere Bice, you have completed your mission and now it is time for someone else to step up and take the reigns. We who ride with this family can only be thankful we had the time we shared with you and the memories we will take with us.

Ride in Peace Brother,

“Cherry Boy”



November 22, 2012

Everyone,I wanted to send a Happy Thanksgiving out to you all. 

I am Thankful for all that has been bestowed upon me and know that we are all thankful for God, Family, and Country. I ask that today and everyday you remember those that are still missing and held prisoner in foreign lands.  Keep the families of these Heroes in your thoughts and prayers as they continue to wait for their family members to return home.

Our Mission continues to be at the forefront for all of us.  This is Run For The Wall’s 25th year and we will continue to ensure that our Mission is heard.  This year our voices will be a little Stronger and a little Louder as we ensure all those we meet understand what the American and POW/MIA flags stand for.  We will continue to Call for an Accounting of all Service Members that have been left behind in foreign lands.

Please continue to remember our Veterans that are finding their way out of uniform and those Service Men and Women that continue to stand for our Freedom.As we spend the day being Thankful for our God, Family, Friends, and Country, First Gear (Phil), Hugs (Monica), General’s Driver (Michael), LT (Bob),and I all wish everyone a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving. 




November 11, 2012

To All My Brothers and Sisters in Arms,

Today is a Day we Honor those that came before, served alongside, and those that
followed us in service to our Country.

Thank you for standing and raising your right hand and pledging your Oath to
Protect and Defend the Constitution of the United States from all enemies,
foreign and domestic.  Some knew where they would travel while others did not
know - either way, we all experienced some "unknown".   Some still live with
that "unknown" and that is where We as a member of the Run For The Wall Family
come in. We are here to assist each other in those moments - before, during and
after our 10 Day Mission.

As military members that returned home, we have an obligation to fight for the
return of our Brothers and Sisters that haven’t returned home to their families.
Each year we Ride for Those that Can’t and Remember and Honor them and their
families. This year is no different with the exception that Our Voices will be a
little Stronger and a little Louder.  It is my wish that with each day and year that goes
by with even One American still in foreign lands, our Voices will continue to be

I was and continue to be Honored to have led the Southern Route in 2012 and can’t find
the words to express my feelings on being selected to lead you in 2013 - Run For
The Wall’s 25th Anniversary.  

However you spend Your Veterans Day, I wanted everyone to know no matter where
you are, I’m thinking of you and wish you a peaceful day. 

Is it May yet?

Remember "Mission First" 


October 18, 2012

I’d like everyone to join me in thanking JR Grubb for his selfless service last year as the Advance Team Leader.  JR recently had back surgery and needs some extra time to heal and asked that I identify someone to take on the position of Advance Team Lead for 2013.  This was a hard decision for JR to make and just as hard a decision for me to identify someone to step into his shoes.

Saying that, Reid Coate has been named Advance Team Lead for 2013.  Reid has been the Staging Team Lead and I have to say he did any outstanding job last year and I know that his vision and planning will ensure that we are both fueled timely and stagged properly.

Mike (Joker) Sotzen will be taking on the Staging Team Lead for 2013 - Joker - one important job is to ensure I get where I need to be!!!

JR - I hope we see you in Wytheville - your leadership will be missed.

Reid - You have some large shoes to fill, but I have complete faith in you taking us to the next level and ensuring that our Mission is successfully completed!!




October 13, 2012



It is now fall and most of us are thinking about scheduling that winter service so our bikes are ready to be the centerpiece of the garage.   However, a few down in the southern states will continue to ride for months – yes, I’m jealous. 

The Contact Page continues to be updated with the Leadership for Mission 2013.  Check it out – if you see a typo or your name is missing and we’ve talked, shoot me an email.  I am the first to admit that I’m human!!!

I’m still organizing my Leadership for Mission 2013.  Currently, I have the positions below available so if you would like to volunteer, please send me an email that includes the following:


Type of bike:  (bike, trailer, bike with trailer, trike with trailer):

What years you’ve ridden with RFTW and  if you’re going ATW or Partial?

