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Rolling Thunder XXVI May 26, 2013: Until They Are Home

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
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall is a place of healing for those affected by one of the most divisive wars in our nation's history.  Photo Credits: Rolling Thunder®, Inc. Photographer Patrick J. Hughes, U.S.M.C. ChuLai 67-68

(WASHINGTON DC) - 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.

Behind the Shades and Beneath the Leather

Nearly one million riders and spectators participate in the Rolling Thunder®, Inc. Memorial Day weekend demonstration held each year in Washington D.C. Rolling Thunder®, Inc. 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.

Those who ride in the Rolling Thunder®, Inc. demonstration each year are from all walks of life and from all parts of the world.  They join in solidarity to honor the brave men and women who have put their lives on the line to defend our great country. It is a time to reflect upon our freedom which so many have died to protect.

This year's demonstration in Washington D.C, Sunday, May 26, 2013, marks Rolling Thunder®, Inc.’s 26th 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®, Inc. 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®, Inc. 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. (see: Bob Bergdahl, Father of Current POW, Sgt Bowe Bergdahl Speaks Out

Staff Sergeant Daniel Shankle and his wife, Megan,
Quantico, Virginia Photo Credit:  Melissa Chaplin

Marine Corps Base Quantico – EOD Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen. My name is Staff Sergeant Daniel Shankle. This Memorial Weekend we cross over 3000 coalition casualties in the war in Afghanistan. Let us not forget this weekend as we enjoy time off with our friends and families what the true meaning of Memorial Day is, to honor those who gave their lives so we could enjoy the freedoms we have today. There is also another group we need to remember and that is the Prisoners of War and Missing in Action. As many of you know we always say we will never leave a fallen comrade behind. But sadly for those of us who have been to combat we know this is not always the case. To those of you who have left friends behind the POW/MIA motto of “You are not forgotten” holds strong in your hearts. You can also think, am I the only one who has not forgotten? This is what I come here today, to talk to you about.

As an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician I have supported The Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command also known as JPAC. JPAC is a joint service organization with civilian support whose purpose is to bring home the heroes we have left behind. They do this by organizing into teams who go out and investigate where a plane crashed or a battle took place. Once they have enough information on where the fallen may be, they send out a recovery team. The recovery team works long and hard days as they search to bring home our lost heroes. Once the remains are found they go through a repatriation ceremony before they come home. Once we positively identify our fallen heroes the command turns over their remains to the surviving family members for their final burial. I tell you this because I know the decisions you make on the battlefield, which might only take a couple seconds, can live with you forever. That you might feel you are the only one who remembers your fellow service member, friend, brother, father or son. This however is not the case and right now as I speak young men and women are working hard to bring them home. Ensuring that when we say “You are not forgotten” not only you but American means “You are not forgotten”. Semper Fidelis

(Speech from Staff Sergeant Daniel Shankle, May 29, 2012, in honor of Rolling Thunder XXV).

JPAC With the support and cooperation of the host countries, JPAC conducts a global, humanitarian mission to search, recover, and conduct laboratory operations to identify unaccounted-for Americans from past conflicts in order to support the Department of Defense’s personnel accounting efforts. Falling directly under the U.S. Pacific Command and employing more than 500 joint military and civilian personnel, JPAC continues its search for the fullest possible accounting of Americans still unaccounted for from past conflicts. "Until They Are Home"

In 1999 US Marines recovered the remains of fallen comrades from August 1942.
True story of the recovery of 19 US Marines Killed in Action on Makin Island in WWII and their return
home to Arlington National Cemetery 58 years later. Story: Pat Mendoza. Music arranged by Pat Mendoza
Trumpet: Steve Wiest. Singers: The Islanders and Pat Mendoza

Photo credit: Rolling Thunder®, Inc. Photographer Patrick J. Hughes. The Travis Manion Foundation:

Rep. Reid Ribble (R-WI 8), Rep. Jon Runyan (NJ-3), LTC Andras Marton, Lynn O’Shea and Nikki Mendicino will be featured speakers on May 26th.

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, Loch Rannoch Pipes & Drums Band, Gordon Painter, J.D. Micals and Rockie Lynne.

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.

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.

WHY WE RIDE - They were our brothers, sisters, our buddies and our heroes. We don't want their memories to fade. Used by permission: Photo Credits: Rolling Thunder®, Inc. Photographer Patrick J. Hughes   (Photos from 2012 Rolling Thunder Memorial Day weekend demonstration) 




by Thomas Farrell

You left your home, so young and brave 
A proud Marine, not a bit afraid. 
To a war you went so far away. 
Your country called, you had to obey.

Now in a land where death does abide, 
You fight and strive to stay alive. 
Though in the Jungle so thick it hides the sky, 
To mud of the paddies where you dry.

No longer the boy so full of dreams. 
The naive kid with a thousand schemes. 
For you have aged beyond your years.

And know the pain of a thousand tears.

In thirteen months of death and hell. 
You live a story you dare not tell.

A story of how you aged a hundred years.

On your way home you have time to reflect 
On the friends that have died and the ones that you left.

A tear comes to your eye, which you can't control,
You seem withdrawn from friends you've known, 
A man alone in a place called home.

