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2010 FNG STORIES


Updated 4/27/2011


Name: Steve Decker
E-Mail: sdecker001@yahoo.com
Your Phone: 706-818-1288
City: Athens
State: Ga
FNG Story:
Being a Viet nam vet, to join the Run for the Wall in Las Cruces New
Mexico. However, I had to take a job in Athens Georgia and move. Well
finally in 2010, I was able to break free from work and join the ride. I
had to join the group in Tennessee.

It was worth the wait. Although somewhat of a stressful ride, with riders
you have never riden with, it was about the coolest ride I have ever done.
The people who we met along the way opened their arms and hearts. Gave me
faith again in American people.

This wa my first trip to the wall. A friend asked me to place an artical
for him atythe wall. When I made it to the wall, I placed the artical at
the wall and stood up to see the names of two of my high school friends
names. It really set me back. It hit me so hard.

I wanted to ride again this year, but due to a Nam injury, I must have eye
surgery. I am currntly blind in my right eye and to do the ride, you need
all of the eye sight you can get. It would be unsafe for those around me
for me to try to go.

I with you all a safe ride and hope to be able to go next year.



Name: Bryan Merritt
E-Mail: bmerritt8@hotmail.com
Your Phone: 706-593-3958
City: Vine Grove
State: KY
FNG Story:
While I was deployed to Afghanistan I had already made up my mind that I
was buying a Harley. I finally decided on the Fatboy. I returned in
September of 2009 and my bike arrived in October of 2009. While I was
working at Fort Knox, a friend of mine mentioned the RFTW and I inquired
but waited to do the online registration so I had to register in the
morning while they were in Corydon IN. As soon as I got there to register
I realized that everyone there was family because hugs were coming from
everywhere. I was basically keeping it under cover that I was still on
active duty. Not that I am ashamed of it but it just never came up in a
conversation. But also let me say this, I am still on active duty and my
plans are to attend 2011. If my wife is going to go then I will link up
again in Corydon but if not I will take the Southern Route and link up in
TN.
I loved the entire run but mostly enjoyed Rainelle. The looks on the kids
faces when we arrived and the entire time we were in the gym handing out
things. I also loved the fact the town opened up and accepted us all in
as family. The thunderstorm that came through was Gods way of cooling us
off.
When we arrived in DC I was running around like a little kid not knowing
what to do until I linked up with some of the ones who had been there
several times. Then we went to Arlington and then to the wall. I had
heard several stories about the feeling but never knew until I got there.
As soon as you start down the trail to the wall it feels like everyone who
is on the wall is standing there watching you. This is one memory that I
will keep with me forever.
My advice to anyone, if you have never been then you need to go. I had
always heard stories growing up about the Vietnam Vets being crazy and all
these other stories. When I took this ride I realized as a Vet that they
are going through the same crap that we are going through. So from one
Vet to others, don't ever feel like you are the only one suffering from
whatever it is. Take the ride and talk with the other Vets around you and
you will see. Also don't think of them as strangers but think of them as
your brothers and sisters.

 

 


Name: Ron Meadows
E-Mail: dulcimer89@yahoo.com
Your Phone: 618-447-6362
City: Moro
State: Illinois
FNG Story:
In Feb of 2009 I purchased a 2001 Yamaha 650 V-Star. I wanted to do a
part of the ride from Wentzville to Mt. Vernon. I met with the ride and
remember it as one of the most emotional days of my life. I spent thirteen
months in Nam with the Third MAF. As I rode I kept remembering all the
faces and names of those I spent time with. Some were as fortunate as I
and some not. The following year, 2010 I met again in Wentzville and
totally enjoyed the ride to Mt. Vernon. All the riders, the speakers,
platoon leaders, road guards, fuel team and everyone I met were wonderful
people and made me feel welcome and appreciated although they new nothing
about me other than I am a Vet. I really wanted to go on to DC with the
group however, due to a lack of finances and a larger bike I would leave
sit at the fuel stop in Mt. Vernon and watch as they all rode off to
Indiana. Broke my heart.
This year of 2011 I will be going to DC. I have purchased a Harley
Roadking and May cannot get here soon enough for me. The only regrett I
will have is not being an FNG this year because I will not be able to do
the Arlington Cemetary ride. I will after forty-two years finally have my
parade that I never had.
I thank all who make this RFTW possible
and in 2012 maybe I will be able to go to California and be able to ride
all the way.
God Bless!




Name: Farrell D. Maichel
E-Mail: dutchman@kansas.net
Your Phone:
City: St. George
State: Kansas
FNG Story:
Maybe you will all forgive me if I take an alibi round here. There is
another post on this thread by me from about a year ago. For me a lot has
changed, is changing, and will change. For RFTW 2010, two of us rode from
our home to Angel Fire and then rode back up to La Junta before breaking
off and heading home. I arrived home safely and there is less sadness and
depression in my life. The healing isn't over and may never be over - but
things are better now. My Honda Nighthawk has been passed on to another
gentleman who will take good care of her. In her place is a Honda
Goldwing, not a new one but a grizzled veteran sort of like me. Probably
to much bike for me, but I am learning. I dearly wanted to ride a couple
of legs in 2010 and was thinking of linking up in Goodland and then riding
through to the Kansas border. My son bought a Goldwing in December 09 and
I found my bike in February 10.

A little discussion and I was bringing up treets and Trips, looking for Angel Fire. I left here with very few miles n the Goldwing and very little experience on a heavy bike. Two days
later I was riding up the road to Angel Fire through the Kit Carson
National Forest. I had not fully mastered the secrets of pushing a bike
the size of a fully loaded Goldwing through tight turns, a fact not lost
on the young Indian fellow following us in the white pickup truck. He
stopped in Eagles Nest and mentioned to my son, while I was signing in to
the motel, that I had been in trouble a couple of times and I was not
riding safely. I bore watching!! My son wanted to ride on up to Taos
and, being stupid, I said yes. More twistys as we snaked up over the
hills to Taos. But the feelings I had looking over my shoulder at the
Angel Fire Memorial I simply cannot describe. It only happens once and it
feels like something is flowing back into your soul. We followed RFTW
back into Angel Fire and then made the climb up the entrance road to the
memorial. Let me say that I have a short inseam and the Goldwing is a
tall bike. Sure enough, I rode up the asphalt onto the rock and then onto
the dirt where I promptly dropped the bike on her left side trying to turn
in the road. I got it back up, somehow, and the remainder of my afternoon
was heart wrenching and memorable. The next morning we were there early
for breakfast at Eagles Nest. Pulling into the parking lot I rode from
the asphalt onto the rock parking lot and dropped the bike again on her
left side trying to make a tight turn. This time a sufficient number of
good samaritans were on hand to help get the old girl up off the rock.

We lined up in Angel Fire for the days ride. I was getting better at holding
the bike up and negotiating curves at a decent rate of speed, but I still
sucked. Through Eagles Nest and up the grade and then off the hill and
into Ratone for the refuel (I still don't know who called my name out as I
rode up to turn in to the fuel stop)and then down the highway into La
Junta. Now there was no time for gawking. It took everything I had to
stay up. In La Junta we said adios and hit the road east through Garden
City and then on home, a total of around 1,600 miles. That's last years
ride. Here's the changes I have made in my life because of it. I wasn't a
very good rider and I wasn't in very good health. The riding comes with
experience and with experience comes the desire to ride more. I'm getting
better, but I still suck. I have spent a lot of time in doctors' offices
since May. I take a few more pills, have submitted to a few more
undignified medical tests, and I am trying to change my diet, eat less,
and drink more water. Its working. I now have a dandy set of knee braces
for both legs and I can actually walk with a lot less pain. I just
finished lining out my ride plans for 2011. We're riding through Angel
Fire and Taos because my target is Gallup. Every year is memorable.


Every year one single thing stands out. If there is a single memory that
I will hold from RFTW 2010, it will not be the Angel Fire Memorial. It
will not be the easy friendliness and acceptance we experienced in the bar
after registering for RFTW in Angel Fire. It will be the fifteen seconds
as the platoons were firing up to leave La Junta. We had moved our bikes
out of the line and were standing up by the turn to say goodbye. All of a
sudden here comes a purposeful form with the leathers on and the helmet
locked in place. Seeing the look of self confidence on Screamer's face as
she fired up her scooter will be what I recall. I've seen that look on
the faces of American soldiers all to often when things were not good, and
maybe even worn that look a couple of times. I had just forgot it. I
just stood there in awe and watched that young woman as she mentally went
over a checklist, bringing up the things she had to do and then checking
them off as having been done. I watched her invisibly do the count as she
ran over the riders behind her who were depending on her for leadership.


I know she was circling a couple of those names for close observation. I
wouldn't know Screamer from Adams Off Ox unless she was in her leathers
with the name tag. But I know she's damned good and a dependable force to
be reckoned with. I've seen that little half smile behind visors before
(pilots helmets) and I know what it means when you see the muscles in the
neck below the ear flex. It's all business then from here until she has
her charges to the next point of safety. Its "Do the job, Hell or high
water", then the whole routine starts over. That's this new generation we
sometimes fail to understand and appreciate. That's the display of
character that allows me to rest a little easier. This damned country is
being passed on to good, competent Americans and I understand that my
efforts were not in vain. Now I've got to bring up Streets and Trips.
I've got a run to plan for in 2011. Hello Gallup! Nighthawk


 


Name: Buddy Love
E-Mail: broncobud72@yahoo.com
Your Phone: 318 697 1877
City: Logansport
State: Louisiana
FNG Story:
....TEARS IN THE WIND.................
The road is long, the sun is hot,
And in my throat there is a knot
RUN FOR THE WALL is where I'm at
It'n not just a ride, its much more that

These tears in the wind are for you my fiend,
For sacrificies made
All gave some, some gave all,
Your memories will never fade.

As I ride tears streams from my eyes
It isn't wrong when a grown man cries
A soldier's memory ride by my side
Local heroes who suffered and died.

The "friendlies" are great, they wave us on
This ride we make is very well known
Flags are waving and tears are flowing
The number in our group keeps on growing

Choppers in Mississippi escort our way
The schoolkids in Virginia make my day
A week of riding new friends I've found
All riding together, Washington bound

To make this ride has been my dream
I've waited all my life or so it seems
To pay my respects for soldiers gone
As I ride this road, I am not alone

This RUN FOR THE WALL is for you my friend
My proudest moment in 2010
Tears in the wind as I ride along
Gathering words for this song.

(written by Linda Love for Buddy Love)

Thanks to all on the RFTW 2010 who let me join this wonderful group this
year. I have been waiting for this for years and was not disappointed. I
got to pay respects to local heroes at the WALL. Thanks so much to all
responsible for making this a safe journey for all of us. "MOJO" and her
group in third platoon kept very good care of me, Thanks.



Name: Joe "Wingnut" Nelon
E-Mail: joenelon@frontier.com
Your Phone:
City: Winfield
State: WV
FNG Story:
A really good friend of mine invited me to go on the RFTW with him but up
until this year I could not make the trip. It has been three years in the
planning but I finally made it and what an eye opening experience it was
for me. I joined up in Hurricane WV. After staging at 06:00 we got to talk
and meet our platoon leader "Kid" (platoon 6 or 9 depending on who was
holding the sign) and some of our fellow riders. What an amazing group of
people! The ride its self was smooth and uneventful and this would not
have been possible with out all the hard work of the volunteers. I send a
heart felt THANK YOU to all of you for what you do and why you do it.

My main reason for wanting to do this trip, in the beginning, was in
remberance of my grandfathers Col. Claude R. Nelon Sr. (USAF), CDR Joseph
Ady (U.S. Navy) and Gerald H. Sterling (U.S. Army Air Corps 548th Fighter
Squadron). These men were my hero's growing up. Each and every one of us
has our reasons for going and I thought I knew why I was going to DC, boy
was I wrong! Not only did this trip opened my eyes and overwhelm me with
pride for being an American, it made me realize the one person, that is
still with me, that I had never thanked for everything he had done for his
country and for me, my dad, Claude R. Nelon Jr. Sure I have talked to him
about Vietnam, at least what little he would talk about it, but I had
never thanked him or welcomed him home! I had flown an American flag on
the back of my bike like most people were doing but during the ride it
came to me that even though my dad was not able to physically go on the
run I would fly that flag for him to DC and give it to him upon returning
to Hurricane WV (his home town). I now had another mission to complete.
Once I made it back to Hurricane on Monday I took that flag and my RFTW
pin to my dad. Through my tears and his, I thanked him for everything and
I was able to finally welcome him home.

Thank you is not enough for all the sacrifices that have been made in so
many ways for this great country. I WILL NEVER FORGET! To the brothers and
sisters I met and to the many I did not get a chance to meet, I will see
you all next year. "Crow" thank you for encouraging me to do this and for
the personal tour. Last but not least a special thank you to "Kid" for
putting up with this FNG.



