The Montana POW/MIA Awareness Association is a small grassroots organization made up of veterans and non-veterans who are concerned about POW/MIA and veteran related issues. Our members are a mix of concerned citizens, Patriot Guard Riders, Combat Veteran Motorcycle Association members, and others who donate their time because of a commitment to our cause. Members of our group participate in as many veteran related events as possible throughout the year (e.g., POW/MIA, Wreaths Across America, Missing In America Project, Patriot Guard, Combat Veteran Motorcycle Association, Run for the Wall, etc.). While we are dedicated to bringing awareness to the 83,000+ POW/MIA personnel throughout the country, our focus is on the 55 POW/MIA personnel from the state of Montana for which we post POW/MIA flags.
Our primary mission is to maintain and post the 55 POW/MIA flags, one for each of the 55 Montana POW/MIA personnel. Each flag is embroidered along the binding with the name, branch of service, and conflict of one of these veterans. We post these flags from dawn until dusk on veteran/military/patriotic holidays along both sides of a section of the Montana POW/MIA Memorial Highway in Helena. These holidays are listed on our home page in the right column under Coming Events and annotated with a black indicator. If you are in Helena Montana on one of these days, please take the time to drive down this short stretch of the highway 287 on the South-Eastern edge of town to appreciate this display of recognition.
Our secondary mission is to plan our annual Ride to Remember. This ride is done in recognition of and to bring awareness to POW/MIA related issues. Our 183 mile ride from Helena to West Yellowstone is free to anyone that is interested in participating. We have an opening and closing ceremony for the ride where proper recognition is given to each of the Montana POW/MIA personnel. While we do sell patches and have t-shirts available they are not a required purchase to participate. Any funds raised through these sales go directly to support maintenance of our flags and the costs incurred when planning the ride. We raise the majority of our funds through association membership dues, donations, voluntary sales, and various fund raising events throughout the year, not by charging the general public admission to participate in our cause.
We are a small group and our expectations for the inaugural ride were modest. We planned for 30-50 riders for the inaugural ride in August of 2014. We left Helena with over 100 and rode into West Yellowstone with over 200! We received overwhelming support and appreciation from the small communities through which we rode and we had a police escort for the entire 183 mile length of the ride. Our first ride was an awe inspiring event where people lined the streets, held flags and saluted and waved as we rode through. It made us realize there was a justifiable reason to make this an annual event and people truly appreciated the cause.
Our driving objective is to do what we can to increase awareness of these important POW/MIA related issues in the people in our area. We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and any funds raised go to support the replacement of the flags we post at the Helena end of Montana’s POW/MIA Memorial Highway and in the planning of and preparation for our annual ride (purchasing posters, fliers, patches, etc.). Any excess funds are donated to various Montana and National veteran based organizations as specified in our bylaws. We do not raise money to enrich ourselves, only to support our ongoing mission to bring POW/MIA awareness and veteran issues to the forefront.