July 30, 2004

"Rolling Thunder" rolls into Innsbrook After Hours

By Staff Sgt. Tammy A. Spence
Staff Writer

Posing with “Rolling Thunder” are Virginia Army National Guard recruiters (left to right) Pvt. Patrick Spainhour, Staff Sgt. Vince Ferguson, Master Sgt. Chuck Horton, and Sgt. Mike Cowen. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tammy Spence, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office)

"Rolling Thunder", the Army National Guard’s colorful Humvee, sat among the large throng of people gathering for the Lynyrd Skynyrd concert held at the Innsbrook Pavilion in May. Despite the heat and humidity in the late afternoon, the fans continued to pour in eagerly awaiting the show. With the doors open and the trunk lifted of the Humvee, Lynyrd Skynyrd tunes blasted from the speakers drawing the curious to take a closer look at "Rolling Thunder."

In BDU trousers and white tee shirts stating “Virginia Army National Guard”, the recruiters stood by ready to answer questions. According to Master Sgt. Chuck Horton, the Recruiting Noncommissioned Officer in Charge of Virginia’s Recruiting Area Four, he has been working with Innsbrook After Hours for six years now. Horton said the presence of the Humvee has brought great success to developing leads for future recruits.

Horton and the other recruiters, Staff Sgt. Vince Ferguson, Sgt. Mike Cowen and Pvt. Patrick Spainhour are at Innsbrook with Rolling Thunder every Wednesday from May through September. Horton said they average 3 to 7 “good leads” per week.

When asked what he tells those who show an interest in the Guard, Horton said, “Those willing to take the Armed Services Vocation Aptitude Battery or ASVAB and meet certain guidelines are eligible to join. Potential recruits are asked for a driver’s license or other photo identification and if they commit, then they are given a tee shirt.” Horton also has Recruiting Promotional Items that he gives away such as American flag key chains and lanyards to attach ones keys on.

Rolling Thunder has been seen in many places. It is always at the Virginia State Fair, Chesterfield County Fair, and recently was in Washington D.C. for the Memorial Day Run. On the 4th of July it will be at Fort Pickett near Blackstone, Va. For those interested in having Rolling Thunder at their event, all they need to do is ask one of the Virginia Army National Guard recruiters to find out the procedures. When not in use the vehicle is housed at Fort Pickett.

One last question posed to Master Sgt. Horton was whether he ever gets asked if one can ride in it. Laughingly he said, “All the time but we have to tell them no because of regulations and insurance issues.”

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