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Central Route Coordinator Latest News 2016

June 8, 2016

By now, most of us are home from another Run.  Those who aren’t home yet have probably chosen to extend their adventures with visits to places a lot more interesting than here… I’m jealous!  By most measures, the Central Route of RFTW XXVIII was a great success.  We were blessed with good weather for most of our journey, and we had very few incidents to mar the experience.  Unfortunately, we did have two riders who suffered leg injuries in separate accidents, but I’m pleased to report both are doing well and are on their way to recovery.

To our leadership and support teams at all levels… give yourselves a pat on the back.  You all did a magnificent job!  The success we enjoyed is due entirely to your efforts.  Seeing the way our riders, and in particular our FNGs, responded to your leadership was highly gratifying, and demonstrates that the right people stepped up to fill the right jobs.  I do not have adequate words to express my gratitude for all that you did.  I am in awe of how well you all brought this Run together, and of the experience you provided to our FNGs.

Speaking of FNGs, I sincerely hope all of you found this Run to be everything you hoped it would be… and more.  Many people worked tirelessly throughout the year to make this Run a success, and I hope each of you will continue with RFTW in the future.  It’s especially urgent that a new cadre of younger riders, both veterans and supporters alike, become involved with RFTW on a continuing basis, and that they step forward to assume positions of leadership wherever possible.  Many of the current leadership are becoming a bit (ahem) long in the tooth, shall we say? We don’t have too many more Runs left in us.  We need to pass the torch to our younger counterparts who can keep our mission alive into the future.

In closing, let me say this… many people have thanked me for leading Central Route this year, and while I appreciate their comments, they have it backwards.  I was humbled to be chosen for this honor, and it is I who should be thanking each and every one of you for allowing me the honor and privilege to serve as YOUR Route Coordinator.  God Bless you and WELCOME HOME!

Mission Accomplished.

With deepest respect,

Dave “Papa Smurf” Klemme

“Freedom Isn’t Free”   


May 8, 2016

My friends, we are 10 days from going “kick stands up” on Run For The Wall XXVIII.  Our Central Route plans are about as firm as they’re going to get, and all that remains is to put them in play.  There will be adjustments and “tweaks” that will have to be made in the last few days, and during the Run itself, but hopefully they will be minor and easily accomplished.

There has been one significant, and very recent, change to the itinerary for day #4 (Eagle Nest, NM to Goodland, KS).  Due to unavoidable circumstances, we lost the use of our usual lunch venue in Pueblo, CO.  Thanks to the superb efforts of our Assistant Route Coordinator, Dick “Winky” McKay, and our ever loyal supporters from the American Legion Riders of Post 38 (Dean “Casper” Noechel and Mike Hall), we were able to secure an alternate lunch site in Fountain, CO.  It’s far too late to change the printed itinerary, but we will still have our regular fuel stop in Pueblo (a “gas & go”), and then proceed on to Fountain, CO for our lunch stop.  The venue is right off of our route, so access will be quick and easy.  I want to get this word out to everybody as soon as possible, in case anyone had plans for people to meet them in Pueblo.

Before I close, I want to give a special acknowledgement to our State Coordinators, and their assistants.  Without their hard work throughout this past year, we simply could not hold this Run.  I hope every rider on the Central Route will try to meet these wonderful folks and personally thank them for their hard work:

CALIFORNIA:         Carol Olmstead, Jim “Sweeper” Sloan, and Bud “Rebar” Phillips

ARIZONA:             Teri “Grumpy” Slider, Ed & Janet Vanlandingham

NEW MEXICO:       John “Ice Scout” King and Steve “Spuner” Berniklau

COLORADO:          Curtis “Biker Daddy” Hubbell and Tom “Twitch” Brunette

KANSAS:              Carl “Rusty” Brown and Tina (Red Lady) Brown

MISSOURI:           Roger “Grizzly” Ingram and Arnie “Postmaster” Swift

ILLINOIS:             Jennifer Wetzel, Eric “Cowpie” Ammann & Sonia “Old Girl” Ammann

INDIANA:              Bill “Oz” Chaney, J.R. Eckart

KENTUCKY:           Lee Bush and Craig Bush

WEST VIRGINIA:   Linda Stimmel & Denise “Krispy” Ferris

VIRGINIA:            Walt Reichard

ARLINGTON/D.C.:  John “Turkey” Staub

Barring something very unusual, this will be my last post before we leave on “the longest ‘welcome home’ parade in the country.”  It’s my honor and privilege to be able to lead the Central Route this year… an opportunity that I will treasure as long as I live.  I look forward to seeing you in Ontario, or as you join us along the way.  God Bless each of you, and “WELCOME HOME.”


