Soldiers Helping Soldiers

The idea behind the Dixie Thunder Run can be found at the top of the motorcycle ride’s logo: “Soldiers Helping Soldiers.”
The event is organized by members of the 155th Brigade Combat Team in Tupelo, and will include members of the 185th Aviation in Tupelo.
“We put the ride together when we were in Iraq in 2005, and it’s grown ever since,” said SFC Tony Shackleford, president of the Dixie Thunder Run.
The ride has military origins and it benefits the family of military personnel, but everyone’s welcome to take part.
“Some people are under the impression that you have to be in the military or have a motorcycle,” Shackleford said, “but that’s not true.”
Some follow the riders in their cars, and others show their support by buying T-shirts and other Dixie Thunder Run memorabilia at
“If you buy something, that’s how we raise our money,” Shackleford said.
The goal is to raise about $20,000 for the Mississippi Emergency Relief Fund, which helps the families of deployed troops. The fund is open to guard and reserve members in Mississippi, but anyone can participate in the Dixie Thunder Run.
“We’ll have guys from Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia and Florida,” said David Black, the run’s vice president. “We had one guy last year who came all the way from Maryland.
“It seems like it grows every year. The circle gets bigger and bigger.”

On the road
Riders will gather at the BancorpSouth Arena parking lot on Saturday. The run will start at 8:30 a.m. and go south on the Natchez Trace to a rest stop in Mathiston, then take Highway 15 to Philadelphia for another break.
“From there, we’ll take Highway 19 and go to Meridian,” Shackleford said. “Our destination is Chunky River Harley-Davidson. They’ll feed all of the riders, and they’ll have a band and activities.”
In Meridian, there will be an auction of sports memorabilia, as well as a raffle for a guitar signed by the band, 3 Doors Down.
“We’ll have a Highway Patrol escort for the ride,” Shackleford said. “We’ll be more important than the governor on Sept. 5. They really do us a great job.”
Some members of the 155th are currently deployed in Iraq. The Dixie Thunder Run honors their service and that of other guard and reserve troops across the state.
“It’s fun and free,” Shackleford said. “All we ask is that you buy a T-shirt to help the cause.”

Contact M. Scott Morris at (662) 678-1589 or

M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal

Click video to hear audio