Central Route Coordinator Latest News 2016
July 24, 2015
Hello. Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Dave “Papa Smurf” Klemme, and it is my honor and privilege to have been selected as the Central Route Coordinator for Run For The Wall XXVIII in 2016.
I served in the United States Marine Corps, as both an enlisted man and an officer, from 1967 to 1992. During my enlisted days, I served as a UH-1E “Huey” Crew Chief/Door Gunner. I have three close friends and fellow Marine crewmembers that went out together one day, and never returned. To this day, they remain among the missing, and every year I make this Run in their memory. They are why our mission is so near, and dear, to my heart.
I started Run For The Wall as an FNG (Fun New Guy) in 2004, and have been a “Central Route Guy” ever since. If I had it to do over again, I would probably have alternated between the Central and Southern Routes, with a turn on Midway thrown in when they started up, as well. But having been with Central Route for so long now, I can’t imagine not being with them every May. Last year was my 11th Run. For the first six, I was content to be a pack rider, but I began to realize just how much benefit I had received from this experience without having given anything back. In 2011, I joined the Staging Team, and did that job for two years. In 2013, Don “E-Z” Burns asked me to be his Assistant Platoon Leader, and when Don was selected to be the Ass’t. Route Coordinator in 2014, I was asked to take over his Platoon Leader position. When Don assumed his role as the 2015 Route Coordinator, he again reached out to me to be his assistant.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Don for the superb job he did leading the Central Route this past year. He put together the finest leadership team imaginable, and worked diligently throughout the entire year to assure that our Central Route experience in 2015 went off without a hitch. His leadership was evident throughout, and was reflected in the exceptional performance of the platoon leadership and all of the support teams. I’m happy to announce that Don will be acting as our Route Mentor for 2016, providing me with an advisory resource I can draw upon throughout this year of planning and preparation, as well as someone who can provide guidance and counsel during the actual Run.
Our leadership team from 2015 will remain essentially intact for 2016, with only a few changes. I’ve asked Dick “Winky” McKay to be my Assistant Route Coordinator, and he has graciously accepted. Dick has been our Staging Team leader for the past two years, and he will be replaced by the very able John “Turkey” Staub. Roger “Grizz” Ingram has chosen to step down as Road Guard Captain. His assistant, Tom Miller, has been named as his replacement, and I have every confidence in his exceptional abilities. Ken “Nick” Nicholas will step in as Tom’s Assistant Road Guard Captain. The leadership for our other support teams (Fuel, Registration, Ambassadors, Chaplains, Hydration, Leadership Support, Merchandising, and Last Man / Chase Vehicles), and for our platoons, will remain much the same as last year. This will make my job a whole lot easier, and I’m very grateful indeed that these folks have agreed to step up once again.
I’d also like to recognize our State Coordinators. These are the unsung heroes of the Central Route. They work largely behind the scenes to make sure all of the logistical details are accomplished. They make sure our passage through their states are coordinated with law enforcement, and that all required “event” permits are obtained, and in order. They make all the arrangements for our hotels, and work closely with the fine folks who host, and in most cases, feed us. They set up our fuel stops, and are responsible for the fundraising that results in some of those fuel stops being paid for on our behalf. Without their efforts, there would not be a Run For The Wall.
Our next major event of the year will be our reunion and service project in Angel Fire, New Mexico, during the September 4-6 weekend. As many of you know, the sidewalks of the New Mexico Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial at Angel Fire are lined with commemorative bricks. Each year, the Central Route donates our time and efforts to place all the bricks purchased during the previous year. This will take place on Saturday, Sept. 5th, and will be followed by dinner at the Seniors Center in Eagle Nest, NM. The cost for dinner will be $20.00 per person. There will also be an opportunity after dinner for a Q & A session with one, or more, members of the RFTW Board of Directors. Details can be found on page 36 of the 2015 CR Itinerary on this website. As her final gift to us, our outgoing New Mexico State Coordinator, Barbara “Happy Feet” Montoya is handling all of the preparations for this reunion, and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank her for all of her efforts.
I will be posting periodic updates throughout the year to keep everyone advised as our preparations for RFTW 2016 proceed. I will also be posting, in the near future, an updated contacts list of key personnel for 2016. If you have been on the Run previously (a non-FNG), and would like to contribute your time to help make 2016 a rousing success, I urge you to contact one, or all, of our support team leaders and volunteer your services. We cannot do this Run without these folks, and there’s almost always room for more.
With deep respect...
Dave “Papa Smurf” Klemme
“Freedom Isn’t Free”
June 2, 2015 – Greetings!
By now most of you are home where it all started for you in May. Some may be still on the road, touring, visiting or just enjoying this beautiful country of ours. I have to report that I am already home, having to ship my bike back and fly home myself do to medical issues, missing my own schedule of stops on my way back to California.
This will be my last post on the Route Coordinators Latest News. Let me say it was an honor this year to lead this MISSION and once again be a part of Central Route Leadership, RFTW XXVII and our 2015 Team. I do hope all FNG’s did have a memorable and healing experience. As I have said before, “this is (was) for you. It is important to me that you were able to complete “your” Mission as an FNG and hopefully understand that you are now a part of the RFTW Family. I would like to think most of you will return and look forward to seeing you next year, or Colorado Springs and Angel Fire, still this year’s reunions. For those who continue to ride year after year in support of RFTW, it was good to be with you as family once again. Thank you for “your” support and riding again “For Those Who Cannot”.
I will look back on 2015 with no regret. Yes, the last few days of the Run for me were trying and sometimes painfully disappointing. I did everything I could to hang in there until the end and greet you in DC. It only takes a moment to realize that this was not about me, but the MISSION itself. I am proud to say that our Leadership this year, led by ARC Dave “Papa Smurf” Klemme, stepped up without a hitch and completed the Mission. That is why we have the “Central Route Leadership” we do, experienced, dedicated and qualified individuals working as a team to step up to any circumstance that comes our way. I am proud of each one of you who served this year. Thank you for your Leadership.
In closing, I hope to continue building a Nor- Cal monthly meeting for all RFTW participants. I will post on the forum and expect the first such meeting to be in July. Any help for organizing this would be appreciated. Just give me a call or email me. I look forward to 2016 already. To all of our Veterans, “Thank You for Your Service” and “WELCOME HOME”.
Don “EZ” Burns
FREEDOM ISN’T FREE