Ridgecrest Military Banners are back, acquires bucket truck

Ridgecrest Military Banners are back, acquires bucket truckBy April LaPierre Ridgecrest Military Banners Program spokesperson

It has been a long journey, but out of the ashes of a pandemic, the Ridgecrest Military Banner Program secured a bucket truck.

In 2015 the American Legion Riders were honored to be passed the baton from Jerry Taylor and The Ridgecrest Military Banner Program.

At that time, volunteer Terry May and his company Mediacom provided the man power and equipment to install and remove banners. After a few conversations about retirement the quest to find a bucket truck started.

Over the past six years, time and energy was dedicated to trying to find a bucket truck to use or potentially be donated.

In 2020 as the program was looking at dissolving, a conversation with local resident, Patriot, and American Legion Rider Pat McKinney provided a potential avenue that could help save the program.

Pat McKinney introduced the program to Chad Johnson with Johnson Communication in Texas. Pat shared what the program did. Chad Johnson knew it was a small-town worthy cause and agreed to donate a bucket truck from part of his fleet that was heading to auction. This was the beginning of the hard work.

The program still operated under the Nexus Foundation which did an outstanding job over the years. However, they did not have the ability to secure and own equipment for the programs they supported and Johnson Communication required a letter for their tax purpose.

March of 2020, we had another conversation with local resident, Patriot, American Legion Rider, and CEO of Operation Family Fund, Mike Cash. Mike is also passionate about the banner program advised the banner program could move under his non-profit umbrella as the program fell within scope of what his foundation supported. He would also be willing to write the required letter needed for the donation.

With the move of the program to Operation Family Fund and the letter secured, finding transport during a pandemic became the next hurtle. At one-point volunteers were willing to fly to Texas and drive the truck back. After much time and effort, the program was able to secure transport that would bring the truck to Barstow without gouging the program. Luckily Pat McKinney happen to be in Texas and was able to meet the transport and get the bucket truck on the truck. In May 2020 the bucket truck was delivered and driven to Ridgecrest.

It was known the truck was going to need work, but how much work was still unclear. The pandemic caused challenges with getting parts. Locally owned and operated, Warrens Automotive was able to work on the truck. Once the truck was road worthy it was driven to Corona where it spent six months repairing and certifying the boom.

After thousands of dollars and over a year of work, the bucket truck did its maiden voyage July 2021 removing some damaged banners in the city.

The Ridgecrest Military Banner program will be accepting application August 1, 2021 through September 1, 2021.

If you are interested in donating to the banner program or participating, email Ridgecrestmilitary.banners@gmail.com. Hard copies of the banner application will be available for pick up starting August 1, 2021 at the American Legion Post 684, 641 W Inyokern Road.

Thank you, Terry May, for your years of support. Happy retirement. Appreciate your willingness to continue to support the program.

Special thank you to Pat McKinney, Johnson Communication, and Mike Cash with Operation Family Fund for allowing our community the ability to honor our local active-duty home town heroes.

Courtesy photo: Ridgecrest Military Banners Program volunteers Paul La Pierre, April La Pierre, Pat McKinney and Mike Cash.

Story First Published: 2021-07-23