Robert Lee Banks

Warrant Officer
Army of the United States
22 February 1945 - 27 August 1966
Philadelphia, PA
Panel 10E Line 050



Army Aviator

Air Medal, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Robert Lee Banks

21 Dec 2002

Robert L Banks

The following article is taken from The Philadelphia Daily News, special supplement entitled 'SIX HUNDRED AND THIRTY,' October 26, 1987. The special supplement was issued in conjunction with the dedication of the Philadelphia Viet Nam Memorial.
Banks had a lifelong love affair with airplanes, and as a youngster he would walk or hitchhike to Philadelphia International Airport to watch the big jets take off and land. He had been married a month before he joined the Army's 501st Assault Helicopter Company [sic] in Viet Nam. The warrant officer, a helicopter pilot, died on August 27, 1966, of severe burns suffered during hostile action. He was 21 years old. The 1963 South Philadelphia High School graduate was survived by his wife, parents, three brothers and a sister.

From a native Philadelphian and Marine,
Jim McIlhenney

Virtual Wall Notes

On 14 December 1965, the 3rd Aviation Company (AML) was redesignated as A Company A, 501st Aviation Battalion, and alerted for movement to Vietnam. On arrival A/501st was assigned to the 145th Combat Aviation Battalion operating in the Saigon area. On 27 August 1966, an A/501st UH-1B gunship (tail number 66-00496) was assigned to gunship cover for troop insertion in the vicinity of Tay Ninh. The aircraft was crewed by
  • WO1 Robert Lee Banks, pilot;
  • CW2 William Dewitt Perkins, Jr, copilot;
  • SSG Randall Dumon Howell, gunner; and
  • SP4 Everett Porter Runnells, crew chief.
On completion of the mission, the aircraft headed for Tan Son Nhut airport, where Warrant Officer Perkins was to complete some paperwork associated with the end of his tour in Vietnam. As the UH-1B approached Tan Son Nhut, the tail boom separated from the aircraft and it went in, impacting in a level attitude. WO1 Banks was able to exit the aircraft, but when he turned around he saw the others were still in the aircraft and went back. The aircraft exploded, killing all four men.

NOTE: Several days later, on 02 Sep 1966, A/501st Avn Bn was deactivated. The company's personnel and equipment were transferred to the newly activated 71st Aviation Company, later the 71st Assault Helicopter Company.
Robert Lee Banks
is remembered by his brothers from
A Company, 501st Aviation Battalion

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
a native Philadelphian and Vietnam veteran,
Jim McIlhenney 
22 Dec 2002

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Channing Prothro, former CAP Marine
Last updated 12/22/2002