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Knox Harley hosts Rolling Thunder

Military veterans roared into Knoxville Wednesday, May 23, on motorcycles as part of a trek to Washington, D.C., to ensure national representatives remember veterans still missing in action this Memorial Day.

Knoxville Harley-Davidson at 605 Lovell Road played host to the Rolling Thunder motorcycle riders whose members were carrying an Olympic style torch 2,842 miles across country as part of their annual “Carry the Flame” campaign.

David Brown, general manager of Knoxville Harley-Davidson, welcomed Rolling Thunder whose “core riders” had totaled 45 hours spent “in the saddle,” traveling from Long Beach, Calif., east “to commemorate the sacrifices of our past and present soldiers and their families.” The ride’s finale was Memorial Day weekend at the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Rolling Thunder CTF ride chairman King Cavalier of Loveland, Colo., said all the riders come to the task willingly.

“Everything we do here is volunteer,” he said. “Everyone here sees the sense in what we do.”

Cavalier said Rolling Thunder chapters from Florida, Miss-issippi, Oklahoma and other states had joined him to “clog the streets of Washington” this Memorial Day with more than 500,000 motorcycles from across the country. Their goal is to make sure officials do something about soldiers still missing in action.

Cavalier said there were reports of American prisoners of war being transported up through the former Soviet Union as recently as the early 1980s.

“The United States government has left behind thirty-thousand soldiers in every war,” he said. “Governments don’t change that much. It’s we the people that change things.”

Cavalier said the House of Represent-atives has under its consideration HR111, which calls for the government to investigate reports of POWs in Southeast Asia and other parts of the world where American soldiers have seen combat.

“It’s only when we act together that we get something done,” he said.

As part of the service for Rolling Thunder and in honor of veterans, a KC-135R from the 134th Refueling Wing did a fly-over in honor of Rolling

Thunder and veterans across the country.

“This is the second year we’ve done this,” Col. Gary Smith of the 134th said. “It’s our way to pay back the men and women who have served our country.”

Smith said his father and grandfather both served in the military, and his parents “instilled in me a sense of duty and patriotism.” He joined the service in order to serve his country.

Barry Wright of Harriman rode his motorcycle in to support the members of the armed services.

“I came here to support the vets,” he said.

Wright said he attended Rolling Thunder in Washington, D.C., in 1998 and it was a moving experience.


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