Name: RICK AND MARIE WINFREY
E-Mail: PHOENIXARISING1@MSN.COM
Your Phone: 720 254 4060
City: DUMONT
State: CO
FNG Story:
THIS WAS THE FIRST TIME I TOOK THE "RIDE" BUT IT WILL NOT BE THE LAST.
WE HAD PLANNED TO TAKE THE BIKE AND NOT THE TRAILER BUT AFTER SEEING WHAT
WAS TO GO WITH US ON THE LAST NIGHT PLANS CHANGED.
JOINED UP AT ANGEL FIRE ONLY TO BE TOLD " NO SAFETY CHAINS YOU CAN NOT
RIDE WITH US.SAFETY FIRST FOR US AND THOSE AROUND US, REPAIRED IN RATON
AND THEN IT BEGAN THE MOST EXCITING RIDE THAT I COULD EVER HAVE.
THE PEOPLE WE MET, IN THE RIDE, FOR THE RIDE ,AND ABOUT THE RIDE, TOLD
IT ALL
AMERICANS THAT ARE PROUD AND WILL NEVER LEAVE A MAN BEHIND.
"NEVER FORGET " THE ENTIRE MISSION WENT TO FAST TO RETAIN EVERYTHING SO
THE ONLY THING WE CAN DO IS COME AGAIN IN 2011 JUST SO WE CAN GRASP ONE
MORE MOMENT OF THE PEOPLE THAT REPRESENT THE TRUE AMERICAN FEELING.
I CAN NOT STOP COMMENTING TO EVERYONE ABOUT THE RIDE. HOW EVERY DETAIL
WAS PRETHOUGHT AND TAKEN CARE OF AHEAD OF TIME TO ELIMATE ANY PROBLEMS
BEFORE THEY HAPPEN.
BOTH MY WIFE AND MYSELF APPRECIATE HOW GRUMPY AND THE ROAD GUARDS TAIL
GUNNER AND ALL THE WAY DOWN THE LIST OF VOLUNTEERS THAT TOOK CONTROL AND
MADE IT WORK.
ALOT OF THINGS HAPPEN IN LIFE, SOME GOOD, SOME "NOT SO MUCH". VIET NAM
NOT SO MUCH RFTW IS VERY NEAR THE TOP OF THE LIST OF GOOD THINGS.
HOPE TO SEE SOME OF THE FACES WE SAW THIS YEAR NEXT YEAR AND MAKE NEW
FRIENDS NOW THAT WE HAVE A IDEA WHAT TO EXPECT. [4 AM GET UPS WERE
TOUGH! ]
NEXT YEAR THE TRAILER WILL BE READY WAY AHEAD OF TIME. NO MORE LIGHT
PROBLEMS!!!
SAFE RIDING TO ALL AND SEE YOU THERE

"ALL THE WAY FOR THOSE WHO CAN NOT GO"



Name: Joe "Jude" Hodges
E-Mail: joeh1123@aol.com
Your Phone: 505-488-3953
City: Gallup
State: NM
FNG Story:
For many months I had been planning this trip to ride with the Run for the
Wall. I had actually planned to ride for a day in 2009 but since after 33
years of riding I had never had a motorcycle endorsemet on my driver’s
license I wasn’t able to ride with the group. That was a real let down
for me as I had been wanting to make the run for a long time. As a
brownwater Navy veteran I has been something that I have long been
compelled to participate in the mission to honor those veterans who are
unable to make the run. Also, I had a need to honor my dad, a Korean War
veteran, and the other numerous members of my family that have proudly
served in the armed forces our country

After my inability to ride last year I was determined to make the 2010
run. The plan was to ride from Gallup, NM to Trinidad, CO as this was all
the time I was able to be away from work. I got up early loaded my bike,
leathered up, put the key in the ignition, and was ready for engine to
jump to life; however, all I got was silence as the battery was dead so
after what felt like an eternity I was able to strip it down, jump the
battery and pack back up and set off.  I had a great ride into Santa
Fe where there was a gas stop and a reassembly across from the Harley
Davidson shop where we were to have lunch. It was getting warm and I
needed drink of water and was just taking a drink when they decided it was
time to move out. I hurriedly tried to get my self together and was
fumbling with securing my water bottle when it was time for our platoon
to go. I started the bike, put it in gear, let the clutch out went about
three feet and the front tire caught a round rock. The front wheel skewed
to the left sharply as I moving my water bottle back into place and over I
went landing on my right elbow and shoulder and hearing a loud pop in my
shoulder as my head slammed into the ground.

Thankfully my fellow brothers around me set the bike up off of my stuck
foot and leg, shade my face and called the ambulance which was pretty
quick in coming and was wisked off to the emergency room where it was
determined that I broken arm at the very top of the humerus a along with a
messed up shoulder, socket and scapula. The arm was broken at a point
where it could not be set, so I was given a sling for and dismissed. All
in all not a really great day.

The only good thing about the short time that I had was the association
with everyone for a brief time and a renewed determination that I will try
again next year! Oh and I have decided to change my road name to CRASH!

I can’t close without thanking everyone for all of their help for me and
my bike as well as all those that put so much time and effort into the
mission. Thanks and God Bless You....




Name: Tom Cameron
E-Mail: tomcameron@cox.net
Your Phone: 619 390 8643
City: San Diego
State: California
FNG Story:
I was on the Southern Route and can’t say loud enough that this was far
and away the best motorcycle trip ever! My only regret was not being able
to get to know more of the outstanding men and women who participated, and
I guess it was just over too soon. Wow.

They should advise people to bring more Kleenex. Most of the water from
the hydration trailer was coming out my eyes! Never have I had so much
trouble choking through the national anthem and the pledge. I was most
surprised by my personal emotional response, but I saw others having the
same reaction. Yes, they were right, you have to experience it to come to
really believe.

In that vein, one of the things I enjoyed watching was when you would see
one of the riders who had removed himself from the group and was on his
cell phone. More than once I heard to the effect,

"Hey Bobby! You just gotta do this run! You wouldn’t believe how
wonderful it is! Really, you just have to come next year!!"

Found myself making one of those calls myself!


Name: Terry McCollum
E-Mail: supercoach@wyoming.com
Your Phone: 307-259-5464
City: Casper
State: WY 82003
FNG Story:
My wife and I joined the Central Route in Goodland, KS. I have trouble
expressing myself in long letters so this one will be pretty short.
What can you say about this ride except
beyond believe. From the dinner & welcome in Goodland from the very fine
people there to the very end and being one of the few that got to ride
thru Arlington. It was extremely emotional for me.
Some people call me Rotorhead, thanks to my being a helicopter pilot in
RVN. On Oct 31, 68 one of my helicopters crashed and all 10 on board were
killed. Back when I was flying for the state of Wyoming I had been to DC
and made a trip to the wall and had the opertunity to leave a couple of
items at that time so I didn’t think I would feel the urge to leave
anything this time. Well when I got to my panel I didn’t have anything to
leave. Thanks to Tail Gunner Nich, and Charley not only had my back but
dug deep in their pockets and found something for me to leave. Thanks
gentlemen I owe you.
Rolling Thunder was more relaxed for me than the emotional High I had been
on for the preceding week. What a massive number of Motorcycles and there
was just about as many parked along The Mall as was riding.
What a wonderful experience. The two that were closest to me was our
Platoon Leader Grumpy (Terri) and our Tail Gunner Nich. Their only
concern for the entire ride was our safety. Nich you can yell at me any
time I do something wrong cause it came from the heart. THANK YOU. I am
totally convinced that the major pre-qualification for Road Guards is to
be INSANE, thank you for all of your hard work.
From the planners, state coordinators, fuel crews, road guards, platoon
leaders, tail gunners, chase vehicles, chaplins, and espically the people
that took the time out of their busy lives to skip work and come out and
cheer us on and say "WELCOME HOME", thank you, thank you, thank you. To
everyone I forgot thank you too.
Now a note to the old warriors that served back during the Viet Nam era,
we have a duty an obligation to our young brothers and sisters serving
today. Make it a point to say THANK YOU, and shake their hand. Make sure
they get their WELCOME HOME when they return, not 30 or 40 years later.
If you have made it to hear thank you for reading the ramblings of an old
War Horse.


Rotorhead
Terry and Dianna McCollum
Blue Gold Wing Trike

 


Name: Joe Middleton
E-Mail: midcusaw@yahoo.com
Your Phone: 325 669 8723
City: Abilne
State: TX
FNG Story:
I want to say first that this was the best experience I have enjoyed in
many, many years. That being said the people I met, the people I saw, the
old and new vets I had the privilege of being among, the many kids and
people along the side of the roads waving flags and yelling and shouting
with love and respect was overwelming to me. I come from a town in Texas
that is has large military influncene in it’s population, but to see the
outpouring from the small communities along the route from Weatherford, Tx
to DC gave me more faith in the future of our country than I could have
gotten from any where.
As long as there or people like this, showing their respect to our
military, and it’s fallen, past and present, we are in good hands. As long
as we have our sons and daughters showing their kids and grandkids what
respect for God and country really is, then we’ll be OK.
I feel honored to have ridden with what I feel like are real men and women
who honestly still have a deep love for this country and what it’s all
about, all politics aside and riding to honor those that have given all
for us to be able to do so.
It is not hard to see how this adventure gets into your blood. I know it
has gotten into mine. The Lord willing, and if "Chicken Joe" and Dan "Wide
Load" will allow me to join 7th platoon (Triker and Trailer Trash
Trash)next year I would be honored to ride with them all the way from CA
to DC. Oh yea! You others that have to stay in your airconditioned rooms
can come along also LOL.
We left as individuals and arrived as family.
I never enjoyed being welcomed home like this before. Thank you 1ST
Sargent
and every one else who made this event a life changer for me.

 


Name: Pat "Bubblegum" Urban
E-Mail: pat_urban@msn.com
Your Phone: 360-666-2340
City: Battle Ground
State: WA
FNG Story:
Run For The Wall Coordinators, Board of Directors and all of the
Volunteers:

There are so many things I could say about the Run and I’m not sure I can
do all of my memories justice. I’m afraid of leaving something out; but I
will try to tell you in my words what the Run means to me now that it is
over. What will stand out in my mind and memories are too many incidents
to write - but for me, it was the people. The kids who made us hearts,
wrote poems and gave us dog tags to take to The Wall. The people who love
our country and expressed it by giving us hugs and telling us thank you
over and over. Yup; it was the people: new friends we made who rode with
us and those who asked if we were going to come back. And, it is more:

It was the lone man alongside the freeway standing at attention and
saluting us in the desert outside of Phoenix
It was the retired Marine standing in full dress blues saluting us as we
rode into Jackson, MS.
It was the many, many people on overpasses and in the cities who took the
time to greet us.
It was the pride in the American faces of adults, teenagers and children
we met.

It was the privilege of meeting MOH, POW Veterans from WW2, Korea and
Vietnam; Tuskegee Airmen and Navajo Code Talkers and a survivor from the
Bataan Death March.


It was the camaraderie and love I felt as John was surrounded by his
fellows at the Vietnam Memorial in Odessa, TX. with the wind howling and
the sky with it’s dark clouds shooting lightening

It was the interaction with the ride heroes: The Road Guards, Platoon
Leaders and Tail Gunners, Advance Team and Chaplains
It was the morning prayers
It was the morning meetings
It was smiling and giving a big Whoo Hoo to the fueling team
It was the awesome hydration team
It was being able to help in the merchandise trailer
It was knowing the chase truck was there.just in case...

It was the pride I felt as my husband participated in RFTW Honor Guard

It was the goosebumps I got when Shenandoah was played on the harmonica at
Silverdale Civil War Confederate Cemetary

It was the Vet who quilts
It was the men who wore pink shirts to support another worthy cause
It was the Road Guards who smiled at my pink sparkling helmet
It was earning a Road name, "Bubblegum"

It was the people we met and rode with side-by-side

It was the Huey ride and feeling an overwhelming sense of pride in my
husband as he hung out the gunner door..pumping his arms in the air and
smiling and laughing and yelling, "YES!" ..reenacting his time in Vietnam
as a door gunner

And finally,
It was walking hand in hand with my husband to The Wall, taking photos,
rubbing names, gently putting down items and finally looking at The Wall
from a distance and letting go

It was knowing that for 10 glorious days on the road, I was a part of
something so very special and that first ride as FNG will live in my heart
forever.

For all of the work you have done over the years.As former FNG 2010, who
rode all the way; Thank you!



 


Name: Hilda Hickman
E-Mail: hildaj1020@yahoo.com
Your Phone: 865-933-0748
City: Kodak
State: TN
FNG Story:
FNG PIN UPSIDE DOWN--2010

It was a gray, cold day in January 2010 when my husband, Charlie R.
Hickman, US Army Retired, and I, his wife of 43 years, started making
plans to ride with the "RUN FOR THE WALL" group to Washinton DC. We had
rode for the past two years with a group in Sevierville TN to the top of
Clinch Mountain on Memorial Day to honor all veterans. We loved it and
thought we were ready to go on the "big one". We are both 64 years old
and the thought crossed our minds that we are not getting any younger. We
talked friends Tim Johnson and Sue Logan into riding along with us.
Registration was done online, motel reservations were made, luggage racks
and flag poles were bought for the bikes, other preparations were
completed and the waiting began.

Like children waiting for Christmas, I thought May would never come. It finally did
and on May 26th we were up arly and heading to Wytheville VA to meet up with the
riders coming from hattanooga TN. We were ahead of them so when we arrived in
Wytheville we ent to the park and watched as they rode into town. That evening
we were fficially pinned as FNG’s and welcomed into the "RUN FOR THE WALL"
family.


From then until the ride ended in Washington DC our experience
could not have been better. Never a question went unanswered. It was the
best organized event I have ever been involved with. If I had to describe
it in one word that word would be, SMOOTH. Although we knew from the
outset it was not a party, it was a mission, the leaders made it fun along
the way. The outpouring of love and support from the people along the way
was amazing. People standing shoulder to shoulder on bridge overpasses,
cranes with Old Glory proudly flapping in the breeze high above the sreet,
children standing in front of schools waving and giving thumbs up, WWII
vets in their wheelchairs smiling and saluting as we rode by. The miles
of motorcycles were a sight to see and so were the people from all walks
of life who had carved out time in their busy day to pay their respects to
those who served in the Armed Forces of their country. Patriotism is
alive and well along the highways and byways of small town America. I
want to take this opportunity to say "THANK YOU" to all who gave of their
time and talents to organize and work out the many details of making "RUN
FOR THE WALL" the great American Tradition it has become. My husband’s
goal is to be in CA and ride "all the way" in 2011. I will be the one
waiting in Wytheville ready to join him and ride on to DC. Again "THANK
YOU" all for making us feel welcome on our FNG ride with "RUN FOR THE
WALL". See you in 2011.



