Central Route Coordinator Latest News 2015
September 30th 2014
Greetings, October is here already and our summer is over. I hope all enjoyed some riding time and had a chance to reflect about this year’s RFTW. On the weekend of Aug. 29,30 and 31, Labor Day Weekend, the Central Route once again hosted its’ annual reunion in Angel Fire NM. It’s a great ride from anywhere in the country and a very meaningful reunion- event. Not only is it a time for us to get together after the RUN, it is a time we as a group can respectfully give back to those who served by our support and participation in the annual “Brick Laying Ceremony” at Vietnam Veterans Memorial State Park in Angel Fire NM for the David Westphall Foundation. This reunion and ceremony would not be possible without the planning and coordination of Barbara “Happy Feet” Montoya, Central Route New Mexico State Coordinator and Bill “Rocket” Rager, Central Route Assistant State Coordinator. Their hard work and dedication along with those who participated in the weekend cannot be thanked enough.
The weekend started a little early on Thursday this year with the “Trike Presentation” @ Thunderbird Harley Davidson in Albuquerque NM for M.O.H. Recipient MSGT Leroy Petry (Retired), who also participated in the weekend events riding his “ own” Trike. A number of us who were able to attend the presentation on Thursday, had the honor to ride with and escort Leroy to Angel Fire and Eagle Nest on Friday where a “meet and greet” was scheduled @ 5:00 PM at the Laguna Vista Restaurant and Saloon Courtyard. This was a new location for our “meet and greet” and worked out well. A great start to our weekend.
Saturday proved to be very busy and worthwhile. Over 400 bricks were laid again this year, and thanks to those who helped prep the ground, the Brick Laying Ceremony went very smooth and was completed ahead of schedule. It was a great honor once again to lay bricks myself and to be a part of the entire day. The Angel Fire Memorial is a special place…. The riders’ forum and dinner Saturday evening went very well. We had a “full” house and actually had more in attendance than expected. Harry “Attitude” Steelman brought the riders’ up to date with a brief B.O.D. report and all enjoyed a dinner catered by Jane Solois and the hospitality of Eagle Nest Mayor Richard Cordova and wife Terry.
The weekend ended Sunday morning with a service at the Angel Fire Memorial Chapel given by our Senior Chaplin for 2015, Curtis Hubbell. After goodbyes at the Memorial, some of us participated in a planned “Lunch Ride” to Questa NM, with M.O.H. Recipient MSGT Leroy Petry. It also turned out to be a special day as we participated in a Ceremony at the Veterans Memorial in Questa to recognize 2 of their own who survived the Bataan “Death March” of WWII, Tony Reyna and Valdamar Deherrera. Lunch then followed and the group split up, some heading for Colorado and others, including Leroy, back to Albuquerque NM. It was truly a memorable way to end a very special weekend. Again, thank you all that were able to attend.
I will update things once again in October. The RUN will be here again before we know it. We have a lot of work and planning to do to make this happen. I look forward the challenge of a safe and successful RFTW 2015.
Don “EZ” Burns
FREEDOM ISN’T FREE
August 11, 2014 - Greetings!
My name is Don “EZ” Burns, the 2015 Central Route Coordinator. It is my honor that the RFTW Board has approved me to carry out these duties and lead the Central Route across America. I am a Vietnam Veteran, having served in the U.S. Navy from 69’ to 73’ aboard the U.S.S. Carpenter DD-825 stationed out of Pearl Harbor. Yes, I am a “Tin Can” Sailor and did (2) Westpac deployments, the first in the summer of 70’ and the second late 71’ into 72’. Our duties in the Gulf of Tonkin and on Yankee Station included providing screen and plane guard services for the carriers which were; the USS Bon Homme Richard (CVA-31), USS America (CVA-66), USS Shangra La (CVS-38), USS Midway (CVA-41), USS Oriskany (CVA-34), USS Coral Sea (CVA-43) and the USS Constellation (CVA-64).
I would like to thank Ken “Catfish” Ward the 2014 Central Route Coordinator. Ken did an “outstanding” job as a leader which resulted in one of the safest and most successful RUN’s in recent history. I did take a lot away from Ken and his 2014 Leadership. I intend to carry on that success.
