PULASKI CO., Ark. (KTHV) - The 4th annual Thunder Across the River was held Saturday at Fort Roots. Nearly 70 motorcycle riders went from Jacksonville to North Little Rock today to kick off the event honoring prisoners of war and those missing in action. Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System and Rolling Thunder teamed up for the event.
“There’s 10s of thousands still missing in action,” said Michael Dobbs, Chief Voluntary Services, CAVHS.
To thousands of families, it’s been a mystery as those who fought, never returned or were never accounted for.
“In every war we've had, there have been members who never came home and were never accounted for," said Willie Thomas, President of Little Rock Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club, who knows personally what that feels like. “I had an uncle who during WWII who was a member of the 351st Tank Battalion."
Thomas explains his uncle, Pink Thomas, was captured during a battle in 1943 by German forces and held prisoner for two years.
“The story in the family is they didn't know what had happened for him, they thought he had been killed," said Thomas.
Thomas said his uncle was released and returned home to the surprise and joy of his family. From hearing his families stories, he knows the importance of making these situations known.
“To not know what had happened to one of those sons; it was a very traumatic thing for the whole family," said Thomas.
The Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System will recognize former POWs and their families Friday with a private lunch. 14 families are expected to attend.