Prior volunteer positions with RFTW (if any) and what years held:

What position you’d like to hold during 2013:

Finalizing the RFTW SR Leadership Mission Roster is an every changing/planning activity – but I will assign folks by their strengths and the need of the Mission.


5TH Asst. Platoon Leader

Merchandise Escort Lead

Merchandise Escorts

Registration Assistants

Missing Man Coordinator Assistant

Honor Guard Assistant

50/50 Asst. Coordinator/Assistants

4-Wheel Escort - Assistant

We will not rest Until our Brothers and Sisters are all Home


Mission First



Hello to All! I am now ready to begin receiving requests to ride in the Honored Missing Man Formation on the Southern Route 2013.  Please send me an email to let me know you are interested, share your story if you will be riding in honor or memory of someone special, tell me where you will be joining and departing the Mission, and provide your contact information.   Please keep in mind that we would like to have only those who have never had the Honor to ride in the Missing Man position send in for consideration.  There are a limited number of “opportunities” making it very difficult to schedule everyone who deserves to be selected for this Honor. 

As the Missing Man Coordinator, I will do my very best to place you somewhere in the schedule.  

Thank you so much, 

Monica “Hugs” Sloan  Missing Man Formation Coordinator  RFTW Southern Route 2013                                             rftwsrmmfc2013@aol.com

October 1, 2012

The Contact Page on the www.rftw.org Southern Route Contact page has been updated.  Check it out!!!  

There are still positions to be filled so keep checking back Wink  and if you want to volunteer, email me your name, the years you’ve ridden with RFTW and the positions you have held in prior years.

If I got someone’s infor down incorrectly - shoot me a quick email so I can update properly.


Mission First

September 19, 2012                                


If you are interested in a Road Guard position with the Southern Route and have never volunteered as a Road Guard with the Southern Route, please contact me ASAP and I will provide you with the necessary document to complete and return to Cajun and I for review.


September 13, 2012


Only 14 days and a wake up until the Southern Route Unofficial Reunion in Kerrville, Texas.  I understand that we have 140+ family members registered and I can’t wait to see each and every one of you!!!

I know Janice has been working hard on getting everything squared away for a great weekend.  Sapper and Raven are working on a ride or two, the BOD members present will hold an "All Riders" meeting and of course, the Saturday night Dinner will be awesome!!  But most importantly - the time we get to spend together, catching up and getting ready for the 2013 Mission.

I’m sure the BOD will discuss a couple of items:  

 - New pet rule:  No pets on the run unless official therapy/service animals (must have documentation). 

- 2013 Pre-registration will be $30.00 & Non pre-registered will be $40.00

- Recon route during 2013 of a third route lead by Slammer.  All SR slots have been filled. 

As the Route Coordinator, I will be announcing/posting initial leadership assignments in Kerrville and posting on SR Contact page after Kerrville.  If you have submitted a resume and I haven’t talked with you yet, I will be contacting you this weekend through the 25th (yes, right down to the wire).  If you haven’t submitted your resume to me for consideration of a leadership position yet, please do so soon!!!

2012 Certificates - after 2012, I asked for addresses in order to forward Certificates for those of you that participated in a leadership position.  If you haven’t received yours, please notify me by email at rftwsr2013@hotmail.com, along with an address so I can ensure I properly recognize your hard work and dedicated service!!!

We all need to stay healthy through the fall, winter, and spring - but right now we need to keep JR Grubb and Agitator in our thoughts and prayers so that they continue to heal and are ready to ride beside us in May.  

Keep watching the Southern Route Contact and Route Coordinator pages as there’s more to come!!!!



September 11, 2012


I’m sure that most, if not all, of you remember where you were on September 11, 2001.  I was at work in Roanoke, Virginia trying to do my best for a Veteran.

