Cornelia in Habersham County, Georgia — The American South (South Atlantic)
Hilliard Almond Wilbanks
Memorial-Medal of Honor Recipient
Inscription. Memorial to Hilliard Almond Wilbanks-Awarded the Medal of Honor in the name of Congress. Rank-Captain United States Air Force; Organization-21st Tactical Air Support Squadron, Nha Trang Air Force Base; Mortally Wounded-near Dalat, Republic of Vietnam 24 February 1967; Entered Service-Atlanta, Georgia; Birthplace-Cornelia, Georgia, 26 July 1933; Burial Site-Fayette Methodist Cemetery, Fayette, Mississippi; Other Medals Awarded-Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, Air Medal w/18 Oak Leaf Clusters, and Air Force Commendation Medal.
By Don Morfe, July 13, 2010
1. Hilliard Almond Wilbanks Marker
(Plaque at the base of monument):
The Medal of Honor is awarded in the name of Congress to a person who, while a member of the Armed Forces, performs a deed of personal bravery or self-sacrifice conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action and eligibility is limited to members of the Armed Forces of the United States of America in active federal military service.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Medal of Honor Recipients marker series.
Location. 34° 30.816′ N, 83° 30.996′ W. Marker is in Cornelia, Georgia, in Habersham County. Marker is on Wyly Street. Touch for map
. Marker is in this post office area: Cornelia GA 30531, United States of America.
By Don Morfe, July 13, 2010
2. Hilliard Almond Wilbanks Marker
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 5 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Indian War Trail (approx. 0.6 miles away); Battle of Narrows (approx. 1.9 miles away); “Hawkins Line” (approx. 1.9 miles away); Home of Johnny Mize (approx. 3.8 miles away); John Robert Mize (approx. 3.9 miles away); Piedmont College (approx. 3.9 miles away); Middle River Volunteers (approx. 4.4 miles away); Leatherwood Baptist Church (approx. 4.6 miles away).
Regarding Hilliard Almond Wilbanks. Medal of Honor Citation: WILBANKS, HILLIARD A.
Rank and organization: Captain, U.S. Air Force, 21st. Tactical Air Support Squadron, Nha Trang AFB, RVN. Place and date: Near Dalat, Republic of Vietnam, 24 February 1967. Entered service at: Atlanta, Ga. Born: 26 July 1933, Cornelia, Ga. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. As a forward air controller Capt. Wilbanks was pilot of an unarmed, light aircraft flying visual reconnaissance ahead of a South Vietnam Army Ranger Battalion. His intensive search revealed a well-concealed and numerically superior hostile force poised to ambush the advancing rangers.
The Viet Cong, realizing that Capt. Wilbanks' discovery had compromised their position and ability to launch a surprise attack, immediately fired on the small aircraft with all available firepower. The enemy then began advancing against the exposed forward elements of the ranger force which were pinned down by devastating fire. Capt. Wilbanks recognized that close support aircraft could not arrive in time to enable the rangers to withstand the advancing enemy, onslaught. With full knowledge of the limitations of his unarmed, unarmored, light reconnaissance aircraft, and the great danger imposed by the enemy's vast firepower, he unhesitatingly assumed a covering, close support role. Flying through a hail of withering fire at treetop level, Capt. Wilbanks passed directly over the advancing enemy and inflicted many casualties by firing his rifle out of the side window of his aircraft. Despite increasingly intense antiaircraft fire, Capt. Wilbanks continued to completely disregard his own safety and made repeated low passes over the enemy to divert their fire away from the rangers. His daring tactics successfully interrupted the enemy advance, allowing the rangers to withdraw to safety from their perilous position. During his final courageous attack to protect the withdrawing forces, Capt. Wilbanks was mortally wounded and his bullet-riddled aircraft crashed between the opposing forces. Capt. Wilbanks' magnificent action saved numerous friendly personnel from certain injury or death. His unparalleled concern for his fellow man and his extraordinary heroism were in the highest traditions of the military service, and have reflected great credit upon himself and the U.S. Air Force.
By Don Morfe, April 2, 2002
3. Hilliard Almond Wilbanks Marker
Grave marker in Fayette Methodist Cemetery, Fayette, MS-GPS N31.7071 W91.0613
Related marker. Click here for another marker that is related to this marker.
Categories. • War, Vietnam •
Credits. This page was last revised on November 19, 2016. This page originally submitted on December 28, 2012, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. This page has been viewed 473 times since then and 59 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on December 28, 2012, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.