Leonard F. Banowetz
First Lieutenant, United States Army
War hero's wish comes true today
Leonard "Yank" Banowetz is getting his wish. Today, Banowetz's cremated remains will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. The historic 200-acre site outside Washington, D.C., is the country's premier military cemetery.
Banowetz, a longtime Fort Collins resident, died here January 30, 2003, at age 81. He was eligible for burial at Arlington because of his Army service in World War II.
He was a tank commander with the 3rd Armored Division in Europe. Banowetz served in five major campaigns during the war and was wounded three times. His military honors include the Purple Heart, the Silver Star, the Bronze Star and the British Military Cross.
The ceremony at Arlington was delayed to take advantage of the pleasant fall weather in the Washington area, said Carolyn Banowetz, who was married to Yank Banowetz for 54 years.
"Yank always said he wanted to be buried at Arlington," she said. "I tried to talk him out of it a few times, but it's what he really wanted."
Banowetz always was proud of his military service, she said, and felt a strong attachment to Arlington. It's the final resting place for military men and women from every armed conflict the country has ever seen -- from the revolution to Iraq -- as well as presidents, explorers and many historical figures.
The cemetery has about 20 funerals a day. It contains the remains of about 280,000 people, said Arlington spokeswoman Barbara Owens.
Carolyn Banowetz said family members from across the country will travel to Washington for today's 11 a.m. funeral.
The burial ceremony will include a Catholic military service at the grave site, an escort from the 3rd U.S. Infantry, a U.S. Army band, a bugler and a firing team of seven riflemen. The firing team will shoot three volleys.
Carolyn Banowetz said the ceremony will be videotaped.
"I wanted something for the grandchildren to see," she said.
Yank Banowetz was well-known in the Fort Collins community. He and his family moved to Fort Collins in 1966. He was an attorney and taught business law in the honors program at Colorado State University for 15 years free of charge.
He also was active with the Boy Scouts and the Rotary Club. He played Santa Claus at holiday parties at Foothills Gateway.
Arrangements for the services at Arlington were made locally by Goes Funeral Care. Owner Chris Goes said the cemetery has clear protocols on who may be buried there.
Goes receives a request from the family of a military veteran to help arrange services at Arlington every year or two. Funerals at the cemetery are always performed impeccably, he said.
"The ceremony for the family will be something that only Arlington can put together," he said.
Yank Banowetz will be buried in Section 70 of the cemetery, overlooking Washington, D.C., and the Pentagon, Owens said. His grave will be near the graves of members of the military who were killed in the September 11, 2001, attack on the Pentagon, Owens said.
Carolyn Banowetz said it will be hard to have her husband buried so far from home, but she does not regret following his wishes.
"This is something I want to do," she said.
"This is something I have to do."
Photo courtesy of Russell C. Jacobs, August 2006
BANOWETZ, LEONARD F