I took us 21 days and 6258 total miles on the van, and 4730 miles on the trike but the we are happy to report the 2018 30th Anniversary Run for The Wall as Mission Complete.Me “Hardcase”– Tyler “Buckeye” – Brandon “5-0 “at the Viet Nam Memorial Wall Pointing out LTC Gabby Gates Name
If you kept up with any of the updates on our Facebook page you will know that this was both a bucket list Item of mine and also an opportunity to serve for Tony and me.
We headed to California on 9 May not knowing what to expect, this being our first year as part of Mission M25. I was to be a Platoon Chaplain and Tony a Chase Vehicle (my Van pulling a supplied trailer) driver. After stops in Santa Teresa NM and Tucson, AZ we arrived in Ontario CA on Sunday 13 May.
My first impression was one of orchestrated chaos being just one of quite a few new members of the M25 team this year I think I was not alone. Yet as usual God had a calming effect upon us all and we began to see the plan originally hidden from our view.
M25 which provides Platoon Chaplains, Chase Drivers and Chaplains, Hydration Teams and Merchandise Teams to both the Midway and Southern Route and is only a small part of the overall RFTW picture. There at the host hotel in Ontario, all three routes converge for the start of the Run. I never got an exact count but I am guessing somewhere in the neighborhood of 1000 motorcycles plus support vehicles left Southern CA on the 16th of May for a 10-day trip heading to Washington D.C. and the Viet Nam Memorial Wall.
On the Southern Run, we encountered hot temps 104, 104 and 108 degrees the first three days, hostile motorists, and tired participants before the finish. The stress of the Run occasionally reared itself but for the most part, platoons worked well together during the trip. The daily reminder of why we ride: “For those who can’t” helped kept everyone in focus.
We were greeted by many unknown faces on highway overpasses during our travels and treated like royalty at fuel, lunch and evening stops each day. It stirs the heart to see such patriotism alive and well in America. Nightly devotionals broadcast on Facebook Live and the opportunity to pray and share the Word with Platoon members and community members were also part of our daily routine.
One of the highlights for me began on day 6 when I was part of an Outreach mission to Bastrop, LA and the family of MIA LTC James Wayne “Gabby” Gates. Our fellow M25 Chaplain Brandon and his son Tyler McCray were carrying his bio and were also part of the mission. We got to spend time with the family and then take part in a ceremony at a local cemetery.
I/we do not ride for the fun of it (although we had fun times), nor for the adventure (although no one can deny it is quite the adventurous undertaking) not even for the accomplishment of going “all the way” (there were so many FNG’s, Friendly New Guys/Gals this year) no we rode to demand our governments accountability of all the MIA/POW/Unaccounted for from all the conflicts, not just Viet Nam. The numbers according to the ion of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency http://www.dpaa.mil/ are as follows:
Viet Nam: 1597
Cold War: 126
Gulf Wars: 5
Although I had participated in portions of the Run in past years; this outreach really brought it full circle for me. Closure came at the Viet Nam Memorial Wall a place I had avoided visiting again for some 26 years. Brandon, Tyler and I brought LTC Gates’s bio to the wall and placed it under his name the moment was emotional and, in a sense, fulfilling because it was in fact Mission Complete in more ways than one.
In HIS Service
Mike “Hardcase” Poirier
You can see more pictures of our mission trip at https://www.facebook.com/pg/FaithBuildersMinstry/photos/?tab=album&album_id=392209321279307 LTC Gates bio carried by Brandon and Tyler from Ontario to the WallLTC Gates bio along with others left at the wall (ignore date stamp from my old camera)