Wednesday, June 19, 2019 Medina 62°
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Local Medina County News

POW/MIA flag raised in Medina Township

  • 051619patobrien02RF-jpg

    The POW/MIA flag is flying next to a giant American flag in the parking lot at Pat O’Brien Chevrolet, 3800 Pearl Road. Rolling Thunder Chapter 1 presented the car dealership with the flag Thursday.

    BOB FINNAN / GAZETTE

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    Lew Ballard, Rolling Thunder Chapter 1 vice president, speaks to the assembled crowd at Pat O’Brien Chevrolet on Thursday. Rolling Thunder presented the car dealership with a POW/MIA flag to fly above the dealership at 3800 Pearl Road.

    BOB FINNAN / GAZETTE

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    A 2019 Chevrolet Z71 pickup truck was filled with items for veterans in need in the area Thursday in the Help Our Heroes campaign at Pat O’Brien Chevrolet.

    BOB FINNAN / GAZETTE

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MIAs in wars

More than 82,000 Americans remain missing from Word War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, and the Gulf Wars/other conflicts.

Out of the 82,000 missing, 75 percent of the losses are located in the Indo-Pacific, and more 41,000 of the missing are presumed lost at sea (i.e. ship losses, known aircraft water losses, etc.).
  • World War II – 72,722
  • Korean War – 7,662
  • Vietnam War – 1,589
  • Cold War – 126
  • War on Terrorism – 6
Source: Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency

MEDINA TWP. — A veterans commemoration, which involved raising a POW/MIA flag, drew about 100 people Thursday at the Pat O’Brien Chevrolet dealership.

Rolling Thunder Chapter 1, of Cleveland, came down for the event that also included a picnic lunch and the collection of supplies for needy veterans called “Help Our Heroes.” Rolling Thunder Chapter 8, of Medina was also on hand.

“Our purpose is to make awareness and make our displeasure known (for soldiers missing in action),” said Lew Ballard, vice president of Rolling Thunder Chapter 1.

Rolling Thunder was founded in 1987 and wants to bring closure for families of loved ones who never came home from war.

“We want them accounted for,” Ballard said. “We want them buried with their families. If they are prisoners, we want to bring them home.”

O’Brien Chevrolet, located at 3800 Pearl Road, also had similar events at its other three locations in Willoughby Hills, Westlake and Vermilion. Ballard said he walked into the Willoughby dealership “cold turkey” and said he’d love to raise a POW/MIA flag in its store.

O’Brien, the owner, loved the idea.

He got the general managers of all four stores, including Medina GM Jerry Bennett, on a conference call and said he wanted a flag raised at all four locations on the same day.

Ballard said there will be a demonstration in Washington, D.C., on May 26, the day before Memorial Day, when as many as 1 million motorcyclists will roll into the nation’s capital.

“You’ve got to see it to believe it,” he said.

Ballard said this will be the last ride into Washington. He said the government charged Rolling Thunder $200,000 last year to park in the north and south lots near the Pentagon, and then unexpectedly closed the south lot. That hit the organization in the pocketbook, as that’s where it sells patches, pins and memorabilia, which helped defray the cost of the parking.

“That made it difficult for us,” he said.

Ballard said it’s a peaceful demonstration that will now be staged in individual states in 2020.

During the flag-raising, the Medina Color Guard held the POW/MIA flag, as officials connected it to the giant flag pole in O’Brien’s parking lot.

One speaker, Justin Bennett, the brother of general manager Jerry Bennett, served in the Army for three tours in Iraq.

“People don’t realize how (important) today is for a lot of our brothers and sisters who didn’t return home,” he said. “I salute all of you. Remember all those we don’t get to see any more.”

Rolling Thunder Chapter 1 President Winston Bailey appealed to the predominately veteran crowd.

“Do not forget those who have made the ultimate sacrifice,” he said.

Contact reporter Bob Finnan at (330) 721-4049 or rfinnan@medina-gazette.com.
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