Every year, the Rolling Thunder Chapters from South Dakota depart the Wednesday before Memorial Day for WashingtonD.C. for the Rolling Thunder Ride to the Wall. Rolling Thunder adopted the name of a 1965 Vietnam bombing campaign because of the loud roar of motorcycles invading the Nations Capital. Motorcycles four across stand at the ready line that wraps around the Pentagon one and a half times to make the ride from the Pentagon to the Vietnam Wall this Sunday, 26 May 2013.
“Our mission for both South Dakota Chapters, is that we want to publicize the POW/MIA issue that there were soldiers left behind from all wars,” said Elizabeth Wood, Rolling Thunder, Chapter 1, South Dakota. “We want people to understand that there were people left behind from our past wars and we want them to come home.”
Wood said there are 54 members in South Dakota Chapter 1. The chapter helps with Veterans issues in the area by going to the VA and putting on feeds for the Veterans and provide for the homeless veterans. During Sturgis week, we have a Memorial Ceremony at the Black HillsNationalMemorialCemetery.
Dave Nordlund, also from South Dakota Chapter 1, was invited to make his first ride to the wall around the year 2000 by his now late friend Richard Johnson. We rode to WashingtonD.C. where about 500-thousand to 800-thousand bikes participate in the demonstration ride.
“It’s an audible voice for those who cannot speak and it’s emphasizing we will not forget,” Said Nordlund. “It’s for those who can’t ride for themselves or speak for themselves. The sound of the ride is overwhelming; that’s where the name Rolling Thunder comes in.”
“We have to remember those still over there that have been missing for 50-60 years,” said Wood. Fortunately, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) goes over there and finds remains of those fallen soldiers and accounts for them. Even after a long time, it gives a family closure to here about the fate of their loved one.”
Wood said people can help the effort by going to the JPAC website because they are looking for DNA samples, especially from the Korean War. World War Two has better closure, and Vietnam still has over 1,600 unaccounted for.
“Our riders left Wednesday morning from J & L Harley and we sent them off with doughnuts and coffee,” said Nordlund. “Five bikes departed in the rain, and they will meet with other groups in Minnesota and ride to D.C.”
Nordlund said, not everyone who rides with us are members of Rolling Thunder. You will see all kinds of bikes; two or three wheelers. It is such a great event and we encourage people to come and participate.
Wood said that they are looking for people who want to help veterans to join. We want to educate people on POW/MIA issues and bring those soldiers back. Everyone is welcome to come, we have meetings at the VFW the third Saturday of every month.
* The Rolling Thunder XXVI can be seen on C-SPAN on Monday 27 May. See your local cable listings for times shown.
Elizabeth Wood and Dave Nordlund were interviewed on the Greg Belfrage show May 24, 2013.