Rolling Thunder® Florida Chapter 6 has spent countless hours and ridden countless miles since our inception in 2016.
In 1987 Rolling Thunder® made its first ride to the Vietnam War Memorial.
Ray Manzo, a former United States Marine Corps Corporal, U.S. Army Sergeant Major John Holland (Ret.), Marine First Sergeant Walt Sides (Ret.) and Sergeant Ted Sampley (Ret.) are the four men that are credited with starting Rolling Thunder.
In 1987, Manzo visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., talked with fellow veterans, and first learned that American servicemen had been abandoned in Southeast Asia at the end of the Vietnam War. This was counter to his Marine Corps training to leave no man behind, and he became consumed with the idea that he must do something to bring attention to this issue. Manzo attended a POW/MIA vigil sponsored by the Vietnam Veterans Motorcycle Club when the idea came to him to host a motorcycle rally in the nation's capital to show the country and the world that U.S. prisoners of war and missing in action (POW/MIA) still mattered to their fellow servicemen and the country for which they sacrificed their freedom.
Manzo drafted a letter for a call to action and began mailing it to motorcycling publications. He enlisted fellow veterans from the Washington D.C. area to help him through the red tape of requirements. Sgt. Major John Holland was experienced in government legislation and included 1st Sgt. Walt Sides, and Washington activist Sgt. Ted Sampley also joined them. These were the founders of Rolling Thunder® Ted Sampley's colleague, Bob Schmitt, coined the phrase "Rolling Thunder®". While staring at the Memorial Bridge and envisioning Manzo's dream, he said, "It will be like the sound of rolling thunder coming across the bridge." On Memorial Day 1988, Cpl. Manzo recruited 2,500 men and women to attend Rolling Thunder ®
The First Amendment Demonstration Run, formerly Rolling Thunder® Run to the Wall, is a motorcycle rally sponsored by the Rolling Thunder organization. The ride begins on Sunday at the Pentagon after a "blessing of the bikes" at the National Cathedral on Friday and associated events end on Monday.
Beginning in 1987 and continuing through the present, Rolling Thunder® has conducted the Run to the Wall on the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend to show their continued support for the efforts to find lost service men and women of past conflicts.
In May 2001 the estimated number of motorcycles involved in this rally was 200,000.
The event drew an estimated 350,000 motorcyclists in May 2008, and 500,000 in 2018.
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