Bravo! The Project - A Documentary Film

Archive for March 20th, 2012

Documentary Film,Guest Blogs,Khe Sanh,Vietnam War

March 20, 2012

The Larry C Banks Memorial

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Bravo! Marine Michael E. O’Hara muses on memories of his friend who was killed in action in Vietnam in 1967.

Larry C. Banks and I grew up together. He “VOLUNTEERED” for the Army in ‘67 and I volunteered to go into the Marines about the same time. We spent our last leave home together at the same time before going to Vietnam.

Larry was killed in an ambush after only 28 days in country at a place known as Srok Rung. It was in a rubber tree plantation in the IV Corps area northwest of Saigon. Larry died while serving as an assistant machine gunner. They literally melted the barrel out of the gun before being overrun. His squad leader, Robert Stryker, won the Medal of Honor that day. Larry and the gunner earned Bronze Stars for valor.

I was at Khe Sanh on Hill 881s when Larry was killed. No one back home would tell me until after I came home in 1968.

I remember in 1978 I was having a brief conversation with a lady who graduated same class with us. (84 grads) When I mentioned Larry she gave me an ill look and said Larry who? It just infuriated me.

In 1993 there was a memorial dedicated on the courthouse lawn to all who had served in all wars. It was the first time Larry Banks’ named had been spoken publicly since he perished. I lashed out at the crowd for never acknowledging his sacrifice as I read his name. When I boasted to my mother after it was over, she chided me publicly in front of all and asked me this question, “And what have you done?”

It was at that moment that the Larry C. Banks Memorial was conceived. Within 16 months a scholarship had been established with the newly formed community foundation (we were their first account) and the new High School Gymnasium bears his name to this day. Hundreds of folks pitched in to make that happen. It was my dream but other people made it happen.

This past Veterans Day was a special tribute in the gymnasium for Larry, presented by the staff and children at the school for the benefit of all our Veterans. NO one, and I mean no one, will ever say to me ever again, “Larry who.”

By the way, Larry served with 1st Battalion 26th Infantry Regiment USA. I served with 1st Battalion 26th Marine Regiment (infantry) USMC 5th Div. How about that!

Michael E O’Hara spends a lot of time researching and honoring all American veterans of all wars. He also spends a lot of time with his granddaughters.