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Central Route Coordinator Latest News 2015


December 17, 2014 – Greetings,

It’s December already and things are coming together.  2015 RFTW registration is open and on the website.  We are finalizing the Central Routes Hotel and Camping list as I write this update.  It will be available January 1st as planned.  Dave “Papa Smurf” Klemme, CR ARC, working with all State Coordinators have put this together.  There will be some changes this year so look for it when it becomes available.  Get your reservations made right away.  We will also be working on getting Runs to the RUN and Runs from the RUN up and working soon after the 1st.  Look for that as well.

We will soon begin work on the itinerary for the Central Route.  I don’t anticipate many changes to the scheduled stops with the exception to the dates of course.  There will be a couple additional “Breakouts” this year which will involve just one or two Platoons at a time.  We have a State Coordinator and Assistant in VA this year besides our RFTW Arlington Coordinator.  There are some issues with arrival in Arlington this next year, as the Marymount University parking lot will not be available for us to pull into.  We are doing a RECON on this situation and will of course have it resolved before publishing the 2015 Itinerary.  Our VA State Coordinator, Walt Reichard and Assistant John Stuab, are looking over a possible lunch stop change on our last leg to Arlington.  That again, will be decided soon.

I hope all those who are new to the RUN or are just considering joining have had time to look over rftw.org, our website, as a lot of information is available.  Join the Forum if you wish, you’ll get answers to most of your questions or concerns.  I know Ray “ZZ” Brammer, our Director of Merchandise, has been working hard to get new designs together for 2015 tee-shirts and hats.  Look for them soon in the RFTW Store.  Maybe it will be in time for Christmas???

Last but not least, I want to wish all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!  Thank you for your service and Welcome Home!  Ride hard, ride safe.

Don “EZ” Burns



November 14, 2014

Greetings, I hope all had a happy Veterans Day!  Time is moving along and we are closing in on the holidays.  The Central Route State Coordinators have begun to negotiate hotel rates in the cities we stop and stay in, crossing our beautiful country.  These of course will not be available until Jan. 1st of 2015.  I have continued to work putting together a great team that will get us there.  This and many other details are being worked on to make our Mission successful.   We are excited that our hotels are together again this year in Ontario, Ca. for a more organized registration and meeting area.  We will also stage and depart from that same area this year.  Do your part to prepare.  Talk to those who may want to do this Mission.  Get out and ride together.  Make plans that will allow you to meet with us in May.  Plan to go “all the way” for a ride you will never forget.

I am sorry to say we lost our Brother, Richard “Spaz” Cripe.  His interment with honors will take place Nov. 20th at 1400 @ Southern Utah Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City NV.  (Just South East of Las Vegas).  I will be riding down on the 19th from Northern Calif.   Contact me if you wish to join me.

Yesterday there was some confusion based on an article from the Register Herald in West Virginia.  “Veterans’ biker group says it’s bailing on Rainelle in dispute with mayor”.  There was a picture attached of RFTW parading into town.  It was us, but we are not the Veterans’ group bailing.  A local chapter of the VVA, associated with Rolling Thunder, was the ones with the issue.  RFTW Central Route will continue to visit and support the children of Rainelle, WV!

I hope all of you have a “Happy Thanksgiving”.  Ride hard, ride safe.

Don “EZ” Burns



October 25, 2014

 I’m very sorry to say that one of our Brothers is very ill and in Hospice.  Those of you who know Richard “Spaz”Cripe will want to send your prayers.  Spaz is a long time Road Guard who started the RUN, I believe, in 2000.  Others might recognize him riding by Mach 1 on his Suzuki Hayabusa Motorcycle with some kind of crazy headgear.  Spaz has Creutfeldt-Jakob disease.  I spoke with one of his daughters again today and she informed me he is in and out, but still able to eat and drink some.  A quite a few of you have made the trip to Las Vegas to visit him.  The family is truly grateful.  He has been transferred from the hospital to St. Joseph’s Transitional Center at 2035 W. Charleston, Las Vegas Nevada 89102.  Please send a card, and again, your thoughts and prayers.

October has been a busy month getting Leadership Teams together and many other aspects of RUN planning started. Dave “Papa Smurf” Klemme, ARC, has begun work with the State Coordinators to prepare Hotel/ Motel and Camping listings as well as other itinerary changes that need to be made.  Ken “Wish” Hargrove, RFTW B.O.D. President, has put together a new venue in Ontario Ca., next door to Rancho Cucamonga, for Hotels and our starting point for 2015.  Check out the “Presidents Message” on our website.  I have also posted the “first” Central Route “Contacts”, and will update as Team Leaders put together their Teams.  Remember, it takes a lot of volunteers to make this RUN possible each year, so I encourage you to contact me or other Team Leaders to offer your services.  Not all jobs may be available, but others might.  Be sure to include a brief RUN history of yourself. 

The Central Route looks forward to having the honor in welcoming Medal of Honor Recipient MSGT Leroy Petry to the RUN in 2015. Leroy’s dream of being able to ride again was made possible by the presentation of a modified Harley Davidson Trike this August in Albuquerque, NM.  For those of you that made this possible though hard work and dedication to see Leroy ride again and to those who so generously donated to the Trike Build, Central Route RFTW thanks you!  Leroy is riding and loving it.  He will be ready for the RUN.  We are still short of funds to pay off the final costs.  If you can, send your donations, check payable to: The Military Order of the Purple Heart Society (MOPHS) on the memo line note: MOH Trike donation.  The MOPHS is a 501 (c) (19) qualifying charitable organization, Fed ID# is 59-0829647.  Please mail your checks to Jenny Ward, 6006 Gothic Place, Dayton Ohio, 45459.  Thank you again.

We are working hard to make this a safe and successful “Mission”.  Our philosophy is:  “We strive to maintain a safe, supportive and private atmosphere in which all participants can reflect and heal on their journey to the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. in hope they can return home to a new beginning”.  It’s not too early to start making your plans.   May will be here before you know it.  Be ready to ride! Please feel free to contact one of us for any questions you may have.  To all of our Veterans, thank you for your service and WELCOME HOME.

Don “EZ” Burns



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




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: doncburns@gmail.com 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






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