Posted on Leave a comment

WHY I RIDE- Tim “BIG Bopper” Bannister


  • Road Name: BIG Bopper
    FNG Year: 2016
    How many times have you been All the Way?  This will be 5    All the way every year
    On Which Route (Routes) did you ride? Midway
     What is your favorite Run for the Wall memory? WOW, so many, but the “man on the ramp” as I have referred to him. Just coming by an overpass and there he was, in a wheelchair outside his car. Looked to be a Korean era Veteran and as he came into view was pushing himself up to position and saluting us as we rode past. To me it was that quiet unobtrusive man with all his strength supporting me and I felt so unworthy. I have carried that memory every mile, of every trip since and throughout the years. I have looked at the thousands who have stood in yards, schools, cities, gas stations, roadsides, bridges, farm fields, and more and have always felt they were every bit as important to this run as those who ride. I am the fortunate one who can ride for them, who can carry their message of hope, freedom, gratitude, and yes, the pain of lost loved ones on this mission. I have looked every year for the “man on the ramp”, maybe that was his final chance to say “thank you”, maybe my timing is off, but it will forever be a memory, a motivator and the answer to the question “Why I Ride”?
     Have you held any positions as a volunteer on the Run? 
    2 years Tailgunner for Platoon 1 and this will be my 2nd year as Platoon Leader for Platoon 3
     Are you a Military Veteran, or do you have a military background or a relationship with a member of the Military? Marine Corps (75-81) father of a Marine Daughter, and a Navy Son.
    Are you a Gold Star or Blue Star family member? Yes, Blue Star Father
    What inspired you to participate in the RFTW the first time? In 2013 my best friend and the former Vice Mayor of Palm Springs under Sonny Bono simply told me to be on a certain bridge at a certain time on a certain day. Well you don’t say no to Tuck, so I was holding a flag on I-10 for the next three years always saying I want to do this.
    What brought you back? The “Man on the ramp” and the ability to serve others.
    Have you participated in Rolling Thunder? Yes 3 years
    Are you planning on participating in Rolling to Remember (the AMVETS event that replaces Rolling Thunder)? Yes


My first year RC Daryl “Top” Neal with Kathy (left) and my wife Celia (right)

The Flag Speaks for itself

My first year as a Platoon Leader. I learned so much with so much support from this motley looking crew. No it’s not a mistake! Some Roadguard named Mazz slipped into the picture (back row red hat). He knew quality when he saw it.


Leave a Reply