Young visitor gets an Old Guard surprise
Eight-year-old Sonja Banks of Hammond, Ind., accepts a medal from Presidential Salute Battery Watchman Spc. Hollis Taylor following the 50-gun salute to the nation on Whipple Field July 4. Sonja is the daughter of former Old Guard Soldier Mark Banks. The 3d U.S. Infantry (The Old Guard) Presidential Salute Battery fired a round to salute each of the 50 states. The 50-gun firing, which honors the signing of the Declaration of Independence, is a 236 year-old tradition. For more photos from the Fourth of July celebration on JBM-HH, visit

JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. - She asked, and she received.

A post 50-gun salute to the nation question-and-answer session with the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) Presidential Salute Battery landed 8-year-old tourist Sonja Banks an invaluable keepsake.

The noon Independence Day salute was followed by an informal meet and greet where visitors to Whipple Field may have pictures taken with Old Guard soldiers and ask questions about the firing. Many inquiries are made about soldier's dress and their medals, but Spc. Hollis Taylor of Texas never had the decorations subject breached as deeply as it was past Fourth of July.

"Do you have any questions?," Taylor, who is a battery watchman, asked Banks.

"Can I have a medal?" the eight-year-old matter-of-factly replied.

Taylor reacted by removing a medal from his lapel and presented it to the youngster.

"I've never had that question asked before," said Taylor, who is a five-year Presidential Salute Battery veteran. "That was the first time, so I might as well give it to her."

Sonja, daughter of a former Old Guard soldier, deemed it an honor to receive such a prize.

Page last updated Mon July 15th, 2013 at 11:41