A program honoring military prisoners of war and those missing in action will be held at Monett's South Park on Sunday, Sept. 12. This event will be hosted by Missouri Chapter #3 of Rolling Thunder. The program will be a rescheduling of what had been planned for April 24 but was cancelled due to weather.
The event will begin with a motorcycle ride from the Carthage Veterans of Foreign Wars Post at 11 a.m. Participants will ride to the Veterans Home in Mt. Vernon where greetings will be shared with the residents. The caravan will leave Mt. Vernon at 12:30 p.m. for a program at the F-4 Phantom Jet at South Park.
Three speakers have been scheduled. Colonel Michele Hovland is the first-ever female brigade commander in the Missouri Army National Guard who is currently assigned as the Guard's J2/6. Hovland started a counseling internship with the Veteran's Center in Fayetteville, Ark. She is the second-ever female signal battalion commander in the Missouri National Guard and the first female to attend resident United States Army War College.
Shannon Wann-Plaster is the daughter of Army Chief Warrant Officer Donald L. Wann of Shawnee, Okla., who was killed when his plane was shot down in South Vietnam on June 1, 1971. Wann's remains were identified in 2008. On Aug. 18, Wann-Plaster escorted her father home for burial in Muskogee, Okla., with full military honors at Fort Gibson National Cemetery.
Wann-Plaster is a member of Rolling Thunder Chapter #3 in Oklahoma and heads up the Oklahoma National League of Families of POW/MIAs. She has been very active in both organizations through research and recovery efforts. Wann-Plaster will speak about her efforts in finding her father and the importance of the POW/MIA cause.
Don Ruzicka, 132nd District state representative, will also speak. Ruzicka participated when Rolling Thunder held its last event in Monett in April 2008.
The ceremony will also include the reading of the names of the Missouri Vietnam POW/MIAs. A ceremonial balloon launch will represent the 38 Vietnam POW/MIAs and the 214 POW/MIAs from Missouri from the Korean war.
John Williams, president of Missouri Chapter #3 of Rolling Thunder, has extended an invitation to fellow motorcyclists to join in the ride to Monett. Non-cyclists can ride in other vehicles bearing flags or banners to show support.
Rolling Thunder is a national organization with more than 95 chapters. The main focus of Rolling Thunder is to publicize and raise awareness for POW/MIA issues as well as to educate the public about American prisoners of war left behind. Rolling Thunder also strives to help disabled veterans from all wars.
For more information, call Williams at 417-849-8964.