• September 12, 2016 at 5:16 pm #2312
    THUMBTHUMB
    Participant

    It has been a while since I have returned to New Zealand and have been wanting to write about my experience as an FNG on the 2016 RFTW. I seem to battle to put it into words without having a terrible allergy attack (read tears!).

    Well I planned and dreamed for five years to attend RFTW and ride in honor of Richard Frank Musto who was shot in Vietnam. None the wiser did I realise that the run is so HUGE!!!! In the fact that it is more than just riding in memory of a soldier who was shot or a POW or MIA. No it is way more that I ever could imagine.

    Before going to RFTW I thought I had it all together and would cope with all the emotion, the people and of course the dreaded allergy. But reading every article and watching every YouTube video I could find about RFTW was not giving me the real picture.

    RFTW is greater than all of that, it is the experience, the people, the emotion, the places we see and visit to honor our Brothers and Sisters, it is the HUGS, it is the ride, it is the meals, it is the citations that get read, it is the people, it is the special ceremonies,it is the goal and most importantly it is the MISSION!! Remember we ride 3 routes but we have one MISSION!

    I arrived in Ontario CA as a stranger only having spoken to a few folk via the forum and riding with my long standing USA Brother from another Mother Kevin aka Speedbump. I remember hardly getting off the bike and walking into the hotel to check and and getting hugs from total strangers in line to check in. I remember being welcomed home being welcomed like the son returning home to a Family with so much love to give, a son returning home to a Family that understands and a Family that I can and never forget.

    Oh this darn allergy when I am typing!!!!!

    Then Wednesday arrives – an early start with so many more emotions. Have I done the right thing to come halfway around the world and ride with people I don’t know, with people who have been in places I have not been mentally and physically! Do I fit in? However with all the emotions the time drawers near and we roll out on the 10 day MISSION to DC. I find it hard to settle into the ride as my emotions run wildly as the allergy attacks I have on the road as my mind thinks of the lost Brothers and Sisters, MIA’s and KIA’s – those who never made it home. I cry like a baby but I know I have a MISSION to do.  It takes time to settle into the ride with the style of riding with RFTW. However I slowly start getting comfortable with the ride.

    Come the first fuel stop and I am just blown away – I had seen the video but experiencing the way RFTW refuels all these bikes is just awesome. Thanks to all on the fuel team – you guys rock. This is a system that has been tried and tested I am sure over the 28 years of RFTW and if you have never experienced a RDTW fuel stop you will be blown away. I call it a type of controlled chaos that works and so quickly all the bikes are staged and soon ready to roll again down the highway.

    At all the stops you are meeting with someone you have not met with or spoken to before – this Brother and Sisterhood is an experience like no other I have ever experienced. I me so many people and oh I so wish I could remember each and every ones name / road name.

    The special stops we have on RFTW are really special. I must say the stop at Gallup where we where treated to the Navejo Nation and the Ghorde (I hope I got this right) dancing is an experience that will live with me for ever. An experience that is only given to RFTW members when they visit. I still hear and feel the drum beats in my mind when I think of it. Along the way many ceremonies are held and RFTW members are fed and taken care of like Kings and Queens. Accross the beautiful hartland of America I was thanked for my service and was welcomed home – I felt this to be an honor. Even though I did serve in an Army it was not in the USA but in South Africa. No one in South Africa ever ever thanked me for my service when I returned home in 1982 after serving for 2 years. The first person ever to thank me for my service was an 11 year old school boy from Spiller Elementary School in Wytheville USA through the pen pal program on this forum – thank you Michael.

    Well I was enjoying the run until that dreaded Monday morning outside Topeka Kansas! Yes you guessed myself and 4 other bikes on the run where involved in an accident. I felt my world was coming to an end as I thought my RFTW trip was over. Well myself and Kevin rested up in Topeka and our bike where taken back to Phoenix AZ. We where both in a lot of pain and all I wanted to do was get a flight out of the USA and come back home. However on the Wednesday morning when I woke up Kevin had come up with a plan. Yes we where to rent a car and catch up with RFTW and go to DC. I was really not wanting to do this but through his encouragement I decided yes we will do it. That afternoon we headed out of Topeka and the goal was to catch up by Thursday when the pack rode into Rainelle.