 

Name: Rick Behymer
E-Mail: RDBehymer@Centurytel.net
Your Phone:
City: West Plains
State: Mo.
FNG Story:


I was an FNG on the Central Route, 2010 Run For The Wall. When I joined the Run in Wentzville Mo. I had no idea what an incredible experience being on The Run For The Wall would turn out to be for me.
I’ve tried to explain to my wife and others just what being on the Run is like and I haven’t been able to adequately put it into words.
I haven’t been able to explain the instant friendship and sense of family that develops the morning you join the Run. I’ve come to realize that sense of family lasts much longer than the Run itself.
I took a couple of hundred pictures on the Run and while they bring a smile to my face when I look at them now, they aren’t nearly as good as the memories I have when we were moving and picture taking was out of the question. Memories like,
Two ladder fire trucks on an overpass parked facing each other, their ladders fully extended, a very large American Flag suspended between them. On top of the cab of one fire truck stood lone a fireman, holding a perfect hand salute, backlit by the morning sun, as we went under that
overpass.
Overpasses with people standing shoulder to shoulder holding flags and waving, with bed sheets made into signs hanging from overpass railings saying "Welcome Home"
A little girl about 8 or so in West Virginia who asked if she could take a picture of me and the 2 riders I was talking to at the time, just because we were on the Run.

Being fortunate enough to be allowed to ride into Arlington National Cemetery, with 249 other FNG’s from 2010.

Seeing The Wall for the first time, and walking it’s length.

Words can’t describe how those things touched my heart, caused a lump in my throat, and sometimes required me to blink rapidly to clear my vision.

I could ramble on for several more paragraphs about the things I saw, and the feelings I felt but I won’t. If you were on either Route you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you haven’t been on the Run For The Wall yet I urge you to go as soon as you can.

It doesn’t take long to realize that it takes a lot of dedicated people to make the Run For The Wall work as well as it does. To all of them I’d like to take this opportunity to say Thank You for the Ride of a Lifetime. To everyone on the Central Route, particularly the Second Platoon, Thank You isn’t nearly enough, but it’ll have to do. It was an honor to ride with all of you.

Would I do it again? Absolutely! Only the next time my wife will be with me. After seeing the pictures I took, and listening to me try to explain what being on the Run For The Wall was like for me this year, she’s decided she
wants to see it all for herself next year starting in California.

 


Name: Wayne Karlik
E-Mail: wtkcody@yahoo.com
Your Phone: 307-587-4486
City: Cody
State: Wyoming
FNG Story:
A good friend of mine told me of this ride last year on Memorial Day while
we were camping, and I thought it would be a ride we could do. After
checking out the website, I called Rod and said "WE have to do this ride"!
So, on May 21st we headed south to meet up with RFTW in Goodland KS on the
22nd. The wind blew us in to Goodland about two hours before the group was
to be there so we hung out and waited to see some riders show. The fuel up
advanced crew rode in and we talked with them until the platoons started
in. From that point on the "RIDE FOR THE WALL" took on a whole new meaning
for me.
For the next 7 days I was on an emotional roller coaster. The VA
Hospitals, the Memorials, the over passes lined with the most patriotic
people on earth, the supplied lunches from VFW’s and American Legions, and
the unselfish brother and sisterhood, at times, left me speechless.
Everywhere we went, the folks of this nation greeted us with a form of
pride and love I thought was about gone in this country.
There is so much more I want to say about this trip, but, I would need to
much room on this page, and it would probably get boring to read. To put
it in a nut shell, this was the most enjoyable, emotional, and
unforgetable experiance I could ever have on a bike, or anywhere for that
matter! Thankyou all, brothers and sisters, for EVERYTHING! God bless you
all, and this will not be my last trip with RFTW!!

Name: David E. Sholly
E-Mail: trainjockey58@msn.com
Your Phone: 303-847-6398
City: Aurora
State: Colorado
FNG Story:
I was given a RUN FOR THE WALL pin by a co-worker five years ago. He told
me his story, of his ride and what it had meant to him.

I am a 100% P&T disabled veteran, in remission from lung cancer for
two and one half years. I felt now was my time to go to the Wall!

After 41 years of an emptiness, I felt a kinship and a healing as I met my
new Brothers & Sisters from the Viet Nam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and U.S. Active
Duty war veteran riders, and one very Special Gold Star Mom, and her dog Gizmo.

As an FNG I got to ride my motorcycle into Arlington National Cemetery,
and see the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and then onto the Viet Nam War Memorial.

The people saying thank you for your service, and the patriotism I saw on the bridge over passes, as we rode under them and in the towns with the > American flags displayed,
melted away the hard feelings I had of the past when we came home without any
respect or honor. God willing I’ll be part of the RFTW in 2011!

A special thank you to the RFTW 2010, organizers, advanced teams, road
guards, tail gunners, service trucks. A heart felt special thank you to the
Platoon Leader and Asst. Platoon Leader of Platoon #4, central route!
All of you made my experiance an unforgettable, safe and pleasurable trip!

I purchased twenty five 2010 RFTW pins to pass out to veterans who have not yet made the run, hoping to inspire them as my friend did me!


Name: Tim Gray
E-Mail:
tim.gray@us.army.mil
Your Phone: 915-309-5599
City: El Paso
State: TX
FNG Story:
I heard about this ride for many years and this was my first chance to
take part in it. I knew the guys from the Hydration team and without them
I would not have been able to make the run. Thanks to Gary Burd and all of
the crew. I didnt plan well and only went on part of the run, well thats
kinda like saying I only got a two ton treasure as opposed to a ten ton
treasure. Every single mile and moment on this run is priceless.

I am still active duty and have done my time in the sandbox. I didnt
immediately relate to the struggles, the hurt and the healing I witnessed
from so many. What I wasnt prepared for was the therapeutic value of this
ride. So when it started creeping up on me, you can imagine my surprise. I
place a lot more value on this run from my new perspective.
I had no idea how strong the bonds of this family are. Within the confines of these
riders and the platoons, there is safety to expose pain and suffering,
probably long overdue to be let go. And just as important are those
individuals that stand shoulder to shoulder with you and wont let you
down.

I lost a friend that I had deployed with numerous times, just a short 12
days before the run- he was 46, and had a lot of hurt inside that he
carried with him. I wish he had been with us. And I am sure most of you
know why.

I want you to know that I am hooked and excited about "The Run" My wife is
a disabled vet, and she literally broke down into tears when I left.
Because we have two little ones and she had to take care of them. You
might have seen them- Juan and Morgan, They were giving out the candy and
the thank you notes while we ate Supper at Barnetts in Las Cruces. The
next morning my wife waved a flag from a bridge in El Paso with tears in
her eyes as we rolled through.

So needless to say- she will be on the run next year, if it means I stay
home to be Mr mom. (yeah right!) We will have it planned out and we will
both be able to enjoy everyones company. She is in for a big surprise! My
prayer is that we can do as much for some of you as you have done for
others.

Thanks to the road guards who gave me the thumbs up while I focused
everything I had to not be the FNG with the brake lights on.

SFC(P) Tim "The Infidel" Gray


Name: Tommy "Ogre" Holdtich
E-Mail:
tholditch67@yahoo.com
Your Phone: 205-826-6651
City: Tuscaloosa
State: AL
FNG Story:
  Tuesday, May 25, 2010.  The culmination of a months long wait.  I would
finally take part in the RFTW.  True, I would only be riding for one day
but I would be on "the mission".
  Monday, my "navigator" and I mounted up on Veronica to ride down to
Meridian to meet the run.  Our personal run to the run was just a means to
get to the destination, AG Pavilion Meridian MS.  Tuesday we would retrace
our route, only on Tuesday we would be riding with our family.
  After meeting with our new family Monday evening, listening to stories
of the road and catching up on the happenings we headed to our hotel, we
invited some of our new family who were camping to partake of a nice hot
shower.  Our new brothers were grateful.
  Tuesday morning found us rising early to meet at the AG pavilion.  After
a rousing welcome to ourselves and the FNG’s we prepared to head out.  We
met with our Platoon (4) and mounted up.
    I have never ridden with this large a group, yet I felt instantly at
ease.  I began to immerse myself in the mission.  I began to travel, in my
mind and heart.
  Daddy would have loved this, he would have wanted to do this.  That
thought kept repeating in my mind as the miles flew underneath me.  Then
just as we hit Tuscaloosa County it hit me.  He WAS riding, he was riding
with me, in me and through me. He may have passed away in 1985, but he was
there. I saw people on overpasses, they were not waving at me, they were
waving at him, for him,.  A veteran of 3 wars, and 3 branches of military
and he was receiving his Welcome Home.
    I thoroughly enjoyed my travel, I only regret that next year I will
not be a FNG.  However....
    Next May, Sunday May 22, 2011, me and Daddy will mount up on
Veronica.  We will ride out to Monroe LA to meet our family.  Monday, May
23, 2011 we will ride again, and this time I, his brothers, sisters, and
other children  will take him to see his Wall.
    Thank you all for letting me remember my father, my hero. Thank you
daddy, for your service and for your love and finally I can truly say
Welcome Home Daddy.


 

Name: webster dalton
E-Mail:
webandcathie@verizon.net
Your Phone: 3102939542
City: torrance
State: ca.
FNG Story:
I am 72 years old and a Navy vet.Nothing I have ever done has brought me closer to my love for my country than this ride.Thank You to all who made it happen!  The Run was the greatest motorcycle experance I have ever had in my life.I started riding in 1949 and love it with a passion.But NOTHING ever came close to that ride and the meaning behind it.God willing I’ll be back next year. Thank You All My Brothers !
Web Dalton


Name: Vicci Melton
E-Mail:
heritagevicci@yahoo.com
Your Phone: 928-261-3459
City: Yuma
State: AZ
FNG Story:
I waited four years to make the trek from Yuma, AZa to Washington, DC, and
why I waited so long I’ll never know.  I just turned 60 before the ride
and was really concerned if I was up for the test.  What an experience.  I
laughed, cried and was so humbled by not only my fellow riders, but the
beautiful and gracious folks we along the way.  While at Odessa, TX, I got
lost in thought of the 60’s and the awfulness our boys came home to.  One
of the road guards, and to save my life I can’t remember this good old
boy’s name, came up to me and asked me "where are you?", referring to my
thoughts at the moment.  I looked at him and all I could do was cry.  The
run to the Wall was profound for me.  My toy hauler boasted numerous
placards of friends and family who have served our great nation.  After a
triumphant trip to DC we headed to Alabama, and along the way encountered
numerous other riders who had made the trip, and lots of folks who drove
past us waving.  Am I proud to be an American?  Not only yes, but hell
yes.  I count each and every Vet to be a member of my family.  And thanks
to all of you who put on such a thrilling and memorable run.  I can hardly
wait for next year.  God bless America and you.


Name: Tsgt  Mario J. Puccio
E-Mail:
mjp1975@wildblue.net
Your Phone: 740-517-1433
City: Vincent
State: OH
FNG Story:
I am one of the sore butt guys that rode a sport bike in from Hurricane WV
this year. Why did I put myself through the punishment of riding such an
uncomfortable bike? I am a 15 year veteran of the US Air Force and the
West Virginia Air National Guard and the son of a Vietnam Veteran who was
on the USS New Jersey. When I was asked by another buddy of mine if I
wanted to do this run this year I was all for it right off the bat. Then I
started telling my Dad about it (who didn’t have a motorcycle at the
time). I kept telling him he needed to rent a bike and do this with me.
About four weeks later my Dad bought his first motorcycle in about 29
years. We got more and more excited about the run the closer it got and
then it was upon us. We joined up in Hurricane and if that wasn’t enough
of a sight to see that many veterans and veteran supporters, DC would
change my mind forever. My Dad had never seen The Wall nor did he ever
really talk about Vietnam that much. I did not know that he had a very
good buddy killed there until Saturday, May 23. 2009 when he stood in
front of his name on The Wall with tears coming down his face uttering the
words I miss you. It was an honor and a priveledge to be with my Dad
during this time and also an honor and a priveledge to ride with all the
other bikers on this run. Short of seeing my daughters born it was the
most amazing thing I have ever seen or been a part of. God Bless all of
you, thank you for letting me ride with you and share this experience with
my Dad and I hope to see you all next year.


Name: Tommy "Ogre" Holdtich
E-Mail:
tholditch67@yahoo.com
Your Phone: 205-826-6651
City: Tuscaloosa
State: AL
FNG Story:
  Tuesday, May 25, 2010.  The culmination of a months long wait.  I would
finally take part in the RFTW.  True, I would only be riding for one day
but I would be on "the mission".
  Monday, my "navigator" and I mounted up on Veronica to ride down to
Meridian to meet the run.  Our personal run to the run was just a means to
get to the destination, AG Pavilion Meridian MS.  Tuesday we would retrace
our route, only on Tuesday we would be riding with our family.
  After meeting with our new family Monday evening, listening to stories
of the road and catching up on the happenings we headed to our hotel, we
invited some of our new family who were camping to partake of a nice hot
shower.  Our new brothers were grateful.
  Tuesday morning found us rising early to meet at the AG pavilion.  After
a rousing welcome to ourselves and the FNG’s we prepared to head out.  We
met with our Platoon (4) and mounted up.
    I have never ridden with this large a group, yet I felt instantly at
ease.  I began to immerse myself in the mission.  I began to travel, in my
mind and heart.
  Daddy would have loved this, he would have wanted to do this.  That
thought kept repeating in my mind as the miles flew underneath me.  Then
just as we hit Tuscaloosa County it hit me.  He WAS riding, he was riding
with me, in me and through me. He may have passed away in 1985, but he was
there. I saw people on overpasses, they were not waving at me, they were
waving at him, for him,.  A veteran of 3 wars, and 3 branches of military
and he was receiving his Welcome Home.
    I thoroughly enjoyed my travel, I only regret that next year I will
not be a FNG.  However....
    Next May, Sunday May 22, 2011, me and Daddy will mount up on
Veronica.  We will ride out to Monroe LA to meet our family.  Monday, May
23, 2011 we will ride again, and this time I, his brothers, sisters, and
other children  will take him to see his Wall.
    Thank you all for letting me remember my father, my hero. Thank you
daddy, for your service and for your love and finally I can truly say
Welcome Home Daddy.