With deepest respect,

Dave "Papa Smurf" Klemme

"Freedom Isn’t Free"


May 5, 2016



I want to thank Chicken Joe for providing this information to all of the Route Coordinators, and to Daryl “Top” Neil for his editorial acumen…

We need to review a few points as we make our last preparations before departing for California and the 2016 Run. In 2012 the Board of Directors (BOD) set forth specifics about the use of the RFTW brand during non-sanctioned events, such as Rides to the Run. These rules are still in effect. The rules are in place to protect the integrity of the Run. They may also have legal implications.

Please make sure that any information posted on social media does not use the RFTW brand name to promote non-sanctioned events. All contact with the RFTW State Coordinators should go through the Route Coordinator, Assistant Route Coordinator or their designee. State Coordinators should not be contacted to support Runs to the Run. Do not use the RFTW name or your affiliation with RFTW to solicit hotel discounts, free meals, LEO support or any other personal favors during non-sanctioned events.

Leadership is not authorized to wear arm brassards (sleeves) or windshield banners en route to California or on any non-RFTW event. All it takes is one accident, with a leadership banner/brassard being displayed, and lawyers will get involved. This has greater implications than just looking cool on the road.

All of this is about keeping RFTW financially healthy and maintaining good will with our long-time supporters. If anyone has any questions about this BOD directive, feel free to contact me.

Thank you for your support and understanding in this matter.


With deepest respect,

Dave "Papa Smurf" Klemme

"Freedom Isn’t Free" 



April 19, 2016


Here is an excerpt from the Schedule of Events in Ontario.  It is NOT all inclusive, and it does not contain information about our actual day of departure (May 18th).  That information, along with information regarding additional activities scheduled for Monday and Tuesday (May 16th and 17th) will be posted in the Lobby of the Radisson (Host) Hotel.

SUNDAY, MAY 15, 2016

6:00pm – 7:00pm: Registration Meeting (BOD, RC’s, ARC’s RGC’s)—Registration Rooms

7:00pm – 9:00pm: Route Leadership Registration Only – Registration Rooms


MONDAY, May 16, 2016

8:00am – 9:00am: Route Leadership Briefing (BOD, RC’s) – Salon 1 & 2

9:00am – 10:00am: Finance Orientation (RC/ARC, Registration Team/ICO Team, Route Finance Team, Chase Drivers) – Salon 1 & 2

10:00am – 11:00am: Merchandising Meeting (Merchandise Teams, Brammer) – Salon 1 & 2

1:00pm – 7:00pm: All Riders General Registration – Registration Rooms – East Entrance

3:00pm – 5:00pm: Central Route Leadership Meeting – Salon 1 & 2


TUESDAY, MAY 17, 2016

7:30am -- 8:30am: Staging for Riverside National Cemetery (RNC) Run on street East of Host Hotel

8:00am – 9:00am: Route Leadership Briefing (BOD, RC’s) – Salon 1 & 2

8:30am – Riders’ Meeting for RNC RunMandatory for all participants – at, or near, staging area.

9:00am – 8:00pm (closed from 5:00 – 7:00pm): All Riders General Registration – Registration Rooms – East Entrance

11:00am to 12:00pm: “4-Wheeler’s” Meeting-All Routes – Salon 1 & 2 (Anyone driving a car or truck on the Run).  Hargrove, Steelman, McKee, RC’s

12:00pm – 1:15pm: Central Route FNG Orientation MeetingALL FNG’s (First Time Riders) -- Salon 1 & 2

 5:00pm – 7:00pm: DINNER MEET & GREET—Main Ballroom

As always, if you have any questions, feel free to call or email me, or Assistant Route Coordinator Dick "Winky" McKay.  Our contact information is in the "Contacts" list on this tab.


