Tuesday May 12th

Although the ride does not start until tomorrow, we made a visit to the Mather California VMAC this afternoon to visit the veterans. I spent some time with an Iraq Navy Vet who just regained his speech after 11 days. He told me he will probably never walk again. When I thanked him for his service, he said “don’t thank me, it was my pleasure”. This facility services 477,000 sq. miles in 17 counties and covers 10 congressional districts. Care clinics are located up and down the coast and stretch all the way to the Oregon border. That was the pleasant part of the day. The not so pleasant part was when Head Dog took his bike to the Harley dealer to get it serviced. They discovered he needed intake seals. Needless to say, he was not very happy since he just had that job done in Michigan City before the trip began. Our day ended with a meet and greet and George Marino prepared a meal for us and we registered 27 riders for the start of the trip tomorrow.

Day 1 Wednesday May 13th

Our ride started this morning at 8:00A.M. with 27 riders. Our first visit was at the Reno VMAC were we received a police escort through the City. The first person I meet with was Mr. Martin Ashton, a WW 2 Vet who served in France. He could not speak and had great difficulty trying to write. I could not understand his writing. He became frustrated and pointed to a POW/MIA pin I had on my shirt. I ask him if he was a POW, and he nodded his head yes. When I read him a note from a supporter of HELP HOSPITALIZED VETERANS, he placed his hand to his heart, slumped in his wheelchair, and his eyes started to roll back in his head . He was over come by emotion and I had to call a staff member for help. It was then that I found out he was dying from cancer.

We were treated to a box lunch prior to our departure. On the way out I noticed a glass display case with an empty wooden flag case in it with the following saying. “This empty flag case honors all the American soldiers who are still missing in action and those who have died and are buried on foreign soil. It will remain empty until all MIA’S are accounted for”. After our gas stop in Lovelock we had 17 riders for our trip to Battle Mountain. Ten riders had to return to home base. Our next visit was at the South Fork Indian Reservation in Battle Mountain. We were treated to a dinner of Indian tacos while dinning with Shoshone Indian veterans. The blessing was delivered by an Indian lady in her native language. She tried to translate it to English as she prayed but had difficulty with the translation. The native language was very beautiful to listen to. I spoke with Charles Malotte Who was a Korean War vet and he traveled 100 miles to eat and spend some time with us. These are very proud and kind people. We filled up a donation can for them prior to departing. Our hotel is just a short distance up the road. On the way, Head dog and I stopped at the hospital to visit Joe Lenard. Joe is a Pearl Harbor survivor and about 94 years old. He is also a Shoshone. When Head Dog started doing this ride five years ago Joe was one of only a few who meet them as they came into Battle Mountain. He has remained friends and has visited him every year since.

Our missing man riders for the day are as follows:

Steve Mckisick Roseburg Or.
Terry Mooney Roseburg Or.
Terry Hoops Brookville Oh.

Day 2 Thursday May 14th

Prior to starting today’s report I feel compelled to share a story from yesterdays stop at the Shoshone Indian reservation. Lloyd (JJ) Jackson, a 22 year old Shoshone, Indian warrior of Austin Nv. Was killed in Vietnam in 1970. His sister told me they only knew he died in combat but had no other details. In 2008 that all changed when Reno Nv hosted the 101st Airborne division reunion. Greg Phillips, who served with Lloyd, drove 200 miles to meet Lloyds family at the reservation. Greg went to Lloyds grave, ate dinner with the family and went to Lloyds grave. He told the family the details of Lloyd’s death. It’s pathetic they had to wait 38 years to know the details because the government failed to provide them. Lloyd’s sister gave me something and ask me to take it to the wall were her brother’s name is inscribed. We both shared some hugs and emotions. I plan to send her a rubbing of Lloyds name. If you have ever lost a friend and never visited the grave or family, please try to do so while there is still time. Not only will it warm the hearts of the family members, but yours as well.

