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UNG awards Wilbanks Medal of Honor Memorial scholarships

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The Hilliard A. Wilbanks Foundation is pleased to share the awarding of the Capt. Hilliard A. Wilbanks Medal of Honor Memorial Scholarship, presented to three University of North Georgia ROTC Cadets at the annual Corps of Cadets Military Awards Ceremony in March.

In 2018, a partnership was formed with the University of North Georgia (UNG) to create a permanent endowment to award an annual Captain Hilliard A. Wilbanks Medal of Honor Memorial Scholarship.  Each year, this $4,000 scholarship is awarded to a cadet who is a rising sophomore and funds are disbursed throughout the following three years of their education.

The 2022-23 scholarship was presented to Cadet Matthew Anderson, son of Webb and Donna Anderson of Cleveland. He graduated from White County High School where he participated in JROTC. He is the grandson of Jesse Anderson, an Army veteran, who served in the Vietnam War.

While at UNG, Anderson is pursuing a criminal justice degree and is currently enlisted in the Georgia Army National Guard in 179th Military Police Company, Fort Stewart. He will use the scholarship funds to pay for needed military clothing items and for meals.

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The very first UNG Capt. Wilbanks Memorial Scholarship was to be awarded in 2020-21 academic year. However, due to COVID-19, the military awards ceremony was not held so Cadet Jacob Parrish of Monticello, a graduate of Jasper County High School, was chosen to receive this scholarship without the customary fanfare and recognition.

He is the son of Jon and Danna Parrish and comes from a family with a history of military service. His uncle is a Special Forces Sergeant Major (SGM) and his grandfather served 4 years in the Air Force.

Upon graduation, Parrish plans on commissioning active-duty infantry.

Cadet Shelby Carlock was awarded the second Wilbanks Memorial Scholarship for 2021-22 academic year. Because of COVID-19, the annual military awards ceremony was not open to the public but was available via livestream.

Carlock is the daughter of Greg and Lisa Carlock of Lafayette. She graduated from Trion High School where she played sports all four years and favorite subjects were AP Calculus and Physics. She also comes from a family with service in the military. Her sister and an uncle served in the Army as aviators. Her major is cybersecurity and her career goals are to commission into the Army and branch Aviation.

This permanent endowment at UNG was made possible through generous donors who shared the desire to remember and honor Wilbanks for his heroism and sacrifice during the Vietnam War. He was killed in action while serving as a Forward Air Controller and his above and beyond the call of duty actions resulted in the sacrifice of his own life on Feb. 24, 1967.

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His action saved numerous friendly lives. Our country’s highest military award for valor, the Medal of Honor, was posthumously presented to his wife at the Pentagon on Jan. 24, 1968.

The Wilbanks Foundation was founded in 2011 at the same time the Habersham County Board of Education elected to name the newest middle school in Wilbanks’ honor.

Ted Smith, who remembered knowing Hilliard from their high school days, recruited others in the community to stand with him in making this request of the school board and served as the first president of the foundation.

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The mission included “Perpetuating His Legacy of Courage, Sacrifice and Patriotism”, raising awareness of the Medal of Honor and raising funds for deserving JROTC students through scholarships in Georgia.

Through the blessing of the HBOE and generosity of donors, near and far, the dedication ceremony of Hilliard A. Wilbanks Middle School was held and a scholarship program was begun to reward young people who love our country and have a desire to give back by serving in our military.

Before the permanent endowment was set up at University of North Georgia, Wilbanks Foundation Scholarships were awarded to seven Habersham and White county JROTC cadets, from 2012 to 2018, under the direction of the foundation’s board of directors.

Many JROTC cadets from the northeast Georgia area choose to attend the University of North Georgia, which is known as The Military College of Georgia, so in deciding a home for a permanent endowment, UNG was chosen. Because Wilbanks grew up in Cornelia, students from Habersham and White counties are always given first priority to receive this scholarship.

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