With deepest respect,

Dave "Papa Smurf" Klemme

"Freedom Isn’t Free"



April 15, 2016


Merry "Piccolo" Starkey needs some help with Communications on the Central Route. "Bounce" is unable to make the Run this year. The position helps her talk to the truck drivers to let them know who we are and what we are doing along the way. This helps us get across the country safely by letting them know how best to share the road with us and vice versa.  You would need to have a CB radio and be comfortable talking on the radio while riding in close formation.  Experience driving "Big Rigs" would be a big plus, but is not necessary. No FNGs please; you have enough to deal with! If interested, please contact "Piccolo" at 417-533-4844 or send an email to fire926usa03@yahoo.com.


"Papa Smurf"



--April 11, 2016

It is my sad duty to report a loss to our Run For The Wall family.  Mark Schroeder was killed March 28th, while performing a Patriot Guard mission.  Mark, who served many years in the Missouri National Guard, had been a member of the Patriot Guard Riders since 2006, and had completed over 1000 missions.  He is survived by Mary, his wife of 38 years, and their two children, Douglas and Heather.

Mark rode his FNG year with Run For The Wall on the Midway Route in 2014, and this year he was going to continue his service to our veterans as a member of the Central Route Staging Team.  This was to be his first year going “All The Way.”

Mark was laid to rest with full military honors on April 1st at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, St. Louis, Mo.  We will miss him, and in the spirit that Mark embodied, we will continue to carry the torch for the veterans he so faithfully served.  As we work our way across this great nation of ours, we will carry Mark’s spirit and concern for our veterans with us.  We ride for those who can’t.  RIP Brother Mark.

With deepest respect,

Dave "Papa Smurf" Klemme

"Freedom Isn’t Free"

P.S. A close friend of Mark, who was also going to be on our Staging Team, will be unable to participate this year because of Mark’s tragic loss.  This has left the Staging Team critically shorthanded.  I am appealing to experienced RFTW riders... we need you to step up and fill these positions.  Nothing could honor Mark more than having someone volunteer to complete his mission for him.  If you can help out, please call John "Turkey" Staub at 719-337-2032, or email him at bmds@att.net .


March 30, 2016

We are 48 days away from our departure on Run For The Wall XXVIII.  As of this writing, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency reports that 1621 service members remain unaccounted for in Southeast Asia.  You’ll note that this is three less than when I last wrote on this site in February.  Folks, our efforts, and those of many other groups such as Rolling Thunder, are paying off.  We ARE bringing them home.

On March 26th of this year, U.S. Army Corporal Davey H. Bart was buried in Humble, Texas.  Cpl. Bart served in the Korean War and was captured by Communist Chinese forces during an action on the night of November 1-2, 1950.  When our POWs were repatriated in 1953, it was reported that Cpl. Bart had died while in captivity during February, 1951.  His parents passed away never knowing his fate for certain, or having had the opportunity to give their son a proper burial.  Cpl. Bart’s remains were recently returned as part of several mixed remains disinterred from a common grave, and were identified through familial DNA analysis.  He was finally laid to rest, with full military honors, in the soil of the country for which he gave his life.  This is why we ride.

ADDITIONAL LODGING AVAILABLE IN HURRICANE, WV!  For anyone who may have had difficulty getting hotel reservations for our stop in Hurricane, WV, we now have two overflow hotels located in Cross Lanes, WV (Exit 47). They are the Holiday Inn Express & Suites and the Comfort Inn.  Check the Central Route Hotel List on this website for rates and contact information.


As we rapidly approach our “kick stands up” date, we should all be starting our preparations to get ourselves, and our bikes, ready for the Run.  Here are a few hints, especially for those making the Run for the first time… our FNGs:

In a few short weeks, many of us will gather in Ontario to begin the longest “Welcome Home” parade in the country.  Others will join us along the way.  However you plan to make this Run, it will be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life.  I am looking forward to meeting each of our FNGs (Fun New Guys/Gals) along the way, and to renewing friendships with my brothers and sisters from past Runs.  I can’t wait to see you all, and to begin our adventure anew.  Be well, and ride safe.

With deepest respect,

Dave “Papa Smurf” Klemme

“Freedom Isn’t Free”    



March 20,2016

If you have items that you don’t want to carry on your bike and would prefer to ship to Ontario, one of our RFTW Leadership Staff has volunteered to receive and hold the items for you. Please contact Shirley "Top Sarge" Scott at 805-443-4373. She will secure your items until May and deliver them to the Radisson (Host Hotel). After Ontario, the items will be your responsibility.

Please remember to say Thank You to Top Sarge!