Prior to our departure from Battle Mountain this morning we had a conversation with two curious ladies from Utah. After taking a group picture with they requested they both made a sizable donation to the NVAR. We departed at 7:50 with 19 riders. After our first gas stop in Wells Nv. we lost two riders for home. Our stop in Utah was at the Utah State Veterans Administration Nursing Home which was built next to the Utah VMAC14 years ago. There are currently 89 residents of which four are ladies. When we entered the home we were greeted by a group of residents that sang God Bless America to us. Of interest, was a lady who was the first resident of the home. She was a army nurse in WWII and returned to work in the hospital next door to the nursing home. She has very severe dementia and was not able to communicate.

When we pulled into Evanston, Wy for our over night, we were met by George Duncan, Wy State coordinator and Peggy Parrish who works at the VFW. We were treated to a very delicious home cooked meal at the VFW post 4280 before retiring for the night. Our weather has been excellent and the scenery is absolutely breath taking. We haven’t had any problems and the riders are doing an excellent job. I will have to report the missing man riders in tomorrows Sit Rep as Silver top is unavailable until tomorrow morning .

A.M. Mike Kune Bettendorf, IA.
P.M. Jeff Growing Cottage Grove, OR.

Day 3 Friday May 15

We started the ride today at 7:45 a.m. with 17 riders. We lost one for home but picked up a new one. The weather was very cool after a rain front passed through last night. However, it was sunny and rain free by morning. The morning was uneventful for our 1st and second gas stops. Our third gas stop in Laramie, WY. Was rather spectacular. We were met there by 32 additional riders from the surrounding area and from Cheyenne. Also joining us was Vince and the Snyder Freight Line Freedom Rider Semi. What a beautifully Painted truck it is. Vince will be going all the way to the wall with us. The line of riders and support vehicles stretched for ¼ mile traveling the 60 miles to Cheyenne. We were met by a police escort on I-80 at Cheyenne and taken to the VA Hospital. As we pulled into the circle drive we noticed the flay flying at half mast. It was in honor and recognition of the fallen police officers of the area. The circle drive was lined with 11 American flags and the grass area had a small flag in the ground for each Vet that died at the hospital last year. It was a very impressive tribute. Tony Seahorn, a very highly decorated VietnamVet, was the guest speaker. He presented a very moving tribute about some of his experiences in Vietnam and about honoring those who were never accounted for or returned alive. He is the author of a book called Tears of a Warrior, which is about his families story of combat and living with PTSD. His wife Janet, who is a Ph.D, read us a poem entitled Angels of Steel. Janet wrote and dedicated this poem to the NVAR, Stating “it will never be published for sale in any format”. It is strictly for honoring what we are doing. I wish it were not so long as I would love to share it with all who read this. It is so beautiful and moving it brought many to tears. Check out the web sight www.tearsofawarrior.com. After the ceremony we had a detail place a wreath among the flags of the honored dead, with taps and a 21 gun salute to follow. My friend for the day became Norman. He is a 29 ½ year air force Veteran. After retiring, he became a nurse and worked at the Cheyenne VA before becoming a patient at the home there. Norman had a brother who was a helicopter pilot and was killed in Vietnam. I found out most of this information from his wife who visits Norman every single day. We finished our day off at VFW Post 1881 with a very tasty spaghetti dinner and presented many, well deserved, certificates of appreciation.

Missing Man riders for today are as follows:

A.M. Terry Hoops Brookville, OH.
P.M. First……… Lon and Mary Bea Varvel Camino, CA.
P.M. Second ….. Rob Courtier Cheyenne, WY.

