Former OCHS athlete bringing military ceremony & celebration to Ocean City

By TOM WILLIAMS

Barry Banks’ smiling face is an important part of one of the most iconic sports photos in Ocean City High School history.

Yeah, that’s the one!

He was joined by Butch Gleason, Bill Haynes, John Cranston and Bud Swan lifting Coach Dixie Howell in celebration of a state basketball championship in Atlantic City Convention Hall.

A lot has happened since then. Half of the people in that photo have died. Banks and Cranston served in Viet Nam and will be gathering, along with 27 other military veterans, in Ocean City next month when 30 men with local ties – including 24 Ocean City High School graduates – will receive military awards.

Barry in a different uniform

The awards are the New Jersey Distinguished Service Medal, the New Jersey Viet Nam Service Medal and the New Jersey Meritorious Service Medal. There are many familiar names on this list.

The ceremony will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 13 (11am) on the Music Pier and is open to all.

But, Barry thought, why just bring all these people together for just a few hours. Why not make a week of it?

So, he did.

It all starts on Saturday, Oct. 9 with a concert – “African Percussion & Songs” – in the Hughes Memorial Auditorium at Ocean City High School. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased HERE.

On Monday morning. Oct. 11, there will be (weather permitting) an outing on Ocean City’s award-winning beach. Final decisions about the beach outing will be made the week before, when weather forecasts will be more current.

On Tuesday night, Oct. 12 at Greate Bay Country Club in Somers Point, there will be the “Soiree on the Bay”. It will include great food along with entertainment and dancing. Tickets are $60 and you can buy them HERE.

Then, the night after the military ceremony – Thursday, Oct. 14 on the Music Pier – it will be “Feel Good Music for All”. The 7pm concert will feature Juneteenth LP from New York City and Tha’ Xacutioners from Atlanta. These concert tickets are $20 and are available HERE.

Barry’s daughter, Erika Banks-Alvarez, a popular vocalist, will be featured in the concert at the Music Pier

For those coming from out of the area in need of overnight accommodations, special rooms and suites have been reserved at a friendly rate in the Sonesta Suites Hotel in Somers Point (609-927-6400). Be sure to mention Barry’s name.

Barry Banks (below, in a photo with eight of his fellow soldiers – “The Pathfinders” – in 1967) helped bring a state championship to Ocean City. Next month he is bringing more recognition to his his hometown when he receives, along with many others, recognition of his military service in Viet Nam.

He hopes you will join them for a celebration.

3 thoughts on “Former OCHS athlete bringing military ceremony & celebration to Ocean City

  1. Very interesting article. I noticed My father Gary Harmon was missing from the list. Class of 67. He also served in the Vietnam War ( Army)

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  2. I agree interesting article. My brother, Robert A. Woodrow class of 65 was the first one from OC killed in Vietnam. The city had a service for him. The wall in the tabernacle park has him listed as a Veteran, which is wrong. But my sister did not want any damage done to the wall when correcting the plate so we let it stand as is.

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  3. To be clear – nobody was left off the list of Viet Nam veterans who will receive medals in Ocean City next month. These are the veterans who submitted their application for the award and were scheduled for this date. Many more from Ocean City served in Viet Nam – some of them have already received the medals they earned, others may get them in the future. But the 30 listed in this story are the ones scheduled for next month. If you or somebody you know has earned medals for service in Viet Nam, contact the New Jersey Department of Military & Veterans Affairs at 609-530-7035 for an application.

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