With deepest Respect,

Dave "Papa Smurf" Klemme

"Freedom Isn’t Free"



February 25, 2016

As of this writing, we have 82 days remaining until we’re “kick stands up” at the start of RFTW XXVIII.  We still have 1624 American service members unaccounted for from the Vietnam War.

The Board of Directors, including all three Route Coordinators, met for our semiannual face-to-face meeting in Phoenix the weekend of February 12th.  It was wonderful to spend a couple of days away from the winter weather here in Colorado!  Preparations are either on schedule, or ahead of schedule, for all three routes, and the Board continues to show their uncompromising support for our efforts.  Of particular note, my fellow RCs and I have been staying in close contact throughout our planning to share ideas and make sure all contingencies are taken care of.

For Central Route, we have all of our key positions filled, and most of our logistical requirements have been either completed, or are in progress.  The final major task will be getting the 2016 Route Itinerary finished and posted to the website.  I hope to have that done in the next few days.  If any experienced RFTW riders (non- FNGs) would like to work on this year’s Run, please contact any of our support team leaders directly… they’re listed on the “Contacts” list of this website.  There may still be some openings on their teams.


One of the chief contributors to the “rubber banding” effect of group riding is brake lights coming on in formations, which cause riders behind to react by also touching their brakes… all in all, an undesirable situation.  For that reason, it’s very important that we practice controlling our speed and positions relative to the other motorcycles around us, using only minor throttle adjustments.

The best way to learn, and practice, throttle control is to ride with another rider, taking turns with one rider in the lead and the other keeping station on that rider.  The lead rider should vary his or her speed slightly and randomly.  The following rider practices detecting those minor speed changes and adjusting his or her speed to maintain position using only ***gentle*** throttle adjustments.

 Here are some tips for effective throttle control:

 1. Detect variances early and limit speed changes to 1-2 mph.  Keep it smooth.

2.  Consider cruising in a lower gear.  If you are in your highest gear (generally overdrive), simply rolling the throttle off will not result in sufficient deceleration to avoid having to use your brakes.  Cruising in 4th gear (or 5th for 6 speed transmissions) will give you sufficient compression braking to keep from having to use your brakes.

3.  If compression braking doesn’t slow you enough, downshift to slow further.

4.  While using brakes should be a last resort, if you need them, use them.

One last thought on throttle control.  Every movement you make with your body while riding… adjusting in your seat, moving your feet to the road pegs, etc… will result in slight changes to your throttle setting unless you’re paying close attention to it.  Just the act of raising your left hand to wave at people on an overpass will likely result in coming off your throttle just a touch… but enough to cause you to slow ever so slightly.  Be aware of this so you can compensate.  And remember... under no circumstances are riders allowed to use Cruise Control while riding in the pack.

It won’t be long, now.  I am looking forward to seeing all of you, either in Ontario, or as you join us along the way.  Until then, ride safe and be well.  Is it May, yet?

With deepest respect,

Dave “Papa Smurf” Klemme

“Freedom Isn’t Free”


January 1, 2016

Happy New Year!!!

We are finally in the year of Run For The Wall XXVIII.  Only four and a half months to go.  I hope this finds all of you happy, healthy, and rarin’ to go!

First of all, I want to thank those who responded to my appeal for someone to lead our Trike Platoon.  I received a number of applications from people willing to step up, any one of whom would have been an excellent choice.  I’m pleased to announce that Bob Rasmusson will be leading the 10th Platoon this year.  Bob has extensive riding experience and has ridden on both the Central and Midway Routes.  He has selected his Assistant Platoon Leader and Tail Gunners, giving us a strong, well qualified team to lead the Trikes.

I had hoped to have the Hotel List published on this site on the 1st of January, but there is a minor problem with getting the reservation information for the Ontario, CA, hotels.  From what I’ve been told, there was a problem with the original contract and it had to be rewritten and re-signed, which will take a few more days.  I will get the list posted as soon as the Ontario information becomes available.

There are still openings for experienced riders (no FNGs, please) on some of our support teams, such as Fuel, Staging, Registration and Ambassadors.  The Team Leaders are listed on the Contacts List… if you’d like to participate and “give something back,” I urge you to contact these folks and volunteer your services.

How Do We Get Gas?

