Banker, Donald Francis, LT

Fallen
 
 Service Photo   Service Details
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Last Rank
Lieutenant
Last Primary NEC
131X-Unrestricted Line Officer - Pilot
Last Rating/NEC Group
Line Officer
Primary Unit
1944-1944, 131X, USS Lexington (CV-16)
Service Years
1940 - 1944
Lieutenant
Lieutenant

 Last Photo   Personal Details 


Home State
Minnesota
Minnesota
Year of Birth
1917
 
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Tommy Burgdorf (Birddog), FC2 to remember Banker, Donald Francis, LT.

If you knew or served with this Sailor and have additional information or photos to support this Page, please leave a message for the Page Administrator(s) HERE.
 
Casualty Info
Home Town
Duluth, MN
Last Address
142 E. 1st St
Duluth, MN

Casualty Date
Nov 05, 1944
 
Cause
Hostile, Died while Missing
Reason
Air Loss, Crash - Sea
Location
Pacific Ocean
Conflict
Not Specified
Location of Interment
Manila American Cemetery - Taguig City, Philippines
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Tablets of the Missing

 Official Badges 




 Unofficial Badges 




 Military Association Memberships
United States Navy Memorial World War II FallenThe National Gold Star Family RegistryWW II Memorial National Registry
  2013, United States Navy Memorial [Verified] - Assoc. Page
  2013, World War II Fallen [Verified]
  2013, The National Gold Star Family Registry
  2013, WW II Memorial National Registry

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 Ribbon Bar

Naval Aviator Wings

 
 Duty Stations
VB-19USS Lexington (CV-16)
  1943-1944, 131X, VB-19
  1944-1944, 131X, USS Lexington (CV-16)
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1944-1944 World War II
  1944-1944 World War II/Asiatic-Pacific Theater
  1944-1944 Leyte Campaign (1944)/Battle of Leyte Gulf
  1944-1944 Mariana and Palau Islands Campaign (1944)/Battle of Guam
  1944-1944 Leyte Campaign (1944)/Battle of Cape Engano
 Colleges Attended 
United States Naval Academy
  1936-1940, United States Naval Academy1
 Other News, Events and Photographs
 
  Nov 05, 2013, General Photos1
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
After graduation, Don joined IDAHO. Two years later, on his way to flight training, he married Betty Bennett in Annapolis. It was December, 1943, when he joined VB 19, a divebomber squadron embarked in LEXINGTON.

On September 21, 1944, in the face of strong AA fire, Don sank a Japanese ship. For this, Admiral Mitscher awarded him the Distinguished Flying Cross. Exactly one month later, his son, now Donald Banker Heimark, was born.
 
On 24 October, he took command of VB 19 after the commanding officer had been lost to enemy action. The very next day he led his squadron in an attack against the Japanese Fleet. He personally scored a hit on an enemy battleship in the face of continuous, intense anti-aircraft fire. For this he was awarded a Silver Star.
 
In a second strike this same day, Don dove boldly through intense AA fire and scored a direct hit on a large Japanese carrier that led to its loss. For this act of skill and bravery, he received his first Navy Cross.
 
On November 5, the last day of his short life, Don led his flight of aircraft in offensive action against Japanese naval forces in Manila Harbor. Besides directing the efforts of his accompanying squadronmates to gain maximum striking power, Don dove through withering AA fire to a perilously low altitude before releasing his bombs for a direct hit that destroyed an enemy heavy cruiser. As Don pulled out of his dive, his plane was shot down and he was lost. For his superb airmanship, indomitable fighting spirit and extreme courage in the face of tremendous odds, Don was awarded a second Navy Cross and a Purple Heart.
 
In a brief seven-week period, Donald Banker became one of the most highly decorated members of '40.
 
Today, through his son Donald Banker, and his grandchildren, Emory Banker and Skyler Banker, our classmate Don lives on.
   
Comments/Citation

 
Name of Award
Navy Cross
Year Awarded
1944
Details behind Award:
Awarded for actions during the World War II

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Lieutenant Commander [then Lieutenant] Donald Francis Banker (NSN: 0-85095), United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism in operations against the enemy while serving as Pilot of a carrier-based Navy Scout Dive Bomber and Flight Leader in Bombing Squadron NINETEEN (VB-19) attached to the U.S.S. LEXINGTON (CV-16), while assigned to strike major Japanese Fleet Units on 25 October 1944, during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, in the Philippine Islands. Skillfully directing his group in a strike against a large Japanese aircraft carrier and other surface units, Lieutenant Commander Banker boldly dived through the intense barrage of enemy anti-aircraft fire and aerial opposition and expertly maneuvered his planes at low altitude to score a direct hit on a carrier, contributing materially to her ultimate sinking. By his brilliant airmanship, indomitable courage and inspiring leadership, Lieutenant Commander Banker was instrumental in inflicting extensive damage upon the Japanese Fleet during the battle. His dauntless fighting spirit and unswerving devotion to duty throughout a period of decisive activity reflect the highest credit upon himself and the United States Naval Service.
General Orders: Commander 1st Carrier Task Force Pacific: Serial 0765 (October 30, 1944)
Action Date: 25-Oct-44
Service: Navy
Rank: Lieutenant Commander
Company: Bombing Squadron 19 (VB-19)
(Second Award)
Awarded for actions during the World War II

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting a Gold Star in lieu of a Second Award of the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Lieutenant Commander Donald Francis Banker (NSN: 0-85095), United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism in operations against the enemy while serving as Pilot of a carrier-based Navy Bomber and Squadron Commander in Bombing Squadron NINETEEN (VB-19), attached to the U.S.S. LEXINGTON (CV-16), during offensive air operations against enemy Japanese forces in Manila Harbor, Philippine Islands, on 5 November 1944. Lieutenant Commander Banker led his flight in a vigorous, intensive attack against the Japanese fleet units. In bold defiance of the enemy's fierce aerial opposition, he plunged through withering anti-aircraft fire to press home his attack. Accurately releasing his bomb load at perilously low altitude, he succeeded in scoring a direct hit on an enemy heavy cruiser which contributed materially to her destruction before his plane was shot down as he pulled out of his dive. Lieutenant Commander Banker's superb airmanship, indomitable fighting spirit and extreme courage in the face of tremendous odds during this and numerous other brilliantly executed strikes were essential factors in the extensive and costly damage inflicted on hostile shipping, shore installations and aircraft in the Pacific War Area. The conduct of Lieutenant Commander Banker throughout these actions reflects great credit upon himself, and was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.
General Orders: Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin No. 341 (August 1945)
Action Date: 5-Nov-44
Service: Navy
Rank: Lieutenant Commander
Company: Bombing Squadron 19 (VB-19)
Division: U.S.S. Lexington (CV-16)
   
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