Your youth you left so far behind, 
In a place that will leave forever in your mind.

For the nights of terror have just begun, 
The screams of the dying and you are one. 
That war in a land so far away, 
Now lives with you from day to day.


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®, Inc. and each year since has held an annual "Ride for Freedom" to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall.History and Meaning of the POW/MIA Flag

America is Waiting for You! Sergeant Bowe R. Bergdahl

Rolling Thunder®, Inc. 2012 Issues:

Live POW's: Rolling Thunder®, Inc.’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 June 30, 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 24 - May 26



Mission Statement: The major function of Rolling Thunder®, Inc. is to publicize the POW-MIA issue: To educate the public that many American Prisoners of War were left behind after all previous wars and to help correct the past and to protect future Veterans from being left behind should they become Prisoners of War-Missing In Action. We are also committed to helping American Veterans from all wars.  Rolling Thunder®, Inc. is a non-profit organization and everyone donates his or her time because they believe in the POW/MIA Issue.



Friday, May 24, 2013


Candle Light Vigil – 9:00 p.m.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, DC

Parking on Henry Beacon Drive


SATURDAY, MAY 25, 2013


Harley-Davidson of Washington Barbeque – 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

9407 Livingston Road

Fort Washington, MD


Saturday Program – 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Reflecting Pool (stage across from Lincoln Memorial) Washington, D.C.

Ted Glover/MC

Gordon Painter, J.D. Micals, Ben Mason




U.S. Navy Memorial – 11:00 a.m.

701 Pennsylvania Avenue, Northwest

Washington, DC (On The Plaza)


Rolling Thunder Hospitality Room

Hyatt Regency, Crystal City – 8:00 p.m. 


SUNDAY, MAY 26, 2013


Pentagon Parking Lot - 7:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon

Rolling Thunder XXVI - Departure to Washington, D.C. – 12:00 p.m.

Rolling Thunder Speakers Program - Approximately 1:30 p.m.                                                            (stage location:  Reflecting Pool across from the Lincoln Memorial)

Speakers:  Rep. Reid Ribble(R-W-8), Rep. Jon Runyan(R-NJ 3), LTC Andras Marton, Lynn O’Shea and Nikki Mendicino. 

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

Nancy Sinatra, Loch Rannoch Pipes & Drums Band, Gordon Painter, J.D. Micals and Rockie Lynne


For additional information go to

Everyone is Welcome!


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!"

National Alliance of Families for the Return of America's Missing Servicemen 
East-Coast Harley-Davidson "Ride for Freedom"


Run for the Wall Motorcycle Event - May 15-24 
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

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.

Rolling Thunder®, Inc. Photographer Patrick J. Hughes  
Special Attractions:

National Museum of the Marine Corps 
18900 Jefferson Davis Hwy. 
Triangle, VA 22172 
Hours:  9:00 am - 5:00 pm 
Directions - Map 

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall

              'Twelve 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 and TBI. Coral's positive insights as a survivor have also earned the respect of clinical therapists, advocates, attorneys, professors and authors. Her memoir, BONSHEA Making Light of the Dark, 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.” – Coral Anika Theill



Comments Leave a comment on this story.

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

Coral Anika Theill June 6, 2013 2:09 pm (Pacific time) Rolling Thunder XXVI May 26, 2013: Until They Are Home article was re published in the June 2013 issue of Thunderroads Virginia.

pinkfloyd May 23, 2013 4:32 pm (Pacific time)

thanks anon..and, here is a song I think should be salem-news theme floyd, "no more turning away". We need to stop turning away from the atrocities, quit being apathetic and expose what is going on. Here is the song, lyrics are below the video.. this should be salem-news theme song, it fits perfect.

Anonymous May 23, 2013 1:30 pm (Pacific time)

pinkfloyd you are full of good information

Anonymous May 23, 2013 1:30 pm (Pacific time)

We salute you Coral Theill and for being the ones to carry this most important information, Semper fi!

pinkfloyd May 23, 2013 10:30 am (Pacific time)

Last year, I told my brother who was a helicopter gunner in vietnam, that the wars were not for our freedoms, but for the bankers, and actually our slavery. He got really mad at me and did not talk to me for months. But he started doing the research, and during that time, he got cancer from agent orange. He understands now and we get along fine. I wish the bikers, would learn, then educate the soldiers to let them know all wars are banker wars. Wars that actually enslave us. I get threats for speaking this way, but I have done the research. If we do not educate the troops, then the atrocities will continue. Government testing soldiers with dangerous drugs, starting wars on lies, and as far back as the civil war, WW1, and WW2, including vietnam, were based on lies and giving the bankers more power over not just our country, but most every country. By the way, my brother took my advice on fighting the cancer with alternative cures, and he is fine now. I still think he is a hero tho, he did not know and he was duped, but he still risked his life for what he thought was for freedom. Its not his fault, and I am very proud of him. I also am a Navy veteran, but when I was in, there were no wars, I spent my time mostly in San Diego and a 3 month submarine tour. If you dont believe me about the banker wars, just look around. Over the years the U.S. has become a tyranny, totally run by the bankers.

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