For those of you who will be new to Run For The Wall this year, the process of refueling our motorcycles is something to behold.  Before the “Pack” ever arrives, our Fuel Team takes over the gas station and mans the pumps.  As the “Pack” comes in, riders are directed to the pumps two-by-two.  Have your road pegs up before approaching the pumps! (they’re hard on the Fuel Team’s shins).  When you get to the pump, shut off your engine and remove your gas cap.  A Fuel Team member will hand the hose to the inside rider, who will fill his tank.  That rider will then pass the hose to the outside rider next to him… the pump will NOT be reset.  The Fuel Team will keep track of how much gas is dispensed to each rider and will ask for that amount, rounded up to the next whole dollar.  For example, if you pump $8.35 worth of gas, you will be asked for $9.00 (the overage goes to pay for fuel for the Chase Vehicles).  Be sure you have the correct amount readily available… the Fuel Team DOES NOT GIVE CHANGE.  If you’re asked for $9.00, and all you have is a $20 bill, you just made an $11.00 donation to our Chase Vehicles.*

Once the rider has paid, he pulls out and another bike is directed into that space at the pump.  The rider who is pumping his gas will then hand the hose to the new rider, pay for his gas, and then pull out, making room for yet another rider, and the process continues.  When you pull away from the pump, do so very slowly… there will be many bikes moving at once.  Look for the Road Guards, who will be directing you where to go, and take it slow and easy.  You will be passed to a succession of Road Guards and Staging Team members until you reach your Platoon staging point.  The refueling process is perhaps the most hazardous evolution that takes place on the Run, and it’s critical that everyone follows directions immediately, and without question, keeping your head “on a swivel” at all times.

* Many experienced RFTW riders make up packets of bills to pay for gas before the Run ever starts, and have them ready for the gas stops each day.  Packets containing a $10 bill, a $5 bill, and four $1 bills, secured with a paper clip, will ensure that you have the correct change to pay for any amount up to $19.00.

Keep checking for the Hotel List… I’ll have it up as soon as it is available.  We’re getting closer to the Run, and the preparations are continuing in earnest.  We have a lot of great folks working tirelessly to make sure this year’s Run comes off without a hitch.  We’ll be putting more updates on this site to keep you informed as we close in on May 18th.  Be well, and ride safe.

With deepest respect,

Dave “Papa Smurf” Klemme

Freedom Isn’t Free”



December 1, 2015

Hello, all.  Thanksgiving has come and gone… it hardly seems possible that Christmas is nearly upon us.  I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends.

We are on track with our planning milestones for 2016.  Today, I submitted my request to our Director of Purchasing, Don “E-Z” Burns, for hats, windshield banners, and all the other items our leadership and support teams will need.  Our State Coordinators are busy putting the finishing touches on their hotel lists, and I hope to have the entire list posted to this website on the 1st of January.

The Fuel Team needs a few good men and women.  George Creacy is hiring… and he’s offering to double the salary from last year!!!  Seriously, George has several openings on the Fuel Team and he’s looking for volunteers.  If you’re interested, you must be an experienced RFTW rider… no FNGs, please.  This is a great way to give something back to the Run and to provide an invaluable service to your fellow riders.  Please contact George at geocreacy@msn.com or call him at 801-564-1052.

We also have a number of positions still open in our Platoon Leadership Teams.  The openings are listed on the “Contacts List” of this website.  If you’re interested in one of these positions, please feel free to contact the individual Platoon Leaders directly.  Again, we ask that only experienced RFTW riders apply.


For this installment, I’d like to discuss procedures for entering the Interstate highways.  A common complaint from riders is that they always seem to have to run hard to catch the lead element.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  Here’s why…

As I bring the Missing Man formation onto the highway, I will assume a speed of 35-40 mph.  I’ll hold that speed constant until I receive a call from the Last Man Vehicle informing me that he is on the highway and that the entire formation is closed up and ready.  Only then will I begin the process of bringing the pack up to highway speed.  If you, as an individual rider, find yourself with a gap to close as you enter the highway, it is not necessary to accelerate to a high speed in order to close that gap… you’ll just end up having to brake hard to keep from running into the bikes ahead of you.  As I said, I will never be going faster than 40 mph, so there’s no need for anyone behind me to go over 45 mph to catch up.  The Platoon Leaders are going to be responsible for not exceeding this speed, and if everyone does his, or her, job, no one should ever have to “crank it” in order to catch up and get back into position.

