AMVETS to the rescue? Veteran service organization says 'don't cancel your hotel tickets for Rolling Thunder 2020'

Kaylah Jackson
December 14, 2018 - 10:30 am

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Ginnie Lee)

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Could this be the last year for Rolling Thunder? One veteran organization says not if they can help it.

In a sudden announcement, Rolling Thunder leadership hinted at next year’s ride being the last for the organization, citing costs and communication issues as reasons for discontinuing the demonstration. However, American Veterans (AMVETS) has mentioned they are willing to offer their assistance, if necessary.

“This is a really important subject to all of us. POW/MIA is a key issue that we’re always thinking of at AMVETS. We think this a great event, no matter what, we’d like to help,” said AMVETS National Executive Director Joe Chenelly.

The annual demonstration brings thousands of bikers from across the country to the nation’s capital to educate the public on the many American Prisoners of War and Missing in Action service members who never came home.

RELATED: Rolling Thunder announces May 2019 ride will be its last

Chenelly, who was surprised at the timing of the announcement, says “we're just not going to let it go.”

“It’s part of the culture, its grown much bigger than themselves,” said Chenelly. “If they decide they simply don’t want to do it anymore, we're very seriously considering hosting something like that ourselves.”

After many Vietnam veterans returned home to a not-so-warm welcome, they came together and started Rolling Thunder in 1988. AMVETS, whose name was originally American Veterans of WWII and Korea, changed their organization name to AMVETS of WWII, Korea, and Vietnam to reflect their inclusion of what many called "The Forgotten."

It’s still unclear how exactly AMVETS will work with Rolling Thunder if the organization does decide to accept assistance, but Chenelly did mention, "If you have hotel reservations for Memorial Day weekend 2020, don't cancel them!"

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