Semper Gumby

Always Flexible…Change of Mission

The next few hours were a whirlwind of phone-calls, emails, and risk management planning. I needed to focus on the underlying mission, what I was communicating as the patrol leader, and my family and those who would be impacted by my decision. They train us to be decisive, to shoot, move and communicate. They train us that a 70% solution now is better than a 100% solution arrived at too late. My stream of consciousness turns into an appeal at the end…

I had to decide. I had to pull the trigger on a decision I didn’t want to make. The thought of not reaching Mexico never entered my mind until this. I planned for catastrophic injury and life-flight, not a catastrophic failure of the bike.

My two Marine buddies, Ross Schellhaas and John Dyer, had been following my progress since I began the journey. John had wanted to meet up at some point, but it didn’t seem feasible given my limited window in Idaho and his busy work schedule. Upon hearing that I was dead on the water, John dropped everything. He didn’t want to hear about my misguided hitchhiking plans. He drove 6-hours each way to pick me up. That’s a true friend; that’s a true brother:

Sandy and the rest of the command post, Ben Good and Colonel Foltyn, were both happy that I was coming home and saddened that I hadn’t been able to finish the ride. It was a rather poetic ending to the ride though. I reached out to friends that I hadn’t seen nor spoke to in years. At the drop of a hat they were there for me- no questions. That is exactly what I was trying to communicate on my mission! That we vets need to be there for each other, no matter the circumstance.

I spent an evening with Ross and John, reminiscing over the good ‘ol days. Time had changed nothing. We were still the same young and foolish Marines. Sure, our bodies may have betrayed us a bit- but our age and aching bones would never crush our fighting spirit. I’ve never laughed so hard as that evening and the jokes and memories we shared.

I spent the next few days with John and his family. We visited his cabin in McCall, ID and had a great Independence Day. John’s lovely wife, Gina. and their four wonderful children were the greatest of hosts, I am so thankful to them! I even got back on the bike! I came so far only to end up with the fellas I began my career with. We spoke to and texted old buddies and commanding officers, Col Mark Toal and LtCol Jim Woulfe. Time had passed, but we remembered the best of times like it was yesterday. They truly are a great group of guys.

I need some time to reflect over the next few days. Some time to adjust is required. The lessons learned must be captured and processed. I owe a debt of gratitude to all of my supporters, most notably my wife Sandy, and my boys Josh and Jacob. The command post, staffed by Ben Good and Col Robert Foltyn deserve a special thanks too- they spent countless hours piecing together this website and the content while I was having an adventure. I have the best of friends, supporters, and family.

Lastly, a special thanks to those of you who wrote me messages or contributed to the charities I listed in the support tab. responding to your messages was impossible at the time, but I will get back to each of you shortly. Your messages and support meant the world to me as I navigated the route.

I look forward to updating you soon with Patrol Forward’s evolving mission, patrols, and lessons learned. I will have my head down for the next year as I finish school and take the bar exam, but rest assured, Patrol Forward remains a top priority. If you are interested in conducting or supporting the next patrol, please reach out to us!

We are considering tackling the John Muir Trail and biking the Arizona 400 as Patrol Forward’s next projects.

Semper Fidelis,

Doug

Whiskey 6