At 8:19am American Airline flight attendants Betty Ong and Madeline Sweeney alert ground personnel to the hijacking of Flight 11 saying "I don’t know, but I think we’re being hijacked". 

I know some of you have been in the place of the unknown and understood the emotions they were feeling - but also the determination that Ms. Ong and Sweeney and the men and women in all the planes and sites attacked that day must have felt. 

That was the beginning of a day that no one every imagined we here in America would ever experience. 

That entire day our fellow brothers and sisters stepped up to assist where needed as some of you did that day or did years before when you were needed in a far away country.   Americans are strong, proud individuals and each of you show that as you help your family, neighbors, communities, and your Country whenever the need arises.

That is why it has been an Honor to serve along side of you while in Uniforn - no matter if that uniform was that of the United States Army or jeans and t-shirt or biker leathers - because they all were/are flying the American Flag. 

On this day, I know that we will all take a moment and remember those that gave their all to protect our freedom here at home and on foreign soil and to say a prayer for the families of those that lost loved ones and for the hope that they find strength in the memories of their loved ones. 

I ask that we also remember and say a prayer for those currently serving this great Nation so that they too will remain safe and be given the strength and courage to do what is right for our Country.

While living in Manhattan, I spent time at St. Peter’s Parish located close to the Towers.  You could feel the emotions of so many emergency workers that had come there for rest just by touching the pews - you could feel their rollercoaster of emotions by sitting where they laid in their gear - by rubbing your hands across the etches in the wood - all I could think was I wish I could have been there then to try and help relieve the pain. 

The site below reminds me of that day and why we cannot forget.   



 September 6, 2012

Everyone, it was previously noted that VVA set up a 501c(3) organization for the funds donated for John Baca’s travels.  However, the organization has actually been set up as a 501c(19) organization.





August 26, 2012 - Last Posting for Today Smile 

For those of you that are part of the Run For The Wall Family, I have already had the pleasure of meeting you  - so I just want to say, thank you for everything last year during my initiation year.  Although I was selected as the Assistant Route Coordinate for 2012, it was my Honor and Privilege to serve as your Route Coordinator.

For those that I haven’t had the pleasure to meet and for those that haven’t heard, it is my Honor and Privilege to serve as your Route Coordinator for 2013 - the 25th Anniversary of Run For The Wall.

For some, this will be a repeat, but for those I haven’t met, I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce myself.  My name is Laurie “Airborne” Clay and I served in the US Army December 85-June 91 with my last duty assignment with the 82d Airborne Division, Office of the Staff Judge Advocate, both at Bragg and in the sandbox.  As you can guess – that’s how I received my “road name”.

As I do each time I meet a Veteran and during the Run, Welcome Home to all those that have served our great Nation – our Vietnam Veterans and those Veterans that came before and after.  No matter what era or branch, you went where our Country asked you to go and did what was asked of you and for that I Thank You.

Our families served an integral part of our military service - by standing by our sides each day while we served in the states, overseas, in safe harbors or while we were in harms way.  To each of the families, thank you for the support you have given or continue to give.  

I was first introduced to Run for the Wall while living in Colorado Springs in 1996 when invited by Joe Dragon to participate (last year I was able to talk with him for the first time in years - RFTW is truly a family).  I’ve ridden with Run For The Wall since 1996 with the first three years participating from Colorado Springs to New Mexico to Kansas.  It was so difficult leaving the RFTW family to return to the Springs each of those years.  In 1999, I rode all the way and it was that year that I was honored when asked to take on road guard responsibilities. I look at a photo of all the road guards standing in the back of a pickup truck at the hotel in northern VA and still get chills thinking what an honor it was to serve my fellow Veterans, family, and friends.

That same year, my family and I moved to Roanoke, Virginia and it was the following year that I was asked to help establish the Southern Route. Initially I was the State Coordinator for Tennessee, West Virginia, Virginia, and DC. Each year other great Americans stepped up and took over the SC responsibilities in Tennessee and West Virginia. I maintained Virginia/Arlington until my position with the Department of Veterans Affairs required more of my time and attention. I was extremely lucky and thrilled to have Bob Atwell step in and take over the area in 2008. Each year since 2000, I have participated and rode out as far as my job would allow, no matter where I lived, Roanoke, Winston-Salem or Manhattan.

