Wednesday, September 9, 2009

- 75 American POW & MIAs from 27 States to be Honored in Andersonville this month.

Rolling Thunder's 2009 Ride Home - a multi-day annual activity held in conjunction with the National Park Service's Andersonville National Historic Site and Georgia Southwestern State University to recognize and honor the nation's Prisoners of War (POW) and those Missing in Action (MIA) - will be held in Andersonville, Americus and Cordele, GA, Sept. 16-19, 2009.

"The 2009 Ride Home, which is supported this year by Rolling Thunder chapters from 14 states, is part of a series of events conducted jointly with the National Park Service in Andersonville to honor those former POWs from all wars who have returned home and remember those who are still listed as MIA," said Jim Moyer, Ride Home board chairman.
According to Moyer, more than 1,000 Rolling Thunder members are expected to gather in Andersonville and Americus to honor an estimated 175 former POWs scheduled to attend this year's program of events as guests of Rolling Thunder.
While Friday, Sept.18, is the official National POW/MIA Recognition Day, the four days of recognition activities begin at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 16, with a convocation sponsored by the National Park Service and hosted by Georgia Southwestern State University at the Student Success Center in Americus.

The guest speaker will be Daniel J. Stamaris, Jr. of Headland, AL. He was a 31-year-old U.S. Army Staff Sergeant captured during Operation Desert Storm on Feb. 27, 1991. As part of an Army search and rescue team, their helicopter was shot down while trying to rescue a downed pilot. The Iraqis released him on Mar. 6, 1991.
On Friday, Sept. 18, the official National POW/MIA Recognition Day, Rolling Thunder's formal activities will begin at 10 a.m. with an escort ride to Andersonville National Historic Site for the Korean War POW Plaque Dedication Ceremony.
Four aircraft from the 25th Flying Training Squadron from Vance Air Force Base, OK will open the ceremony at 11 a.m. with a T-38 missing man fly over.

Honored guests and participants will again gather at the Wal-Mart parking lot in Americus at 2 p.m. for a heroes parade through Americus to the First Baptist Church for a remembrance service, "Keeping the Promise, We Will Not Forget.Scheduled speakers include: U.S. Air Force Major General Albert G. (Jerry) Rodgers whose final active duty assignment was Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics at Tactical Air Command Headquarters at Langley, AFB, VA; U.S. Army Colonel Charles W. Durr, Jr, Chief of Staff, US Army Infantry Center, Fort Benning GA; U.S. Navy Commander Ray Stewart, Director, Surface Forces Ministry Center, Mayport, FL; U.S. Army MSGT Stephen E. Thompson, Ret. Family and Veteran Liaison for the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command in Honolulu, HI; U.S. Marine Corps 1stSGT Shane Henson, Headquarters Company, Marine Corps Logistics Command, Albany, GA; Dr. Kendall Blanchard, President of Georgia Southwestern State University; and, Dr./Rev. Chuck Gass, chaplain, The Ride Home.
Activities on Friday will continue at 6:00 p.m. with Rolling Thunder's annual tribute dinner followed by a candlelight ceremony scheduled to start at 8 p.m. Both activities will be at the Lake Blackshear Resort in Cordele, GA.

The Missing Man Table, which honors the nation's POW/MIAs, will be the focal point of the evening. The single round table with six empty place settings symbolize Americans from each of the five services - - Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard - - and civilians who cannot attend and will be participating in the evening's activities in spirit only.

On Saturday, Sept. 19, Rolling Thunder's Annual POW Recognition will begin at 10 a.m. at the National POW Museum at Andersonville National Historic Site. The ceremony honors POWs who have returned home from World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the Gulf wars.

A Rolling Thunder Heroes Escort Ride is scheduled to depart for the Andersonville National Historic Site from the Wal-Mart parking lot in Americus at 9 a.m.

Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light 42 stationed at Naval Station Mayport, FL will open the 10 a.m. ceremony by conducting a section fly over with their SH-60B Seahawk Attack Helicopters.

A Roll Call of former POWs attending the ceremony will precede a special presentation to each.

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