JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Rolling Thunder’s Mission is to educate, facilitate and never forget. At the American Legion, over 200 motorcycle and truck engines are doing just that.

“It’s physical awareness, as well as hoping hopefully the public will catch on and say, Okay, we’re going to find out what this is all about,” Paul Levesque, Rolling Thunder Inc. N.C. State Liaison.

While it’s the 33 year of the Ride for Freedom, this is the first year that the event was held in Jacksonville.

Ride for Freedom started in 1987 when two Vietnam veterans knew there were many POWs that were still unaccounted for from the Vietnam War. They put together a march on Washington, which attracted around 2500 motorcycles to get the Government’s attention about POWs MIAs.

These men and women are not going to forget these veterans that gave their ultimate sacrifice for us. And they’re not home yet,” Levesque.

Because Jacksonville has a large military community, organizers said it’s important to recognize the cause here in the east.

The ride is on Memorial Day weekend to remember the fallen. This year in Onslow County, there was more than 500 people who didn’t return home.

“Those 500 folks from this time last year only, we lose quite a few. This is a veteran oriented community,” said Prentis Campbell, former president of Onslow County Council Veteran Service Organization.

The initial goal of the event in 1987 in Washington, DC is still the same goal today.

“Our mission is the same as all our chapters is to publicize the punitive and pow Mia issue, educate the public, that there is still a POW MIA issue, and to help correct the past,” Scott McCarthy, Vice President of Rolling Thunder N.C. Chapter Five.

As Rolling Thunder continues to evolve into a display of patriotism and respect for those who served our country, members of Rolling Thunder said they just want more people to learn what they’re all about.