Personally, it took me a few years “looking” at the RFTW web site and finally making the decision to do the RUN in 2011. Not knowing what to expect I answered a “Runs to the Run” on the web page late in April 2011. I had immediate second thoughts. Who were these Vets? How would they receive me? Was I worthy to ride with them? Stuff like that….. Maybe I shouldn’t go. Maybe I’ll go next year. Then after 2 or 3 days I get a call from this guy Ed Hocking, a.k.a. “Big Ed”, a.k.a. “Hound Dog”. We talked for a few minutes and he says, “OK, I’ll meet you at the Sutterville Rd. exit off I-5 at 0630 on Sunday May 15”. I said, “OK I’ll be there”. I had committed, he had just made up my mind for me. I was an “FNG”. When I got off my bike in Rancho Cucamonga that Sunday afternoon, I was greeted by people I didn’t know, but in particular, “Tanker” and “Girlfriend” Mc Dole. “Welcome home”, welcome to the “Family”…. From Rancho to DC, “Big Ed”, “Tanker” and “Girlfriend” and many other riders made me feel welcome, helped me with my regrets and shame I felt for not serving beside my fallen classmates and friends who did not come home, helped me understand the many levels of healing RFTW provides and took me to the “Wall” to pay my respects for the first time. I knew then, I will do the RUN as long as I can. I want to give back. I want to help and be a part of this “Mission”.
My RUN experience has been rewarding. In 2011 of course, my FNG year, I went all the way. In 2012 I was Assistant Platoon Leader for “Big Ed” and Platoon # 5. In 2013 our 25th Anniversary, I had the honor to be asked by Stan “Ironfish” Handley to be Platoon Leader of the 8th platoon. In 2014, again it was an honor to serve with Ken “Catfish” Ward as his Assistant Route Coordinator. This next year in 2015, it will be an honor and privilege to lead the Central Route as Route Coordinator across America. My focus this year and as in the past as a part of Leadership, will be to assist getting riders across the country in a safe manner. I want the healing to continue for our Vietnam Veterans, Iraq/ Afghan Veterans, Gold Star Families and ALL Veterans, their families and friends.
Our Angel Fire reunion is at the end of the month, August, 29-31. I look forward to seeing a lot of you there again. Speaking of reunions, I want to thank Harlan Olson, Dick Mc Kay and all the Colorado RFTW people for last week’s Colorado Springs Reunion. Great job and good to see people from all (3) Routes represented. Now back to Angel Fire. I will be on my hands and knees laying bricks once again. To me this is an honor to interact with families who’s loved ones are remembered by the “Brick Laying Ceremony” on Saturday. We will have a “meet and greet” Friday evening at the Laguna Vista Saloon Courtyard. Saturday evening we have a riders’ meeting forum and dinner. Sunday Aug. 31st we will have Chapel Service at the Memorial. I would like to thank, in advance, Barbara “Happy Feet” Montoya, Central Route New Mexico State Coordinator, for her hard work putting this all together. Please contact her for your dinner and patch reservations and any other questions about times etc. I invite all riders and RFTW participants, Central, Midway and Southern to attend this reunion. I especially invite any FNG’s from 2014, and any that are considering the RUN next year. Come see what we do. Be a part of the RFTW Family. This year is very special at Angel Fire. We will be honored once again by the presence of Medal of Honor Recipient MSGT Leroy Petry (Retired) for the weekend. This time however Leroy’s wish to ride again will happen. Again, Barbara “Happy Feet” Montoya was instrumental in making it happen. Working with Ken and Jenny Ward who took it upon themselves to find and purchase a Trike for Leroy and making modifications as needed, the three of them, on behalf of the Central Route will present this Trike to Leroy on Thursday Aug. 28th, at a ceremony at Thunderbird Harley Davidson, 11:00 am in Albuquerque N.M. Come if you can. Contact Barbara, Ken or Jenny, as we are still in need of funds to cover the costs of this very special “Trike Build”. Funds are being collected through a 501 (C) (19) charitable organization. Contact them for details please.
Lastly, let me say again, it is an honor and privilege to be your 2015 Central Route Coordinator. Our Assistant Route Coordinator this year will be Dave “Papa Smurf” Klemme of Colorado. Thank you Dave for accepting the challenge that leadership presents. Yes, we also will have Medal of Honor Recipient MSGT Leroy Petry going “all the way” with Central Route this year, and I am told we may have the honor once again to have Medal of Honor Recipient Sp4 John Baca travel with us from Rancho to Angel Fire. Again our focus will be to provide a safe and healing experience from LA to DC. This year as last, RFTW will have “Three Routes, One Mission”! That Mission is: To promote healing, among ALL Veterans, their families and friends. To call for an accounting of all Prisoners of War, those Missing in Action (POW/MIA), to honor the memory of those Killed in Action (KIA) from all wars, and to support our Military Personnel all over the world. Please feel free to contact me thru email: firstname.lastname@example.org or cell phone: (916) 849-5112 (Pacific Time).
To our Vietnam Vets, to our Iraq / Afghan Vets, Veterans from all conflicts past or present, and especially FNG’s, Welcome Home! Thank you for your service.
Don “EZ” Burns
RFTW 2015 CR RC
FREEDOM ISN’T FREE