21st Tactical Air Support SquadronOn the evening of 24 February 1967, Captain Hilliard A. Wilbanks was flying his 488th combat mission as a Forward Air Controller. While covering South Vietnamese Army Rangers and their American advisors in the O-1E Bird Dog, he discovered a well-concealed enemy force about to ambush lead elements. He radioed a warning and called for tactical air support. With their trap compromised, the enemy launched an assault and trained heavy machine gun fire on Captain Wilbanks. Disregarding the threat, he continued marking targets for helicopter gunships until they were forced to withdraw. Then, with no other option available, and determined to distract the attackers, he flew low over the battlefield while firing a rifle from the window of his aircraft. This courageous action finally disrupted the attack allowing the Rangers to escape. On his final pass, Captain Wilbanks was mortally wounded, and his bullet-riddled aircraft crashed between opposing forces.
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|Placed By||The Hurlburt Field Memorial Air Park Council|
|Marker Condition||No reports yet|
|Date Added||Saturday, November 19th, 2016 at 5:01pm PST -08:00|
|UTM (WGS84 Datum)||16R E 528752 N 3364867|
|Decimal Degrees||30.41551667, -86.70063333|
|Degrees and Decimal Minutes||N 30° 24.931', W 86° 42.038'|
|Degrees, Minutes and Seconds||30° 24' 55.86" N, 86° 42' 2.28" W|
|Driving Directions||Google Maps|
|Closest Postal Address||At or near 315 Independence Rd, Hurlburt Field FL 32544, US|
|Alternative Maps||Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap|