Rolling Thunder raises new POW flag for Memorial Day

By Jennifer Lassiter
Star staff

   Members of Rolling Thunder Chapter 4 of Tennessee teamed up with the Vietnam Veterans of America 824 to raise a POW-MIA flag at the Broad Street and East Elk Avenue intersection flag pole on Monday night.
   The flag pole was placed there by the late J.I. Cornett, former city council member and mayor in 1991, to commemorate the 776th Maintenance Company of the Tennessee National Guard during Desert Storm.
   "There are Veterans in Carter County that are still considered MIA, and are unaccounted for over 30 years, and their families have never had closure," said Randy Lingerfelt, Vice President of Rolling Thunder Chapter 4. "Carter County should keep this in their thoughts during Memorial Day."
   Rolling Thunder Chapter 4 currently has 120 members from Johnson City, Kingsport, Bristol and Elizabethton. Every chapter in Rolling Thunder has the same mission, to publicize the POW-MIA issue by educating the public about American prisoners of war that.
   Rev. Clate W. Briggs Jr., Vice President of Vietnam Veterans of America, attended the flag raising event. Briggs said, "Members of both Vietnam Veterans of America and Rolling Thunder donated money out of their own pocket to pay for the new flag."
   The new flag is significantly bigger than the flag that flies at the Carter County Veterans Memorial that was placed by the Chattanooga Chapter of Rolling Thunder two years ago.
   Rolling Thunder Inc. is a non-profit organization started by a small group of Vietnam Veterans who put together a peaceful protest ride to Washington D.C. Since their start 26 years ago, the group has grown to over 70 chapters throughout the United States and abroad.
   The organization regularly donates flags to schools, various organizations and interest groups to promote awareness of the POW/MIA issue. Rolling Thunder Inc. has even published a postage stamp through the U.S. postal service.
   Heather Everhardt, 13, a junior member of Rolling Thunder, attended the event last night. She joined the group last May, and has already attended several events. Everhardt already has plans to one day ride her own bike.
   Everhardt has made appearances at some of last years events. She rode to Washington D.C. for the "Run for the Wall" event and attended a Toys for Tots event in Knoxville where members of Rolling Thunder donated a wheelchair to a veteran. Everhardt said, "I like to ride motorcycles and this is for a good cause."
   Rolling Thunder's next event, "Run for the Wall," will be held Wednesday, May 26, when over 500 motorcyclists will depart from Mountain Home in Johnson City to head for Washington D. C.