Bill Banks was born on September 1, 1915, in Raleigh, West Virginia. He enlisted in the West Virginia National Guard on July 14, 1933, and received an honorable discharge on July 13, 1936. After completing college, Banks enlisted in the Aviation Cadet Program of the U.S. Army Air Corps on March 15, 1941, and was commissioned a 2d Lt and awarded his pilot wings at Kelly Field, Texas, on November 1, 1941. After completing fighter training, Lt Banks served with the 62nd Pursuit Squadron of the 56th Pursuit Group, and then joined the 90th Fighter Squadron of the 80th Fighter Group in July 1942. He next served with the 342nd Fighter Squadron of the 348th Fighter Group in the U.S. from October 1942 to May 1943, and deployed to the Pacific from July 1943 to June 1945, and was commander of the 348th Fighter Group from June to November 1945. During this time, Col Banks was credited with the destruction of 9 enemy aircraft in aerial combat plus 1 damaged. After the war, he served as commander of the 82nd Fighter Group from November 1948 to October 1949, and was Commander of Headquarters Squadron for the 33rd Fighter Wing at Otis AFB, Massachusetts, in 1950 and 1951. Col Banks attended the Air War College at Maxwell AFB, Alabama, from June 1951 to June 1952, and then served with Headquarters U.S. Air Force in the Pentagon from June 1952 to August 1955. His next assignment was as Chief of the Air Force Section, Military Assistance and Advisory Group to Norway, from August 1955 to August 1958, followed by service on the staff of the Western Air Defense Force at Hamilton AFB, California, from September 1958 to September 1959. He was Deputy for Operations with the 28th Air Division at Hamilton AFB from September 1959 to March 1960, and then served as Deputy Commander of the Boston Air Defense Sector at Stewart AFB, New York, from March 1960 to August 1961. Col Banks' final assignment was on the staff with Headquarters San Antonio Air Material Area at Kelly AFB, Texas, from August 1961 until his retirement from the Air Force on July 1, 1963. Bill Banks died on May 6, 1983.
His Silver Star Citation reads:
For gallantry in action while participating in an escort mission to Clark Field, Luzon, Philippine Islands, on 24 December 1944. Following his plan of preceding a main body of fighters to gain information on the deployment of enemy opposition, Major Banks led an element of two of a total force of sixty-six P-47 type aircraft. On approaching the target, he climbed to attack several enemy airplanes and, concentrating his fire on one of them, sent it crashing to the ground. After apprising his formation of the strength and deployment of Japanese aircraft in the area, he joined in the ensuing battle and brought down another hostile fighter which was trying to escape. His squadron, taking full advantage of the advance information he supplied, accounted for thirty-two of the interceptors. The outstanding leadership and gallantry displayed by Major Banks reflect the highest traditions of the United States Army Air Forces.