A 92-year-old legally blind veteran who was attacked by a group of people trying to vandalize flags at the man's Texas home was surprised by fellow Marines on Sunday when they honored the vet with a special trip to Washington, D.C.
Earlier this month, Howard Banks said he heard noises coming from the area near the flagpole in front of his Kaufman home and went to find out what was going on. Vandals had previously shredded his United States and Marine Corps flags and thrown them in a ditch.
When he got outside, Banks said someone pushed him to the ground and then ran away. Banks had been blinded by a flare on Iwo Jima when he was 20, so he was not able to provide a full description of the attackers.
"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," Banks told FOX 4 News.
Several Marines who had served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan heard what happened to Banks, and decided they had to meet him to swap stories.
"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," Michael Jernigan, a corporal in the Marines and a member of the Blinded American Veterans Foundation, told FOX 4.
The group also surprised Banks with a Honor Flight to D.C. to visit the National World War II Memorial.
"It's a shame. You know, this guy is living history. He's a national treasure," Honor Flight Austin's Kory Ryan told FOX 4. "People should be lined up on his porch to talk to him, not ripping his flags down."
Banks now has cameras installed around his home as Kaufman Police continue to investigate the attack. But the incident isn't deterring him from flying his flags.
"Once a Marine, always a Marine," Banks said. "I try to live that way."