|Ernest Edward Bankey Jr.|
August 28, 1920|
|Died||June 15, 2009
Newbury Park, California
|Buried at||Conejo Mountain Memorial Park, Camarillo, California.|
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/branch||U.S. Army Air Corps
United States Air Force
|Years of service||1941–1946
|Awards||Distinguished Service Cross
Distinguished Flying Cross
Croix de guerre
|Other work||Jet Propulsion Laboratory|
Ernest Edward Bankey Jr. (August 28, 1920 – June 15, 2009) was an American World War II ace with 9.5 aerial victories and an ace in a day who rose to the rank of colonel in the United States Air Force.
Bankey was born on August 28, 1920, in Cleveland, Ohio, and was raised in Toledo, Ohio. It was during his youth that he began his interest in planes. He began building model planes from the age of eight. He also won the Soap Box Derby twice, in 1935 and 1936.
As a staff sergeant, he taught aerial gunnery techniques in Las Vegas, while awaiting acceptance into Air Cadet School to start pilot training. In July 1943, Bankey gained his commission and pilot wings as part of class 43G at Williams Air Force Base, Arizona. He did his preliminary training in a Stearman PT-13 at Tulare, California, his basic training in a BT-13 Valiant in Modesto, California and advanced training in a T-6 Texan in Phoenix, Arizona.
As a second lieutenant, he joined 383rd Fighter Squadron. His first combat posting was to England with the 364th Fighter Group, 8th Air Force, in February 1944. He was reassigned to the 385th Fighter Squadron.
On December 27, 1944, during the Battle of the Bulge and whilst flying over the Bonn area of Germany, Bankey shot down five enemy planes and shared another. This earned him the designation of "ace in a day". He was also awarded the Army Distinguished Service Cross and the Distinguished Unit Citation for this sortie. He compiled over 100 sorties and 500 combat hours in two tours of duty. Banks is credited with 9.5 air-to-air kills.
Awards and decorations
During his lengthy career, Bankey earned many decorations, including:
- Distinguished Service Cross
- Silver Star
- Distinguished Flying Cross with Clusters
- Air Medal with Nine Clusters
- Croix de guerre with Palm
Bankey was a captain when, on June 26, 1945, he was awarded the Silver Star for actions during World War II. The citation reads:
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Captain (Air Corps) Ernest E. Bankey, Jr. (ASN: 0-752095), United States Army Air Forces, for gallantry in action against the enemy while serving as Pilot of a P-51 fighter airplane of the 364th Fighter Group, EIGHTH Air Force, on 16 April 1945. Having furnished fighter escort to a target in Germany, Captain Bankey, with his Squadron, proceeded to an enemy airdrome according to plan. In the face of intense ground fire, he made six sweeps across the field, destroying four and damaging four enemy aircraft on the ground. Realizing that his plane had sustained numerous hits and that he was now alone, he withdrew and set a course for base. On the return journey he observed another airfield and made futile attempts to contact he group leader. Although only two of his guns were operational, he circled the field and as three fighters took off, made a daring attack. Expending the last of his ammunition, he scored strikes on two of the planes which crashed and exploded. Captain Bankey's boldness, disregard for personal safety, and fearless initiative during this action attest to his determination to destroy the enemy at any cost.
Bankey married Lillian Ruth "Ginny" Kontak on May 2, 1942, in Bowling Green, Ohio. They had four children: sons Dan and Keith, and daughters Sharon and Tina. Bankey has eight grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. His wife Ginny, died on July 16, 2009; she was in-urned next to her husband.
- Blechman, Fred (April 2003). "Ace-in-a-Day Ernie Bankey". Airport Journals. airportjournals.com. Retrieved 2009-07-24.
- "Ernest E. Bankey". The Gathering of Mustangs & Legends. Archived from the original on July 20, 2008. Retrieved 2009-07-24.
- "Lt Col Ernest E Bankey". military-art.com. Retrieved 2009-07-24.
- "Army Air Force Aces of World War II". Air Force Magazine: 78. May 2007. Retrieved 2009-08-02.
- "Valor awards for Ernest Bankey , Jr.". militarytimes.com. Retrieved 13 February 2010.
- Brend, Harlis (July 2009). "The final flight: Triple Ace Ernest Edward Bankey Jr.". Airport Journals. Retrieved February 13, 2010.