September 2, 2013
An Orange County soldier is being remembered after dying in Afghanistan two weeks ago.
A visitation was held at Johnson Funeral Home for Master Sargent George Bannar, Jr. on Monday.
Sgt. Bannar died in Wardak province on August 20 from wounds suffered in small arms fire when enemy forces attacked his unit.
He was a medical specialist attached to an airborne special forces unit.
Those who knew him say he was charismatic, outgoing and a little bit of a daredevil.
"He liked all the big toys, and all the craziness and big monster trucks," said friend Karen McMillan.
Patriot Guard Riders from all over the state -- and one from Florida -- rode their motorcycles to the visitation to greet Sgt. Bannar's friends, family and fellow service members with American flags.
"You just don't realize how many people that he's touched," said McMillan. "Every group in special forces has known him in one capacity or another. He was outstanding jump master, outstanding soldier, just an outstanding person."
McMillan's husband, Skip, who is also a soldier, was Sgt. Bannar's best friend. Sgt. Bannar even introduced the two.
Years later, they would name their one of their twins after him.
"George was the first baby born so he got George's name," said McMillan. "He and little George always had a strong connection. He went into 'uncle' mode right away. It doesn't replace George for anyone, but his name lives on for us."
The two friends served together for nearly two decades, but were never in Afghanistan at the same time -- until last month. They were in the same province when Sgt. Bannar was killed.
The two families had an agreement.
"I knew if anything happened to my husband, it'd be George at my door, just like [Sgt. Bannar's wife] Michelle knew if anything happened to George, it would be Skip at her door," said McMillan.
Skip never left his best friend's side until they got back home to central Virginia.
As the Orange County community continues to grieve, family and friends are preparing for Sgt. Bannar to be laid to rest. His funeral is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Tuesday at Locust Grove Middle School.