Rolling Thunder® Story:

The In the fall of l987, in a little diner, in Somerville, New Jersey, two Vietnam veterans met to discuss their personal concerns about the prisoners of war (POW’s) and the military service personnel missing in action (MIA’s) 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 two 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. These two veterans were Artie Muller and Ray Manzo.

The First Rolling Thunder® Demonstration:

Artie and Ray 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. John Holland, Walt Sides, and Ted Sampley worked on getting the permits for the demonstration. They reached out to their families, fellow veterans, and veteran’s advocates to unify and form a march and demonstration in the Nation’s Capital. Their arrival would be announced by the roar of their Harley Davidsons, 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/MIA’s. As they made their stand that day in front of the Capital, Artie and Ray reflected thankfully for the people who came in support of the POW’s and MIA’s, and for the unity that was felt. This was Rolling Thunder’s first demonstration. Only until ALL POW/MIA’s 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”). In 2007 Rolling Thunder®, Inc. held its 20th Demonstration ride which had well over 750,000 motorcycles in WDC to participate and remind our Leaders and Country

The New Hampshire Chapter:

Back in late 2000 a group of persons interested in and familiar with the mission and purpose of Rolling Thunder®, Inc. began discussing the possibility of forming a New Hampshire chapter. Some of these members were already Rolling Thunder® Members-at-Large, others were friends and persons who felt that New Hampshire needed a more organized and focused voice in New Hampshire regarding the POW/MIA issue and Veterans’ Rights in general. This group was headed by Robert Thibedore who became NH’s first Chapter President. The NH Chapter 1 was chartered on April 12, 2001 . A group of us did participate in that year’s Washington , DC Run. We also started that year working with Liberty House in Manchester which is a homeless veteran’s transitional shelter that had yet to open. Liberty House became our first major support focus. On August 21, 2010 we held our 10th Annual “Run to the Shelter” and we were able to raise $4000.00 for Liberty House. We work closely with the Veteran’s Home in Tilton where we participate in a variety of events including adopting some of the Veterans and providing their Christmas gifts, hosting summertime cookouts, and ice cream socials. The food is just the catalyst – the real purpose is to spend a little time with the residents and share stories and smiles. We have been told that the residents truly enjoy our visits but the real reward belongs to the Members of our Chapter who participate and give of their time with the Men and Women who served our County many years ago and are not forgotten in our eyes!! In 2005 we began working closely with the Veteran’s Cemetery in Boscawen, NH. We now have a monument for our Chapter along the Memorial Walk and a section of Remembrance Bricks in front of it. We also participate with cemetery clean ups at least twice a year – Spring and Fall as well as various other veteran related events held through the Cemetery. These activities just re-enforce the motto that many of us strongly believe in – “You are not forgotten”. Also in 2005 we created an appointed position titled “Legislative Liaison” and in 2006 we were added to the NH State Veteran’s Advisory Council as a voting member! In July 2010, we were recognized by the Governor and Executive Council for our work with the POW-MIA Issue and Veteran’s Advocacy in the form of “Governor Commendation” which was presented at a Governor’s Council Meeting on July 28th at the National Guard Armory in Manchester, NH. All of these projects and accomplishments were successful because of the dedicated efforts of members of Rolling Thunder® New Hampshire Chapter I and our supporters.

Presidents Plaque

Our Mission and success as an Organization is truly due to the Members of the Chapter and our supporters. However, as an organization, we require leadership. The Men and Women who take on additional responsibilities within the Organization such as Board Members, Secretaries, Treasurers, Presidents, Vice Presidents, Chairmen, Committee Chairs, or Committee Members are an integral component to our success. We feel that from a historical perspective, it is important to recognize and acknowledge the New Hampshire past Presidents who lead the way for our successers.