Central Route Coordinator Latest News 2016
September 14, 2015
The Central Route Staging Team is Looking for a Few Good Riders!
John "Turkey" Staub, our Central Route Staging Team Leader, has asked me to put the word out. He’s looking for volunteers for the 2016 team. Having been a "stager" for two Runs, I can say without hesitation that it is an extremely rewarding experience. You get to know all the riders in "your platoon," and build some wonderful friendships, with them, and with your teammates. It’s also an excellent way to make yourself known and "break into" the Route leadership ranks, if that’s in your plans. We need folks to step forward who have been on the Run before, preferably having gone "All The Way" at least once, although that’s not a hard requirement. If, like me, you’ve benefitted from being on the Run, and would like to give something back, then I urge you to get in touch with John. His contact information is listed under "Staging Team" of the "Contacts" list on this website. Run For The Wall depends on riders stepping up to fill these all important support roles... we cannot do this Run without them... without YOU!
With deepest respect...
Dave "Papa Smurf" Klemme
"Freedom Isn’t Free"
September 9, 2015
Greetings, Central Route Family and Friends…
As of today, we have 251 days until Kick-Stands-Up in Ontario, and there are still 1,269 Americans unaccounted for in Southeast Asia.
Over the weekend of Sept. 4-6, nearly 100 RFTW riders, mostly from Central Route, gathered in Angel Fire and Eagle Nest, New Mexico, for our annual reunion and Central Route service project. The sidewalks throughout the New Mexico State Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Park at Angel Fire are lined with commemorative bricks, each bearing the name, and dates of service, for an American soldier, sailor, airman or Marine. There are also bricks honoring military units and soldiers of allied nations who served in Vietnam. Each year at this time, riders from the Central Route donate our time and labor to place those bricks during our reunion. This year, we emplaced 335 individual bricks, along with six marble bricks commemorating selected Medal of Honor recipients. We also met for a catered dinner on Saturday night, along with a riders’ forum Q & A with several RFTW Board members who were present. What a wonderful opportunity to spend time with our fellow “RFTW family” members.
Preparations for the 2016 Run are continuing apace… all key positions in the Central Route leadership team have been filled, and the Contacts List for this year’s run has been posted on this website. There are still many positions on the individual support teams that are yet to be filled. These include, but are not limited to, the Fuel Team, Staging Team, Ambassadors, Hydration Team, and Registration. If you are an experienced RFTW rider (a non- FNG), I encourage you to contact any of the support team leaders and volunteer your time and efforts. We cannot do this run without the volunteers who serve in these critical positions.
Going forward, I plan to use each entry on this page to discuss an issue that crops up on the Run from time to time, and to make clear the expectations for our ridership. The first of these, with apologies to Aretha Franklin, is…
“R-E-S-P-E-C-T Find out what it means to… Central Route.”
At each of our overnight stops, our host communities go to a great deal of effort and expense to provide us with welcoming ceremonies and a great meal. We also take this time to recognize those organizations and community members who have been instrumental in supporting Run For The Wall and Central Route. Unfortunately, there are always a few riders who feel that it is not necessary to attend these events to show our appreciation. They prefer to break out from the Pack and head for their hotels or campgrounds early. Also, when we are presenting plaques and certificates to these wonderful folks, there are always a few riders who feel their conversations are more important than giving their attention, and RESPECT, to the people being recognized.
This is Run For The Wall. It is NOT Run For The Hotel (or the Campsite)! We ride as a group. We arrive as a group. And we participate in the evening activities as a group. This is the basic expectation for ALL riders, including the route leadership and support teams. There will be plenty of time after these activities to get to our hotels, or campsites, and to get settled in for the night. But it is a matter of RESPECT that we attend these functions and show our gratitude to our hosts for their support and generosity. It also means giving them our undivided (and quiet) attention during the welcoming and recognition ceremonies. Anything less is disrespectful to our hosts, and is unacceptable.
Thanks for taking the time to read this. I’ll post updates as our preparations for RFTW XXVIII continue. Again, the contacts list is up and is there for your use. Please feel free to contact me, or my Assistant Route Coordinator, Dick “Winky” McKay, with any questions. Especially prospective “FNGs” (Fun New Guys/Gals)… we’re here for you.
With deepest respect...
Dave “Papa Smurf” Klemme
“Freedom Isn’t Free”
July 24, 2015
Hello. 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 deepest respect...
Dave “Papa Smurf” Klemme
“Freedom Isn’t Free”