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Thursday, May 21, 2009

RFTW 2009 - Days 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 (Doug)

Day 5 - Weatherford, Tx to Monroe, La, 4 stops, 350 miles.

Another great day for the Mission - we've grown some but I'm not sure to what numbers. You can join/register every nite when we stop and for a short period of time in the AM. We always welcome the FNG's has its what keeps us going as an event. More bikes but not really any new style paint jobs.

The Road Guards I'm having the pleasure of riding with are great. Friendly, competent to the max, knowledgeable. Great bunch.

Church service - non denominational (like 'Nam and most conflicts) and then on the road at 0800 (for Spike, who I understand just had a birthday, the big hand is straight up and the little hand.......... never mind). Breakfast was on our own which means I had my coffee and some oranges. Or, I ate at the hotel as it would have been free. We got free gas this AM (RG's only) so another little savings!! First destination is Terrell on I -20. And of course, as we drive, people on the over passes and along the sides of the road. In Terrell we get greeted by about a hundred, gas up, pee stop, water, and we're gone!!! Off to Longview - and we're flying. Heading for lunch and a longer break. I'm wearing summer riding clothes but its still comfortable and I don't have to worry about rain as much. In Longview we're fed lunch by the local VFW. Most meals are BBQ oriented, but they're free. And plenty

of liquids, oranges and bananas. We had an hour some a few got to cat nap, but then swoopin' time is here! And we're off to Minden for a quick gas stop before moving on to Monroe (our nite stop). Yet again, people waving us on. More flyovers from the local Guard (I assume). More and more dedicated Americans. A fairly quick day because of the distance we need to cover although we did have two smaller ceremonies. And everyone is so sincere about it.

Day 6 - Monroe to Meridian, 3 stops, 208 miles.

Ceremony in downtown Monroe. Welcome us and pray for the fallen and MIA. Everyone understands the Mission. I think I forgot to mention that most of Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi we have State Trooper escort. No stopping for lites, stop signs - nothing so we are making excellent time. Lunch in Jackson is provided by a Harley Davidson Dealership situated near a Memorial. And the kids again do the lunch and show us thru the Trail of Honor. Again with a lot of emotion for us. Afterwards, off to Meridian. This was is something else. Almost all the way we have one or two aircraft flying around us. Helicopters hovering or fixed wing making flyovers and doing it all very dramatically. Overpasses filled to over filled. People in larger numbers sporadically along the sides. When we crest a small rise and start across a fairly large bridge, we are given the heads up to two rotary wing aircraft hovering at the other end - very close to the ground. The prop wash beats us pretty good but boy does it bring back the memories. Two choppers - one slick for medevac, one Cobra armed to the teeth. Not happy memories, just memories. Then thru the downtown area, a few dozen turns and we're at the dinner/nite stop. Visit with the patients at the VA. More food. More people thanking us, more ceremonies, more prayers. More everything. More emotions. Kids all over the place wanting to touch us, talk to us, have their picture taken with us. Be a part of this. Great kids and awe inspiring.End of Day. The Mission Rules!!
Day 7, Meridian to Chattanooga, 298 miles, 3 stops.

When ever we have a day with about 300 miles things have to move quickly. The average speed so far is about 54. That's actually quite fast but when you're moving this many vehicles it makes a long day. Breakfast at the "AG" Pavilion and then we're gone. We're up to about 450 scoots. Along the way - more people on the bridges cheering and saluting. Its almost the norm. We visit a VA hospital (about our 4th) and they feed us. Good healthy food which actually tasted good. Not to mention, yet again, free. We spend some time talking to the patients - always bitter sweet - we know they wait for this day to come and it makes me wonder where all there families are - but they seem to enjoy our coming and visiting.and then we're off to Chattanooga. In Chattanooga we're welcomed by a pretty good crowd. And then we eat although I have no idea who supplied the food. BBQ, pulled pork, etc is getting old but its free. We say goodnite to our hosts after the ceremonies and head for our hotels.
Day 8, Chattanooga to Wytheville, 276 miles 4 stops.

Departing Chattanooga we stop to lay a wreath at the Confederate Cemetery. Quite impressive. We stop in Knoxville for Crispy Creme - I have no idea who paid, but it wasn't us. My brother in law came down but I was only there for a few minutes. Its a truck stop so its BUSY and we spend some time just dodging trucks. Same thing the RG's do on the freeway. More pushing and cruising. The highways are a lot narrower here so we need to very careful. Its getting more difficult to move the pack and we've grown some. Lunch in Bristol at another Harley Dealer. ThenAdd Image we pick up a Police Escort into Wytheville Memorial Park. We are greeted there by the middle school and they show us around the Memorial and the trucks with unbelievable paint jobs - all honoring the fallen. Off to the Moose Lodge for a steak (STEAK) dinner.In the morning the kids serve us breakfast in the cafeteria and afterwards put on a patriotic show for us. Every kid is smiling and telling there stories. Just wonderful. And very teary eyed.

Day 9, Wytheville to Roanoke, 125 miles, 1 stop.

There is a reason for this very short mileage day. We're headed for the Montvale School for a wreath laying and some stuff from the school. A huge welcome for us. The kids take us inside for lunch and to see that they have hung posters with each of our names on them - we need to sign them and then at the end of day, they take the posters down and put them in their archives. Then the kids put on a show involving some cute skits, military hymns, and singing. You have to be there to appreciate this. The kids are happy and smiling and having a great time with the songs they are singing. It would be wonderful if our politicians could come from this part on the country. America to the max. After the ceremony we get a group shot of the 34 of us RG's and then get everyone ready for the trip to the D Day Memorial. BTW, we are up to 625 scoots and of course we're on the narrowest of roads.

Even with the Virginia State troopers its difficult to move. We're playing bump and run but trying to get back up to the front is difficult. The National D Day memorial is huge and beautiful. There is a wall depicting the Rangers trying to scale to attack the Germans but they're taking a beating. There is a large water area depicting the beach front with a dead soldier on the beach and another struggling thru the water. There is a water system that "shoots" air thru the water making it look and sound similar an actual assault. Very good. At the hotel now. Dinner was on our own.

Tomorrow is the last day of the trip - we get in to DC at about 1:30 which means shower time before CMC House.

The closing of the Mission and my thoughts in a couple of days.

Never forget.

The Mission Rules.


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