In 2011 while working in Manhattan as the Veterans Service Center Manager for the Department of Veterans Affairs, I left Manhattan the Friday prior to the start of the Run. With each mile I felt the Mission’s pull and found myself in Rancho on Tuesday night. I was able to once again “Go All The Way” with my RFTW family.  It was in 2011 that I was given the honor to represent RFTW as an Ambassador.

The summer of 2011 I was honored when asked and confirmed to serve as your Assistant Route Coordinator for 2012.  With the loss of the Route Coordinator, I was asked by the BOD to take on the Route Coordinator position for 2012. And, by the emails, texts, and calls I received, I believed we were ready for anything because we all believed in the same thing – the importance of the RFTW Mission and the need for us to ensure its success.

2012 was an amazing year for me.  I learned so much from each of the participants, supporters, and all of the active duty military and veterans I had the honor to meet.  I learned that I was not the only one that believed that our Mission was more important than any “one” of us and that our Veterans and Military Members deserved all the support we could give them.  Every one of the 2012 participants and supporters showed by their actions and words that they too believed those words and for that I am honored to have lead such a wonderful group of individuals and been a part of a Mission that must continue.  

In 2013, as your Route Coordinator, I will continue to ask that we work together to:

Feel free to contact me at rftwsr2013@hotmail.com and/or find me on Face Book.

I hope to see you in Kerrville.  There are a few 2013 leadership names listed on line (First Gear - Asst RC, Cajun - RGC, JR - AT Lead, Too Tall - Amb Lead, Sister - Finance Lead), however, all positions are being slotted now through December.  If you are interested in a position, I am the one that is making the decisions, so please contact me directly - either by email, phone, or see me in Kerrville.  


ps - Check out 2012 SR page at:  http://www.rftwsr-2012.us/ 

August 26, 2012

Run For The Wall Family,

Many of you know of or have had the honor of to meet John Baca, Medal of Honor recipient. John was introduced to RFTW some years ago and has been a part of the RFTW Family since 2007 when an FNG named Bruce "Bubba" Whittaker and John were reunited after 34 years - one of the great RFTW stories.

John is a very humble man, gentile in his manner and quiet in conversation, sincere in his beliefs and full of life. John still has several medical issues and doesn’t travel far from his home without some medical attendant to help him should the need arise.  He has participated in Run For The Wall several times in the past, however has only been able to travel as far as Raton, NM. He has expressed many times that it would truly be a blessing if he could accompany his RFTW family and go All The Way just once.

VVA Chapter 785 of Orange County California in conjunction with Greg Young, Bill "Monsoon" Mimiaga and others have stepped up to the plate and donated the use of their chapter van to John so that he and his medic and MOH escort may travel with RFTW CR during our 2013 year and 25th Anniversary.  The RFTW Board of Directors, along with both Routes and some private individuals have made donations to help defray some of the costs for John to make this 25th Anniversary Run For The Wall as well as his return to California after completing the Mission.

2013 - RFTW XXV, is the year that John will be able to go All The Way with your help. Let us all, the RFTW Family, help by making a donation, in whatever amount you can afford, to help John’s dream of going All The Way with RFTW on our 25th Anniversary, come true.  As our RFTW family is so large, even the smallest amounts will add up to ensure that John and his escorts are able to travel to and return home from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.  VVA Chapter 785 has set up a 501C(19) donation fund for those who wish to assist with this worthy cause. You can make your check out to VVA 785 and in the memo line annotate John Baca. Mail donations to:

         5651 Via Ceresa

         Yorba Linda, CA  92886

Thank you one and all.