Day 4 Saturday May 16th

After breakfast this morning, provided by American legion Post 6, we departed Cheyenne WY. with 25 riders. The Freedom truck left early to meet up with us in North Platte. His truck is governed at 62 miles an hour and he didn’t want to hold us up. It was only 39 degrees and a light mist was falling. However, the mist cleared quickly and the temperature warm up considerably. We picked up 3 more riders at our first gas stop in Sidney, NE. At our second gas stop in North Platte, NE. we had lunch, compliments of the North Platte fire dept at the war memorial. We also picked up ten more riders for a total of 35. On our way to Kearney, NE. We had one bike drop out and the chase truck had to take him to the Harley dealer. When we pulled into Kearney for our 3rd gas stop, it was an over whelming sight. Waiting for us was the freedom truck and 70 more riders for a total of 105 riding into the Grand Island, NE. Veterans Home. We had a police escort all the way in, arriving to a HUGH American flag hanging from a fully extended ladder truck. There was a very large crowd of veterans, staff, and family members to great us and provide us with snacks, water, and root beer floats. This home has been here since 1887, 122 years old. After the singing of the National Anthem, the program concluded with letters of appreciation given out.

The missing man riders for today are as follows:

A.M. Jeff Stillmock Omaha, NE.
P.M. Herman Doerr Omaha, NE.

Day 5 Sunday May 17

After breakfast at Grandma Max’s this morning we departed Grand Island, NE. at 8:am with 23 bikes, one in the trailer, the merchandise vehicle, Snyder freedom truck, the chase vehicle., and one car. Our next stop was in Council Bluffs for a ceremony and lunch. We pulled into Bayless Park in front of the Veterans Memorial Plaza where we were met by a large contingent Veterans, family, and friends. The memorial was started in in 1999 to honor all Veterans, from war and peace time. The cost estimate was $750,000 to be raised between 1999 and 2002. The final cost came in at $820,000. After a warm welcome the Abraham Lincoln High School ROTC raised the colors. The National Anthem was played and the Pledge to the flag was recited. Darleen McMartin, a Vietnam Veteran was the guest speaker, and gave us a explanation of all the statues and what they symbolized. It is a very beautiful memorial plaza. The ceremony was closed with the placing of a wreath and the playing of taps. We ate lunch at the Masonic Lodge across the park. After the meal we were presented donations totaling $300.00 for ga sin the chase truck. They also filled our coolers with ice and gave us four cases of water to take with us. It was then on to The Rock where we were met a Van pulling a trailer, and 28 more riders. We then proceeded to the Iowa Veterans Cemetery with a total of 52 bikes. It was reported to us that Iowa sent 286,000 to serve in WWll and there are only about 35,000 left. Iowa is loosing about 500 veterans a month . We then went to the internment plaque of Michelle R. Critchlow’s ashes . She was a Sp4 Veteran and very active in Veteran causes. She passed away in 2008. Michelle was honored with some very touching speeches and a poem written by E.A.Verkler. A wreath was then placed at her place of rest by Head Dog and Buzz Neeb and a prayer was then recited by Aloha. It was a very difficult time for many in attendance because she was so loved by so many and active in the NVAR cause. Rest in peace Michelle, and may God lift you up to his glory. Upon leaving the Cemetery we drove 17 miles to the state headquarters of the PVA (Paralyzed Veterans Association) for a wonderful meal and some great hospitality. We took a donation up for the meal and presented it to them to help defray costs. They tried to give it back to us but we insisted that it can better be served in the care they give to our veterans. They ask us to come back again next year and we graciously accepted. We conclude our day with our over night at the Red Roof in in Des Moines IA.

Missing man riders are as follows:

A.M. Chuck Schlicher Grayslake, IL.
P.M. Chuck Thompson Adel, IA.