    Sure enough with about 40 minutes to spare we arrived in Rainelle to join RFTW and see the bikes role in. Yes Rainelle was all and more than what I had read about. It was awesome to hand out pens to the children and sign their books – I felt so important! I now understand why Rainelle is so important to Central Route. It was also at Rainelle where Platoon 9 gave me my road name – THUMB because it is my thumb that was injured in the accident. (I am currently as I write this still nursing my thumb after having surgery on it 4 weeks ago.)

    On we went and arrive in DC on Friday. I also at this stage thought that I would not get to go into Arlington and pay my respects at the Wall. However the Missing Man Coordinator Tome aka Bones had it all planned. He approached me and I was informed that I was going to be a pillion on a bike into Arlington! (oh the allergy again as I type). Well I could not believe that this honor was to be given to me – MISSING MAN FORMATION and that into the hallowed grounds of Arlington!! Never in my wildest reams did I ever even think that this honor would be given to me. I was honored and even more honored by the man on whose trike I was pillion on – “Oscar” I thank you.

    Going to Arlington was a lifetime dream of mine to visit even before I learned of RFTW and I am so honored that I could go.

    Well this seemed to be the end of RFTW 2016. I returned to the hotel and said my good byes as at this stage I wanted to carry on with my planned but shortened holiday and needed time to reflect and be on my own. As they say RFTW is not your Sunday breakfast run! It is a run like no other anywhere on the planet. It was sad saying my good byes to folk I had met and already over the 10 days built up a relationship with.

    In closing I want to say that RFTW has changed my life and given me a new reason to live life to the full. Also that I will be returning in 2017 to go all the way again and this time with my wife Janet as an FNG. I have met the most amazing people who I can now call Brother and Sister and who are there at the other end of the phone when I call them from the bottom of the world. RFTW needs to continue and the message needs to be spread that the MISSION will carry on until we bring them all home.

     

    Thank you to the RFTW BoD and the Leadership of Central Route 2016 and the leaders of Platoon 9 and all the folk I met on this journey for the love and friendship and for allowing this guy from Africa now living in New Zealand to be made so welcome and allowing me to be part of this great Family and Organization known as RUN FOR THE WALL. It was supposed to be a once off Mission for me but our plane tickets are on my desk and we have registered for 2017.

    See you all soon!

     

    IS IT MAY YET?

     

     

    PS – I am NOT a great writer but these are just some of my thoughts. I find it very difficult to write as I am such a HUGE ALLERGY sufferer!

    Kind regards.

    Edwin Musto - THUMB
    South African Defence Force - 1980-1982 - Corporal
    1 Maintenance Unit
    Quarter Master General Head Quarters
    2016 - (FNG) Central Route - All the way! Platoon 9
    2017 - Central Route - Going all the way on the Ambassador Team!!!
    In 2017 I will be riding for my cousin Edward Leslie Mayo who was shot and killed while serving the SADF in Angola on 17 January 1977.
    My wife Janet will be an FNG riding with me in honor of First Lieutenant Sharon Ann Lane.

  • September 13, 2016 at 4:22 am #2314
    THUMBTHUMB
    Participant

    I apologise for the many spelling errors! I just read my post above again and realised all the mistakes – I blame it on the dreaded allergy I suffered while typing this morning!

    Kind regards.

    Edwin Musto - THUMB
    South African Defence Force - 1980-1982 - Corporal
    1 Maintenance Unit
    Quarter Master General Head Quarters
    2016 - (FNG) Central Route - All the way! Platoon 9
    2017 - Central Route - Going all the way on the Ambassador Team!!!
    In 2017 I will be riding for my cousin Edward Leslie Mayo who was shot and killed while serving the SADF in Angola on 17 January 1977.
    My wife Janet will be an FNG riding with me in honor of First Lieutenant Sharon Ann Lane.

  • September 17, 2016 at 5:37 pm #2336
    Bounce
    Participant

    Thumb,

    I have often stated that this mission of ours should come with a warning, in that if you get involved, even do just one leg of it, eventually you will find yourself in LA and hope you have planned well enough to have enough cash to get home.   I did not get to meet you but I am glad that you are recovering from your mishhap, and that you are part of the family.  As for the allergy, well it is contagious, as mine acted up while I was reading your wonderful words.

    Thank you for your service and welcome home.

    See you in 2017 in LA.

