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Orange school will host memorial for soldier

A memorial service for an Army soldier from Orange County who was killed in Afghanistan will be held next week in the future Locust Grove Elementary School.

Master Sgt. George A. Bannar Jr., 37, died Aug. 20 after being wounded in an attack on his unit in the Wardak Province. A service honoring him is scheduled at 11 a.m. Tuesday in the school gymnasium. It is open to the public.

Previously a middle school, the building has been shuttered since completion of the new middle school on Flat Run Road. Plans call for it to reopen as an elementary school in the 2015 school year.

When the decision was made to use it as the site for the memorial service to honor the 1993 Orange County High School graduate, a volunteer task force rushed to ready the school. Custodial staff members from throughout the county school system teamed with some 50 county Junior ROTC cadets to complete the major housecleaning needed.

Custodian Bryan Manson, who has been responsible for the shuttered building for several years, said taking part in the effort was an honor.

“Whatever I do, and what all these people are doing, couldn’t touch the tip of the iceberg of what that man did for us,” Manson said. “This place has been flooded with people who want to do this for him.”

Bannar was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group, in Fort Bragg, N.C. He had been deployed to Afghanistan four previous times as a member of the 3rd Special Forces Group’s 1st Battalion.

An obituary in Friday’s Free Lance–Star remembered Bannar as “big-hearted, family-oriented and rarely without his signature smile.”

Survivors include his wife, Michelle; his parents, George Bannar Sr. of Orange and Sheila Y. Long of Spotsylvania; a grandfather, grandmother and stepsister.

His stepmother, Barbara Bannar, a former Orange County Chamber of Commerce executive director, died in July after a long battle with cancer, according to an obituary in The Free Lance–Star.

Bannar is among at least 30 service members from the Fredericksburg area to die in Iraq or Afghanistan since the war on terror began.

Dan McFarland:


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