Rolling Thunder: A Moving Tribute to MIAs Each Memorial Day, the bikers of "Rolling Thunder" ride their motorcycles into the nation's capital to call attention to soldiers still missing in action. The tribute raises consciousness... and money... for veteran's causes.
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Rolling Thunder: A Moving Tribute to MIAs

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Rolling Thunder: A Moving Tribute to MIAs

Rolling Thunder: A Moving Tribute to MIAs

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(Soundbite of motorcycles)


Thousands of motorcyclists are here in Washington this weekend for Rolling Thunder, a yearly demonstration to draw attention to soldiers still missing in action and benefits for America's veterans. As bikers gathered in Arlington, Virginia before thundering off to the National Cemetery and memorials along the Mall, Producer Ned Wharton met a few of the riders.

WILLIAM (Korean War Veteran): William (unintelligible) Michigan, and I'm a Korean veteran, and I was in Korea from '52 to '54, and this is the finest thing going in the world right here, Rolling Thunder.

NED WHARTON reporting:

Do you think it makes a difference?

WILLIAM: I hope so. We get them back every year. We get more veterans and more bodies we find every year. If we just get one, it's worth it.

WHARTON: Can I ask you about where you're from and what brings you here?

Unidentified Woman: Well, I came with my husband and we support Rolling Thunder, we support POW MIAs.

WHARTON: Do you usually ride together?

Unidentified Woman: Oh, yes, yes. Usually the bike don't leave without me on it.

Mr. WARREN RIZZLEY(ph) (Biker): Warren Rizzley from Kaleva, Michigan. This is my first time here, and it's certainly is an eye-opener.

WHARTON: Does it make a difference as a demonstration?

Mr. RIZZLEY: I think it helps. Apparently, if we don't do it, who is? Somebody's got to look after them because if the guys know that they don't have a chance of coming home, there's a far less chance they're even going to want to go.

Ms. JUDITH TAPPER(ph) (Biker): Judith Tapper, Atco, New Jersey. My son was a Navy Seal for 13 years. He was on his third tour and he was killed in an intense firefight by the al-Qaidas. They were ambushed and he lost his life. And I'm here with Rolling Thunder and I'm just really excited that they asked me to be a speaker for the fallen soldiers of New Jersey and America.

Mr. KEVIN COFFEE(ph) (Biker): I'm Kevin Coffee. I'm from Efland, North Carolina. I retired last June after 20 years.

WHARTON: Tell me about your bike. It's beautiful.

Mr. COFFEE: Thank you. Well, the display was built basically because our soldiers in our unit, we lost two soldiers while they was over there and I felt I needed to do something and that's what I did.

WHARTON: Can you describe it for me here. You've got...

Mr. COFFEE: Well, I call it a classic fallen comrade. It's got your boots, your weapon and a helmet over, showing, signifying a death of a comrade.

WHARTON: Tell me your name, where you're from?

Mr. LARRY KLEIN (Biker): Larry Klein, I'm from Nashville, Georgia. I've got Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. I've got the Vietnam Memorial. I've got the eagle and I've got my unit crest, 11th Armored Cav Regiment, Black Force Regiment, and here is two helicopters, POW MIAs, and I've got 768 on the front; that's how many we lost in the regiment when we were in Vietnam. It's a growing memorial. I ride for those who can't.

(Soundbite of song)

HANSEN: An audio postcard from Rolling Thunder by Producer Ned Wharton and Sound Engineer Daniel Shukhin. It's 22 minutes before the hour.

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