 


2009 FNG Stories 

Last Updated 3/1/2010

Name: Michael "Dadbo" Owen, MSgt USAF ret.
E-Mail: mojo95@iname.com
Your Phone: 8057379357
City: Lompoc
State: CA
FNG Story:
We have but one short life to live on this earth and many opportunities to live for God and country. But it seems that out of many conflicting perceptions we seldom make good on these moments. I stand here before the Lord, my sisters and brothers, veteran and civilian to give thanks and honor for the unique privilege afforded me by those who made the 2009 Run For The Wall a reality. This was and will always be a significant life experience for me to carry for the remainder of time. I am having almost as much difficulty trying to find the words to express my gratitude and appreciation of the RFTW effort as for those that have died for so many. It would be impossible to convey in this short letter what may take me a lifetime to realize. The selfless dedication, genuine concern for others, love of country, and the love of one’s neighbor is truly extraordinary. I am so grateful to so many people, most of whom I didn’t have to chance to meet let alone thank, that it has taken me awhile to try to express.

I have to admit I was a bit incredulous when Jim Perry and Ross Currie first told me about RFTW. I entered the Air Force in 1975 at the end of Vietnam, and admittedly didn’t feel the same pain as too many had
in their return from that awful war. So I took a knee and asked God what I should do and slowly over the next few months it became clear that this was to be call I had to answer. I recognized that there was real need for
recognition of the ultimate sacrifice of so many, the service of countless patriots and healing of many who came home wounded in body and spirit. What I didn’t count on was the healing I needed and received at the hands of so many. I didn’t know I had any wounds to mend, or scars to repair. But day after day, meeting hero after hero, seeing the pain in the contorted face of men and women I will forever consider friends, I saw
myself and recognized my wounded spirit. In every mile we road, every town we entered, every man women and child cheering us on, every flag, and every salute I had the honor to return that I found the healing tears of
God’s abundant love. Every day I melted a little more and accepted those curative tears.

I was on a quest to find what I needed to do to help my fellow veterans, but I found the answer to the prayer I made the day I departed for Rancho Cucamonga. "Lord, guide me to do your will on this run". The
answer was to accept His grace to rid myself of the scars I had and allow the His therapeutic love to take place in me. Now I have a new prayer and a new mission to find those I can truly aid in their recover, to lend a hand where it can lift another, and to help this country recognize what needs to be done.

This may sound like the incoherent rambling of an FNG and that might be true, but it is the only way I’ve found to express even an infinitesimal portion of what I still can not fathom. "If you haven’t been there..." is etched on my soul and I have for the first time an inkling of what it must be like, and I am proud to call the airmen, soldiers, marines, sailors, and civilians who gave and are still giving,
brother/sister.

Mike aka Dadbo
Green Knights 39 - Road Captain
Patriot Guard Rider
American Legion Rider
Msgt,US Air Force Retired
and now
Run for the Wall / Rolling Thunder




Name: Greg Quintana
E-Mail: gtq5150@hotmail.com
Your Phone: 505-688-4422
City: Rio Rancho
State: New Mexico
FNG Story:
It is 2010 and we are ready to hit the road again. To start my story off I would like to thank all of you who participate and organize this wonderful event yearly. There is alot that goes into this event and up until you ride in it you don’t appreciate the hard work.

A friend told us about the ride and at first I thought how will I be able to take the time out of off of work and life to go on a MOTORCYCLE RIDE. Well let me be the first to say this is NOT a MOTORCYCLE RIDE. This is a Mission and is one of the most memorable events I think I will ever have in my life. I thought of the many men and women who fought for us to have freedom for our beloved country the entire time we were on the road. I rode for my father whom served in Vietnam, and I thank god everyday he returned and is still with me today. I thought of what he and all the troops up until today have and had to endure during the wars.

When you get on your bike and start the mission, your mind is focused on our troops that served past and present.

We rode through New Mexico only being that time away from work for me would not permit me to take a longer leave, but it was an eye opening experience to see the support that my home state has for this event and for the troops. I would have to say that riding into Sata Fe was very special to me being that my hometown, and having the helicopter above us escorting us in to town for lunch. Angel fire was a tear jerker as we came into town as well. All the supporters young and old waving flags and the number solutes we all recieved was overwhelming. The only time I go to Angel fire is to ski. I have never set foot on the memorial till I was on the mission. I will thank the RFTW for that till the day i die.

We will be going one state further this time from New Mexico to Kansas. I hope in the next few years i can go all the way from CA to DC.

Thank you for the experience.

Greg Quintana


 

Name: Farrell D. Maichel
E-Mail: dutchman@kansas.net
Your Phone: 785 456-3901
City: St. George
State: Kansas
FNG Story:
The little bike that will soon make its fourth run is up in the shed.
Next week I’ll get her out and start getting ready for the 2010 run. I
signed up again this a.m. and read through some of the e-mails. Some of
the words blurred a little. Must be the dust. I’ll have to pre-register
next week.

I have a few things to say that have taken an awful long time for me to be
able to do this. Its time.

Forty years ago Peter Fonda made a little movie called "Easy Rider" with
Jack Nicholson and Dennis Hopper. Golden Gate park was the hottest place
in the world to be, and everyone moved around in a VW van. The Beach Boys
stopped wearing striped shirts, and the Beatles grew moustaches and got
into the ether world. Living was good in the U.S. of A. as the framework
of our society was torn apart.

Somehow I missed all of that. I was other places, doing other things.
Forty years have come and gone since my last combat tour with the 101st
Airborne Division. A lot of water goes under the bridge in forty years
and I have done well. Thirty-six of those years were pretty well spent in
a cocoon of numbness. You see, I went on and made the Army a career.
Maybe just my way of hiding something in plain sight or my way of not
having to face something I didn’t want to face. I got along O.K., but
depression and sadness were things that I put up with every day of my
life. I retired in ’87 and started another career. In ’96 I hit one of
those rough periods of life in my second career as an employee of the
state of Kansas. I hung onto a job but I was banished to Wichita. I
somehow found a group of guys who got together once a week to share
experiences at around the vet center. That began a process that helped a
bit. Still the depression got worse, along with the feelings of sadness
and lonliness. I was the most successful, depressed person that I knew. I
remember feeling that I was somehow totally unique in feeling bad.

A few years later, a friend named Larry asked me to ride along on the Run.
A kidney stone attack a 100 miles from home can wreck your plans. But I
came back the next year and I come back every year.

I was in Salina, KS a few years ago, having jumped ahead of the pack, and
watched Run participants roll in to the park off of the highway. All
sizes, shapes, descriptions, and manner of riders. Sort of like the
makeup of the combat infantry battalions that I loved so well.
Irreverent, proud, noble, independent, warriors who really give no ground,
take no insults, and give living meaning to the word honor! The only
thing that had changed was some of us looked a little older and we moved a
little slower.

Last year I sat on an overpass near Abilene, KS and watched the Run
participants stream down I-70 headed into Junction City and then I was
back with the tailend rolling into J.C. Just seeing those flags displayed
on the overpasses down the route somehow helps every time it happens.
Rather I am watching from a distance, reading the e-mails, or riding in
the middle of the pack, I can always feel those hard knots of being alone
and being sad continue to slowly wash away out of my soul. It took a long
time for those to develop and it may take the rest of my life to conqueor
them, but Run for the Wall helps.

So this year I’ll put my vest on again and hang the old dog tags around my
neck; the same ones that were there in the A Shau, the Elephant Valley,
the Street without Joy, and other scenic places I’ve been. Seems funny
that I never wore those tags after 1970 until I started riding with RFTW.
For a few brief, precious days I will again display the 101st shoulder
patch, my combat infantrymans badge, and my jump wings in the company of
my brothers in arms.

I’ll ride down the highway, two abreast, knowing there may be safer ways
to do this. At the same time, the feeling will be just like riding into
the A Shau on a UH-1 out of B Co, 101st Aviation Battalion with my legs
hanging over the side, just enough danger to keep my adrenalin level
pumping high and my nervous system at high port. As I ride down the
highways of our route, the physical part of my being will be right there
with you. But the memories will be of another time.


I’ll see a Marine and mentally thank the good Lord for having marine
artillery at the Rock Crusher in III Corps. Those guys could put a
battery six into a buschel basket when the Infantry needed it. I’ll see
an Air Force vet and feel the after effects of a pilot hitting the gas
after dropping flaming hell on my flanks. I can almost smell the jet fuel
fumes of the four Marine four aircraft that circled a "basketball" in the
A Shau, broke through the clouds and fog, and came to our help in the
worst possible of circumstances in the worst possible type of weather.
I’ll see a Navy emblem and remember the feel of the deck of the battleship
New Jersey as she steamed through the Panama Canal en route to the Gulf of
Tonkin. I’ll remember the Seabees and the Red Horse battalions bringing
working facilities and defensive perimeters out of swamps and hills.

Tonight I may recall the odor of the South China Sea coming in at full
tide as I sat on a helmet during the night, back to back with another
infantryman sitting on his helmet, both in water past our hips. Around
daybreak, I will probably conjour up old memories of an airborne trooper,
a south Georgia boy (CPT Bill Phillips) who’s name is on the Wall. Bill
went down with the 173d Airborne Brigade. I’ll remember the nurses and
medical personnel at the 85th Evac hospital in Phu Bai. A few years ago I
couldn’t even watch an episode of "China Beach". Now I can remember and
appreciate the magnificent efforts of those wonderful people surging to a
Medevac bird in a dead run, without going into a cold sweat.

These and a thousand other memories of my time in the Nam will run through
my head out there on the highway, riding with others just exactly like me.
And it is sweet to know, after all of this time, that I will not be alone,
I will not be by myself, and that we do this for honor, for brethern and,
in the process, for ourselves.

This year, my son rides with me. We’ll probably meet RFTW at Goodland and
catch the beautiful scenery of Kansas going east. By the first of June,
with the support of your presence, I will have reclaimed a little more of
my soul back from the abyss. I’ll have a few more funny stories and a few
more scary stories, but most of all I’ll have a little more of my
innocence and trust restored.

So American Legion Riders, Patriot Guard riders, Run for the Wall riders
when you look in the mirror tomorrow, stand a little taller and throw your
shoulders back a little farther. We still have burdens to bear and duty
to discharge. You are, each and every one, just like the boonie rats back
in the ’Nam - absolutely magnificent.

See you out there.

Nighthawk

 


10/25/2009

Name: Rich Martin
E-Mail: 209pres@comcast.net
Your Phone: 408-489-7156
City: San Jose
State: Ca
FNG Story:
As I sit here and write this story, I keep thinking of the people I met
along the way and those that I was going to try and and visit at the wall.
People like Karoni and Cowboy and CJ. All the Road Guards and Advance
team. I got the ride the first Missing Man Formation with Karoni. I shed
more tears than I thought I would ever shed in my life. Each stop was
more emotions and incredible people. The "Wall" itself just overwhelmed
me. It took me three trips down the walk before I could even look at it. I
couldn’t visit with my brothers this year. I had a women give me a heart
pin to help heal my broken heart. How do you deal with that. All these
months since I have been trying to explain it to people and can’t quite
find the words. Many times I break down thinking about this incredible
journey I took. It is amazing how everyone is there for you. You are not
alone and yet you are alone with all that you see. It means a little
different for everyone who takes this journey. I can’t thank the SgtMaj
enough for convincing me that I should take this journey. It has helped
with the healing from Nam and our so called homecoming. I will do this as
long as my health/money holds up. Thanks to all that put this together. I
just can’t adequately put this into words.



Name: Charlie Allen
E-Mail: charlie.allen@us.army.mil
Your Phone: 251-709-9004
City: Grand Bay
State: Al


FNG Story:
It is hard to explain how I was feeling as I drove from Mobile, Alabama to
Monroe, Louisiana. I was riding in a driving rain storm most of the way,
but that was not what was on my mind. I had been around him many times but
didn’t really know him very well. He had stopped in Mobile several times
after the Run For The Wall. We always visited and went to movies and he
would make his way back to Los Angeles. He was the reason I bought a
motorcycle so I could do this "Run For The Wall with him. John is my
father in law and frankly he helped change my life.

I was nervous as we drove to the starting point in Monroe. I had not been
riding very long and was not sure I had the skills for this ride, but I
went anyway. When they called all of the FNGs up to the front of the
crowd, I assumed it would be for some sort of hazing as we were the new
comers. Boy was I wrong. I have never heard a group so small in number
sound so large with a resounding " WELCOME". It only got better from
there. From that moment I honestly felt like part of the southern route
family. I was even fortunate enough to lay the wreath at the memorial in
Monroe.