Day 6 Monday May 18

We left the hotel in Des Moines, IA. This morning at 6:30 am for the Saylorville Township fire department for coffee donuts and our morning meeting. We have 35 bikes. Our visit to the Des Moines VAMC was cancelled because they are undergoing remodeling so we made a visit to North High School. While waiting on the school parking lot for the ROTC students, Vince Raised the colors on the back of the freedom truck and While playing the National Anthem. When the ROTC members arrived they raised the colors. After presenting the colors, the drill Sgt. asked head dog to the front and center for a picture with the drill team that will be placed in the school year book. We had a chance to mingle with the kids and presented them with flags, run pins, and buttons. Then Top had some fun putting them through some paces prior to dismissing them. That marine can still bark out the orders. Everyone got a big kick out of it but the students were very serious. It was then on to Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown. After spending time with the vets we were provided lunch in their cafeteria. When we left Marshalltown for Iowa City VAMC we lost seven riders for a total of 28. At exit ramp 244 on I-80 we were met by 37 more riders and a police escort for our ride into Davenport to the All Veterans Memorial. We were met there by a large contingent of veterans, family members, color guards, and Jr. ROTC members. The program started with Exployer Post 9044 posting the colors. Gary White, executive director of the All Veterans Memorial then introduced Retired Sgt. Major Paul Hurerra Who recited the American Creed, I’m an American Soldier. He also talked about the MIA/POW issues. A poem was read honoring the American Flag and the Marine Corps League performed a table ceremony honoring all POW/MIA’S from all five branches of the service. A rose in the middle of the table was presented to western state coordinator Steve and the ride was dedicated to him in honor a Michelle. The program concluded with a 21 gun salute and the playing of the taps. The entire ceremony was very professional and inspiring.

The Missing Man Riders were as follows:

A.M. Gary Croft Gurnee, IL.
P.M. Lee Patterson, Roseburg, OR.

Day 7 Tuesday May 19th

What a beautiful day for a bike ride. This morning is the best day we have had since the trip started. We have had good, but rather cool weather at times, but no rain or snow through the mountains. We started our ride with 25 bikes this morning headed from Davenport IA. to Marseilles IL. We stopped at the Mid East Conflict Wall where we were met by 25 more bikes and one car to join us. We were also greeted by 6 LaSalle nursing Home WWII Veterans. The Mid East Conflict wall was founded by the IL. Motor Cycle Freedom Run group. No government money was given, nor asked for. It was built on the riverbank, strictly by private donations of money and labor. It continues to be maintained by volunteers. Maybe that is why it is such a successful and well maintained facility. After the National Anthem was sung there was a wreath laying ceremony by the NVAR in honor of our veterans and POW/MIA’S. Jenny Ori and Head Dog then presented Certificates of Appreciation for their helping the NVAR cause. We left the conflict wall with a total of 52 bikes for our next stop at Portage High School in IN. Major John Johnson the ROTC instructor greeted us. What a spectacular display the dedicated Jr. ROTC students put on. The ROTC program is comprised of 275 students of which 8 have signed up to join the Military after high school. The cadets are not expected to sign up for military duty and most go on to college, or try to find jobs. ROTC is a leadership program and teaches honor and respect. That is very useful, regardless of the students post high school choices. We had the opportunity to meet and talk to the Cadets after their impressive rifle drill. These young people, most underclassmen, handled the heavy rifles like they were toothpicks. They were simply an all around great bunch of kids. I would be remiss if not mentioning the police escort from the Iowa border to the Indiana border through Illinois. Like wise, the escort from the Indiana state police in Indiana. They basically shut down I-94 for us to stay together and navigate the construction and heavy traffic. They had our backs, fronts, and sides and held traffic at bay. It was then on to Michigan City for a gas stop where we received a great welcome. The Michigan City Exchange Club paid for the gas to fill all the bikes and chase vehicles, and Ton & Blank Construction Co. presented us with a check to help defray costs. We then proceeded, with a police and fire truck escort, down the main street in town to the St. Joseph Young Men’s Society for a meal. We will gather tomorrow at the DAV for a program and breakfast prior to departing for West Lafayette and the Veterans home.

The missing man riders are as follows:

A.M. Wiley Wilson and his daughter Jessica , Osborn TX.
P.M. Jenny Ori and Keith St. Onge, IL.

