WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A Luzerne County veteran was honored in a special way Wednesday surrounded by family and friends. The heartwarming celebration marks his first public outing since the beginning of the pandemic.

It was all about honoring hometown hero Henry Banaszek, lovingly known as “Hank.”

Wilkes-Barre City officials joined in on the celebration, making it one to remember.

Hank got to see his very own hometown hero banner in downtown Wilkes-Barre.

The 90-year-old grew up in the Miners Mills section of Wilkes-Barre and is a decorated U.S. Marine Corps veteran.

Hank’s daughter, Brenda Banaszek, coordinated the outing with the Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center in Plains Township.

She was overwhelmed with emotions seeing it all come together, including a massive flag hung by the Wilkes-barre City Fire Department.

“He is such an honorable man, and I’m so proud of him every day, and I remind him every day, I thank him for my blue eyes because I have his eyes,” said Brenda.

After retiring from the military, Hank was a teacher for 23 years in the Wilkes-Barre Area School District.

The gathering was a chance for dozens of family members, friends, and former students to see him in person for the first time in a while.

“He never looked for glory, or whatever, okay you had to know him when he was in the Marine Corps, and with the Wilkes-Barre Area School District, he was solid as a rock,” said Jack Babuscak, Hank’s Nephew.

And to top it all off, Mayor George Brown presented Hank with a special proclamation for his bravery and selflessness.

“He was always helping somebody, and he’s just wonderful. He still is just my hero,” said Brenda.

Brenda is advocating for a change in COVID visitation policies at the VA Medical Center.

She wants to see the restrictions loosened so other families can make special memories like this with their loved ones.