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Mike Bankston keynote speaker for Veterans Day program


Retired 1st Sgt. Bankston (far right) will be the keynote speaker at the Bandera Honors Veteran program at 11 am on the courthouse lawn. Pictured above is his family.

Retired 1st Sgt. Mike Bankston of Bandera will be the keynote speaker during the Bandera Honors Veterans program, which will begin at 11 a.m. on the courthouse lawn, Saturday, Nov. 11.
Bankston retired from the United States Army Reserve in 2013, after 27 years of service. He spent nearly a year traveling throughout the United States training Army Reserve units before he deployed to Iraq for 400 days. Bankston’s wife, Kimberley, and their three children, Calvin, Jason and Gracie, “held down the fort” and “always kept a light on” for Dad. The entire Bankston family, including his eldest son, Calvin, who is currently serving in the United States Coast Guard in Alaska, will be in Bandera for the Veterans Day celebration.
There are many questions Bankston could answer and stories he might share with us this Saturday. For example, why did he join the military in the first place?
“Honestly, I was tired of someone telling me what to do,” he said.
Really? What about getting out of the Navy after 5 years, and then joining the Army?
He answered with a rapid-fire reply: “Excitement, guns, weapons…”
What did you do for 400 days in Iraq with the drawdown of equipment underway?
“I led lots of soldiers who repaired, prepared and moved heavy equipment transporters. … I’m a hands-on, be-with-my-soldiers kind of first sergeant,” Bankston said.
What do you miss most about serving in the Army?
“The camaraderie, the structure, the trust,” the patriot answered without hesitation.
Bankston is a native Texan who attended high school at Smithson Valley. He came to Bandera in 2002 by way of Boerne. He and Kimberley wanted to raise their children in a smaller school environment — one with a super sports program. (Note: The Bandera Bulldogs football team captured the 3A Division 2 State Championship in 2002.) Since then, Bankston has been a fixture in school and community sports, especially baseball, as Bo Mansfield and Bandera High School Baseball Coach Jeffrey Quinlan can attest.
When Bankston deployed to Iraq, his children were in preschool, 3rd and 8th grades.
“That’s a lot of missed birthdays, milestones and special events in my children’s lives,” Bankston said.
Kimberley managed the roles of both “Mom and Dad” for nearly two years, including the time Bankston spent travelling the US for training purposes. Kimberely attributes her family’s success during that time to her ability to call on local friends, the existence of overseas communications lines and “always having a ‘Plan B,’” as she called it. Reserve unit families can be hundreds of miles apart, so friends such as Theresa Nelson, the wife of retired Marine aviator Chad Nelson, were only a sanity-saving phone call away.
Please join us in honoring all veterans and their families on the courthouse lawn this Saturday, and hear the words of a dedicated soldier and leader at 11 a.m. When it comes to serving in the military, Bankston often says, “Everyone should serve.” Come hear him speak to learn why that may be true, for yourself.