“George Banda isn’t just a hero, he’s a hero’s hero”.
-Oscar F. Castaneda, Char, Latino Veterans Legacy of Valor Foundation
George Banda graduated from Milwaukee Boys Technology and Trade School (Boys Tech) in
1968 and received his draft notice in December. Upon completion of Basic Training at Fort
Campbell, Kentucky, he was ordered to Fort Sam Houston, Texas for Combat Medic school with follow on training at Fort Benning, Georgia for qualification as an Army parachutist. This was followed by additional medical training at Fort Ord, California where he worked at the hospital in post-operative care.
Ordered to Vietnam, George arrived in December 1969 where he served as Combat medic
assigned to E Co, 2/501st Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR) 101st Airborne Division.
George served with distinction in Vietnam from December 1969 through November 1970
spending almost all of the time conducting small unit missions in the jungle. However,
his most distinguished service may be summed up in two remarkable
April 23, 1970 - Thua Thien-Hue Province
While on a reconnaissance mission in the A Shau valley, Banda’s squad was ambushed by
elements of the North Vietnamese Army (NVA). The soldier on point was wounded and
George ran towards him. While treating his wounded comrade, he was surprised by a
NVA soldier who appeared no more than 15 feet away. The NVA soldier shot at George
but remarkably, he missed. George then returned fire, and after neutralizing the NVA
soldier went back to stabilizing his wounded comrade before dragging him back to his
squad position. At this point another squad member was wounded and he ran toward the
enemy line again to render assistance. Again, he found, treated, and then dragged the
second wounded soldier back to the squad position. Both soldiers were eventually
successfully evacuated. Ironically, due to the nature of this fire fight he found himself
(twice) directly between U.S. and NVA forces. This resulted in his helmet being shot off
by a bullet from behind him. In recognition of his gallantry, George was awarded the Silver
May 6, 1970 - Quang Tri Province
On May 6, 1970, Fire Base Henderson was attacked by NVA in a coordinated operation
on multiple sides simultaneously. At 0500 hours George’s bunker was hit by a Rocket
Propelled Grenade (RPG). This explosion hurled him into the air, leaving him dazed and
partially deaf. In spite of his wounds, he went to work treating the wounded. At one point
he ran into the open to recover a wounded comrade and dragged him back to cover. He
then proceeded to search out other wounded during which time he was shot in the head.
He stopped the flow of blood by fashioning a makeshift dressing out of his shirt and
stuffing it into his head wound. He then proceeded to go back out looking for wounded,
again. Only after all other wounded were evacuated did he acquiesce to being airlifted
out himself. Due to heavy casualties, he was diverted to a Navy/USMC hospital for
treatment. Due to this action, and the fog of war, the Army “lost track” of him. As a result
the Army declared him “Missing in Action”. Eventually he was released from the USMC
hospital and returned to his unit. However, it took two weeks for his family to be notified
that he was in fact not missing and very much alive. In recognition of his actions at Fire
Base Henderson, he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Valor Device.
George received the following military awards:
• Combat Medic Badge
• Parachutist Badge
• Silver Star
• Bronze Star Medal with “V” Device and Oak Leaf Cluster
• Purple Heart
• Air Medal
• Army Commendation Medal
• Good Conduct Medal
• National Defense Service Medal
• Vietnam Service Medal
• Vietnam Campaign Medal (issued by Republic of Vietnam)
• Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm
• LT Darren M. Hidalgo Latino Veteran of the Year Award (2018) from Latino Veterans
Legacy of Valor Foundation (LVLV)
Following his military service, George served as a Firefighter/Emergency Medical Technician
(EMT) for Milwaukee County’s Mitchell International Airport Fire Department (1983 – 2006).
He has continued his service to his community and country through volunteer
service that may be categorized as extensive and significant. George is involved in the
• 101st Airborne Division Association
• Past President, Allied Veterans Council of Milwaukee County
• Past Commander, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Milwaukee County Chapter #818
• Senior Vice-Commander, Military Order of the Purple Heart, State of WI.
• Life Member, American Legion – David Valdez Post #529
• Life Member, Veterans of Foreign Wars
• Member, Wisconsin Vietnam Veterans
• Member, Wisconsin Veterans Museum Advisory Board
• Vice Chairman, Milwaukee County War Memorial Veterans Board
• Member, Milwaukee Veterans Community Relations Team (VCRT) 3
• Member, “Save the Soldiers Home” Campaign Fundraising Committee. During
his service, the committee raised over $40,000,000 for restoration of historic
buildings on the Milwaukee VA campus.
• Founding Member and State Commander (2012 – 2016) American GI Forum of
Wisconsin, an organization focusing on Latino American Veterans issues.