Every great organization has started with an idea—and a belief, and Rolling Thunder® Inc is no exception. In 1987, Vietnam veterans Artie Muller and Ray Manzo were concerned about the POW/MIA’s that were still unaccounted for from the Vietnam War. They were deeply troubled by the distasteful neglect of attention given to those who were left behind. It seemed as if the majority of legislators and citizens had forgotten. But Muller and Manzo did not forget…and it was this belief that would begin Rolling Thunder® Inc and their watchwords “We Will Not Forget”.
When they met to discuss their concerns, there were more than 10,000 reported sightings of live Americans who were still living in captivity—and in horrid conditions. Sadly, our government and the press largely ignored these sightings. So they planned to reach out to other veterans and families and gather in Washington D.C. to march, demonstrate, and make their voices heard. They would call this demonstration “Rolling Thunder” because the roar of their motorcycles sounded like the 1965 bombing campaign against the North Vietnamese that was once dubbed “Operation Rolling Thunder”.
When the first ride finally took place on Memorial Day weekend in 1988, more than 2,500 motorcyclists from across American met in Washington D.C., beginning a Ride for Freedom that would last for decades. During this initial ride, Rolling Thunder riders demanded our leaders fully account for all POW/MIA’s. They also pledged that until ALL POW/MIA’s were accounted for, they would continue to ride.
27 years later, Rolling Thunder® Inc has grown from 2,500 bikers to more than 900,000 and their ride has sparked some incredible changes in legislation and veteran benefits. In 2007, Rolling Thunder Charities® Inc was established to help veterans, active duty military and their families in need of help. Each year, they spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in financial aid, food, clothing, and essentials for veterans and their families.
Rolling Thunder® Inc sponsors missions into Southeast Asia for POW/MIAs and the remains of those who have been killed in action. Veterans from all wars visit local hospitals and VA hospitals nationwide and speak to youth groups about honoring their country and respecting their servicemen and women.
As a group, Rolling Thunder® Inc has also been behind some important legislation that has improved the POW/MIA issues and veteran benefits. Some of their most recent legislation included the Respect for Fallen Heroes Act of 2006 and the Veteran’s Housing Opportunity and Benefits Improvement Act of 2006.
Due to the efforts of Rolling Thunder working on the POW/MIA issue, the U.S. Government has repatriated the remains of six veterans from WWI. These WWI veterans remains were identified and buried on U.S. soil. Previous to Rolling Thunder’s involvement no WWI remains had been returned since WWI ended.
Their involvement in bringing home our missing soldiers aided in the return of Jessica Lynch, SSgt Matt Maupin, Pfc. Byron W. Fouty, and Sgt. Alex R. Jimenez. There is only one known POW still being held alive in captivity. Currently, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is being held as a POW from the War in Afghanistan by Taliban Forces in the hopes that they can use him to obtain several of their leaders that are being held at Guantanamo Bay. He has spent nearly 5 years in captivity.
There are still as many as 88,000 POW/MIA’s still unaccounted for. Until they are, Rolling Thunder® Inc will continue to Ride for Freedom and challenge Congress to find them.
Rolling Thunder® Inc Ride For Freedom May 27 2014, Washington, DC
To find out more information and how you can get involved contact Rolling Thunder® Inc
Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys®,
Proud Supporters of Rolling Thunder® Inc