From there we began the journey that would not only lead to knowing John
much better, but knowing myself better as well. I have been in the Alabama
Army National Guard for nineteen years. I am active guard now as a
battalion career counselor, so I had been around military folks for quite
a while. Never before though had I been around so many combat vets. Being
around the men and women made me think about my experiences in Iraq and
how they had changed me. I saw many vets that had come to terms with their
experiences and many that had not. Probably the most memorable experience
was during a fuel stop in Virginia. I was walking out of the store after
getting a cup of coffee when the guy in front of me was stopped by a guy
walking in.. The guy coming in said " Are all of yall vets" and the other
guy said " Yeah mostly". The first guy said " I was in Viet Nam in 68 " .
At that point, the guy in front of me hugged him and said " Welcome Home".
The guy broke into tears and said " I never got that before" I left but I
did see that they chatted for several minutes.

John introduced me to several of his friends and I am sure I will remember
them forever. All of them accepted me as one of their own from the start.
John and I talked throughout the trip . We got to know each other well. He
prepared me as best he could for Arlington and The Wall. As an FNG, I was
honored to be allowed to ride into Arlington. There is no way that I can
describe the emotion I felt. Then came The Wall. Memories of news casts
when I was a kid came flooding back. It was very difficult to stand there
and see these men and women grieving and being helpless to help them.
Then, it was like the V8 commercials! Just being there and one of them
helps. I thought long and hard about my experiences in Iraq and they were
nowhere near the stories that I heard on the trip, and I realized that its
okay to relive those times and talk about it with those that will
understand. I was so honored to be able to share those moments with John
and others.

I will never fully be able to explain my feelings about this "Run" to
those that have not done it, but I know that I am a better person, vet and
soldier for having been there. Thanks John and company, I really
appreciate it. See yall next year.

 

 

 

 

 


10/5/2009

Name: Stan Martin
E-Mail: smartin7@comcast.net
Your Phone: 601-720-6080
City: Ridgeland
State: MS
FNG Story:

I just want to start by saying AWESOME!!! Never would I have thought that I would be able to be a part of such a wonderful and meaningful event. I never knew that I could join up and ride with the group until a friend at work told me. Me, my wife, and my buddy Sean caught up with the group in Monroe,LA and rode to MS. The show of patriotism during the ride was awesome. I will always remember coming across that MS River Bridge and seeing that Cobra Helicopter hovering at the MS State Line.!! I have been on the RFTW site several times since the ride checking in to see when I can register for next year. I have already informed my wife that I am going "All the Way" next year (well from Monroe that is).

I have been in the Air National Guard now 24 years and have served in Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, and the Global War on Terroism. I have been to Saudi Arabia,Kuwait,Iraq, and Afghanistan and seen all types of things. I will have to say though, without a doubt, that this ride just brings back home the reason we are the GREATEST Nation in the world!! Sure I have had the hometown support on each of my deployments and it has been great but to see the thousands of people that come out to support this ride and show their true colors for their country makes me that much prouder that I can serve and protect Her!! I can’t wait to meet up with all the riders next year in Monroe to start another honorable ride!!!

LtCol Stan Martin
183AES MSANG

 

 

 

 


8/18/2009

 

Name: Bernard Remson
E-Mail: b.remson@hotmail.com
Your Phone: (909) 889-8470
City: San Bernardino,
State: Ca  92405
FNG Story:

This is the second time I’ve started this letter. My ride started in Long
Beach, Ca.  what can I said but wow.  It was a very happy feeling to see
so many other riders and meet new frineds. My brother said that he was
planing to go and I told him he could not go without me.  I was
overwhelmed by all of the love shone to all of the riders along the way.

I shed many tears along the way at seeing people on the overpasses and
along the roadside, showing their gratitude for the veterans. The three
places I enjoyed the most were Angel Fire; Junction City and Rainelle.
The highlight of the trip was Rolling Thunder on Sunday, May 24, 2009.
My brother and I left Arlington on Monday, May 25, 2009, heading home by
way of visiting relatives taking the route of I20 and I10 West, arriving
home two weeks later.


We are looking forward to the 2010 trip!

 


 

8/18/2009

Name: Dick Getchell "AKA- RAG’s" IC1(SS) USN 68-76
E-Mail: meggndick@charter.net
Your Phone: 817 300 9240
City: Fort Worth State: Texas

FNG Story:

All I can say is WOW and Welcome Home! The Mission of a life time is available to all who answer the call, to carry on the Pledge to Never Forget! RFTW was a real healing time for me personally and I pray that others who read this, will allow healing to begin for them as well. In November 2008 I stumbled on to the RFTW web site while looking for information on POW/MIA flags for my bike. I showed the RFTW web site to my wife and her response was, “so when do you leave”? She knows my so well! From that point on, I was consumed by getting ready and telling everyone I knew about the ride, especially my good friend, fellow Vets and fellow servants at our local body of believers, “The Hospital Church”- Celebration Fellowship, in Fort Worth, Texas. My good friend and fellow Jim, helped me make the final decision to ride by helping me through an issue that I had carried for a long time.

 

You see I have a dad who spent 30 years in the Navy and served in WWII, Korea and during Vietnam. He is a real live hero. I had many friends go in to the service of this great nation and serve during Vietnam (some who paid the supreme sacrifice and are listed on the Wall) but, I had been on Submarines and aided along the coast line of Vietnam and was not in country like my buddies. Yes, I was patriotic like them and served my country in a time of need, but! This “but” led to feeling that theirs was a higher service than mine and I felt some how I had let them down by not being in country. My brother in Christ and fellow Vietnam Veteran (in country, 1st Bat 14th Inf 3rd Brig 4thInf Div. [7-4-68—7-3-69]) was very specific with me, that I was as much there as anyone and I needed to let that false truth go…. That fully convinced me to make the RFTW ride. As I made the ride with humility and pride as a patriot and fellow Vet, I had others on the ride tell me the same thing Jim had shared with me, when I spoke of my previous fears and regrets.

The truly humbling thing for me, was that in each case these were men who served boldly and heroically in country. I had carried that burden around for almost 40 years and am fully restored because of the kindness of fellow Vietnam Veterans, the RFTW ride leadership and my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. With that said, I hope and pray that I will be able to make the full ride in 2010 and that my fellow Vietnam Veteran, Jim, will make the trip with me. One final statement, thank you everyone on the run, but I want to mention just a few, who made it even more memorable.

The RFTW SR leadership, super great job! Mustang for your humble leadership of the 5th Platoon and your soft voice of encouragement, I know, I know, you are a Marine through and through, but really just a big softy. I pray that your health is good and you will be leading again in 2010. To all my new friends of which are numerous, Chicken Joe, Wrong Way-Green, PGR Pat, Firecracker, Flame, Chrome, Two-Stars (chiefy whiefy), Duct Tape, Cutter, Bug, Shiny Red Bike-Green, all the Sea Wolves, a Dirty Water- Gunners Mate Master Chief (who’s name I can’t remember, but who made a life long impression on me) and all the others I can’t remember at this time. God Bless and may the wind be sweet in your face and Gods hand protect you at all times. Finally, thank you to all who showed so much kindness to our group of riders across this great country, from the sole persons in the middle of no-where at attention and saluting, to those with a thank you on their lips and a bottle of water in their other hand, thank you! Progress Not Perfection RAG’s

 

 


8/5/2009


Name: Charles Mike Dalton (runningbear)
E-Mail: mikedaltonh-d1340@hotmail.com
Your Phone: 864-804-6061
City: Spartanburg
State: SC


FNG Story:
I dont know were to start. Well I will start by saying thank you Danny
Riley for talking me into this. we left SC at 600AM on tuesday morning to
meet so of Dannys Friends in NC. in short we got to chattanooga Tenn at
3:00 Pm on tuesday. this is were my live change. From that day i know i
was were i should have being in 1977 if i had made this trap them i would
not have had to gothre what i have for all of these yrs. but by the help
of Danny and the others with RFTW group made me feel like i was someboby
and not a number thank GOD for you people. as we started the trip started
in tenn and we got to knoxville Tn. got gas i was thanking how the hell
did we get all of thes bike gas up so fast. 22 min. to gas 380 bikes. then
we stop in a town in greenville tn to gas and then stop in bristol harly
davidson to eat and rest for about 2 hours and the on to withville va for
lunch and spend the night i was ready for this from the heat and trip with
watching eventhinggoing out . After i eat i went to the rom and set down
call home for a bit then i was thing what ami going to do when i get to dc
well it thrusdat morning at 5am going to eat and road meeting at this time
we meet a the meeting ground were the kids put on a play for us i had so
many tears and cryed so hard i could not taLK AND THEN TO A SCHOOL AGAIN
DONT REMEMBER THE NAMES SORRY ANY WAY MORE TEARS I WAS HAPPY TO GET ON THE
RD TO ROANK VA. FOR THE NIGHT BUT WE STOP AT A VA DAM MOOR TEARS TEARS
TEARS. FROM SEEING VETS FROM WW11 KOREA VEITNAM WARS TALKING TO ME GOD
HOW MANY STORYS THESE MEN AND WOMAN HAD. FRIDAY MORNING ON THE RD TO DC.
WHEN WE GOT TO DC I HAD NOT SEEN SO MANY BIKE IN ONE PLACE OTHER THE A
BIKE RALLY BUT THE RALLY DID NOT HAVE ANY THING ON THIS.ANY WAY SAT WAS
GOOD AND SUNDAY WAS UNLIKE I HAVE EVE SEEN I WILL DO THIS IN 2010 I AM
HAVE MOORE TO LOOK AT AND MOORE TO LEARN THANK YOU RFTW AND DANNY AND THE
ONE LADY THAT BI WILL NOT FORGET SRG. THANK YOU VETERAN



 

8/3/2009

Name: Dan Farren, MSgt, USAF-RET
E-Mail: Dan.Farren@yahoo.com
Your Phone: 816-779-7527
City: Peculiar
State: MO
FNG Story:
Some things you shouldn’t put off.

Quite a few years have passed by where I have missed the opportunity to
participate in the Run for the Wall. It took a trip to the emergency room
and a few weeks on my back to realize that time is short, making 2009 the
year to take action. My only regret is not making this trip sooner.

To say the people on this run are supportive does not do the folks
justice. People from all walks of life, many parts of the world, and many
different backgrounds and personalities come together to make this happen.
Jokes, smiles, friendly greetings and (when appropriate) some well placed
digs are there to raise spirits. A hug, a hand up, and a prayer is always
near by, when needed.

All the pictures or videos cannot describe that feeling you get when you
are riding in the middle of know where and see people on top of the
overpass waiving American flags, wishing us well.

Words cannot describe the feelings experienced as you ride through
Arlington the first time and realize the actual price that has been paid
to keep us free.

It was my hope that I would find a better way to describe my first ride,
from Burlington to D.C. Perhaps some day.

For those considering to make the ride in 2010, just do it. Make the run,
support the mission. The people you meet will offer unconditional support
and friendship. The sights you will see will make you realize there are
many people throughout this land that appreciate the service and sacrifice
many riders have made. Most importantly, your participation will send the
much needed message that we support veterans past and present and will
never forget those who did not make it back.

Respects to the entire RFTW family. Looking forward to next years run.

Honoring those who serve,
Remembering and paying respects to all those who paid the ultimate price
to keep us free.



7/3/2009

Name: Embe Kugler
E-Mail: kem10@cox.net
Your Phone: 480.292.9211
City: Phoenix
State: Ariozna
FNG Story:
This is my second post. It is now July 3rd and I have only been home a
few days. I did an extended vacation after the "Run" to visit friends and
family on my way back to Arizona.

I still cannot get the ride out of my head. I am both a much better
person and a much better rider thanks to everyone in 5th Platoon. Sorry,
I was such a bone head on learning to ride in proper formation. I have
been riding since I was 11, but most always by myself. I am an introvert
by nature, and motorcycles have always been one of my escape mechanisms.

After the "Run", I spent the first couple of weeks with my wife, my cousin
and his wife vacationing in Virginia. My cousin was an Army hydraulics
specialist onboard the USS Corpus Christi Bay for two tours fixing Army
helicopters off shore. It was the first he spent much time talking about
the experience. He plans to meet me at the end of the "Run" again next
year. I left Virginia and road to Indiana to stay with my Aunt. Uncle
Bud was at the bottom of the hill at Iwo Jima when the flag was raised.
He died this last Thanksgiving from complications of the Malaria he caught
in WWII. His son Myron served in Ethiopia during the Nam, but was anxious
to hear all about the "Run".

From Indiana, I went to Illinois to visit my old Training NCO. Buzz drove
Lady Bird’s trucks in the Nam and Thailand. He still has many physical
and mental scars from the experience. We spent three days cleansing and
praying.

Next was Oklahoma, cousin Larry Gene spent his Army years at Ft Bliss in
the 60s. He is also going to meet me at the end of the "Run" next year.
We spent three days discussing how fortunate we were that the Big Guy kept
us from harm’s way.

I just returned from two days with an old Army buddy (both of us 30 plus
years). He is not a rider, but wants to explore providing chase vehicle
support next year. The "Run" continues to extend its healing touch.

I have others I will influence who are currently still serving, but will
be retired by next year (one with seven years of war zone deployments
under his belt). Hopefully, they will be among the FNGs next year.

I cannot thank everyone enough for the experience. Pied Piper, Too Tall,
and Mustang, you are among my heroes. I truly look forward to serving
with you again next year and as long as possible there after.

 

 





6/24/2009

Name: Johnny Rusk
E-Mail: johnny.rusk@us.army.mil
Your Phone: 256-339-3888
City: Demopolis
State: AL
FNG Story:

I just wanted to say THANK YOU to all the great people my son and I met
along the way.
I have always wanted to make the RFTW, however Deployments always seem to
jump up and interfere.
My son Auston, age 10 has not stopped talking about making the run, and is
ready to join me on another one. I know that spending time with him was
very beneficial for me, especially since spending 44 months Deployed since
2003. The camaraderie, scenery, mission, and new friends that we met along
the way will never be forgotten.
If there are any out there that would like to be reminded of exactly what
true Americanism or Patriotism looks and feels like, then you must make
the run.
I will be there in 2010 making the RFTW ALL THE WAY !!!

