On Sept. 17 and 18, Rolling Thunder chapters across the nation gathered in Andersonville, Ga., to honor former prisoners of war and to remember those still missing in action. Rolling Thunder started "The Ride Home" in conjunction with the National POW/MIA Recognition Day (Sept. 17) to recognize all POWs and MIAs. Andersonville is the site of the National POW Museum. Our goal is to invite, as Rolling Thunder guests, former POWs and MIA families to salute and honor their extraordinary courage and valor.
Rolling Thunder South Carolina 3, the Grand Strand chapter, decided to provide an all-expense trip to this great event for four of our local ex-POWs. Individuals, veterans groups, civic groups and businesses throughout the area, from Little River to Murrells Inlet to Conway to Loris, stepped up to help cover the cost of this adventure for our local heroes. Because of the tremendous support shown by the Grand Strand, Rolling Thunder SC 3 was not only able to cover their expenses but also make a donation to The Ride Home to help bring other POWs to Andersonville.
Frank Brincat (World War II, Stalag 17B) of Myrtle Beach, Frank Dunlap (World War II, Bataan Death March) of North Myrtle Beach, Paul Thompkins (Korea) of Conway, and Al Agnew (Vietnam) of Mullins were the guests of RTSC3.
Many stories were told, many friendships were formed, and some friendships were renewed. For some it was like a reunion. There were many tears shed, many hugs, and at times you could see the distant look in the eyes of those who had endured so much. Because of Rolling Thunder and the support shown by the community our local heroes had a weekend they will never forget; in their words, "It was totally unbelievable, and thank you so much."
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Thanks to all those who contributed to this tremendous event: Rockin Leather; Larry Rabon, 701 Mini Mart; Grand Strand Chapter 354 of the Military Order of the Purple Heart; John Doherty; John W. Griggs Insurance Agency Inc.; American Legion Post 186; Buddy Floyd's Consignment Shop and Trailer Co.; Jimmy McDonald, Overtime Sports Cafe; George and Sue O'Neil; VFW Post 10804; American Legion Post 178; American Legion Riders Post 503; Disabled American Veterans, Chapter 30; Marine Corps League Grand Strand Detachment 873; Nils Regnell; American Veterans Traveling Tribute, Inc.; Charlotte Ciappetta; Zach Movie LLC; Lou Krieger; North Myrtle Beach Lions Club; American Legion Post 503; Pat Jones; Bert and Heather Von Herrmann; FLT Brock Consulting LLC; Craig and Lisa Smith; Jack and Laverne Brock; Little River Lions Club; Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce; John Rhodes, Myrtle Beach mayor; Donna Gordon, Enterprise Rent-A-Car; and Ronald Rowell.
The writer is president of Rolling Thunder South Carolina 3.