Bennie Lee Dexter

Technical Sergeant
United States Air Force
18 July 1944 - 10 May 1976
Bend, Oregon
Panel 07E Line 042


POW Medal

Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Bennie Lee Dexter

30 Aug 2002

I was a baby during the part of the war he was taken prisoner - that was in May 1966 - His mother was notified on Mother's Day that he may have been AWOL (which turned out to be wrong). I have never met him, but feel like somehow we are friends, I watch over him, or at least his memory. I imagine him sometimes. Not very tall, glasses, too young to have been over there. I don't really recall how long I have worn this aluminum band, but I feel like I have never been without it and even now when they have changed his status to presumed dead, you could not peel this band off my arm. I am sure he knows, if he is in heaven, that I met his niece not so long ago and we both cried - she could not believe I wore his name everywhere I went. The same one she wore as well. I could not believe we found each other. She misses her Uncle Bennie, she wanted me to say. I had always wondered about his life, was he tall, is he tall, was he funny, is he funny, was he a good person, is he a good person? How could I give up believing he might be alive, what if he is? What if he is not? I guess the reason I talk about him, the reason I write this memorial - is a debt of honor to the friend I have never met, Bennie Lee Dexter - who lied about his age to go to war - with honorable intentions. Who smiles from a worn and dog-eared photo my new friend shares with me - he's the man holding the baby - and the baby is my new friend. Of course he was/is a good man.

When we found his name on the Moving Wall, we left a picture Anna drew and a small poem that read

When everything was said and done,
with so much lost,
so little won,
I sat down and I cried for you,
there was nothing else that I could do.

Joni Bour
General Delivery Florence, Or 97439

09 Sep 2002

My name is Curtis D. Martin, and I too had a POW/MIA bracelet with his name on it, it has been lost for at least a year now due to negligence on my part. I purchased the bracelet on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., it was either 1995 or 1996; I chose him because I was born in Oregon as well, and served in the USAF. May his name, life, and sacrifice not ever be forgotten, God bless.

Curtis D. Martin
1024 N. Central Ave Apt E20, Kent, OR 98032

12 Sep 2002

Let me tell you about my Uncle Bennie. He was a good student. He was a good brother. My mother tells me stories of how he protected her in school. All the guys at school were afraid to date her, because of her brother Bennie. He was a good American. He enlisted to go to Vietnam. He felt in his heart that he needed to go. May 9, 1966 my Uncle Bennie was take prisoner by 5 Viet Cong soldiers. He never came home.

I was born July 20, 1964. Uncle Bennie came home the Christmas I was 1 year old. I have a picture of a handsome young man holding a chunky little baby girl. That was our one and only meeting. Every year we lit candles for Uncle Bennie on my birthday. Every year I waited for him to come home and celebrate with me. That day never came.

When the war was over, they televised soldiers coming home. I was glued to the TV. I must of asked my mother a zillion times, " Is that him? Is that him?" She would always reply, NO. Days turned to weeks. Weeks turned to months. Months turned to years.

My Uncle Bennie would have been 58 this year. I lay awake at night some times and wonder, could he still be alive?? If he is alive, what would he be doing? Would he still speak English? Would he remember his family? Would he remember me?

Christmas of last year I read an article about Operation Pieces of Hope. A woman and her kids were making care packages to send overseas. I had done this as a young girl with my Nana. Operation Sweet Tooth sent hundreds of care packages to our men in Vietnam. I knew I had to call. I needed to know if this woman knew any soldiers that had recieved our Sweet Tooth boxes. Turns out this woman has been wearing my Uncle Bennie's bracelet for years. Now, is that a GOD thing, or what???

In closing, I want to wish a heart-felt thanks to all the men and women who gave their lives in war. I enjoy my freedom every day because of them. I want to thank the men and women who wore and are wearing Uncle Bennie's bracelet. Thank you for remembering a brave soldier and a true American. Finally, I want to thank my Uncle Bennie for making the ultimate sacrifice that one can make for his/her country. God Bless you, Uncle Bennie. If you are gone, I know you sleep with the Angels. Please take care of my Ashlee.