Thank You,

Johnny Rusk

 



06/18/2009

Name: DAVID L CLAYTON
E-Mail: DCLAYTON@COX.NET
Your Phone: 949-637-7702
City: DANA POINT
State: CA
FNG Story:

FNG CR

I won’t try to put into words what I’m still trying to understand and sort
out from this experience, but I want to say thank you to the CR Team and
everyone I came in contact with on the ride. The great people I met
across the US and all they did to welcome us home. I’ve put together a
short Poem (for lack of a better word)that just may help someone make that
trip to the Wall when they get ready..

THE WALL

THE WALL IS MADE OF STONE
THE WALL CANNOT HURT YOU
BUT ONCE YOU TOUCH THE WALL
THOSE WHO REST WITHIN THE WALL
WILL UNDOUBTLY TOUCH YOUR HEART

THEY WAIT PATIENTLY FOR YOUR VISIT
TO RENEW FRIENDSHIPS AND REMEMBER OLD TIMES
THEY ASK NOTHING OF YOU BUT TO REMEMBER
THE GOOD AND THE BAD AND TO NEVER FORGET THEM
FOR THEY HAVE PAID THE ULTIMATE PRICE

YOU STAND PROUDLY OR DROP TO A KNEE
BUT YOU WILL NOT BE ALONE AT THE WALL
YOUR BROTHERS WILL CALL OUT TO YOU
THANKING YOU FOR ALL YOU DID FOR THEM

YOUR MIND WONDERS WAS HE ONE OF THE MANY
YOU MEDEVACED FROM THE RICE PADDY
OR MAYBE FROM THE HILLTOP LZ
COULD YOU HAVE DONE MORE THAT DAY

YOU ARE NEVER ALONE AT THE WALL
FOR THEY WILL ALWAYS BE THERE
THEY WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER YOU
AND YOU MUST ALWAYS REMEMBER THEM


DAVID L. CLAYTON
USMC
MSGT (R)
1-69 / 1-70

 

 






6/17/2009



Name: Henry LaRose
E-Mail: henry@netdoor.com
Your Phone: (601) 454-6645
City: Jackson
State: MS
FNG Story:

Veteran, U. S. Army Federal Republic of Germany 1965-69. Veteran,
Mississippi National Guard, 20th Special Forces (Airborne) 1969-72
Biker: at age 60. First T- shirt I remember seeing on a biker: "If I have
to explain, You wouldn’t understand".
Since my Run For The Wall ’09: I would venture this saying instead: "I
still cannot understand, so I won’t explain." Yes, even as a veteran, I
was so honored to be with so many who got in harms way, and survived, and
grew, and healed, and helped others to heal and lent their shoulders and
their words and their silence too. And now, they, we, together as bikers
first and patriots also, we rode in formation and all I could do was let
the wind erase my tears and dry my eyes as I thought, as I knew, that all
those motorists who passed our 3 to 5 mile long parade up the Interstate
were also in awe of such a dedicated group of Americans. Yes, dedicated to
a show of support and reverence for all those who went before us and
served, and died, and all for the cause that is our great Country. May God
continue to Bless the USA.


6/17/2009

Name: Phil "Two Stars" Epps
E-Mail: Aceepps@sbcglobal.net
Your Phone: (817)965-5787
City: North Richland Hills
State: TX
FNG Story:


This is not so much a story as it was an experience. RFTW was presented
to me last year by a SR FNG from 2008. He and I had gone through the MSF
Rider Coach class together and became close friends. We also share a
similiar experience as we are both Navy Chiefs. He is currently on Active
Duty and I retired in 2001 with 34 years. He told me upon his return from
the 2008 RFTW that I should experience it for myself as he could not
adequately explain it to me. He knew that I would enjoy the ride but he
was right about the explaination. Words just do not describe. All the
new companions/friends, the fellow Vets, the Bridge Walkers/Waivers, the
waivers on the side of the road, the Police Escorts, the Platoon Leaders
and Tail Gunners, Chaplains, the MMF, all the workers, both in the Run and
at the places we stopped, and the Route Leaders. But let us not forget
the children. I have never seen such loving eyes and happy faces as on
the children at the schools we visited. They made the trip for me. I
visit Vets in hospitals all the time with my clubs back home but those
kids grabbed my heart and again made me proud to be an American. I just
wish that we could have done more for them. God Bless the Children!

The rest of the stories you can read from the other FNGs. I concur
wholeheartedly with their reports.

See you next year.

Oh, yeah. I need to get me a helmet cam. Any suggestions?



6/15/2009
Name: Fred Knipper
E-Mail: fred.knipper@duke.edu
Your Phone: 919-498-9941
City: Sanford
State: NC
FNG Story:

I can not begin to put into words the experience I had as an FNG on this
year’s Run for the Wall. I retired from the Air Force in December 2004
after almost 27-years and had been feeling something was missing from my
life-I found it on Wednesday, May 20, 2009. That was the evening I met up
with Run for the Wall, Southern Route in Wytheville, Virginia. From the
moment I stepped into Memorial Park after all the riders parked, I could
see the brotherhood and friendships that had evolved-I have to admit I was
afraid I was an outsider looking in and would not fit in with the group.
Too Tall changed that quickly! He was the first person I ran into and as
busy a man he was, he took the few minutes to point me in the right
direction to the registration van, shook my hand and said "Welcome Home"!
Little did I know at that moment how important those two words were and
what they would mean for the remainder of the trip and my life! I quickly
found the registration van and my next encounter was with Top Sarge, a
woman who comes across with a tough as nails first impression but is truly
caring, compassionate, lady with a heart of gold. Do it right and you are
her friend, do it wrong or forget something, she will send you on your way
till you get it right and then she will be your friend! After listening
to her briefing, I felt more comfortable and started to experience the
feeling everyone else tries to describe however, there are no words to
describe it!
After a great meal at the Moose Lodge, I stood in the parking lot waiting
for a hole to be made large enough to fit my bike through, listening to
stories and conversations. As the FNG, I listened to every story I could
to learn more about the ride, the mission, and more importantly, what not
to do!
The next morning in the park when Pied Piper called for all the FNGs that
joined in Wytheville to come forward, I was unsure what was about to
happen! I have to say, I never felt so honored to stand in front of a
group of people so dedicated to a cause and receive the welcome that we
got. THANK YOU Pied Piper you are a true leader and professional! As the
children flowed in, I stood back and watched how many of the riders
dropped to their knees to meet these kids face to face. They truly came
down to their level and you could see in the kids eyes the love and
respect this town has for Run for the Wall! I felt honored to reach my
arm out and help some of the riders back to their feet after talking with
the children! It was an amazing morning! When we got on the bikes and
ready to head out, my heart was pounding! I did not want to make a
mistake or worse yet, cause someone else to make a mistake! At that
moment, I knew I had found what has been missing! From that point on, my
heart swelled with pride and I got a lump in my throat every time we
passed under an overpass that had someone standing on it waving a flag. I
will never forget the one overpass we went under that had an older man
standing at attention and saluting the riders as they passed under the
bridge! That brought tears to my eyes!! As Top Sarge said the evening I
met her, "if you do not feel this in your heart, you need a heart
transplant!"
I thought when we got to DC on Friday and went our own ways to our hotels
that, was going to be the end...was I ever wrong!!! The next morning when we
met at the host hotel for the FNG ride to Arlington, you could feel the
excitement. As we arrived at the gates leading into Arlington, I noticed
something-you could see the pride and honor in each rider and their
passengers as they sat a little taller and straighter on their bikes in
respect for those who have gone before us! It was amazing how quiet it
was even with two hundred plus bikes rolling into Arlington. I have been
to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier a few times in the past but, it has
never had the significance as it did this time; watching the honored
RFTW-Southern Route leadership, Too Tall and Cowboy with the Central
Route, place the wreath at the Tomb!
Our next stop was the steps of the Lincoln Memorial for the group picture!
I have to admit, this was painful! With a bad back, sitting in a cramped
place on stone was not the highlight of the trip! But, it was worth it!
I am not sure who they were, but I owe a big thank you to the two folks
behind me-if it was not for them helping me up, I might still be sitting
on the steps today!
Sunday morning started early in the host parking lot as everyone began to
arrive for the ride to the Pentagon for the Rolling Thunder ride. More
great friends to meet, more great stories to listen to! As I listened to
the experiences of others who went a lot further than I did, it made me
want to go further next year! Hopefully, if everything goes well I will
be able to but if it does not, Wytheville, Virginia is a great starting
point! As I returned home and started telling others of the adventure and
experience, many of them have already decided to make the run next year!
To all the leadership from RFTW-Southern Route-I THANK YOU! You gave me
an experience I will never forget! Too bad the FNG experience is a once
in a life time experience! IT WAS GREAT!!!!



 

 6/12/2009

Name: Melba
E-Mail: mak56@windstream.net
Your Phone: 2707669966
City: Elizabethtown
State: KY
FNG Story:

There are not words to discribe what I felt for the days Wed. thru Sun.
We were on the run and in D.C.. I kept thinking "It can’t get any better
than this" and some one new would walk into my life and I would have a
new friend, then we would pass another school or over pass and people
would be waving Old Glory and cheering, I could go on and on. I have a
wonderful friend and my sister who took great pictures and everytime I
look at them it brings a lump to my throat and my heart skips a beat. I
LOVED being around all the guys that served. It was an honor to stand at
the wall and at all the memorials with the men who gave so MUCH. I kept
seeing a shirt that really hit home for me, it read " ALL GAVE SOME AND
SOME GAVE ALL. I wanted to hug them all, really hard. I wanted them all
to feel appreciated and loved. My dad was a Korean vet I thought about
him the entire time we were on the run. Dad has gone on to heaven now but
I would like to do that trip every year in his memory and my cousin who
gave his life in Nam. I want to be in the presence of these brave men,
and be with all the new friends I’ve made and so DEARLY LOVE. See Ya next
year. God Bless each one.



 

6/10/2009

E-Mail: joelwest@charter.net
Your Phone: 618.781.7064
City: Granite City
State: Illinois
FNG Story:

What an experience. I was able to ride with my friend Ranjet. We picked up
the group in Wentzville, Mo. and rode "All the way." I know to you real
riders that rode from Cal. this sin’t much, however, for my first time it
was great. Rainelle is with out a doubt my favorite. The kids, city,
parents, and the volunteers that served us were fantastic. Route 60 East
was also a very cool ride from Hurricane to Lewisburg. In Lewisburg we met
a terrific individual named Ken, he showed us around and took us to some
of his favorite watering holes. Many thanks to him and the folks at the
Bull Frog Inn in White Sulphur Springs. A special thanks to Red 1
Tailgunner, Couch, thanks for making our trip enjoyable. Couch if you read
this, email me.

Don’t know if I have the strength and stamina to go All The Way, but would
like to try.

As the Ride Captain of our Legion Riders group, we do not advocate riding
"Parade Style" and it was very disconcerting to be riding next to someone
you didn’t know at highway speeds. I know their reasoning, but still think
it is unsafe.

Hopefully I will be able to make it again next year. To everyone, "Thanks
for making my FNG experience and the ride memorable and worthwhile"

Joel West
Heavy Equipment Operator 2nd Class
Navy Seabees, MCB-11
1965 - 1969
Three tours in country.
CAN-DO





Name: webster dalton
E-Mail: webandcathie@verizon.net
Your Phone: 3102939542
City: torrance
State: ca.
FNG Story:

I am 72 years old and a navy vet.The run was the greatest motorcycle
experance I have ever had in my life.I started riding in 1949 and love it
with a passion.But NOTHING ever came close to that ride and the meaning
behind it.God willing I’ll be back next year. Thank You All My Brothers!

Web Dalton



6/10/2009

Name: Diann "Mojo" McKee
E-Mail: mojorftw@att.net
Your Phone: 432 368-1822
City: Odessa
State: TX
FNG Story:

To the FNG’s -both current & future!

 

 

As I read the recent FNG stories, it makes me remember my own FNG year,
2003, and that same awesome feeling I had after participating in such an
emotionally charged event. I, too, was hooked on RFTW by the time I
made it to DC. Even though I rode that year in honor of some Nam vet
friends, the friendships I made & my observations of the run’s riders &
their healing journeys impacted me greatly. Doesn’t it affect all of us,
though? And that is why I was more than eager to work in whatever
capacity I could for RFTW that very next year. Long story short, I’ve
been state coordinator for part of Texas for the past 6 years. I’ve also
worked on the Advanced Team in the past, back when it was still in the
concept stage, and am currently a platoon leader.

As in all organizations, it takes people with various gifts & talents to
make "the whole" complete & efficient. RFTW is no different. I surely
don’t have to list all the duties---the FNG’s saw the work done every day.
Some of the workers, though, (and there are over a hundred each year that
help make this run happen), have an extra special gift, whether they were
on the fuel team, chase team or in merchandising. I’ve seen it year
after year. And that extra gift is their ability to make the FNG’s feel
comfortable in showing their feelings or in sharing their stories.
Somehow, despite their hectic, busy duties, these workers stop long enough
to help in whatever way they can, seeing that window of opportunity. It
could be by lending an ear for even 5 minutes, or to follow up on how the
rider is doing later that day. I admire these people that give so much
on the run.

What I hope to convey to the FNG’s is this---some of us are better at the
"mechanics" of the run than with the helping of the riders & the emotional
healing side. This is not to say that we don’t care---because we do!
I feel that I am a "mechanic." I take very seriously my job of making
sure the stops in my area of TX run smoothly, yet are ones that the
riders will remember with fond & healing memories. Likewise, I work to
make the platoon an enjoyable and safe one. When we platoon leaders
have to get stern with the group or individuals about an issue, please
know that it is for the safety of not only that person but also for the
whole group. At other times, I know that I am running around crazily
trying to get things done, not having time to stop & chat.

