Frederick, Md. –
Two Army recruiting noncommissioned officers joined a local congressman to posthumously recognize a World War II Soldier for meritorious service during a ceremony at the American Legion Francis Scott Key Post 11 here Sept. 18.
On the anniversary of Operation Market Garden, Baltimore Recruiting Battalion’s Staff Sgt. Gary Cole and Staff Sgt. Sean Chase, along with Maryland Congressman Jamie Raskin, presented a Bronze Star Medal with Valor Device to the granddaughter of 1st Lt. Robert Banker for his heroic actions 77 years ago.
When Pfc. Guy Whidden was severely wounded by a mortar round near Best, Holland, Sept. 18, 1944, Banker ran out into the exposed field and carried him 100 yards off the field to safety. For these actions, he received the Army’s fourth highest honor.
The now 98-year-old Whidden, who ultimately retired from the U.S. Army as a lieutenant colonel, said his greatest regret was never having properly recognized Banker for his heroism and selfless service. This ceremony gave him the opportunity to do just that with the presentation to Jaclynn Green, Banker’s granddaughter.
Additionally, both WWII veterans received 502nd Infantry Regiment’s Distinguished Members of the Regiment certificates for their service, presented by the two recruiting NCOs who each had 101st Airborne Division patches on their right shoulders, making this a memorable event.
Cole, who served with the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade in Afghanistan in 2013, said presenting the award meant a lot to him. When considering the history of the 101st Airborne Division, he said, “We were often told we were standing on the shoulders of giants, referring to those from the 101st who fought in World War II. It was meaningful to not only meet one of those giants but to honor them.”
Chase, who also deployed with the 101st to Afghanistan, said that as a U.S. Army recruiting NCO who works with Future Soldiers, he is often asked about the legacy of service.
“When potential applicants see my passion, they often ask about the lineage of my badges and the U.S. Army,” Chase said. “That’s one of the reasons it was an honor to recognize these veterans and their service.”