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May-21-2012 05:05printcommentsVideo

Rolling Thunder XXV May 27, 2012: Gone but Not Forgotten

Always remember our troops serving, those who have borne the battle and those who gave their lives for us so we can live free!

RIDE FOR FREEDOM 25TH Anniversary Demonstration
RIDE FOR FREEDOM 25TH Anniversary Demonstration. Used by permission: Rolling Thunder®, Inc. Artwork: Lee Stalsworth, Rolling Thunder National Photographer

(QUANTICO) - Few things are more "American" than the roar of hundreds of thousands of bikers from all over the nation riding through Washington D.C. to the sound of cheering, flag waving supporters of our POW/MIA's and veterans. Each year bikers from all over the world and all walks of life join together to honor the more than 58,000 who gave their lives in the Vietnam War and the countless number left behind.

Nearly one million riders and spectators participate in the Rolling Thunder Memorial Day weekend demonstration held each year in Washington D.C. Rolling Thunder has evolved to be not only a demonstration for the POW/MIA issue but also a demonstration of patriotism and respect for soldiers and veterans from all wars. More than any other event, "Ride for Freedom" gives everyone the opportunity to proudly show their gratitude for all of our freedoms and their love and respect for the veterans who have fought for us.

This year's demonstration in Washington D.C, Sunday, May 27, 2012, marks Rolling Thunder's 25th Anniversary. The purpose of this demonstration is to bring awareness to the government so full accountability can be achieved for all Prisoners of War (POW) and those Missing in Action (MIA) from all wars. Rolling Thunder began in 1987 as a demonstration to bring awareness to the plight of prisoners of war (POW) and to those missing in action (MIA). Since Rolling Thunder started, our government has recovered the following numbers of remains: WWI-6, WWII-240, Korean War-73, Vietnam War-697, Gulf War-14 and Iraq War-3 with seven live POW's returned from this war. Rolling Thunder is asking members and the public to remember Sgt. Bowe R. Bergdahl from Idaho, who was captured in Afghanistan on June 30, 2009. Sgt. Bergdahl is the only known living American POW in Afghanistan.

Rolling Thunder 2010 - A Marine's Vigil

A Solitary Marine holds vigil at full attention during the Rolling Thunder Demonstration in tribute to fallen comrades.
Staff Sergeant Tim Chambers, USMC (Ret), The Lone Marine, ( The Lone Marine by: Phil Scott ) held a salute for the entire four hour Rolling Thunder Demonstration and has been saluting veterans each year since 2002. SSgt Chambers says he wanted to make a difference and reach out to the veterans, so he jumped to the middle of the street and saluted each one as they passed by on their bikes. When SSgt Chambers was asked "Why the salute?" He answered, "It's about the pain. A lot of these heroic guys still hurt and if I can relieve their pain for just one brief moment, then I've done my job." SSgt Chambers believes that a true patriot reaches out to help fellow Americans in need, helps those less fortunate, and demonstrates compassion. "When you help others, you are not only an American, but you are a patriot of America, and just as patriotic as the service member that served in this generation or generations past."

Bob and Jani Bergdahl, parents of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, will be featured speakers. They will speak during the May 27 program, which will also include appearances by Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ); Commander Kirk S. Lippold, USN (Ret), the former commanding officer of the USS Cole (DDG-67); Lynn O'Shea, Director of Research for the National Alliance of Families for the Return of America's Missing Servicemen, along with Colonel Patricia S. Blassie, Commander of the Headquarters Air Reserve Personnel Center; Mike Shelby (aka NY Myke), a Vietnam veteran who participated in the inauguration of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in 1982; Sergeant Matthew Smith , returning from Afghanistan in October 2011 and Steve Thompson, Family & Veteran Liaison - Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command.

In addition to the speakers, a lineup of celebrity entertainers is slated to provide a fitting musical tribute, including long-time veterans' supporters and internationally renowned entertainers Nancy Sinatra and Connie Stevens, as well as perennial favorites Gordon Painter, Loch Rannoch Pipe & Drum, country artists Rockie Lynne and the Dean Crawford Dunn's River Band.

Everyone is welcome. The best viewing spots are along the Arlington Memorial Bridge and Constitution Avenue. You can also pay tribute to America's war heroes by visiting the monuments and memorials on the National Mall.

Behind the Shades and Beneath the Leather

Rolling Thunder®, Inc.'s major function is to publicize the POW-MIA issue; to educate the public that many American prisoners of War were left behind after all past wars; and to help correct the past and to protect the future veterans from being left behind should they become prisoners of war-missing in action. Rolling Thunder, Inc. is also committed to helping disabled veterans from all wars. Their members are veterans, non-veterans and/or motorcyclists, but anyone can participate in the demonstration or become a member of this incredible organization as long as you believe in the issue.

