April 21, 2008

House of Delegates resolution honors fallen Virginia Guard Soldier

By Maj. Cotton Puryear
Virginia National Guard Public Affairs

Delegate Phillip A. Hamilton presents the Virginig House of Delegates resolution to Sheena Banks and Renee Person during a ceremony held in West Point April 21. (Photo by Maj. Cotton Puryear, Virginia Guard Public Affairs) Click HERE to download a high resolution photo.

WEST POINT, Va. -- Family and friends of a fallen Virginia National Guard Soldier gathered in West Point,Va. April 21 to honor his memory with a resolution from the Virginia House of Delegates. The Honorable Phillip A. Hamilton, Delegate of the 93rd District representing the City of Newport News and County of James City, presented the widow and mother of Sgt. Derek R. Banks with the resolution during a ceremony at the West Point High School Auditorium.

Banks was assigned to the West Point-based 237th Engineer Company when his vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device Oct. 25, 2007. He later died of wounds Nov. 14 in San Antonio. Sgt. David E. Lambert of Cedar Bluff, Va. was also killed in the same attack.

Before presenting the framed resolution to Banks’ widow, Sheena Banks, and his mother, Renee Person, Hamilton read the resolution. “Sergeant Banks’ death is a reminder of the perils faced daily by the thousands of brave Americans who serve in our armed forces overseas and whose devotion to duty places them in harm’s way,” he read. “Sergeant Banks will be fondly remembered as a loving husband and father and will be greatly missed by his devoted wife, son, and other family members, as well as numerous friends and fellow soldiers in the Virginia National Guard.”

Maj. Gen. Robert B. Newman, Jr., the Adjutant General of Virginia, stands with Sheena Banks (left) and Renee Person (right) after the presentation of the Virginia House of Delegates Resolution honoring Sgt. Derek R. Banks. (Photo by Maj. Cotton Puryear, Virginia Guard Public Affairs) Click HERE to download a high resolution photo.

The Honorable John Marshall, Virginia Secretary of Public Safety, attended the ceremony on behalf of Virginia Governor Timothy M. Kaine. “Today we are here to remember somebody who was a hero, somebody who is a hero,” Marshall said. “But it is important to remember that he did not become a hero on Nov. 14, 2007, rather Derek Banks became a hero the day he raised his right hand and joined the Virginia National Guard and swore and pledged to put himself in harms way to protect the citizens of this community, the Commonwealth and our nation.”

Marshall said that Banks served his country in an honorable and courageous manner. “We can take comfort in the fact that he lives on the service of his fellow National Guardsmen as they continue the legacy he left, as they continue to carry out the important work of the Virginia National Guard.”

Maj. Gen. Robert B. Newman, Jr., the Adjutant General of Virginia, recognized the military tradition of honoring fallen comrades. “The very sad focus of today should not take away from the great service that Derek represented,” Newman said. “He is very typical of the brave Soldiers and Airmen that we have in the Virginia National Guard that are called upon on a regular basis to fulfill their combat training in support of the ideals of freedom we enjoy here in America. I assure you his fellow Guardsmen have not forgotten him, and we honor his memory today.”

The Honorable Jim Hudson, the Mayor of West Point, closed the program by sharing how important the service of Soldiers like Derek Banks is to our way of life.

“We also remember Sgt. Banks and celebrate his life as we go about our daily lives when we assemble, when we speak freely and openly, when we vote, when we attend the church of our choice, these and many other freedoms are so natural to us that we tend to take them for granted,” he said. “We should be ever mindful that these are the freedoms that Sgt. Banks held dear, so dear that he was willing to place himself in harm’s way and ultimately to pay the greatest sacrifice. He did this so that the people he loved and the country he loved could continue in the way of freedom and honor.”

Full Text of House of Delegates Resolution:

HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 373
Offered February 8, 2008
Celebrating the life of Sergeant Derek Ramond Banks.
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Patrons-- Hamilton, BaCote, Oder and Pogge; Senators: Locke, Miller, J.C. and Norment
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WHEREAS, Sergeant Derek Ramond Banks of Newport News, a member of the Virginia Army National Guard supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom, died on November 14, 2007, of wounds suffered in combat operations in Baghdad, Iraq, on October 25, 2007; and

WHEREAS, Sergeant Banks was an electrician at Northrop Grumman Corporation in Newport News; and

WHEREAS, Derek Banks was born in Hampton on January 7, 1983, and joined the Virginia Army National Guard on March 22, 2002, as a combat engineer; and

WHEREAS, inspired to further serve his country and Virginia, Sergeant Banks enlisted many of his friends to join him in military service; and

WHEREAS, Sergeant Banks was a member of the 237th Engineer Company, 276th Engineer Battalion, 91st Troop Command stationed in West Point, and he had served previously in Mosul, Iraq, from March 1, 2004, through March 20, 2005, as the primary vehicle operator for the Headquarters Company Maintenance Section and was awarded the Army Commendation Medal for meritorious service; and

WHEREAS, Sergeant Banks and a fellow Virginian, Sergeant David E. Lambert of Cedar Bluff, were among five soldiers injured by an improvised explosive device in Baghdad, Iraq, on October 25, 2007; and

WHEREAS, Sergeant Banks’ military awards include a Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, and the Combat Action Badge; and

WHEREAS, Sergeant Banks will be fondly remembered as a loving husband and father and will be greatly missed by his devoted wife, son, and other family members, as well as numerous friends and fellow soldiers in the Virginia National Guard; and

WHEREAS, Sergeant Banks’ death is a reminder of the perils faced daily by the thousands of brave Americans who serve in our armed forces overseas and whose devotion to duty places them in harm’s way; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED by the House of Delegates, the Senate concurring, That the General Assembly hereby note with great sadness the loss of a courageous and patriotic Virginian, Sergeant Derek Ramond Banks; and, be it

RESOLVED FURTHER, That the Clerk of the House of Delegates prepare a copy of this resolution for presentation to the family of Sergeant Derek Ramond Banks as an expression of the high regard in which his memory is held by the members of the General Assembly and the citizens of the Commonwealth.

 

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