A Ride of Protest and Demonstration

Run to The Wall began in 1992, when a group of veterans and motorcycle enthusiasts joined other Veterans in Washington D.C. (Event called Rolling Thunder a national non-profit with 92 chapters across the U.S.) to bring awareness and keep at the forefront our prisoners of war and missing in action service men so that our nations politicians do not forget that we need to bring them home.  The annual ride grew over the years and after some time the group of riders founded their own Chapter of Rolling Thunder in Wisconsin.

Run to The Wall serves as a pilgrimage from Milwaukee to Washington D.C., where Rolling Thunder’s Wisconsin chapter joins the other 92 Chapters across the nation.

This cross-country pilgrimage is about more than just conquering the open road—it’s about paying tribute to the military personnel that have given their lives in the name of freedom and for those still missing in action.  Rolling Thunder is a demonstration ride from the U.S. Pentagon to the U.S. Capital Building that is meant to bring awareness to POW/MIA soldiers, while also holding the American government accountable for their return.

Each year, hundreds of thousands of riders from around the country make the trek to The Wall, coming from the 92 chapters of Rolling Thunder® nationwide. Wisconsin has four chapters throughout the state, located in Milwaukee (Chapter 2), Green Bay (Chapter 3), Eau Clair (Chapter 4) and Madison (Chapter 5).

“We Will Never Forget”

Current Numbers of Unaccounted For:

WWI – 4,420                WWII – 72,802               Korea – 7,677              Vietnam – 1,594            Cold War – 126           Iraq – Other Conflicts – 6

The Bike Left at the Wall (Hero Bike)

On their pilgrimage to The Wall in Washington D.C., many people leave behind mementos and tributes to friends and family whose names are listed. One of the most significant tributes left is from Wisconsin—it’s known as “The Bike Left at the Wall” or the “Hero Bike.”

The Bike Left at the Wall is a 60s-era chopper motorcycle, built from the ground up by members of Rolling Thunder’s® Wisconsin chapter in 1994. It was custom-painted with a likeness of The Wall itself, including a list of the actual names of 37 Wisconsin soldiers.

The bike was taken to the wall in 1995 as part of the Run to the Wall ride. Once in Washington D.C., it was parked at the wall and guarded for the duration of the protest event. And, at the end of the weekend, it was left alongside all of the other tributes to POW/MIA soldiers.

After the 1995 Run to the Wall, the bike was moved to the National Park Service’s (NPS) Museum Resource Center (MRCE) to be put on display as a centerpiece of its Vietnam Veterans Memorial Collection.

In honor of those it represents, the bike is not allowed to be ridden or sat upon—and it never has been. To date, the remains of 11 of the 37 Wisconsin soldiers have been recovered.

hero bike