They were our brothers, sisters, our buddies and
our heroes. We don't want their memories to fade.
Used by permission: Rolling Thunder®,Inc.

by Bill "uglicoyote" Davis
USN 1967-1971

As we prepared to mount our bikes,
He asked, "Tell me why you ride.
There's nothing that you few can do
For these soldiers who have died."

"You're wrong" I answered back to him,
"Yes, they all have paid the toll,
But we can help people remember
When they hear the Thunder Roll."

"These men and women served their country,
their deaths were not by choice.

They fulfilled their solemn duty
And now we are their voice."

"Some returned in shrouded coffins.

They served and gave their all.

Some went to serve in foreign lands,
And never returned at all." "So we ride to offer honor to
All those who paid this toll. We ride so you'll remember them,
When you hear the thunder roll."

Rolling Thunder®, Inc. History

Rolling Thunder®, Inc., began as a demonstration following the era of the Vietnam War, which was a difficult time in America's history. Similar to today's political climate, our nation was divided over issues of peace and war. However, many of America's military were killed or missing in action and their remains were not being brought home to be respectfully buried and honored. In 1988, veterans of the Vietnam War rallied together their families, fellow veterans, and veterans' advocates to organize a demonstration at the Capitol Building in Washington, DC during the Memorial Day weekend. They announced their arrival with the roar of their Harley-Davidsons, a sound not unlike the 1965 bombing campaign against North Vietnam dubbed Operation Rolling Thunder. A title that would endure time and be trademarked in 1990. Approximately 2500 motorcycles participated in this rally, demanding that the U.S. government account for all POW/MIA's. The group became known as Rolling Thunder and each year since has held an annual "Ride for Freedom" to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall.

America is Waiting for You! Sergeant Bowe R. Bergdahl

History and Meaning of the POW/MIA Flag

Rolling Thunder®, Inc. 2012 Issues:

Live POW's: Rolling Thunder's most important issue is the men who were left behind alive after all past wars! They still search for bones and do nothing to resolve what happened to those left behind alive! Why do we not ask these countries to search for last known alive? Honesty could help with better relations for everyone.

Where is Sgt Bowe R. Bergdahl – Captured July 1, 2009?

Retired Military: They were promised healthcare when they retired. Now retired military are told they have to pay for it. Why not have the Congress and the Senate pay for their healthcare? VA medication is to go from $9 to $36 per prescription under Obama care.

Veterans Administration: Why do we still have over 900,000 disability claims on backlog?

Foreclosures: Returning troops are facing foreclosures when they come home. The banking system is doing nothing to help our troops and Veterans with this issue. In the past year, Rolling Thunder has helped two of our returning Veterans get their house out of foreclosure. The bank would not help them.

POW/MIA Flag Over the White House: Why is the flag not flying over the White House as it has in previous administrations?

Always remember our troops serving, those who have borne the battle and those who gave their lives for us so we can live free!

Rolling Thunder®, Inc. 2012 Schedule May 25 - May 27

Friday, May 25, 2012

Historic Congressional Cemetery – 10:00 a.m.
1801 E. Street Southeast
Washington, DC 20003

Candle Light Vigil at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall led by the Flame of Freedom
which will escort Gold Star and Blue Star families to honor and remember
those who gave their lives in service to their country, and those who are still
missing or held prisoner - 8:30 p.m.
Candle Light Vigil - 9:00 p.m.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall ,
Washington, DC

Saturday, May 26, 2012

TAPS – Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors – 9:00 a.m.
Time: Leaving Hyatt, Crystal City at 8 a.m.
Crystal Gateway Marriott,
Jefferson Davis Highway, Arlington, VA

Harley-Davidson of Washington Barbeque – 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
9407 Livingston Road,
Fort Washington, MD

Wreath Laying Ceremony - U.S. Navy Memorial – 11:00 a.m.
701 Pennsylvania Avenue, Northwest
Washington, DC (On The Plaza)
Music by: Fourmanchu

Rolling Thunder Hospitality Room
Hyatt Regency, Crystal City – 8:00 p.m.

Sunday, May 27, 2012
Rolling Thunder will assemble at the Pentagon Parking Lot - 7:00 a.m. - Noon.
Departure To Washington, DC - Noon
See a Map of the Route

Speaker Program - 1:30 p.m.

Bob & Jani Bergdahl, Congressman Trent Franks, CDR Kirk Lippold,

Col Pat Blassie, Lynn O’Shea, Sgt Matt Smith, Michael Shelby, Steve Thompson

Musical Tribute to Veterans - 3:00 p.m.