Day 8 Wednesday May 20th

Breakfast this morning was provided at 6:a.m. this morning by the DAV #23 Danny Bruce Chapter followed by a program. State Senator Jim Arnold gave a special thank you to the wall gang in honor of them naming their participation in the NVAR run this year in the Name of Ralph Roach. Senator Arnold attended high school with Ralph and knew him personally. Jim also said that legislation has also passed that will name US HWY. 20 in LaPorte county as Veterans Memorial Highway with signs to be erected in the near future. The Family of Ralph Roach made the trip to Michigan City for the ceremony this morning. There was also a man who served with Ralph in Vietnam and said out of about 250 soldiers in their unit, only ten survived, and he considered himself extremely lucky to be here today. Mayor Chuck Oberlie then stated how grateful our community is that we choose to stop in Michigan City to honor all who have fallen and all who are unaccounted for. Next to speak was a representative of Congressman Joe Donnelly’s office. He explained how committed Joe is to the cause of our Veterans and then quoted Abe Lincoln in saying the most valuable thing our country has is its freedom and the men who serve to protect that freedom. Ralph’s family was then presented with a memorial poster of Ralph. We left Michigan City with a police escort and a total of 110 bikes and 12 support vehicles. Many people greeted us with Flags and signs all the way down Hwy 421 toward West Lafayette High School. We arrived there for a stop and go to a rousing crowd of flag waving children and adults. We then proceeded to the Indiana Veterans Home in West Lafayette. As we were going up the hill to the home, a rider lost control of his bike when he dropped off the pavement. The bike was unharmed but the two riders were injured. However, it is believed the injuries are not severe. Maybe a few stitches and some bumps, bruises, and scrapes. Safety is a big issue for this ride and it is very disturbing and unfortunate when a rider loses control of his bike. Everyone is grateful it was not a severe accident. One highlight of the visit was Marshall Kintzele giving some vets a ride in the side car of his bike. When we departed from the Veterans Home we had a total of 31 bikes as the day riders returned home. After a few gas stops we entered Brookville OH. to a very well organized police escort through the entire town. People were everywhere waving flags and applauding. The welcome was overwhelming considering there are only 6,000 people in Brookville. We were escorted to the AMVETS for dinner with so many homemade entries to choose from it was hard to make up one’s mind. The food was beyond excellent. We are spending the night in Brookville.

The missing man riders for today as follows:

A.M. Marshall and Tracey Kintzele

Day 9 Thursday May 21st

After a good hearty breakfast at Brookville VFW Post 3288 we headed to Chillicothe School with 42 bikes and 6 support vehicles. We picked up 15 more riders for a total of 57 bikes and 9 support vehicles when we stopped for gas across the street from the school. We were escorted to the school by the police to a rousing welcome from the elementary school students who lined the winding driveway to the back parking lot. Every single child was waving a flag while screaming and yelling as we passed. They we absolutely adorable and we hope the teaches educate them about the real meaning of our visit. On the back parking lot we were met by the high school students who DO understand the meaning of our visit. These students were an absolute pleasure to mingle with and talk to. They were all respectful and knowledgeable about our mission. Some even ask if we could give them any advice. The seniors were especially fired up since it was their last day of school. One senior told me she wasn’t going to come to school on the last day until she heard we were coming to visit. That one student convinced me we are keeping our mission of educating our young about the price of freedom, and about respecting our Veterans, alive. They also cooked our lunch on a grill and we enjoyed a great meal after a very nice ceremony. I’ve never seen so many deserts in one place in my life. Unfortunately, I missed the ceremony as I was busy registering some new riders. It was then on to Clarksburg, WV. to visit the vets at the VAMC. There were many heartwarming, emotional stories at this facility. Two stood out in my mind. A WWII vet told us he could sing. He was shy and quiet and had to be coaxed by many of us to sing a song. He finally asked “what song would you like”. Milo said how about God Bless America. As he began singing it, a group of about twenty of us joined in. He had a very good voice as he led us through the song and an arousing applause afterward. The smile and joy on his face is etched in my mind. I don’t know long he will be around, but I’m sure he will remember this day for a long, long time. Another special incident occurred on the parking lot as we were gathering to leave. A Vietnam vet, suffering from Agent Orange, was sitting in a wheel chair and telling James “Bingo” about his life. When we found out it was his birthday everyone on the parking lot gather around and sang happy birthday. He was a very shy and humble man and a tear started rolling down his cheek. When I pinned a ride pin on him and thanked him for his sacrifices, another single tear ran down his cheek, the girls gathered around him, some giving hugs and others giving him a kiss. Again, a single tear ran down his cheek. We gave him a NVAR shirt an American flag and took photos of him posing with a few of the ladies. That guy touched a lot of hearts, and his was touched many times in that short encounter. It was discovered that Rich “spinner” Wall and he were shipped over to Nam at the same time and on the same boat. It was then off to Bridgeport, WV. for dinner at VFW Post 573. It was kind of special because this was our last night together as a group. Tomorrow we will be in D.C. and some go in different directions. Steve “Head Dog” Moore the National Coordinator for the NVAR northern route presented many certificates of Appreciation to all who helped him organize and plan all the logistics that it takes to make this run. Steve's wife Tammy, and friend Cluth, ask me to present an award to Head Dog. Although I do not like to speak in front of people I considered it an honor and privilege to be able to thank Steve on behalf of the NVAR board, the riders, but most importantly from myself.

