Ninety-two-year-old World War II veteran Howard Banks is proud of his country and proud of his service. The former Marine fought at Iwo Jima, where he lost his vision from a flare that had been set off.

As many Americans do, Howard flies an American flag and a U.S. Marine Corps flag outside of his home in Kaufman, Texas.

While you would think his neighbors would be proud to live so close to an American hero and be supportive of his freedoms, sadly, not all of them are.

Last year, Howard’s Marine Corps flag was taken down, shredded, and left in a ditch. A short time later, his American flag met the same fate.

But Howard refused to be deterred. He put new flags up and waited.

It didn’t take long before the vandals came back. When Howard heard someone messing with his flagpole, he got up and went outside to try and scare them away.

Howard thought his presence would frighten the vandals and they would leave. He never expected what they did next.

“I walked out, hanging onto the railing, and stepped down. That must’ve startled them,” the elderly veteran recalled. “They could see me. I couldn’t see them. I turned and looked in the other direction, and about then — ‘wham!’ They knocked me down.”

As the thugs ran away, some neighbors rushed to Howard’s aid. The veteran suffered a twisted knee and several abrasions on his body, but thankfully he was otherwise okay.

News of the assault quickly spread and, a short time later, Howard got a knock on his door. When he answered it, he discovered several Marines waiting there to meet him and thank him for his service and his courage.

“This guy’s living history. He’s a national treasure,” one of the visiting Marines said.

“People should be lined up on his porch to talk to him, not ripping his flags down.”

If the thugs try to come back, these guys will have Howard’s back.

Despite all he’s been through, Howard refuses to let these vandals get the best of him.

“I can take it,” he said.

“Once a Marine, always a Marine. I try to live that way.”

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