A program commemorating veterans and supporting government action to resolve missing in action and prisoner of war questions will be held at noon on Saturday at South Park in Monett.
The Missouri POW/MIA Awareness Run and Ceremony will be held on April 24 by the Rolling Thunder motorcycle organization. The bikers will ride from Carthage to Monett and hold a ceremony at the Phantom Jet veterans memorial. Don Ruzicka, 132nd District state representative, will be one of the guest speakers.
According to John Williams, Rolling Thunder chapter president, several dozen bikers are expected to participate in the run. The group will leave the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post in Carthage at 8:30 a.m. and head to the Missouri Veterans Home in Mt. Vernon.
The bikers will leave the Veterans Home around 10:30 a.m. for Monett. The motorcade will receive an official police escort, come into the city on Highway H, proceed past Monett High School to Chapell Drive and head west to the park on Highway 60.
The 2008 Rolling Thunder rally in Monett drew 70 cyclists. Williams said more than 200 people may participate this year.
Booths for the sale of products that support services to veterans and concessions will be open at 11 a.m. The formal ceremony will begin at noon.
Rolling Thunder Inc. is a national not-for-profit organization. Its mission is "to educate the public that many American prisoners of war were left behind after all previous wars and to help correct the past; and to protect future veterans from being left behind should they become prisoners of war-missing in action."
Missouri Chapter Three of Rolling Thunder is heading the local event and uses its funds for many service projects that help local veterans. The group works closely with the Missouri Veterans Home in Mt. Vernon.
"We're committed to helping disabled vets of all wars," Williams added.
Monett Mayor Jim Orr will provide an official welcome for the program. Color Guards are expected from the Junior ROTC program at the Southwest Area Career Center, the Tom Wolfe Memorial Post 4207 Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Hobbs-Anderson America Legion Post 91.
Other speakers will include: Kay Guynes, president of Rolling Thunder in Oklahoma; Jeff Wisdom, a Navy veteran running for the Republican nomination for Congressman from the Seventh District; and Jim "Doc" Craft, of Neosho, a decorated Vietnam War veteran who fought in the major battles of Khe Sahn and Con Thien.
Names of the 38 Missouri soldiers who are officially missing in action from the Vietnam War will be read. In honor of them and the 209 soldiers still unaccounted for from the Korean War, between 250 and 300 black balloons will be released at the end of the program under the auspices of the Barry County Vietnam Veterans Association.
Kay Kahre, of Aurora, will provide musical selections, along with bagpipe player Joe Wren.
A replica of a tiger cage, a small bamboo jail created by the Viet Cong for confining American soldiers, recreated by a veteran who saw the cages in use, will be on display.
The public is encouraged to attend the program.
For additional information, call Williams at 417-849-8964.