WWII vet surprised with Honor Flight after being assaulted
KAUFMAN, Texas - 92-year-old World War II veteran Howard Banks is still upset over being roughed up and having his United States and Marines Corps flags nearly vandalized, but fellow Marines are there to lift his spirit and give him the respect he deserves.
Earlier this month, Banks heard noises coming from the flagpole out front and went to find out what was going on. He says vandals have shredded and his flags before and thrown them in a ditch.
When he got outside, someone pushed him to the ground and the vandals got away without being seen.
Banks was blinded by a flare on Iwo Jima when he was 20 years old.
"We've honored our flag all that time and doggone it, with our political climate the way that it is, we need something to rally around and that's our flag," said Banks.
Fortunately for Banks, his fellow Marines are there to lend support.
Marines who toured in Iraq and Afghanistan heard Banks' story and had to meet him.
"You know, first, you start messing with the American flag, I get real hot under the collar. And then, when I found out that they yanked the Marine Corps flag down, that made my bottom spicy," said Michael Jernigan, a Corporal in the U.S. Marines and with the Blinded American Veterans Foundation.
"It's a shame. You know, this guy is living history. He's a national treasure. People should be lined up on his porch to talk to him, not ripping his flags down," said Kory Ryan with Honor Flight Austin.
Sunday afternoon was spent swapping stories, and surprising Banks with an Honor Flight to Washington D.C. to the World War II memorial.
"Once a Marine, always a Marine. I try to live that way," said Banks.
Kaufman Police are investigating the attack.
Banks now has cameras on his home.
"We need to respect our flag. That is a symbol of our country. It is a symbol of what we stand for as a beacon of hope for liberty in this world, and if you can't respect that, then we don't really want you here," said Jernigan.