Peter Morgan Bentson

Army of the United States
22 December 1940 - 09 July 1972
Quaker Hill, CT
Panel 01W Line 055

United States Army

Peter M Bentson
West Point 1963
Photo courtesy BGen Ramon Ong

Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Peter Morgan Bentson

7 Jul 2001

It is with deep gratitude we are remembering you and all the others who served and died in times of war so that we may enjoy the Freedom and Liberties that make the United States of America great.

From his West Point Classmate, USMA 1963,
Clark T. Ballard, Jr., M.D., Colonel, U S Army (Ret)
66 Leschi Drive, Steilacoom, WA 98388-1514

11 May 2002

A final salute to a fine American
and my West Point Classmate.
From a Vietnam veteran,

Ramon M. Ong
Brigadier General (Ret)
Armed Forces of the Philippines
USMA Class of 1963  


A Note from The Virtual Wall

As American forces were withdrawn from South Vietnam the command structure necessarily changed. On 20 April 1971 the 3rd [Military] Regional Assistance Command (TRAC) was formed from the assets of the II Field Force headquarters at Long Binh. TRAC was responsible for overseeing U. S. Military Advisors throughout the 3rd Military Region.

The battle for An Loc, capital of Binh Long Province, was one of the most important battles of the Vietnam War. It began during the 1972 North Vietnamese Spring Offensive, after most U.S. combat troops had departed South Vietnam, and extended over two months. The battle resulted in the virtual destruction of three North Vietnamese divisions and blocked a Communist attack on Saigon. The sustained intensity of combat during this battle had not been previously seen in the Vietnam War.

Lieutenant Colonel James H. Willbanks, US Army (Ret), participated in the Battle of An Loc as an advisor to the 43d ARVN Regiment. He later wrote a study of the battle for the Army Command and General Staff College. LTC Willbanks recalls Major Benson's death as follows:

"On 9 July, Brigadier General Richard Tallman, General McGiffert's successor as General Hollingsworth's deputy (who had been promoted to his rank only eight days earlier), landed in the city with several of his key staff officers to observe the progress of ARVN operations and coordinate the reinforcement effort. They were met by two advisers from the 18th ARVN Division, Major Joe Hallum of the 48th Regiment Advisory Team and the author [then-Captain Willbanks], who had joined the 43d [ARVN] Regiment after TF 52 was evacuated from the city earlier. As the helicopter departed, the general's party was struck by enemy artillery fire. Three American officers accompanying Tallman - Lieutenant Colonel Stanley Kuick, Major Richard Benson, and First Lieutenant Richard Todd - and Sergeant Son, an ARVN interpreter, were killed instantly. General Tallman, Major Hallum, and Captain Willbanks were wounded by the incoming fire. They were immediately evacuated by U.S. medevac helicopter to 3d Field Hospital in Saigon, where the general, mortally wounded, died on the operating table. The other two officers later recovered from their wounds."
The four Americans who died in this incident have been remembered on The Virtual Wall: Oddly, the casualty records for these four officers are coded as "death by misadventure", the term used for death by friendly fire. Given LTC Willbanks' description of the event and the fact that An Loc was under extremely heavy bombardment by North Vietnamese and Viet Cong artillery throughout the two-month period, it seems unlikely in the extreme that friendly artillery would be so far off target as to hit the helipad.

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
a West Point Classmate, USMA 1963,
Clark T. Ballard, Jr, M D, Col U S Army Ret
66 Leschi Drive, Steilacoom, WA 98388-1514 
7 Jul 2001

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Channing Prothro, former CAP Marine
Last updated 04/10/2004