* Former U.S. Marine Corps Corporal and Korean War veteran Ernest J. O’Banion was recently recognized for his military service by the New River Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America.
* Cpl. O'Banion is pictured (right) with CAPT Doug Ehrhardt, USN-Ret., Chapter President and Maj. Lou Burge, USAF-Ret., Veterans Outreach Officer and member of the Board of Directors.
* The new initiative launched by the MOAA chapter is intended to not only recognize, but to also thank local veterans for their service. As the chapter's first award recipient, O’Banion was presented a certificate recounting his military contributions to the country (also at right), a set of personalized “dog tags,” and a service-specific lapel pin.
* Serving as a cook during the Korean War, O’Banion credits the Marine Corps with changing the direction of his life. “Joining the Corps was one of the best things I ever did,” he explained. Following his discharge, O’Banion realized he might have a future in the food industry and built on his military experience by attending Mississippi State University and later Oklahoma State University. After graduating with a degree in hotel administration, he began a career in the hotel, tourism and food service industries that eventually brought him and his wife Francis to Ashe County in the early 1970s. With other associates, he formed JEB Management, Inc. in 1988, serving as president and managing several lodging establishments. Retiring just last year, O’Banion managed the local Nation’s Inn for a number of years.
* During his 13 months in Korea, O’Banion was a member of Marine Helicopter Transport Squadron HMR 161, 1st Marine Air Wing. A highlight during that tour was his participation in feeding 226 Korean orphans on Christmas Day in 1952.
* Congratulations Cpl. O'Banion and thank you for your service as a Marine with HMR 161, 1st MAW, USMC.
Scroll over the thumbnail photographs to see more pictures from the 30 October award presentation to Cpl. O'Banion:
- CAPT Ehrhardt, Col. Ken Lynn, USAF-Ret., New River Secretary/Treasurer, Cpl. O'Banion and Maj. Burge.
- CAPT Ehrhardt, Cpl. O'Banion, his wife Francis and Maj. Burge.