Love, Tammy

From his niece,
Tammy Coleman

15 Sep 2002

My uncle, Bennie Lee Dexter was taken in the Vietnam War before I was born but I grew up knowing his name. My mother and grandmother made sure me and my two sisters knew who our uncle was and why he went to war. My mother and grandmother battled on a daily basis for many many years to find out more information regarding my uncle and to bring his remains home. I remember reading letters to my grandmother from the "Presidents" over the years with new updates and developments regarding the MIA/POWS, but there was never information on my uncle Bennie.

After 10 years my uncle was presumed dead. But in the back of all our minds we wondered if he was really gone, or if he was over there trying to live a life. I too was told stories of how my uncle was an over achiever in school, and wonderful brother who protected his little sister, and a good friend to everyone who knew him.

I wish I could have known my uncle. Out of 3 uncles I have only one left and he is wonderful. All three of us girls cherish our relationship.

War is a hideous thing, and of course I pray for peace. But in the real world I know "WAR" is very necessary especially when our freedom is at stake or becomes threatened. I am very thankful to "my uncle" and to every man and woman who served and is still serving to protect our country so that we can have our freedom. Thank you, we love you, and God bless you all......


18 Jan 2007

I just wanted to tell my Uncle Bennie that I am thinking about him. I received an email today from a student at Westlake High School in Austin, Texas who is currently doing a research project on Vietnam War veterans for her English class and my Uncle Bennie was assigned to her. It is really awesome that in 2007 I am getting an email regarding my Uncle Bennie and that he is still remembered and honored once again.

I cannot tell you how grateful I am to our troops and I pray that when it is time all will return home safely!

Thank you, Marnee

Niece of Bennie Lee Dexter
09 Nov 2003

For some reason today I thought of Bennie Dexter. I was doing laundry and his name just popped into my head. I wondered what his status was, and it occured to me that the internet might have the answers. So here I am, checking this website.

I wore his POW bracelet from 1970 to 1975 or so. That was during my college years, and though I opposed the war, I wanted to do something to show my support, not only for those missing in action, but also for their families and friends. I still have the letter that Bennie's mother wrote to those of us who wore his POW bracelet. My greetings to his family.

Lora Harding Dundek
E-Mail will be forwarded by the

Veterans' Day 2003

As you have read here, my brother was wonderful. The epitomy of a big brother! Always protecting his little sister. He was also a very 'proud' uncle. Although Tammy was too little to know, she was the apple of his eye; she only missed being born on his birthday by two (2) days. (Bennie's birthday is July 18, 1944, not July 18, 1947). He never got to meet his other two (2) nieces, but I'm sure that he knows that they exist and would have loved them much.

My brother and I were very close, attending school together and sharing a lot of the same friends. It was very hard on all of our classmates when Bennie never came home from Vietnam. Through the years you learn to live with the 'unknown' but never accept it. The effects of Vietnam have taken a great toll on my family. Have I ever given up? NO! I know that some day the answers will come. I will never give up, as long as I have breath in me. I will always hold on for the accounting of my Brother. Is it realistic that he could still be alive, after this many years, probably not. But I will still hold on to the hope that one day there will be an accounting for all of those that were 'left behind', including Bennie.

On this Veteran's Day, I salute all who have given their lives, limbs, and years of service for our freedoms. Let their sacrifice not be in vain. Support all of our service men! We are a mighty nation; let us not forget that this country was founded as 'One nation under God'! Pray for our troops; our government; our President!

Your sister, Dollie
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I wore Bennie Dexter's bracelet for a while as a kid, during the early 1970's. I lost it many years ago, which I have regretted for a long time, but I have never forgotten his name. To teach my daughter the meaning of Memorial Day, I searched the Internet for "Bennie Dexter" and found some wonderful tributes to him. It was a poignant way to personalize the meaning of this important holiday. Bless Benny. Bless his family.

Tom Kowitz

26 Sep 2004

I wore a Bennie Dexter bracelet in high school, probably 1973-1975. I have two sons and my 17-year-old is considering the Naval Academy. This along with the current war in Iraq brings me back to the scared feelings I had during the Vietnam War. I remember the nightly news seeing the body bags lined up on the runways, the fighting in the jungle and the wounded coming home. I remember being afraid my two older brothers would have to go, both were medically denied later. My sisters wrote letters to our friend, Victor, and another friend Tommy brought back a Vietnamese doll for me. All these years, I have remembered his name and tonight decided to look it up on the Internet. I do not believe in war, its destruction, physically and emotionally, are against the good we can do to connect with each other. I don't have the answers to the world's problems but I pray for peace and for Bennie Dexter.

