Wheelers For The Wounded Bicoastal Trail Runs
Volunteers Honor Veterans
From the May, 2012 issue of 4 Wheel Drive
By Del Albright
Photography by Del Albright
The New Jersey event had 44...
The New Jersey event had 44 veterans, 22 from one veteran’s center, with military displays, escorted rides, catered chow, and a huge round of applause from the entire crowd. John Parrinello, commander of the New Jersey WFTW effort, is a barn-storming Marine himself. (Photo by Drew Sabens.)
Twenty-three wounded vets from California, representing a half dozen wars, left the trail smiling, and will never be the same. Wheelers for the Wounded (WFTW) tackled the Rubicon Trail for the third year and gave these patriotic folks the ride of their lives —all just to say thank you. At the same time, fellow patriots showed a group of East Coast vets a huge show of gratitude with a trail run in New Jersey.
Speaking as a Vietnam vet who flew home to be spit on by some cowardly hippie in the San Diego airport, I feel this excursion, Wheelers for the Wounded, is probably one of my most favorite events in the ’wheeling world. We can’t say thank-you enough to our warriors.
WFTW started in Florida with a primary mission of providing a weekend of off-roading, camping, and in some cases, fishing, to our country’s wounded military — wounded physically, emotionally, and mentally.
Moses Ludel of 4wdmechanix.com...
Moses Ludel of 4wdmechanix.com chats with Fred Meyling, a Vietnam War veteran. It’s all about the smiling happiness of veterans enjoying the great outdoors of the famous Rubicon Trail, in our base camp at Crystal Basin Mountain Resort. Rumor has it that Fred is a pretty good “wheelchair dancer” around the campfire…
On my first tour with WFTW in 2009, we had vets representing five wars and we camped at the Auburn Jeep Club property on the Rubicon Trail. It was an awesome experience. My wife, Stacie, and I make sure we go back every year to say thanks to these awesome folks.
In the Golden State, WFTW is organized and lead by Dan Hiney of Magalia, California. Up until this writing, his helper was Kevin Carey, also a vet, who now resides back east. “My biggest thrill of the entire weekend and all the work leading up to it,” said Dan, “is hearing the happiness of these vets as I walk around the campfire.”
Dan could not have said it better — happiness. That is what we heard in the rigs and around the campfire, not to mention at chow time when the Rubicon Rockheads donated awesome home-cooked meals for all the vets and drivers. Dale Robins of the Rockheads put it this way, “These folks deserve more than we can ever give them; but this is our way of giving them a happy, full belly to say thanks some more.”
Stacie Albright (standing)...
Stacie Albright (standing) shares smiles with Lisa Heck, driver, as veteran Matt Monroe, USMC, gives the high five happy signal near the Gatekeeper of the Rubicon Trail, while riding in Lisa’s gnarly Land Cruiser.
What began as one guy — Jason Havlik trying to show appreciation to some fellow vets in 2009 — has grown substantially with runs in many places in the United States. On the same weekend as the Rubicon Trail Super Run, folks in New Jersey were flying the flag high to a great group of vets back east.
John Parrinello, one of the orchestrators of the New Jersey event and the WFTW national director, summed it up poignantly: “We had 42 vets, 22 from one veteran’s center, and we gave them a catered breakfast and lunch, with special rides, military displays, and a huge round of applause, along with a visit from the local chapter of The Military Order of the Purple Heart. It brought happy tears to everyone’s eyes.”
Both events focused on the simple task of saying thank you to our veterans. It’s something we all can do, whether or not you can get directly involved with an organized event. The Rubicon Trail Super Run uses volunteer drivers to give each vet a personalized experience on the trail. Most planning for this event takes place on pirate4x4.com in the Rubicon Trail Talk section.
“MilTroy,” AKA Troy McClintock,...
“MilTroy,” AKA Troy McClintock, a vet himself, takes Roy Lucas through a section of the Gatekeeper/Alligator Pit area of the Rubicon. Roy made the trip last year as well and swears he never had more fun. MilTroy has no problem getting his Rubicon-tested Jeep through any and all obstacles.
Stacie Albright, BlueRibbon...
Stacie Albright, BlueRibbon Coalition Access Advocate, points out that Jeeps are not the only rigs on the Rubicon Trail Super Run, as her 80 Series Land Cruiser served as a media support vehicle just fine — even “open, open!” Trail-Gear armored up “Elsie” (the Land Cruiser, LC, get it?) to withstand the media runs that Stacie puts her through on many trails, including WFTW every year.
Going up the “slabs” (also...
Going up the “slabs” (also known as the Granite Bowl) on the Rubicon Trail, the first time veterans were amazed at what some of these rigs could do on the Sierra Nevada granite. Most all the volunteer drivers had very capable rigs, and no thrills were spared!
Matson Breakey of MetalCloak...
Matson Breakey of MetalCloak visits with Stacie Albright for a howdy-do on the Wentworth section of the Rubicon Trail. MetalCloak is a huge sponsor of and participant in the WFTW Rubicon Trail event. Matson says the WFTW event is the most rewarding event he attends. MetalCloak also supports land use and Del and Stacie Albright in their work to save trails.
The famous “Ice Cream Truck”...
The famous “Ice Cream Truck” built by the Rubicon Rockheads made an appearance at the Rubicon Trail Super event with the Rockheads donating and cooking all the chow for the vets. Did I mention about 20 flavors of ice cream?
Stevon Culp shows what the...
Stevon Culp shows what the Rubicon Rockheads can whip up for morning chow for a bunch of hungry vets and volunteer drivers. The Rockheads cook for a lot of trail projects for the Friends of the Rubicon (FOTR) as well. Chow’s on!
The vets and volunteer drivers...
The vets and volunteer drivers were treated to three squares a day on the Rubicon Trail Super Run event, with the Rubicon Rockheads making camp life pretty cool at the Crystal Basin Mountain Resort not far from the trail head. Yes, pancakes; yes, eggs; yes, sausage; and for sure, yes, hot coffee!
Stan Bennett, a Vietnam War...
Stan Bennett, a Vietnam War vet, USMC, shows off his set of donated BFGoodrich Tires that he won in the fun raffle. Stan plans to put his new BFGs on his 2008 F250. BFG supports land use and our veterans every year.
John Parrinello (center) with...
John Parrinello (center) with the New Jersey event coordinator, Melissa Roslan, showing off a nice donation check from retired Marine captain William V. Schmitz (right), representing the Military Order of the Purple Heart. It’s all about saying thanks; and it’s about freedom. (Photo by Drew Sabens.)
WFTW New Jersey would like to thank the North Jersey Jeep Club volunteer drivers, the Wounded Warrior Project, Warrior Watch Riders, Military Transport of New Jersey, Newton VFW, the Sussex County Military Order of the Purple Hearts, Cell Phones for Soldiers New Jersey, and all who helped out.
One of the Jeeps used in the...
One of the Jeeps used in the Crossing of America effort was in attendance for the vets and volunteers to enjoy. The “Spirit of Liberty” Jeeps paid tribute to service members through 43 states and over 12,700 miles of travel. (Photo by Drew Sabens.)
The Rubicon Trail Super Run folks would like to thank the sponsors who provided raffle prizes, food, and fun for the vets and volunteers: BFGoodrich Tires, MetalCloak, Axial Racing, F-O-A Shock Absorbers, Crystal Basin Mountain Resort, NorCal Crawlers, Rubicon Rockheads, BlueRibbon Coalition, Placerville Kiwanis, Eldorado Hills Rotary, Robinson’s Medical, 4wdmechanix.com (Moses Ludel), Crawl, Pirates of the Rubicon, and NorthStar Engineering.