Harold George Bennett

Staff Sergeant
Army of the United States
16 October 1940 - 01 July 1966
Perryville, Arkansas
Panel 01E Line 079



Purple Heart, Good Conduct, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Harold George Bennett

03 Apr 2008

B Company, 41st Infantry, 2nd Armored Division, Fort Hood, Texas

Sergeant Bennett was "All Army" and the Army was "All Bennett".

As a member of the "Bennett's Bastards" training platoon, and later as a fellow NCO, I had the privilege of serving with Sergeant Bennett. He moved to a Special Forces group in 1963 and revisted Fort Hood in the same year. His last words to me was his statement "I am now a part of the Real Army" (Special Forces).

A Life Magazine article in 1970 or 1971 related a story I believe revealed the details of Sergeant Bennett's death. The author of the story had visited Vietnam in search of his brother, brought down in a light observation plane by the enemy. The author was also captured and witnessed the execution of a prisoner I believe to have been Sergeant Bennett. His description of the prisoner's defiant attitude toward the Viet Cong was typical of Sergeant Bennett.

He was indeed a "Soldier's Soldier".

Art Jackson
Sergeant E5, US Army, 1961-1964

Arther (Art) Jackson
2410 W. Memorial Road, C-402, Oklahoma City, Ok 73134

A Note from The Virtual Wall

"Binh gia" means "happy house" in Vietnamese. It also is the name of a town some 65 kilometers east of Saigon in Phuoc Tuy Province. In late December 1964 there were no happy houses in Binh Gia ... the town was seized by the 9th VC Division on 28 Dec, setting off a major battle.

The 30th and 33rd ARVN Ranger Battalions were first to respond, airlifted into position by US helicopters from the 68th Aviation Company and other US units. On the second day of the fight the 4th RVN Marine Battalion arrived and was promptly ambushed by the 9th VC Division. It was an omen of things to come: of the 326 men on the Marine roster, 112 were killed, 71 were wounded, and 29 of the unit's 35 officers died in the fighting.

On 30 Dec a helo from the 68th Avn Co (UH-1B tail number 63-08654) was shot down, and on the 31st an element from the 4th RVN Marines attempted to get to the crash site. The VC were using the downed helo as bait and had established ambushes on the likely approaches, and again the RVN Marines were heavily engaged.

The VC began a withdrawal on the night of 31 December, but fighting in the area continued for several more days. The engagements on 28-31 Dec resulted in four deaths and three MIAs among the Americans involved; they were

  • 68th Aviation Company (UH-1B 63-08654):
    • WO Roy G. Azbill, Weaverville, CA (Silver Star)
    • WO Stephen E. Morgan, Saratoga, CA
    • SGT Franklin D. Porter, Cameron, WV
    • PFC Theodore A. Winowitch, Pittsburgh, PA (TDY from HHC 1/35 Infantry)

  • Advisors, 33rd ARVN Ranger Bn:
    • SSG Harold G. Bennett, Perryville, AR (captured 29 Dec 1964, executed 07/01/1966)
    • PVT Charles E. Crafts, North Jay, ME (captured 29 Dec 1964, released)

  • Advisor, 4th RVN Marine Bn:
On 24 June 1965 the Vietnamese National Liberation Front (NLF) announced on Radio Hanoi that SSG Bennett had been executed by gunshot in retaliation for Viet Cong terrorist Tran Van Dong's execution by South Vietnam.

On 07 Feb 1967 Private Crafts was released by the VC. He confirmed the execution of SSG Bennett.

Captain Cook had been wounded and captured when the 4th RVN Marines were ambushed on 31 Dec; nothing further was heard of him until eight years later when his name appeared on a VC/NVA list of prisoners who had died in captivity - reportedly from malaria on 08 Dec 1967. Even so, the Marines continued to carry him as MIA until a Presumptive Finding of Death was approved on 26 Feb 1980. During the period after the US POW release in early 1973 the testimony of men who had been held in POW camps with Captain Cook gave rise to a nomination for the Medal of Honor, which was approved and awarded to his widow at a White House ceremony on 16 May 1980.

One account of the fighting around Binh Gia says there were "Two US advisors KIA", and that may be so. Three US advisors were killed in action during the period 28 Dec 64 - 10 Jan 65; regretably neither their assignments nor the location or circumstances of their deaths are known. The three men were

  • 03 Jan 65, SFC George C. Bigley. SFC Bigley had been a Ranger in WW2, was captured in Italy, and was repatriated at the end of the war.
  • 09 Jan 65, CPT James F. Ray and 1LT William T. Reach. It is not known if these two men were killed in the same or different actions.

Mr. Jackson mentions a "Life Magazine article in 1970 or 1971". The person referred to is Mr. Donald C. Dawson, whose brother Captain David G. Dawson, 145th Avn Bn, US Army, went missing on 06 Nov 1964 when he and his ARVN observer disappeared while on a visual recon mission over Bien Hoa Province. Mr. Dawson arrived in South Vietnam on 03 Dec 1964 in order to seek information regarding his brother. On 01 May 1965, Mr. Dawson was taken into custody by the VC and held until 24 Aug 1965, when he was released. He departed South Vietnam on 30 Aug 1965.

The Library of Congress has made available on the Internet a large number of documents regarding POWs and MIAs. One of them is a COMUSMACV message dated 09 Sep 1965 which reports on Mr. Dawson's post-release debriefing; paragraphs 1 and 3 of that message follow:

Mr. Dawson notes that the three military POWs, including SSG Bennett, were moved "about 15 days" after Dawson arrived in the detention camp. Another POW, SFC Isaac Camacho, B Co, 5th SF Group, captured 24 Nov 1963 and escaped 13 Jul 1965, reported that the three men arrived in the camp where he was being held on or about 28 May 1965. As noted above Radio Hanoi announced SSG Bennett's execution on 24 June 1965. While Mr. Dawson could not and did not claim to have witnessed the execution, the Life Magazine article no doubt included mention of the POWs Mr. Dawson encountered - and the execution of one of those POWs. Life probably also mentioned PFC Crafts' release, but could not in 1971-72 have known what happened to Captain Cook.

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
a friend,
Arther (Art) Jackson
2410 W. Memorial Road, C-402, Oklahoma City, Ok 73134

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 03 Apr 2008
Last updated 04/14/2008