    Bounce

  • September 18, 2016 at 1:21 pm #2346
    SidewinderSidewinder
    Participant

    Hi, Thumb, after reading all your very enthusiastic pre-run forum posts, I finally had the pleasure of meeting you in DC. I’m glad the experience was (almost?) all you hoped it would be. I look forward to seeing you in Ontario.

     

    Sidewinder

    Remember, the price of freedom is written on the Wall.
    U.S. Navy '68-'74 USS Gridley DLG-21
    FNG ATW SR 2012, Part 2013, Part 2014, ATW 2015, ATW 2016
    APL3 SR 2016
    APL3 SR 2017

  • September 25, 2016 at 12:27 pm #2394
    VelcroVelcro
    Keymaster

    Edwin, funny how I’ve never had allergies, but upon reading your story I was suddenly afflicted! Thanks for the wonderful account of your first ride with RFTW – I’m including it in the October newsletter for all to be equally emotionally drained! Great report of your experience.

    Velcro

    Freedom is never free. It is paid for with the blood of the brave. It is paid for with the tears of their loved ones. It is up to us to preserve and defend that which they have paid so dearly for.

  • October 5, 2016 at 12:39 pm #2472
    DEANODEANO
    Participant

    Edwin (Thumb), It was an honor to meet you and fill your bike.  Every time you rolled up to the pump, your wide eyed enthusiasm and smile greeted us as we performed our organized chaotic duty. Some of the fuel stops we had to man (or woman) the pumps single-handedly, due to many pumps and limited fuelers.   Without fail though, I looked for you in line. You were much the inspiration to me.  After conversing via the forum, and then in person I knew I needed to stay in touch along our way.

    When I heard you sucked asphalt, I thought your Run for the Wall was over.  Knowing full well what this run means to me, I could only imagine what you were going through, physically (I’ve been down) and emotionally. I was hurting for you.

    To see you in Rainelle, knowing you soldiered on to complete this mission meant as much to me as almost everything we experience along the way.  I’m glad to hear you’re healing, and especially glad to hear you’re  going with us in 17.

    Your brother from another mother. Your Earth friend at the other end.  Your buddy from…………..I can’t think of anything that rhymes with buddy.

    Stay frosty till I see you in Ontario.   “That Guy”  DEANO

     

     

     

    I can't breath if the wind isn't in my face

  • October 5, 2016 at 1:53 pm #2477
    THUMBTHUMB
    Participant

    Hey Brother Deano,

     

    Thank you for the comments and thank you for being on the Fuel Team. I appreciate all you guys and Dolls do for us on RFTW.

    Yes it was tough after the accident but so glad I was pushed by my other Brother Kevin aka Speedbump to continue after the accident. It was great meeting you and I look forward to seeing you again in Ontario.

    Stay safe till we meet again.

     

    PS – The thumb is healing well and hope to be riding soon as we entering the riding season.

    Kind regards.

    Edwin Musto - THUMB
    South African Defence Force - 1980-1982 - Corporal
    1 Maintenance Unit
    Quarter Master General Head Quarters
    2016 - (FNG) Central Route - All the way! Platoon 9
    2017 - Central Route - Going all the way on the Ambassador Team!!!
    In 2017 I will be riding for my cousin Edward Leslie Mayo who was shot and killed while serving the SADF in Angola on 17 January 1977.
    My wife Janet will be an FNG riding with me in honor of First Lieutenant Sharon Ann Lane.

