Rolling Thunder sweeps Marine Barracks

26 May 2006 | Lance Cpl. John J. Parry

The roaring of motorcycles has echoed throughout Washington, D.C. over Memorial Day weekend for the last 19 years.

Several members of the event made their way to Marine Barracks, Washington to attend the Friday Evening Parade, May 26.

Rolling Thunder XIX, “The Ride for Freedom,” was a tribute to American servicemembers captured or killed in America’s wars. The event is held each year for America’s missing troops and prisoners-of-war. Rolling Thunder works to keep the government’s attention on bringing them home.    

Marine veteran John C. Bowman, member of the American Legion Riders, said that visiting the Barracks evoked memories of his time in the Corps.

“When the bugler plays Taps, it brings back memories of the friends I served alongside,” he said. “It’s inspiring because it reminds me of who I was. It’s great to see the nation’s youth strive for the same goals of my time.”

Vietnam veteran and former Marine, Douglas R. Stiffler, who’s also a member of Rolling Thunder, said visiting the “Oldest Post” reminded him of what being a Marine is all about.

“I’m proud to be among the Marines—it’s in my blood,” he said. “It’s a brotherhood that leaves nobody behind on the battlefield and at home. Once you’re a part of it, you can’t leave it.”

For “Oldest Post” Marine Sgt. Thomas J. Gordinier, who participated in the weekends events as a member of the Leathernecks Motorcycle Club International, the Friday Evening Parade shows the Marine Corps takes time to honor the men and women of the armed services.

The Barracks makes a point to honor veterans, especially when playing Taps,” he said. “It shows the Marine Corps will never forget those who’ve served.”

Rolling Thunder was founded by Vietnam veteran, former Army Sgt. Artie “Dictator” Muller. They work to raise societal awareness of the cause of veteran affairs and support for today’s military. The organization is dedicated to helping all those who’ve served the nation, said Stiffler.

“Being Vietnam War veterans, my fellow servicemembers and I didn’t receive a warm welcome home,” Bowman said. “We’re here to ensure that our troops coming home do.”

Riding cross-country from Twenty-nine Palms, California, active-duty Gunnery Sgt. Daniel Dorado, a member of the “Ride to the Wall” Foundation, said the pride he felt at the end of the parade was inspiring.

“I just feel honored to be a Marine,” he said. “It makes me feel like what
I’m doing is right, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

Marines of the “Oldest Post” honored Memorial Day through a special announcement at the Friday Evening Parade, placing flags on gravesites at Arlington National Cemetery, providing military escorts at the Tomb of the Unknowns and rendering a 21-gun canon salute on Memorial Day.