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History Of Rolling Thunder

In 1987 Rolling Thunder made its first ride to the Vietnam War Memorial.

Ray Manzo, a former United States Marine Corps Corporal, U.S. Army Sergeant Major John Holland (Ret.), Marine First Sergeant Walt Sides (Ret.) and Sergeant Ted Sampley (Ret.) are the four men that are credited with starting Rolling Thunder.

In the fall of 1987, Vietnam veterans met to discuss their personal concerns about the POW/MIAs 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 of attention given to those who did not make it out with their lives or their freedom. These veterans discussed the more than 10,000 reported sightings of live Americans living in dismal captivity. Intelligence reports of these sightings were generally ignored by the government and mainstream press.

The Founders of Rolling Thunder were ordinary men who understood that they had a right to have their voices heard and 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 form a march and demonstration in the nation’s Capitol. 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 converged on Washington, D.C. to demand from our leaders a full accounting of all POW/MIAs. As the Founders of Rolling Thunder made their stand that day in front of the Capitol, they reflected thankfully for the people who came in support of the POW/ MIAs and for the unity that was felt. This was Rolling Thunder's first demonstration. Only until ALL POW/MIAs 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")

Incorporated in 1995, Rolling Thunder®, Inc. is a class 501(c)(4) non-profit organization with over 90 chartered chapters throughout the United States and members abroad.