Once the pack is closed up, I will begin increasing speed in 5 mph increments over a period of several minutes each, until the pack reaches its cruising speed, usually 5 mph under the posted speed limit, or 65 mph, whichever is less.  It’s a slow, gentle process.  Each increment will be announced over the CB and passed back through the pack formation.  Your Platoon Leaders will make sure they maintain their spacing with the platoon in front of them.  Slow, gentle throttle adjustments to keep pace with the bike in front of you will be the key to ensuring a smooth transition to highway speed within the platoons.

Thanks for your attention, and if I don’t have reason to post again before then, have a very Merry Christmas!

With deepest respect…


Dave “Papa Smurf” Klemme

"Freedom Isn’t Free"



November 10, 2015

Happy Birthday, Marines!

 Today is the 240th Anniversary of the founding of the United States Marine Corps.  To all of my fellow Marines, past and present, I wish you a happy birthday, and offer a heartfelt “thank you” for your service.  To our brothers and sisters of our other services, we honor you for standing with us in defense of our magnificent country.

With deepest respect...

Dave "Papa Smurf" Klemme

"Freedom Isn’t Free"


October 13, 2015

Hello, All…

Today is the 240th Anniversary of the founding of the United States Navy… to all of our Navy brothers and sisters, “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!”

Plans for 2016 continue apace, with our state coordinators hard at work making arrangements for our fuel, meals and overnight accommodations in their respective states.  Also, our route team leaders are busy assembling their support teams to ensure that Central Route has all the support we need for a successful and rewarding trip across America.  Things are coming together nicely (knock on wood!), and we are on schedule to meet our planning milestones for the year.

As in past installments, I want to use this space to discuss issues of general interest to our ridership.  Today’s topic is…

"RUBBER-BANDING – It’s Causes, and How to Minimize It."

One of the greatest sources of frustration for RFTW riders stems from having to alternately run hard to keep up, and then brake hard when the bike in front suddenly slows down.  Anytime a large number of independently moving objects attempt to move in unison along a linear axis, a phenomenon takes place in which the group tends to expand and contract.  We’ve come to refer to it as “rubber-banding,” but it’s also known as the “accordion” effect.  Those of us who served in the military, and had exposure to forced marches or conditioning hikes, are very familiar with it.  The leaders at the front of the formation may keep a steady, unwavering pace, but the poor guys at the rear are alternately bumping into the guy in front of him, or running hard to catch up.  It occurs because each person walks at a slightly different pace and speed, and gaps between each person expand and contract.  The same holds true for motorcycles riding in formation.

As we proceed down the highway, each rider tries to maintain a uniform interval with the bike ahead, but for various reasons, that interval often varies.  Once the following rider realizes that the interval has grown larger than it should be, his initial reaction is usually to crank on the power and close the gap as rapidly as possible… which is the worst thing he can do.  If one rider is out of place, so is every other rider behind him.  If he has to close up, so does everyone else.  Each action a rider takes will ripple through all the riders behind him, and will be magnified slightly with each rider as it passes back… it’s a function of reaction times.  What may seem a minor speed adjustment for the first bike in line results in the last bike having to ride hard to catch up, and usually having to brake hard because the bikes in front of him slow down abruptly.

 There’s no way to completely eliminate rubber-banding, but it can be kept to a minimum by paying attention to the following:

  1. Keep the interval with the bike in front as close and uniform as possible.  The sooner a rider recognizes that his interval is opening, the sooner he can take steps to close back up.  If he’s riding “tight” behind the bike in front of him, it will become apparent that much sooner.  But if the interval is large to begin with, the rider might not recognize it opening until the gap has grown far too big.
  2. Once the rider realizes that the interval has opened, close back up S-L-O-W-L-Y!  Apply just enough throttle to begin easing back up into position, but in no case should the closure be more than a mile, or two, per hour differential.  The gap didn’t grow in an instant… there’s no need to close it in an instant either.  If you do this slowly and smoothly, chances are no one behind you will even realize that you were out of position to begin with, or that you made the adjustment.  Smooth and slow adjustments is the key to keeping rubber-banding to a minimum.

More soon.  Take care, and for those fortunate enough to have good riding weather as the rest of us contemplate the onset of winter, ride safe.  Is it May, yet…?

With deepest respect…

Dave “Papa Smurf” Klemme

“Freedom Isn’t Free”


 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 1,626 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”


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