Who is Rolling Thunder®?
Rolling Thunder® is a diverse group of like-minded individuals committed to keeping POW*MIA awareness and veterans rights issues in the forefront of political and public discourse. Our diversity comes from our members, we are young/old, male/female, Veteran/non-veteran and biker/non-biker. Many of our members are Veterans and many ride motorcycles; however, neither of those qualifications are a pre-requisite to becoming a member of Rolling Thunder®. Make no mistake, we are not now, never have been and never will be a motorcycle club or gang. What we are is a 501(c) 4, non-profit organization where everyone volunteers his/her time and effort because we believe in the mission.
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. To help correct the past and protect future veterans from being left behind should they become Prisoners of War or Missing in Action. We are also committed to helping American veterans from all wars.
This Mission is shared by more than 90 Rolling Thunder® chapters nationwide. How each of the chapters address the shared Mission is dependent upon the needs and opportunities afforded by the communities in which we serve.
In 2021, Rolling Thunder®, Inc. Chapter 5 Florida will implement a new program for our chapter, the “POW*MIA Chair of Honor Program.” Even though this is a new program for our chapter, it has been a part of Rolling Thunder®, Inc. for many years.
POW*MIA Chair of Honor Program
The first Chair of Honor was dedicated at the Tennessee Smokies Stadium in 2008 and consisted of an existing stadium seat being cordoned off to remain empty to honor those that were POW*MIA. In 2011 another Chair of Honor was dedicated at Bristol Motor Speedway. It was here that Joe D’Entremont, president of Rolling Thunder®, Inc. Chapter1 Massachusetts, saw the Chair of Honor and vowed to have a Chair of Honor installed in every professional sports facility in his state. Joe is the driving force behind the establishment of the National POW*MIA Chair of Honor Program.
This program addresses every aspect of our Mission:
1) The placement of the Chair raises awareness through publicizing the POW*MIA issue;
2) It educates the public that many American POW’s were left behind after previous wars;
3) With the heightened awareness and public education, we can fund more search and excavation teams to bring our Brothers and Sisters home; and
4) The increased awareness and public education will result in legislation to protect our future veterans from being left behind. That is the purpose behind the POW*MIA Chair of Honor Program.
The Chair of Honor allows our chapters to collectively say, “We know you are not with us at this time; however, we have a spot reserved for you when you come home. YOU ARE NOT FORGOTTEN. In addition to this simple message, I truly believe an even more profound message is conveyed to the families of our POW*MIA’s. That message to the family members is, “You can rest assured that Rolling Thunder® will stand forever vigilant by your side in support of your loved ones until they all come home.”
What to expect
Rolling Thunder®, Inc. Chapter 5 Florida will provide a stadium chair, four stanchions (corner posts) with chain, plaque stand and plaque to your non-profit organization, veterans memorial, municipality, patriotic establishment, school, college or university that is visible to the public. All we ask is that you provide a minimum 4ft X 4ft concrete slab, anchor the components and periodically wipe down the pieces with a damp cloth and maintain the display appropriately.
How does Rolling Thunder® make this happen?
To offset the cost of the chair, corner posts and plaque, Rolling Thunder accepts sponsorships and monetary donations or donations for the materials used in the fabrication of the display. Through these sponsorships and donations, we will be able to provide more chairs to more places and keep the mission to educate the public of the POW*MIAs at top of mind. The venue that is hosting the chair does not have to be the chair sponsor but will be responsible for the maintenance of the chair.
For questions about having a chair placed at your venue, to donate/sponsor a chair or if the chair needs attention outside of general maintenance, please contact:
• Frank “Pappy” Hull at (812) 830-9000 or firstname.lastname@example.org
• Joe Easterly at (239) 450-4855 or email@example.com
• Michael “Bigtoe” O’Connor at (973) 479-5980 or firstname.lastname@example.org
About the author
Trish Hamilton is the Treasurer and Communications Coordinator for Rolling Thunder FL Ch 5.