During my FNG year, I could not tell you anything about the platoon
leaders that helped lead us along the way. But that doesn’t mean that
they didn’t do their job, which was to help get us from Point A to Point
B. I definitely remember the Road Guards, and I gained an immense
respect for these men who put themselves on the line to keep us safe. I
remember Papa Smurf, the route coordinator. And I remember making
friends with the riders, and seeing that I had found a new family. It
didn’t matter that I was civilian---I was accepted. What I’m saying is
that even though not all us workers are able to help relieve shoulders of
burdens, we are there working because we want you to find that healing
like we did. We care, because we remember how much our first run
helped us, whether or not we remember who worked it. Many of us want to
return that gift. We want you to return home with healing in your hearts
& minds, and with a sense of pride and accomplishment of your journey.
But most of all, that you have, indeed, found a new family.

Diann "Mojo" McKee




 

6/09/2009

Name: Don Pierce "Bullet"
E-Mail: harleyca@aol.com
Your Phone: 541 580-6006
City: Roseburg
State: Oregon
FNG Story:


Sort of an FNG, been since 95 since my last Run, so here goes..
Russ’s wife asked that I do an after action and try to compare this RFTW
to the first one and any suggestions I have/had. So here goes.

RFTW has had the same effect on me over the years, it is cleansing,
emotional, fun, dangerous and I have gotten to meet the most incredible
people ever. It was the same in 89 as it was this year. So, the Mission
has remained the same and I am happy that it has.

I was fortunate enough to be accepted as a Road Guard and we get to see
the Run in a far different perspective and I have to tell you that it was
ALL GOOD!

You folks have fine tuned this to a well oiled machine stocked and staffed
with some incredible people and it shows every step of the way. People
like Russ, Gunny, Ross, Spanky(Sparky) Santa and a wealth of others, The
Fuel Crew was amazing and vastly under thanked, The Advanced Road Guards
performed well and the leaders are fantastic! Talk about fast thinkers,
things changing every second and Ross and Sparky took it (sort of) in
stride and made things work. Talk about thinking on your feet!!! And they
all have it in their heads, the entire route, fuel stops, exits, on ramps
and it goes on and on. I listened in awe to them talking about last years
problems and how to deal with them this year and it was all off the tops
of their heads.

I want to thank Gunny for letting me be a Road Guard and keeping track of
me while I learned how you do it now, talk about different! And it worked,
over and over and over. He even sprang for the arm bands himself. How
fortunate you are to have him.

The state coordinators did amazing things. Come on, an Apache Helicopter!,
Navaho Code talkers and dancers?? A Huey?!?! Police escorts? Free Food,
Free fuel! These folks all did an amazing job and with little thanks in
proportion to the work they did. Wow, You people have it TOGETHER!

The Chaplain’s, amazing and I was very happy to see them there, that is a
NO-BRAINER and a major plus to the RUN, I thank them all.
The Staging Crews there every stop, putting it all in order until the next
stop, flexible Registration people and the Missing Man Coordinator, all
important jobs done by great people who’s only interest is making it work!

So, differences? In some areas a lot, others none, all of it positive,
There was nothing I would have done different and certainly nothing I
could have done better.

Change? Only one and only because I have not heard the most recent
arguments against it.

I like the NUMBER 1 (Hammer Lane), it’s worked before and worked well
despite the Law Enforcement folks not liking it, lots less danger and lets
the traffic flow free for passing and for off ramps. Like I said, I have
not heard the latest against, but obviously it was visited over and over
and found it to be lacking.

What I really liked is the adaptability of all those involved, free
thinkers, get it done, not many things carved in granite, changes and
decisions made on the fly when needed and made at the level needed, by who
was there at the time. And it worked over and over and over.

So, thanks for everything everybody did, water crews, fuel, staging, Road
Guards, Chaplains, Platoon Leaders, Tail Gunners, et-al and ad naseum.
Another memorable ride, as usual.

Don Pierce
541 580-6006

 


6/09/2009

Name: RON & FRANCES WRENN
E-Mail: RETNALTD@EXCITE.COM
Your Phone: 575/808-0392
City: RUIDOSO
State: NM
FNG Story:

ALL THE PEOPLE WE MET WERE EXTREMELY NICE EVEN WITH ALL THE WRONG PLACES I
PUT MY BIKE PLATOON 7. WE HAD A GREAT TIME AND ALL. I WAS TOLD SEVERAL
TIMES TO KEEP CLOSER, I HAVE DRIVEN 4.5 MILLION MILES IN A SEMI AND I KEEP
A 2-3 SECOND SAFETY MARGIN AND PULLING A TRAILER YOU SHOULD KEEP THE SAME
NOT BE 20 FT BEHIND THE ONE IN FRONT OF YOU. OVER I MET GREAT PEOPL AND
HAD A GOOD TIME BUT SAFETY SHOULD BE A MORE CONCERN PULLING TRAILERS LOOK
FORWARD TO NEXT YEAR THANKS

 


6/5/2009

Name: Andy Stierwalt
E-Mail: beardedone@rock.com
Your Phone: 785-823-1019
City: Salina
State: Kansas
FNG Story:

2 years ago, with my bike ready to go and money in my pocket for Run for
the Wall, I sprang an oil leak which put me in the shop instead.  I
thought I would never have another opportunity.  RFTW 2009 briefly came
through Salina on Sunday... I didn’t get to serve you breakfast at 4am..
and Missed seeing you come and go in Junction City.  On Wednesday
afternoon I packed my bike and sailed to West Virginia by 9:30 the next
night and 1100 miles.  I appreciated being able to ride into DC with you.
I appreciated being able to sit on the Lincoln Memorial and speak with a
few of you fellow brothers and vets.  I may not be able to ride with you
again, but, know that as I stand to at every vet’s funeral in Kansas, I
will think of you and the honor you do all of us.  Respectfully, Kansas
Patriot Guard Member
, Andy Stierwalt




6/5/2009

Name: J. Lee Gorman
E-Mail: irish2@satelephone.com
Your Phone: 785-230-4456
City: Scranton
State: KS
FNG Story:


I’m a veteran that served from June 1971 to June 1974, so yeah I knew guys
that went to RVN. I heard a co-worker (Monty) talking about doing the Run
For The Wall in November of 2008 and after talking it over with the wife
said I would ride along as well. I called my little brother (Patrick) and
asked if he wanted to ride along and he said, "sure!" so we were set. We
started planning and buying stuff for our trip in January 2009. Monty and
his wife (Fay) had their hotel reservations set by the first week in
February. Pat and I decided we would camp along the way so I borrowed my
older brother’s bike trailer (necessitating buying a trailer hitch and
wiring). Pat and I worked out the camping stuff by April and started
packing the trailer. By May we were set for the trip.

Junction City Kansas is where we met RFTW 2009 and got our FNG buttons and
ride packets. We attended the morning meeting and climbed onboard around
8AM. I was in Platoon 7 (Trailer Trash) and Pat and Monty were in Platoon
6. We started the ride with high expectations and much enthusiasm. For
the next 5 days we got great weather, super-slab highways and nerve
wracking riding. This is not a bad thing, but if you aren’t used to close
order formation riding, you’ll be frazzled pretty quick. You have to
develop a level of trust for the rider in front and behind you that makes
you believe you aren’t going to get creamed if you go prompt stupid for 3
seconds. Your throttle lock or cruise control is only decoration because
you aren’t going to get to use them, you’ll have to be constantly making
adjustments to your speed, rowing the gear box, off-throttle, on-throttle,
clutch, and STAY OFF THE BRAKES. It’s the most I’ve ever worked on a
motorcycle in 35 years of riding, period. Through it all safety of your
fellow riders is paramount.

Then you remember, this is a mission, not a ide to eat, not a Sunday breakfast call,
not a poker run, not a joy ride.  t’s a mission to honor those that went before
and those that didn’t eturn. So a little discomfort is OK, a little work is in order because
that’s what says you really care. Riding with 700 other people working
just as hard as you are says you want to be there, doing what you are
doing, which makes those crowds on the streets, the banners hung from the
over-passes and the flag wavings from the kids that much sweeter, that
much more meaningfull. Until you know the sacrifice and pain of this
ride, you can’t appreciate the out-pouring of support you’re being given.
The free gas, the free meals, the free camping, the hugs by burly bikers
saying, "welcome home," wouldn’t mean as much without your effort to be
there.

During the ride we stopped at Veteran Hospitals to meet brave souls, Viet
Nam Memorials to pay respect, met the Governor of West Virginia, and
eventually got to Washington DC and the National Viet Nam Memorial. All
the aches and pains of this trip, the right hand cramps, the lack of
sleep, the blur of the road, the heat and sweat, all disappeared as we
walked to the Wall, mission accomplished. We were home.




6/4/2009

Name: Jim Grafner
E-Mail: jgrafner@comcast.net
Your Phone: 303-506-3054
City: Longmont
State: CO
FNG Story:

As an FNG I had no idea what I was getting in to. My experience was far
beyond any words I can put in this letter. I had the entire gambit of
emotions during the 6 days I rode with all of you from Burlington to DC.
Next year, God willing, I will make the journey from coast to coast.
This year was dedicated to my best friend, Thomas Paul Ray, who was killed
in Vietnam on October 10th, 1967. I took him to the wall with me and the
enormous hole I have had in my heart for over 40 years has finally started
to heal thanks to all of you. I felt so much love and brotherhood that
will now stay with me the rest of my days.

I hope the next year brings all that you wish for and need. Thanks you!


6/3/2009


Name: Cheryl "Raven" Norman
E-Mail: 2cnormans@gmail.com
Your Phone: 830-688-1718
City: Bandera
State: TX
FNG Story:

Wow what can one really say after riding for the first time in RFTW!
There are many thanks to go out to folks but I will mention a few. First
a special thanks to my husband Claude "LawDawg" Norman for his willingness
to make this run not only for the mission but for himself and his own
mission! A huge thanks to Greg "Pied Piper" Smith and his leadership and
encourging words of widsom!

I remember standing at the chain fence at the end of the Wall Saturday
and LawDawg said to Pied Piper, look what you did! His reply was something
like ya I made a big mess. LawDawg said no you made this possible pointing
to the Wall and all the people coming down the walk. Without Pied Piper and
Too Tall and the SR team it would have been impossible to make it "ALL THE WAY".

A special thanks to all the Road Guard for all of your hard work and direction. The advance team, the hydration team. What all these folks do behind the line of sight make the
day safe is just beyond words! A special thanks to Pocket for your
smiling face and hugs each and everyday. You truely are a blessing to be
around. I will also thank the chase vehicles for being there even though
I did not need you (see I ride a yamaha not a harley!) but you were there
in case I needed you and Short Stack I don’t think anyone worked harder
that you did. I once saw a posting by Pied Piper that stated that if you
are going to be a new person on the ride in 2009 it will be an experience
you will never forget. It is an experience that you will never forget and
it is an experience that you can not explain! I have tried and I just can
not find the words to explain it. I need to also thank Mojo and Wicked
for a safe trip from Weatherford Tx to DC. Even though I had been to the
Wall and to The Tomb Of the Unknown befortthis time it was so different.

I am not a vet, I am the wife of a vet that I support with all my heart. I
also support all vets. I really don’t know what it means to a vet to go
to the Wall, I see the pain but as I am not a vet I really can’t
understand the meaning of going to the Wall. Not that I don’t try, I cry
everytime I go there because I see the pain in others eyes.

This year we went back to the Wall Saturday evening and went back to panel 38E where
the name of my husbands best friend is and as we walked away I saw a young
girl sitting on the walk about 2 feet from the Wall writing a letter. I
just could not bring myself to ask her whom she was writing to but it
touched me deeply of someone sitting in the dark writing a letter to
someone on the Wall by the light on the sidewalk.

Seeing the folks of the roads showing support is something you will never forget. The vet centers is for me the heart stopper. When you talk to the men and women there and
you tell them Thank You for your service and the tears fill his or her
eyes. That is a sight that jerks at your heart and makes you wonder how
can this happen, how can it be that in the last 3 months that I have
thanked 2 different vets for his service and welcomed them home and tears
fill the eys looking back at me, how can it be that one guy told me that
he had never been told Welcome Home before and I sat with him and cried
with him.

Thank all of you that made it possible for us to make the ride
this year. We did not go all the way this year, joining in Weatherford
and going to DC however next year we will go all the way. We met so many
wonderful folks that we will never forget. We truely feel like we have
extended our family by hundreds! We have been back for five days and I
can’t wait to go again. A friend at home asked how the ride was and as I
tried to explain the folks on the road, the schools and the vets goose
bumps came up and I found that I just could not tell her enough.

What an honor it was to be part of the Color Guard, and what an honor it
was fro Pocket to as if I wanted to ride MMF, I did not as I thought in my
heart that I did not want to ride in a place that a vet should ride in.
So many times the tears just flow. We did give a few bandid for the heart
pins out to folks that we felt could really use it. I know that many of
you that were on the ride should have gotten a pin. Just know to all my
new vet friend and family that I say to you Thank you from the bottom of
my heart for your service and for what you gave up in serving and Welcome
Home, it has been a long time coming! An FNG no more, now just a babe
looking forward to riding with you all next year ALL THE WAY!

Thanks to everyone!
Cheryl "Raven" Norman


6/2/2009 

Name: Trent Caster
E-Mail: eagleeye25@live.com
Your Phone: 303-359-8862
City: Denver
State: CO
FNG Story:

First and foremost I would like to thank all of the many volunteers that
made this the most memorable journey I have ever taken. It’s right up
there with the birth of my kids and the marriage to my wife of almost 19
years now.