Nancy Sinatra, Connie Stevens, Gordon Painter, Loch Rannoch Pipe & Drum, Rockie Lynne, and the Dean Crawford Dunn's River Band
The Stage is located between the Reflecting Pool and the Korean War Memorial.

Related Links and Special Attractions

Official Rolling Thunder®, Inc. Website
Our website is dedicated to all veterans, past, present and future.
We understand the price that some have paid so that we can enjoy freedom.
"When one American is not worth the effort to be found, we as Americans have lost!"

Visit the report here

National Alliance of Families for the Return of America's Missing Servicemen

East-Coast Harley-Davidson "Ride for Freedom"
Memorial Day Events

Run for the Wall Motorcycle Event - May 16-26
Run For The Wall recognizes the sacrifices and contributions made by all veterans who have served our nation. Veterans of recent conflicts and those currently on active duty are especially welcome to join us as we ride for those who cannot.

The Harley Davidson (from Wisconsin) Left at the Wall

The Story behind one of the most unusual items ever left at the Vietnam Veterans
Memorial Wall and what may be in store for its future.

Virtual Wall

Rolling Thunder®, Inc. Photographer Patrick J. Hughes

Special Attractions: Staff wishes to thank all
veterans for their sacrifice and service. We
send a "welcome home" to all Vietnam
Veterans, as well. Salem-News photo: Tim King

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall USA website is dedicated to honoring those who died in the Vietnam War. Since it first went on line in 1996 it has evolved into something more. It is now also a place of healing for those affected by one of the most divisive wars in our nation's history.

    'Eleven of our staff writers are Viet Nam Veterans'

Coral Anika Theill, reporter and advocate, is author of "BONSHEA: Making Light of the Dark." Her published works address abuse, trauma recovery and healing from post traumatic stress and most recently, wounded Marines, the Warrior Games and Montford Point Marines. Her writings have encouraged and inspired numerous trauma victims and wounded Marines/soldiers recovering from PTS. Coral's positive insights as a survivor have also earned the respect of clinical therapists, advocates, attorneys, professors and authors. BONSHEA, has been used as a college text for nursing students at Linfield College, Portland, Oregon.

"Those who serve may already know the toll of having to kill or be killed, but civilian society should also recognize that those who go into battle defending our way of life pay a price. As a non-military writer researching the subject of Marines and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury and Suicide Prevention, I feel a deep gratitude to our servicemen and women and believe our society needs to do more to respect, understand and support those returning from deployment in conflict zones. Please share my most recent articles: The Commandant of the Marine Corps on Post-TraumaticStress and Traumatic Brain Injury and Invisible Battle Scars: Confronting the Stigma of PTS and TBI with friends and family." - Coral Anika Theill, Author, Advocate and Contributing Writer for Leatherneck Magazine Email:

Some of Coral's past military reports:

Comments Leave a comment on this story.

All comments and messages are approved by people and self promotional links or unacceptable comments are denied.

Carol Lible May 31, 2012 3:25 pm (Pacific time)

Great article. Thank you! Refreshing to see that the AP actually understands and publicly displayed DEMONSTRATION... opposed to the usual articles referring to our demonstration as a parade.
Well done and informative for those not familiar.
Thank you!

Editor: Thank you Carol, and for the record we are not an AP organization, we have had a working relationship with them off and on, but this story is by Coral, specifically to cover the material that the rest of the 'mainstream' was overlooking, thank you!

Dark night of the Soul May 29, 2012 6:04 am (Pacific time)

Tears to the eyes, tugs at the heart....great stuff

CALVIN FRYE May 26, 2012 12:11 am (Pacific time)

Wonderful article. Thank you very much.

Maggie Crooks May 24, 2012 6:49 am (Pacific time)

Great story. In the last 25 years I've only missed 3 RFTWs. This year will be the 4th. Very sad-making. Keep telling people about our heroes, and especially those who are probably still alive. Bring them home!

Hugh M. Bremner May 23, 2012 6:23 am (Pacific time)

Great Article. Fantastic Job. We shall Never Forget, Thankyou For Remembering.God Bless Our Troops

Gordon Painter May 22, 2012 9:16 pm (Pacific time)

Thank you so much for the support of Rolling Thunder. Great article.

Nancy Sinatra May 22, 2012 7:14 pm (Pacific time)

Well done! Bravo and thank you for supporting this very noble cause. Let's get Bowe home to his family. Lord, we need your help. Bless our quest and bring us through this weekend with no more tragedies. Bless Jay Fairlamb and his wife. May she have strength to recover and may he rest in the light of eternal peace.

Tim King: We are honored to have your comment Nancy, thank you!

Nancy Regg May 22, 2012 6:53 pm (Pacific time)

Thank you so much for the support!!

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