  • November 15, 2016 at 9:42 pm #2900
    1NICTOY
    Participant

    I rode My Blue Victory Vegas Jackpot on the Central Route in Platoon #5. I started from Wentzville MO. Before the ride I browsed the website and watched the video of Papa Smurf so I thought I had somewhat of an idea what to expect on the <span class=”highlightNode”>Run For The Wall</span> Ride. However, five minutes into the morning meeting in Wentzville I realized this was going to be much more than I had anticipated. Us “FNG’s” were welcomed with open arms and enthusiasm. I immediately felt like I had b<span class=”text_exposed_hide”>…</span><span class=”text_exposed_show”>een reunited with over 300 brothers and sisters from the past.
    My journey started well after the Vietnam War had ended, however, we are all still connected in that strange/awesome way. The way that past present and future vets will only be able to understand. Yes I was one of the few younger guys on the trip at only 35 years of age. A feeling of sadness and Honor filled me as I thought WOW I am one of the youngest guys here on the <span class=”highlightNode”>Run For the Wall</span>. I most certainly expected more of a presence from the younger crowd. Then after a little thought I was honored to be able to ride with the Vietnam Vets that were on this trip. I realized quickly that my new mission was to promote this ride to some of the younger guys I know to keep this thing alive and well for the future.
    I served in Afghanistan numerous times. I felt there was an emptiness that was left inside me after I decided to separate the Air Force in 2006. So I went back to Afghanistan as a civilian in 2010 working on the PTDS program with Lockheed Martin. Still I could not fill the void when I returned.
    I now realize that RFTW fills that void past the full mark and then some. Thanks to all the riders on <span class=”highlightNode”>Run For The Wall</span> for filling that emptiness and making me a part of something bigger than all of us. I will “RIDE FOR THOSE WHO CAN’T” until it is physically impossible for me to do so. </span>

    See you all next year RFTW 2017

  • November 19, 2016 at 5:34 pm #2922
    SidewinderSidewinder
    Participant

    Welcome home, 1nictoy, and welcome to the Run for the Wall family. Thank you for your service. As you have seen and felt, we are indeed a family, and like every family we need new and younger members. (My son, at age 43, is giving me a new granddaughter in January). In the same way, we need you younger guys and gals to join us if RFTW is to survive more than a few more years. Thank you for recognizing this need and for helping to spread the word to the veterans of your generation. As you have experienced, there is a need for support for all veterans from those who have been there and who know. RFTW may have been started by Vietnam veterans, but our healing message goes out to all veterans and their families. Thank you for getting it.

     

    Sidewinder

    Remember, the price of freedom is written on the Wall.
    U.S. Navy '68-'74 USS Gridley DLG-21
    FNG ATW SR 2012, Part 2013, Part 2014, ATW 2015, ATW 2016
    APL3 SR 2016
    APL3 SR 2017

  • January 22, 2017 at 7:03 am #3673
    blallen58blallen58
    Participant

    Edwin (Thumb), It was such a pleasure riding my FNG year with you last year.   Run For the Wall changed my life in so many ways and you were part of that change.   I was so surprised that you had traveled so far to be a part of the Run.    The fact that you continued and finished the run only inspired me to make sure I completed the mission as well.   I am looking forward to seeing you again in CA but I am riding the Southern route this year.  Hopefully a little less windy then Kansas. What a day!

     

    I rode the Central route last year in platoon 9 as an FNG.  The Run absolutely changed my life while experiencing all the stops and memorials.  I find it hard to put into words the healing that happens during the ride and all the supportive people that participate.

    I will be riding the Southern Route this year and looking forward to new experiences and meeting new people.

    I ride for a friend of the family LtCol Keith R Heggen USAF  Panel 1W Line 100   Died Dec 25 1972

    Central Route ATW 2016
    FNG 2016

  • January 30, 2017 at 1:00 pm #3756
    THUMBTHUMB
    Participant

    Hi Ballen58,

     

    Thanks for the comments. Yes it was great meeting you as well. Even though you will be on Southern Route this year I hope to catch up with you in  CA before the run or in DC at the end.

     

    I am so excited about this years run and that my wife (Janet) will be joining us as an FNG. We will be riding on Central Route again with the Ambassador Team.

     

    Regards.

    Kind regards.

    Edwin Musto - THUMB
    South African Defence Force - 1980-1982 - Corporal
    1 Maintenance Unit
    Quarter Master General Head Quarters
    2016 - (FNG) Central Route - All the way! Platoon 9
    2017 - Central Route - Going all the way on the Ambassador Team!!!
    In 2017 I will be riding for my cousin Edward Leslie Mayo who was shot and killed while serving the SADF in Angola on 17 January 1977.
    My wife Janet will be an FNG riding with me in honor of First Lieutenant Sharon Ann Lane.

  • January 30, 2017 at 8:53 pm #3772
    GonzoGonzo
    Participant

    Thumb,

    I just read your story above.  My dang allergies flared up again.  My wife and I were FNG in 2014 and said we’d do it once.  Once turned into twice, then three times, now 2017 will be our 4th year with RFTW.  It is truly addictive and nothing like anything I have ever done or experienced on two wheels.  It was great to meet you last year and I look forward to seeing you again this year.  THANK YOU for your service and THANK YOU for becoming a part of the RFTW Family!