I did post some of this in another thread, so I apologize if you have read
that and I’m repeating myself.

The beauty of the Run is that it serves many purposes for those on the
mission. Each has his/her own reasons and the experiences are just as
diverse.

I hooked up with the CR group in Gallup, NM and rode up to Burlington, CO.
I started riding and standing with the PGR 2 years ago as a way I can give
back to all the vets that have served, are serving and will serve this
great nation. It is truly my honor to ride and stand for all of them.
Some of the missions can be emotionally overwhelming, so when a good
friend of mine "Bones" told me about the RFTW, I thought I would be fine
and was ready for the experience.

What an experience!!! I experienced emotions I never expected. They ran
from pride and feeling I was a part of the "family" to feeling very out of
place. Let me try to explain.

Imagine that every town you go through no matter how big or how small was
like a parade. People standing on the sidewalks, overpasses, etc. waving
flags and holding banners, cheering, waving, etc. as you ride down the
street with this mission in the front of your mind. What an overwhelming
sense of pride to ride in honor of those that can’t. Just gives you goose
bumps. Now, imagine, that you’re a non-vet at the Vietnam Memorial in
Angel Fire, NM. It is a sobering place. One of reflection, remembrance
and healing. Why are YOU there? You’re not a vet. What healing powers
are there for you? Might get to feel a bit out of place at this point.
That is until you get a big ole bear hug from a vet that says "Welcome
Home Brother". You return the heartfelt statement and tell him you’re not
a vet and that you are on this ride to show your appreciation and support
to those that serve. Then this man turns to you, looks you right in the
eye and says, "It doesn’t matter. You’re a member of this family and
we’re on this mission together. Thank you for being here." Now is when
you just might have one of those AH HA moments....Are you kidding me?
Thank ME for being here? It’s not about me, it’s about YOU, you vets that
have made sacrifices I could never understand. But ya know what? Just
because I wasn’t there, doesn’t mean I don’t care. We are, one big
family!!! We are all in this together for one common cause. That’s why
I’m on this ride! To raise awareness of our military personnel and just
how important they are to our way of life in this great nation. They are
not to be forgotten. They are to be honored.

I want each and every vet to know I have such a deep sense of gratitude
and appreciation for the decision you have made to protect this country
and those less fortunate and to allow us to live the lives we do in this
great country. I ride in your honor and hope to ride in your honor until
I am no longer able.

Thank you for allowing me to be a part of this great cause.


6/2/2009

Name: Sharon McGee
E-Mail: sharon@sharonmcgee.com
Your Phone: 512-517-7193
City: Austin
State: Texas

FNG Story:
Dear Friends,
Thank you for an experience of a lifetime! Thank you for the mission of
Run for the Wall and for the purpose it stands. I am so proud and honored
to be a 2009 FNG and I thank everyone for helping me along the way! Lord
knows I needed it! Thank you, Greg for your superb leadership and for the
entire leadership team that was responsible for making sure that we made
it "All the Way!"

My life was touched in ways that words can’t describe. I will be there in
2010 the entire route!

God bless you all and God bless the USA!

Respectfully,
Sharon McGee


5/30/09

Name: Sharon McGee
E-Mail: sharon@sharonmcgee.com
Your Phone: 512-517-7193
City: Austin
State: Texas
FNG Story:


Dear Friends,
Thank you for an experience of a lifetime! Thank you for the mission of
Run for the Wall and for the purpose it stands. I am so proud and honored
to be a 2009 FNG and I thank everyone for helping me along the way! Lord
knows I needed it! Thank you, Greg for your superb leadership and for the
entire leadership team that was responsible for making sure that we made
it "All the Way!"

My life was touched in ways that words can’t describe. I will be there in
2010 the entire route!

God bless you all and God bless the USA!

Respectfully,
Sharon McGee


5/30/09


Name: Vicci Melton
E-Mail: heritagevicci@yahoo.com
Your Phone: 928-261-3459
City: Yuma
State: AZ
FNG Story:

I waited four years to make the trek from Yuma, AZa to Washington, DC, and
why I waited so long I’ll never know. I just turned 60 before the ride
and was really concerned if I was up for the test. What an experience. I
laughed, cried and was so humbled by not only my fellow riders, but the
beautiful and gracious folks we along the way. While at Odessa, TX, I got
lost in thought of the 60’s and the awfulness our boys came home to. One
of the road guards, and to save my life I can’t remember this good old
boy’s name, came up to me and asked me "where are you?", referring to my
thoughts at the moment. I looked at him and all I could do was cry. The
run to the Wall was profound for me. My toy hauler boasted numerous
placards of friends and family who have served our great nation.

After a triumphant trip to DC we headed to Alabama, and along the way encountered
numerous other riders who had made the trip, and lots of folks who drove
past us waving. Am I proud to be an American? Not only yes, but hell
yes. I count each and every Vet to be a member of my family. And thanks
to all of you who put on such a thrilling and memorable run. I can hardly
wait for next year. God bless America and you.


5/30/09

Name: Tsgt Mario J. Puccio
E-Mail: mjp1975@wildblue.net
Your Phone: 740-517-1433
City: Vincent
State: OH
FNG Story:

I am one of the sore butt guys that rode a sport bike in from Hurricane WV
this year. Why did I put myself through the punishment of riding such an
uncomfortable bike? I am a 15 year veteran of the US Air Force and the
West Virginia Air National Guard and the son of a Vietnam Veteran who was
on the USS New Jersey. When I was asked by another buddy of mine if I
wanted to do this run this year I was all for it right off the bat. Then I
started telling my Dad about it (who didn’t have a motorcycle at the
time). I kept telling him he needed to rent a bike and do this with me.
About four weeks later my Dad bought his first motorcycle in about 29
years. We got more and more excited about the run the closer it got and
then it was upon us. We joined up in Hurricane and if that wasn’t enough
of a sight to see that many veterans and veteran supporters, DC would
change my mind forever. My Dad had never seen The Wall nor did he ever
really talk about Vietnam that much. I did not know that he had a very
good buddy killed there until Saturday, May 23. 2009 when he stood in
front of his name on The Wall with tears coming down his face uttering the
words I miss you. It was an honor and a priveledge to be with my Dad
during this time and also an honor and a priveledge to ride with all the
other bikers on this run. Short of seeing my daughters born it was the
most amazing thing I have ever seen or been a part of. God Bless all of
you, thank you for letting me ride with you and share this experience with
my Dad and I hope to see you all next year.


 

5/27/09

Name: Mike Oliver
E-Mail: mholiver@cox.net
Your Phone: 504-494-7309
City: Metairie (suburb of Nawlins’)
State: Louisiana
FNG Story:

I just got back from one of my trips of a lifetime - - 12 days of awe - I
will remember this experience with a smile on my death bed, believe me.

kicker of the trip was standing in line at Thunder Alley near the Vietnam
Wall at the burger tent. A vet with vest walks up behind me for his
lunch - has one artificial arm. I order my hot dog, hamburger, and diet
pepsi and tell the lady I’m getting whatever this vet behind me wants. I
wish him welcome home and he surprisingly brightens up and thanks me
profusely. I tell him I’m Navy, fought the Cold War, and am a PGR Ride
Captain from Nawlins’. He points to a patch on his vest. It’s indicates
"Society of the Medal of Honor". Holy moley, he’s a Vietnam Conflict
Medal of Honor Recipient. I offer him my card and a PGR pin. He takes my
card and says he isn’t into pins, but he has something for me. He pulls
out his "Mission Coin" with the pic of the Army Medal of Honor and a
Purple Heart on one side with the logo of the Society of Medal of Honor
Recipients, and his name and date of incident - during Tet 8 Jan 1968 and
that he’s Gary G. Wetzel. I told him with pride that because of PGR, he’s
the sixth Medal of Honor recipient I’ve shaken hands with, including
fellow Vietnam Vets General Livingston, Mr Jon Caviani, Mr Michael
Thorton, and had a relationship with Mr. Jack Lucas and attended his
funeral standing the PGR flag line in Jackson, MS.

He was pleased about this and had nothing buy accolades about Mr. Jack
Lucas who just passed recently.

I have nothing but praise for all the leadership of the Run and their
dedication of making it a great success which it was. Thanx much to all.

Mike from Nawlins’


5/27/09

Name: Scott Durrett
E-Mail: kc7dji@gmail.com
Your Phone: 636-328-5446
City: St. Peters
State: MO
FNG Story:

Brothers - Sisters, let me first start by saying Thank You and welcome
home! This year was my first time to be able to ride with you. I was
only able to ride from Junction City, Kansas to Wentzville, Missouri but
that short run meant everything to me. I have very strong emotions for my
brothers and sisters who are serving and who have served. I spent most of
the drive with tears in my eyes as I constantly thought about the sole
purpose of such a ride and seeing the outpouring of support along the way.
I must also mention the unthinkable task some of you have accomplished by
putting together this ride. I wasn’t on the entire journey but there was
not a beat missed on the leg of my adventure.

I am going to try my best to make it all the way to Washington D.C. next
year and experience the full impact of your/our purpose, Riding for those
who cannot. What an honor.

I was lucky enough to serve 8 years for our country. I was lucky enough
to receive veteran status from serving however I remained stateside during
my time. The only thing I truly regret is leaving the military. My
veteran status only shows that I served and I do feel less of a person for
only serving stateside. My honor and my heart is for all my brothers and
sisters who did serve overseas and who have truly earned their titles as
veterans. Regardless how I feel, I am here to honor those who gave
everything. I honored to ride along side my brothers and sisters. Thank
you all. Keep the rubber side down and drive safe!

Scott


5/27/09 

Name: LTC (R) Embe Kugler
E-Mail: kem10@cox.net
City: Phoneix
State: Arizona
FNG Story:

I have been planning to do this ride from the first time I heard about Run
for the Wall and Rolling Thunder. Something of higher priority always
seemed to get in the way. I am now fully retired (US Army/State of
Arizona) so work was no longer an excuse. Living on a fixed income in a
rotten economy meant camping instead of hotels, but in the big picture not
much of a sacrifice.

I was on orders for the Nam six times, took all the
shots six times, made it through POR six times, but never made it to Nam.
I was pissed at the time, but now nearly 40 years later I realize how
blessed I was.

I have friends on the Wall, I have friends in Arlington
and other National Cemetaries, and I have friends still serving in harms
way. I have visited the Wall and Arlington several times. It never gets
any easier.

However, this time it had more impact because of the "Run".
I hope never to miss another "Run for the Wall" until I join my
compatriots in a National Cemetary.
Embe


AN FNG’S EXPERIENCE ON RFTW XX

By Cindy Sharp

(Ed. Note: I received the following email from Cindy: "Judy: I followed your blog from the time your group left California/Lake Havasu until I joined in Hurricane, WV. Thank you for the wonderful stories and insights you gave anyone who took the time to read them.")

My dad and I both joined RFTW as FNGs this year. He joined in Wentzville, MO and I in Hurricane, WV. We had talked about doing this for 6 to 8 months and I must say that I really didn’t know what an experience it would be. My dad is a Navy vet, with 20 years of service and I have to say that I am really proud of him. It wasn’t until the last few years that I actually knew that he had been in Vietnam during that war. I knew that his years of service were during that time, but he never really talked about the experience until lately. Now I have a better understanding of why.

During this trip, he told me about four guys that he served with whose names are on the Wall. As he tells it, "Navy guys are not supposed to be up there." Two pilots and their navigators were killed while he served with them. One plane was shot down over Vietnam and both the pilot and navigator died in captivity one day apart. The other two were in a plane that crashed during a landing attempt on their carrier. My dad had been to the memorial once before, when his two sons were young and hadn’t really had time to pay his respects. He only had the names and ranks of his fallen comrades but not the locations of their names on The Wall. Unfortunately he still hasn’t been able to pay his respects.

We made two visits to The Wall. The first visit, on Friday night after we arrived in DC, he did not have the location information so we simply walked along the Wall in silence. When we were about two-thirds of the way through, he put his arm around me and leaned on my shoulder and we walked the rest of the way rather quickly. He attempted to revisit The Wall on Saturday after we had been to Arlington but couldn’t bring himself to walk its length again. However, I was able to get to the location books and find the information he will need in the future to finally pay his respects to his friends.

I will never forget the physical presence that exists when you walk along The Wall. It is something that I have never felt before and I imagine that the feeling is there every time. If I get a chance to go there again, I’m sure that I will find out firsthand for myself. The only other place that I felt that physical presence was in Arlington Cemetery.

I mentioned that we were at Arlington-we were honored enough to be in the group of 250 RFTW FNGs who were allowed to ride their bikes into the Cemetery. Again, something I will never forget. It too has a physical presence that simply cannot be described. You have to feel it to understand it.

I am not a military veteran, simply the proud daughter of a 20-year Navy veteran. I was honored this year to be allowed to experience all that RFTW is and does this year with my Dad. I hope to get the chance to do so again. He has indicated that he would like to make the trip again, possibly next year, and God willing, I will join him if he so wishes.

Another note I’d like to share is how proud I was to be a West Virginian when the group rode into Rainelle. Other than the greeting I read about at Lake Havasu, I did not get to experience anything so moving. When I spoke to one of the veteran RFTW folks about it (I think it might have been Bounce) I actually got tears in my eyes and my voice broke. I am proud of the Mountaineers of WV! They know what it means to be of service to our great country. West Virginia has one of the highest per capita number of military servicemen and women in the country, and, even though I wasn’t born here, I am proud to be considered a Mountaineer. I would like to get more people out to greet the RFTW as it comes through the Capitol city of Charleston, WV and if I am able to participate, you can be sure that I will be one of them.

Thank you for taking the time to read the ramblings of an FNG who just had to share her experiences with someone who would understand.



 


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