E-Mail will be forwarded by the

6 Nov 2004

I wore a bracelet for Mr. Dexter while I was in high school. I have often thought of him and have kept him in my prayers over the years. I never thought to look on the internet to find information on him, but I did tonight.

He became more alive for me after reading all of the thoughtful words of his family and others who wore his bracelet. I know that since we all have kept his memory in our hearts, that we have also kept him alive in spirit.

He will always be in my prayers.

Debbie N.

05 Jan 2006

I too wore a Bennie Dexter POW bracelet in the 70's. I was about 23 years old and in my second year of teaching in Rochester, New York. One of my students brought me the bracelet. I prayed for Bennie and his family for several years. I have always wondered about them and what he was like. It is good to hear some information about him after all these years.

I now have grown sons, and I can only imagine the grief his mother felt sending him to war and then losing him. The war and its losses were very real to all of us who grew up in the 50's and 60's.

The bracelet is still in my home in Minnesota as a reminder of a life sacrificed and cut too short.

Bless you, family of Bennie. He is not forgotten!

Jolene Mau

13 Jan 2006

My name is Misty Bartleson. I have been wearing a bracelet for Bennie for 13 years now. I got it while I was serving in the Air Force and have worn it every day since. Bennie has become almost like a guardian angel to me. Wearing the bracelet feels as if he is with me. He has seen the birth of 3 of my children. He has helped me through a very tough divorce and has shared in the joy of my new marriage. Through all of the good times and the not so good times over the past 13 years Bennie has been there and will continue to be there for all the years to come. I have visited his name at the Vietnam Wall in Washington D.C. and brought home a rubbing of his name. Through the years people have asked me about my bracelet and I am quick to tell them all that I know about Bennie. I too will ensure that as long as I am alive Bennie will never be forgotten. God Bless you, Bennie, and your family. Thank you for all you have given to me.

Misty Bartleson

04 Jun 2007

I too am privileged and honored to wear the POW MIA bracelet with the name of TSGT Bennie L. Dexter on it. This is my second bracelet. My first one I received back about 1970. The individual on that bracelet was returned on the freedom flight at the end of the war. I removed it and put it away. In 1992 I was at a conference in DC and a friend and I went to the Wall. We were both in the Air Force Reserve and in uniform. It was an emotional experience as always. Before leaving the site I selected a new POW bracelet. I wanted an Air Force member and found TSGT Dexter's name. I have been wearing it ever since. It is worn and the name is fading, but every time I look at it I remember. If only for a short moment, I remember every day.

I retired from the Air Force Reserve after 33 years. I was lucky since when I enlisted into the Air Force in May 1973 the war ended a few months later and I was not sent to Viet Nam. Most of those who went were not the same when they returned. I thank men and women like Bennie Dexter for their service and sacrifice and pray that they stand as a reminder that some of us stand up for our country at all cost. God Bless TSGT Dexter and all who serve.

SMS Tom O'Boyle (Ret.)

Notes from The Virtual Wall

On 10 May 1966, A2C Bennie Lee Dexter was captured by communist forces while driving a jeep south on National Route 14 near the Darlac/Quang Duc Province border, South Vietnam. His jeep was found at that location and there was a Vietnamese witness to his capture. Subsequent intelligence reports confirmed Dexter's capture and named the location at which he was being held. Dexter was placed in Prisoner of War status. When American military involvement ended in Southeast Asia, Bennie Dexter was not released from prison, nor did his name appear on any lists provided by the Vietnamese.

On 10 May 1976, a decade after his capture, the Secretary of the Air Force approved a Presumptive Finding of Death for Bennie Lee Dexter. His remains have not been repatriated.

From the
POW Network

Airman 2nd Class Dexter was assigned to the 633rd Combat Support Group at Pleiku. In 1968, the 633rd CSG was redesignated as the 633rd Special Operations Wing, and it is the 633rd SOW patch which is displayed at the top of this page.

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
his sister,
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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 30 Aug 2002
Last updated 12/17/2007