    Ballen58, welcome to Southern Route.  I assure you that the statement of “Three Routes, One Mission” is correct and you will be welcomed as part of the Southern Route Family.  Please look me up if you have any questions or need anything at all.  I am one of the SR Road Guards and will be on a Blue Harley Road Glide.

    Lastly, IS IT MAY YET?!?!?!?!

     

     

    2017 - Road Guard - SR | 2016 - RGIT - SR
    2015 - Tailgunner - SR | 2014 - Participant - SR
    --------------------------
    Operation Iraqi Freedom

  • February 1, 2017 at 4:10 pm #3799
    THUMBTHUMB
    Participant

    Gonzo, thanks for the comments. Yes it was great meeting you in 2016 and look forward to seeing you again in May 2017.

     

    Oh yes very addictive – Janet has already said I can go again in 2018 as well all being well!!!!

     

    Is it May yet?

    Kind regards.

    Edwin Musto - THUMB
    South African Defence Force - 1980-1982 - Corporal
    1 Maintenance Unit
    Quarter Master General Head Quarters
    2016 - (FNG) Central Route - All the way! Platoon 9
    2017 - Central Route - Going all the way on the Ambassador Team!!!
    In 2017 I will be riding for my cousin Edward Leslie Mayo who was shot and killed while serving the SADF in Angola on 17 January 1977.
    My wife Janet will be an FNG riding with me in honor of First Lieutenant Sharon Ann Lane.

  • February 2, 2017 at 9:48 am #3821
    blallen58blallen58
    Participant

    Hey Thumb,  I will certainly be looking for you in CA.    I hope to be there a day early so I can talk with people that I met last year.

    Gonzo,  I am sure we will have plenty of time to talk and swap stories.   Looking forward to the ride.

    Central Route ATW 2016
    FNG 2016

  • February 2, 2017 at 11:37 am #3853
    THUMBTHUMB
    Participant

    Arriving on the Sunday. See you soon!

    Kind regards.

    Edwin Musto - THUMB
    South African Defence Force - 1980-1982 - Corporal
    1 Maintenance Unit
    Quarter Master General Head Quarters
    2016 - (FNG) Central Route - All the way! Platoon 9
    2017 - Central Route - Going all the way on the Ambassador Team!!!
    In 2017 I will be riding for my cousin Edward Leslie Mayo who was shot and killed while serving the SADF in Angola on 17 January 1977.
    My wife Janet will be an FNG riding with me in honor of First Lieutenant Sharon Ann Lane.

  • February 19, 2017 at 12:18 pm #4066
    DEANODEANO
    Participant

    Hey Thumb,

    I heard a rumor that you were coming through Phx. Az. on your way to Ca.

    We are planning another gathering for Hoofer and his Hooligans on the Sat. before the run.(nothing in stone yet)  We got half priced Hotels,  Shuttle to and from American Legion Post 138 Tempe Sat. night for food fun and Karaoke, and Breakfast on Sun. morn.

    Would love to have you join us at our post.

     

    May?  Maaayyy?        Where the hell are you?

    I can't breath if the wind isn't in my face

  • February 21, 2017 at 6:57 pm #4095
    THUMBTHUMB
    Participant

    Hi Deano,

    Only saw your post now so sorry for delay in replying.

     

    Yes I fly into Phoenix on Friday 12 May and leave on Sunday. I will have to check with my host aka Speedbump what our plans will be. Hopefully not so crazy the night we depart like it was last year. i will keep you posted but no promises as I need to check with Kevin.

     

    See you soon!!!!

    Kind regards.

    Edwin Musto - THUMB
    South African Defence Force - 1980-1982 - Corporal
    1 Maintenance Unit
    Quarter Master General Head Quarters
    2016 - (FNG) Central Route - All the way! Platoon 9
    2017 - Central Route - Going all the way on the Ambassador Team!!!
    In 2017 I will be riding for my cousin Edward Leslie Mayo who was shot and killed while serving the SADF in Angola on 17 January 1977.
    My wife Janet will be an FNG riding with me in honor of First Lieutenant Sharon Ann Lane.

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