Day 10 Friday May 22nd

We left Bridgeport, WV with 54 riders and 9 support vehicles. Prior to reaching our first gas stop we lost a bike to a flat tire. The chase truck loaded him up and took him to the closest Honda dealer which was in Hagerstown, MD. Our visit for the day was at the Rocky Gap Maryland Veterans Cemetery. This is by far the most peaceful, and serene place we stop at on the entire run from Sacramento to D.C. It is tucked into the rolling mountains with a beautiful clear lake at the bottom of the grounds. The quiet is deafening. We were greeted by the Young Marines at full salute as we passed their procession along the side of the winding entry road. The young marines are responsible for decorating all the grave sites with flags. The ceremony consisted of a prayer, followed by a wreath laying, a twenty one gun salute, and the playing of taps at the grave of a local Medal of Honor recipient. The commander of the VFW post thanked us for the honor and respect we give to all of our living, fallen and missing soldiers of all USA wars and peace time. As he spoke, we could hear the echo of his words reflecting from the surrounding mountains. There couldn’t be a more fitting setting than this mountain retreat to honor those who served our nation so bravely. The ceremony was concluded with certificates of appreciation given out by Head Dog and the presentation of run pins and American flags to all the Young Marines. From hear it was a mad dash to Washington D.C. We were running a bit late and we had to be at Arlington Cemetery by 2: 30 P.M. to prepare for the NVAR Wreath Laying Ceremony at the Tome of The Unknown Soldier. WE HAVE ARRIVED……. to a mad house of congested traffic in D.C. Our group and support vehicles got split up due to a few wrong turns but we did manage to make it just in the nick of time thanks to TJ and Pops. They did not stop in Rocky Gap, but instead, went ahead to make arrangements for our arrival. We did not have to stand in line for tickets and were rushed directly to the Tomb of The Unknown Soldier and arrived a few minutes before 3:00 P.M. The changing of the guard was just about to begin, followed by the NVAR wreath laying. The wreath laying was conducted by members of the NVAO Board of Directors, Steve “Head Dog” Moore, Jerry “JD” Conner, Wiley “Cyote” Wilson, and Paul “Buzz” Neeb. It is a very tremendous honor to be allowed to lay a wreath at the Tome of The Unknown Soldier and something the NVAO is extremely proud of. It was a very somber, respectful l, and emotional ceremony for those involved as well as those of us who witnessed it. We then proceeded to our hotels in Alexandria Virginia. Tonight at 6:30 there is an optional ride to Marine Corps barracks 8th and I silent drill presentation. There are some optional events planned for tomorrow for those who want to participate. They include a ride to the Marine Corp Museum, the Navy Museum, or to The Tome of The Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery. At 12:30 all will converge on D.C. Ramblers Motor Cycle Club for lunch………………………………….. TOMORROW IS PARADE DAY STARTING AT THE PENTAGON, RUNNING THROUGH D. C., AND CULMINATING AT THE WALL. For sure, the Thunder will be heard loud and clear by the political forces that set policy, and have the responsibility to care for our Veterans and address more seriously our MIA/POW issues.