DoD News, Defense Media Activity
In 1987, two Vietnam War veterans met to discuss how they could bring awareness to prisoners of war (POW) and those missing in action (MIA) from the Vietnam War. Those veterans were named Artie Muller and Ray Manzo, and out of that meeting, Rolling Thunder was born. From that point on, veterans took to the cause, and every year on Memorial Day, they and thousands of others, ride into Washington D.C. in unison, flying the Stars and Stripes beside stark black POW/MIA flags.
Here are some other facts you may not know about Rolling Thunder and the history behind it.
1. Rolling Thunder Inc. is not a motorcycle rally. It is a demonstration for POW/MIA accountability of all wars, reminding the government, the media and the public: “We Will Not Forget.”
2. The number of participants/spectators for the first Rolling Thunder in 1987 was 2,500; the last demonstration was estimated at 900,000.
3. Rolling Thunder, Inc. is a non-profit organization comprised mostly of veterans — many of whom ride motorcycles. — neither qualification is a prerequisite to join.
4. The demonstration gets its name from the 1965 bombing campaign against North Vietnam dubbed “Operation Rolling Thunder.”
5. Rolling Thunder Charities, Inc. is a non-profit organization that helps raise funds for veterans, active duty military and their families in need of help.
6. Rolling Thunder Inc. has advocated and/or co-authored legislation to improve the POW/MIA issue, veterans’ benefits, concerns and interests as follows.
7. Rolling Thunder, Inc. veterans speak to youth groups about the honor of serving their country and educating them about the POW/MIA issue.
8. Thousands of hours are logged by Rolling Thunder, Inc. members at local VA hospitals nationwide.
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