The Rolling Thunder is a non-profit organization founded in 1990 and incorporated in 1995 with a goal to publicize the Prisoners Of War-Missing In Action (POW-MIA) issue.
The founders Artie Muller and Ray Manzo met in 1987 to share their concerns about the Prisoners of War and all the soldiers Missing in Action from the Vietnam War. As war veterans themselves, the issue was something they could relate to and they couldn’t ignore the huge number of their fellow soldiers left behind and declared dead or missing. What bugged them even more is the fact that many POW-MIAs were seen living in captivity but the government and the press have decided to ignore these reports.
Muller and Manzo felt it their duty to do something to raise public awareness about all the people who were left behind and to prevent such things from happening in the future. The first demonstration organized by Artie Muller and Ray Manzo took place in Washington, DC during the Memorial Day weekend in 1988. Organization was spontaneous as the veterans invited their families, fellow veterans, and veteran’s advocates to gather in the capital. The roar of their motorcycles announced their arrival and the sound was similar to the 1965 bombing campaign against North Vietnam. Since the bombing campaign was named Operation Rolling Thunder, the veteran biking group also got the name Rolling Thunder®, Inc.
The Memorial Day weekend protest in 1988 gathered more than 2,500 motorcyclists from all over the US to demand a full accounting of all POW/MIA's. On that day, an annual "Ride for Freedom" was established to the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial Wall. The "Ride for Freedom" has more and more supporters every year and the numbers rose from 2,500 to 900,000.
Rolling Thunder®, Inc. is now an established non-profit organization whose members donate their time to raise awareness about all the American POW-MIAs and to help the veterans from all wars.
In order to become a member, you don’t have to be a veteran or even to ride a motorcycle. The organization has over 90 chapters all over the US and it also has members abroad. Members can be both men and women, young and old, with a uniting goal to bring full accountability for the Prisoners Of War-Missing In Action.
The slogan of the organization is: “We Will Not Forget.” And the organization is working on achieving the set goals. Since it was founded, the Rolling Thunder veteran biking group has co- authored and advocated legislation to improve the POW/MIA issue, veterans' benefits, concerns, and interests.