Group to Major Charles J. Banks, DSC recipient in Vietnam
Group to Major Charles Banks, 221st Aviation Company, 1st Aviation Brigade: Distinguished Service Cross, slot brooch, machine-engraved “Charles J./Banks”, in a titled black leatherette case; Bronze Star, slot brooch, unnamed; Air Medal, crimp brooch, unnamed; Meritorious Service Medal, unnamed; Army Commendation Medal, with two oak leaf clusters, hand-engraved “Charles J. Banks”, in a clear plastic case with ribbon bar and lapel pin. With a photograph of Captain Banks receiving the DSC and other awards and photocopied service records. His records show, in addition to these awards, Captain Banks also received a Distinguished Flying Cross, two oak leaf clusters on his Bronze Star, a “V” device and 19 oak leaf clusters on the Air Medal, a third oak leaf on the Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with silver star.
Captain Charles J. Banks received the Distinguished Service Cross “for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam: Captain Banks distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions on 21 December 1966 while serving as platoon leader of a reconnaissance airplane company with which he was conducting a ground briefing assembly at Can Tho Army Air Base. During the meeting, Captain Banks observed a Viet Cong terrorist arise from the tall grass and throw a hand grenade between two nearby 5000 gallon fuel tanks. Realizing the possibility of the annihilation of his men and equipment, he immediately sounded the alarm and rushed toward the grenade. Completely disregarding his own life, he jumped on the grenade and covered it with his own body. After ascertaining that his men were out of immediate danger, Captain Banks leaped to his feet and hurled the grenade back in the direction of the terrorist. It exploded in the air but failed to ignite the highly vulnerable fuel containers. Unaware of the extent to which the attack was being initiated, Captain Banks quickly secured his rifle and fired into the hostile position, while simultaneously directing his men into a perimeter defense. His courage and aggressiveness were singularly responsible for the preservation of the lives of his men..”
Banks enlisted in the National Guard in 1950 and in 1957 enlisted in the Regular Army. He was commissioned in 1959. In 1962, he began training as a pilot. After Vietnam, he became an advisor to Army Reserve units in Illinois. Banks retired as a major in March 1972 and died the following December. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.