Rolling Thunder is ensuring that the POW/MIA flag is flown at every public school in Brevard County. It is also making sure that students in those schools have an opportunity to learn about Prisoners of War and Missing in Action.

I have known of the local chapter as a veterans’ advocacy group for years now. The organization is composed of patriots who seek accountability for all POW/MIAs from past wars and to promote the needs of veterans. Most are military veterans, but it is not a prerequisite for membership.

Raising the POW/MIA flag at every elementary, middle and high school in the county took nearly five months. Ceremonies had to be planned. It all started with the first of the 86 flags being hoisted in December at the Brevard County School Board administration building in Viera. The final flags went up May 11 at Jackson Middle School, Pinewood Elementary School and Mims Elementary School.

“It was just an honor to do that,” said J.J. Justice, Florida Chapter 1 president. “Every school in Brevard County got a flag.”

Some of the flag-raising ceremonies included participation from school bands, JROTC cadets and many students and faculty.

This was a Rolling Thunder, Florida Chapter 1 effort that was done as a community project. The Cape Canaveral chapter of the Military Officer Association of America, all area VFWs, American Legion and individuals contributed to raise the money for

the project.

The project served to remind students of the importance of veterans to the nation. It also serves to honor the missing and the fallen service members as Memorial Day approaches.

More than 81,700 U.S. service members remain missing since World War II, according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.

Justice said the community of veterans and veterans’ advocates came through in helping the cause. More than enough money was collected to pay for the flags.

In addition to the school, Rolling Thunder has presented hundreds of POW/MIA flags to local governments, businesses, homeowners associations, parks and organizations in Brevard County through the years.

The organization emphasizes that it is not a motorcycle club, though many of its members are motorcyclists. Members are men and women who all have a common goal of bringing missing service members home and to help veterans in need.

The group meets at 2 p.m. on the fourth Sunday of each month at the Brevard Veterans Memorial Center on Merritt Island. For more information, visit rollingthunderflorida1.org