John Frederick Bense, Jr

Army of the United States
07 May 1945 - 17 April 1967
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Panel 18E Line 040


Silver Star

Combat Infantry

Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for John Frederick Bense, Jr

24 Dec 2002

J F Bense

The photo and following article is taken from The Philadelphia Daily News, special supplement entitled 'SIX HUNDRED AND THIRTY,' October 26, 1987. The special supplement was issued in conjunction with the dedication of the Philadelphia Viet Nam Memorial.

"Jack" Bense was a true sportsman. Coaches remember him as a gifted athlete who played hard but fair, and might have made it in professional football. He won the outstanding class athlete award when he graduated from Father Judge High School in 1963. At 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, he was an all-Catholic tackle and received an all-state football team honorable mention. Bense attended the University of Tulsa briefly on a football scholarship and worked construction before being drafted into the Army in November 1965. The sergeant was sent to Viet Nam in July 1966, where he was assigned to Company C of the 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry, 4th Infantry Division. The 21-year-old team leader was killed on April 17, 1967, after throwing a body block on his platoon leader to save him from a live grenade. Father Judge [High School] gives the SGT John F. Bense Award each year to an outstanding graduating athlete. Bense's greatest dream, his parents said, "was to return home and resume a normal life with his family in the neighborhood he loved." In addition to his parents, he was survived by a brother and two sisters.

From a native Philadelphian and Marine,
Jim McIlhenney

Great wall visits Father Judge High School
By Tom Waring
Times Staff Writer

Jack Bense was an All-Catholic tackle at Father Judge High School who earned a football scholarship to the University of Tulsa.

His time on the gridiron was cut short when he was drafted into the U.S. Army at the height of the Vietnam War.

Bense never made it back to Tulsa or his Mayfair home. He was killed in action on April 17, 1967.

"It hit me pretty hard," said his father, John.

Jack Bense (Class of 1963) won the Purple Heart and Silver Star during his time in the war. He was one of 27 Father Judge graduates who died in the Vietnam War. That's the most of any private or parochial school in the country.

Joe Woods (Judge Class of 1965) served in Vietnam and one day struck up a conversation with some GIs from another troop. When Woods mentioned that he was from Philadelphia, the soldiers told him that they had just lost a Philadelphian -- Bense.

"They said he was one of our good guys," Woods recalled.

Philadelphia was hit particularly hard in the war, losing 645 people. Thomas A. Edison High School lost 64 graduates, the most of any public school in the nation.

A total of 58,219 American men and women died in the war. To remember their sacrifice, Father Judge Alumni Association president Mike Dufner successfully lobbied to bring the Moving Wall to the school.

© Northeast Times 2001

The Father Judge High School alumni who died in Vietnam are
Raymond J. Ahern   Leonard J. Albany
John F. Bense   William J. Brown
William Carpenter   Fergus Carroll
Patrick M. Corcoran   Michael A. Giannini
Joseph Gradel   Clement J. Grassi
Donald Hertrich   Ronald Iller
Francis X. Kane   Michael M. Kilderry
Thomas Killion   Bernard F. Kissell
Michael R. Koper   John Lyons
Stephen P. Miller   Philip O'Connell
John M. O'Farrell   Joseph Pellegrino
William Schussler   James E. Snock
George Townsend   Michael Vitale
Edward Zackowski

5 May 2004

Thank you for freedom.
Thank you for being you.
Thank you.

From a student at Frankford High School,
Lance Dargan
1030 Wagner Ave, Philadelphia, Pa. 19141

A Note from The Virtual Wall

C Company, 2/8th Infantry, lost seven men on 17 April 1967:
  • SGT John F. Bense, Philadelphia, PA
  • SGT Earl L. Derby, Pequot Lakes, MN
  • SP4 Richard H. Bridges, Easley, SC
  • PFC Francisco Garza, Corpus Christi, TX
  • PFC Julio Masso-perez, Guayama, PR
  • PFC David A. Richardson, Long Beach, CA
  • PFC Emory L. Taylor, Huntington, WV

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
a native Philadelphian and Viet Nam veteran,
Jim McIlhenney 
24 Dec 2002

Top of Page

Virtual Wall icon

Back to
To alpha index B
PA State Index . Panel 18E

With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Channing Prothro, former CAP Marine
Last updated 05/06/2004