Stan "Ironfish" Handley, RC/CR RFTW 2013, Honor and Remember

Laurie "Airborne" Clay, RC/SR RFTW 2012/2013, MISSION FIRST  

August 26, 2012 = Again Smile

This is the first year we have data to look at to see how many participants we had on the prior years run as well as where they may have signed up, etc. However, we have to remember that the data is only as good as the information submitted.

The data currently shows that the Southern Route had 694 individuals pre-register and 317 individuals register on the spot throughout the country. Additionally, of those that pre-registered, 118 failed to arrive. Therefore, the Southern Route had 893 participants.

The data currently shows that the Central Route had 571 individuals pre-register and 474 individuals register on the spot throughout the country. Additionally, of those that pre-registered, 86 failed to arrive. Therefore, the Central Route had 959 participants.

The ages of participants ranged from 10 to 88 with the average age being 57.7 years.  Riders from 50 to 75 comprise 81% of riders.

More than 50% of the riders come from these five states:

The data above shows that those of us that don’t live in CA, TX, AZ, CO, or MO, may need to do a little outreach to get Run For The Wall’s Mission Statement out to those that are unaware of our Mission. If you are interested, please contact me directly rftwsr2013@hotmail.com as we have Route and State folks that can assist.  

August 26, 2012


Southern Route Participants and Supporters,

I want to thank each and everyone of you for the support you gave to our schools this year.  As each of you know, we donated $1,000.00 to each of our schools during our visits:  Colorado City Middle School, Colorado City, TX, Spiller Elementary School, Wytheville, VA and Montvale Elementary Schoole, Montvale, VA.  However, as a result of everyone’s generousity, I, along with my escorts, Cowboy and Flagman (Montvale) and Cowboy and Ten Bears (Spiller), was able to stop at Montvale and Spiller and donate an additional $3,000.00 to each of the schools, for a total of $4,000.00 to each school.  Upon my return home, I immediately sent a check out to Colorado City Middle School in the amount of $3,000.00 as well. 

These donations help each of the schools do the things they are unable to do with what little they receive from their school district.  It is with your help that these children learn what Run For The Wall’s Mission is and why our Mission is so important.  As I said many times during the run last year, it is these kids that will continue to maintain our freedom - they will walk in our footsteps and continue to protect us and our children and grand and great-grand children one day.  I thank you for teaching them what every child should learn - that Freedom isn’t Free and that we are the greatest Country in the World, but it comes with a price.  Thank you for standing with me, with my father, my brother and all those that came before me and those standing now in paying that price so that we have and continue to remain free.


August 26, 2012


It’s been a bit since I’ve posted and I apologize from being off line for so long. 

During 2012 the Southern Route received four (4) Proclamations during our travels across our great Country - City of Terrell, TX, City of Monroe, LA, City of Meridian, MS, and Laurderdale County, MS.  I want to share the words of these proclamations as they were presented to everyone for the Mission you support and accomplished during RFTW 2012.  The last one from Laurderdale County is long but worth every word.

Mayor Richards of Terrell Proclaimed May 20, 2012 as Run For The Wall Day in the City of Terrell and urged all citizens to recognize and participate in the important event being held in our community and communities across the nation, realizing that it is the respnsibility of each of us to support programs and events aimed at honoring those who have volunteered to serve our country and protect our freedom.

Mayor Mayo of Monroe Proclaimed that riders of Run For The Wall represent the most noble qualities of service, dedication to country and willingness to serve others, and The stated mission of the Run For The Wall is: To prmote healing among all vetearns and their familes and friends. To call for an account of all Prisoners of War (POW) and those Mission in Action (MIA) and To honor the memory of those Killed in Action (KIA) from all wars; and The city of Monroe shares and strives to uphold these same principles in it’s own actions and attitudes towards all veterans and residents.  Mayor Mayo continued by stating that on behalf of the Monroe City Council and its citizens do hereby declare that each rider of the Run For The Wall XXIV is an honorary resident of the City of Monroe and therefore proclaimed May 21, 2012 as Run For The Wall XXIV Day.

