THAYER -- Seaman Recruit Bryan ( B.J.) Willbanks USN graduated from the Great Lakes Naval Training Station in August with high honors. Willbanks was selected to receive the United Service organization Shipmate Award. This award is presented to a graduating recruit for outstanding performance during training period.
Willbanks was selected as the Honor Recruit of his division. This selection is based on individual performance of duties in all phases of basic training including: leadership, initiative, military bearing, response to orders, sportsmanship, qualifications of a good shipman and high overall scholastic standing. For these honors Willbanks received plaques.
Willbanks also received the Lone Sailor Salute awarded to honor graduates in recognition of their outstanding achievements while assigned to Recruit Training Command.at Great Lakes. Seaman Willbanks was recognized as the Honor Recruit for his division during Recruit Graduation and Pass In Review Ceremony.
Three of Willbanks family members were present at the graduation and the cake reception after the ceremonies.
Willbanks is the son of Noval Willbanks of Thayer and Kathy Stirewalt of West Plains.
He graduated from Thayer High School with the class of 2000. He was attending college in Springfield and was also employed at St. Johns Regional Medical Center in Springfield and Ozark Medical Center in West Plains. He enlisted in the Navy in June 2003 at Springfield. Willbanks said he will continue his medical training while serving in the military.
Willbanks has two brothers Brian of Koshkonong and Brandon of West Plains, two sisters, Lisa Crase of West Plains and Amy Wigger of Rover and one niece Shelby Wigger. His grandparents are Bryan and Zelma Wilson and Juanita Willbanks of Koshkonong and the late Verble Willbanks.
His dad, mom, stepdad Robert Stirewalt and friend Jennie Wodinowich attended the graduation.