JUST the FACTS
Incorporated in 1995, Rolling Thunder®, Inc. is a class 501(c)(4) and class 501(c)(3) non-profit, all volunteer organization with over 88 chartered chapters throughout the United States and members abroad. While many members of Rolling Thunder®are veterans, and many ride motorcycles, neither is a prerequisite to membership.
Rolling Thunder®, Inc. is not and never will be a motorcycle "club" (M/C). As stated above, you do not have to be a Veteran to join Rolling Thunder®, although many members do have some type of military background. You do not have to own or ride a motorcycle to join this organization, although most members do ride and have their own bikes. We do use the noise of the motorcycles to bring attention of our issues to the general public.
Rolling Thunder®members are old and young, men and women, active duty military, veterans and non-veterans. All are united in the cause to bring full accountability for POWs and MIAs of all wars, reminding the government, the media and the public by our watchwords: “We Will Not Forget.”
The Rolling Thunder Story
In the fall of 1987, in a little diner, in Somerville, New Jersey, two Vietnam veterans met to discuss their personal concerns about the prisoners of war (POW) and missing in action (MIA) from the Vietnam War.
Having honorably served their country, and having taken an oath to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies..." and to "bear true faith and allegiance to same," they were deeply troubled by the abhorrent neglect and lack of attention given to those who did not make it out with their lives or their freedom.
These two veterans discussed the more than 10,000 reported sightings of live Americans still living in dismal captivity. Intelligence reports of these sightings were generally ignored by the government and mainstream press. These two veterans were Artie Muller and Ray Manzo.
Artie and Ray were ordinary men who understood that they had a right to have their voices heard. So they proceeded to lay down the plans for a gathering in Washington, D.C. during the 1988 Memorial Day weekend.
They reached out to their families, fellow veterans and veteran's advocates to unify and to form a march and demonstration in the nation's Capital. Their arrival would be announced by the roar of their motorcycles, a sound not unlike the 1965 bombing campaign against North Vietnam dubbed Operation Rolling Thunder. Hence, they would call themselves "Rolling Thunder" - a title that would endure time and be trademarked in 1990.
Word spread quickly and by Memorial Day weekend in 1988 approximately 2,500 motorcycles from all over the country had converged on Washington, D.C. to demand from our leaders a full accounting of all POW/MIA's.
As they made their stand that day in front of the Capitol, Artie and Ray thankfully reflected on all the people
who came in support of the POW's
and MIA's, and for the unity that
was felt by all.
This was Rolling Thunder®'s first demonstration. Until ALL POW/MIA's ARE ACCOUNTED FOR, it will not be their last.
On that day, the foundation was laid for the annual "Ride for Freedom" to the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial Wall (also referred to as the "Ride to the Wall"). Artie is still on the Board of Directors for "Ride to the Wall" and Rolling Thunder® remains an active participant.
The number of participants in the Rolling Thunder® Memorial Day weekend Ride for Freedom has grown from 2,500 in 1988 to an estimated 850,000 in 2008.
All Rolling Thunder® members share a dedication to the mission to educate the public and increase awareness about the POW/MIA issue as well as other injustices suffered by active duty and veterans of our military.
We work to improve legislation that would rectify the POW/MIA situation and improve veterans' benefits. Everyone donates his or her time because they believe strongly in the issues that they are all working on.
We NEVER forget our POW/MIAs