Mayor Barry of Meridian Proclaimed that Run for the Wall recognizes the sacrifices and contributions made by all veterans who have served our nation: and strives to maintain 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; and Run for the Wall strives 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 the hope that they can return home to a new beginning; and Proclaimed May 21, 2012 to be Run For the Wall Day.

Board of Supervisors President Norwood, Lauderdale County stated Run For The Wall was started in 1989 by James Gregory and Bill Evans who were Vietnam Veterans.  They traveled across the heartland of Amercia on motorcycles talking to local radio, television, and newspapers about the thousands of men and women that are still unaccounted for from all our wars; and

Whereas, the need for Run for the Wall awareness continues today and we will continue this tradition every May; and

Whereas, Run for the Wall gives Vietnam Veterans and all Veterans the opportunity to get their own welcome home, and to start their healing process; and

Whereas, everyone who has fought or have friends or loved ones who have fought in a war has their own issues from their expereience; and

Whereas, many who participate in the Run for the Wall find that whatever they have been missing can be found in the Run for the Wall Family, and they can finally start settling issues that have been put away for over twenty years; and

Whereas, Run for the Wall participants range from eight to eighty which includes mothers, fathers, grandfathers, grandmothers (some of who ride their own bikes), veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Iraqi Freedom and Afganistan: active military, suppporters, friends and family.

Now Therefore, Be It Resolved that the Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors do hereby proclaim May 21, 2012 as "Run for the Wall" and call upon all citizens of Lauderdal County to recognize and support these Riders who are running for the Vietnam Memorial Wall to honor all Prisoners of War (POWs) that are missing in action, and for all Veterans.

June 17, 2012



I want to wish all the RFTW Fathers across this great Nation a Happy Father’s Day.  Wish we could celebrate all together as we did Mother’s Day in Rancho with Champaign and chocolates from Hardcharger and Too Tall - Smile

Y’all are my brothers, sons, and some even fill in as my father since he is now looking down on us from heaven. I think of each of you when I read the poem below and wish y’all a Wonderful Father’s Day.  Enjoy!! 


What Makes a Dad
God took the strength of a mountain,
The majesty of a tree,
The warmth of a summer sun,
The calm of a quiet sea,
The generous soul of nature,
The comforting arm of night,
The wisdom of the ages,
The power of the eagle’s flight,
The joy of a morning in spring,
The faith of a mustard seed,
The patience of eternity,
The depth of a family need,
Then God combined these qualities,
When there was nothing more to add,
He knew His masterpiece was complete,
And so, He called it ... Dad

Author Unknown



June 9, 2012


I want to thank everyone for supporting RFTW and our Mission while we traveled across our Great Nation.  

Friendship and family were close as we experienced various emotionals during our journey.  As I’ve said so many times before, ridinng for Those That Can’t puts us on an emotional rollercoaster.  We had so many FNGs this year and some made a point to tell me that they didn’t expect to see, hear or feel what they did during our journey - and that they will be back in 2013.

I am proud to have had the honor to lead everyone from RC to DC.  As during our travels, I am here for the Mission and for those that support our Mission.  I ask that your submit your after action report to rftwsr2013@hotmail.com so I can tweak what I can to ensure 2013 is the best year yet - as well as make our 25th Anniversary extra special.

Call for 2013 Volunteers

During 2012 we had 200+ volunteers and these volunteers are the reason why 2012 was so successful.  I cannot do it alone - we are a family that has a Mission to complete and only by working together can we successfully complete the Mission.

Saying that - if you are interested in volunteering for 2013, please email the following information to to me at rftwsr2013@hotmail.com:


Phone Number:

Email Address:

Position volunteering for:

Years you’ve ridden with RFTW:

Prior positions held on RFTW:

I will be working on my leadership list now through the Reunions and am hoping to have it etched in SOAP by end of Sept.

Please let me know if you have any questions.





Website Design & CMS by Nolee-O Web Design