Last Known Activity
Charles Calvert Benedict was born December 15, 1921 in Los Angeles, California. He was the son of Major Charles Benedict, the US Air Attache at the US Embassy in London. The major died in an aircraft accident in 1925 at Langley Field, Virginia.
Charles was only 9 weeks old when he was with his father in London. The family returned to the U.S. when he was 8 months old. After that tour, the Major was stationed in Washington, D.C. where Charles grew up. After 2 years of high school, Charles went to Belgium and Spain to study the languages. He soon spoke fluent French and Spanish.
He returned to the U.S. for his last 2 years of high school. He took the test for entry to West Point, passed, and was accepted as a cadet in 1939. He played football, baseball, and ice hockey as well as excelled in academics.
In June 1942 the class was asked to submit choice of service. Charles requested the Army Air Forces. He received basic, primary, and advanced pilot training, then returned to West Point where he graduated with the Class of '43 and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant.
His next assignment was to Hobbs, New Mexico where he received transitional training in the B-17. Then on to Pyote, Texas, where he was assigned a crew and trained with them. He was promoted to 1st Lieutenant in May 1943.
After crew training, the crew moved to Dalhart, Texas for the final stages of combat training. From there, it was on to Dyersburg, Tennessee to act as a model crew and check other personnel.
In October 1943, he and his crew were assigned to the 794th Bomb Squadron of the 468th Bomb Group, the first B-29 unit to go overseas. He was first stationed at Karagphur, India, but later moved to a forward base at Pengshan, China. The crew began regular bombing missions over China and Manchuria, assigned to an aircraft they christened "Old Campaigner," later replaced by "Old Campaigner II."
On December 21, 1944, Benedict and his crew were scheduled for a mission over Mukden, Manchuria to attack aircraft industries and arsenals at Shenyang. During the mission, a Japanese fighter plane, making a head-on attack, rammed the B-29 just inboard of #1 engine. The wings came off, and the bomb load exploded. Only one crew member was able to bail out. He landed near the Hunhe River and was captured by Japanese troops. He remained a POW until May 1945.
An observer in another aircraft stated he believed the Japanese pilot was dead when he rammed the B-29 as it appeared his aircraft had been severely damaged by guns on Benedict's B-29 prior to impact.
According to cemetery records, all of the crew that perished were buried in Arlington National Cemetery. There is a gravestone containing all the names at Section 39, Site 4847.
The aircraft Captain Benedict was flying was B-29 # 42-24715, nicknamed "Old Campaigner II." of the 794th Bomb Squadron, 468th Bomb Group.
The Japanese aircraft that rammed the B-29 was supposed to have been a "Zeke" type fighter, flown by 2nd Lieutenant Tahei Matsumoto, flying for the Manchurian Air Force.
According to crew loading lists, the crew was composed of:
Capt Charles C. Benedict p
1 Lt Robert C. Baer c-p
1 Lt Tom C. Evans nav
1 Lt Warren D. Dailey bomb
1 Lt Arthur R. Mahoney eng
1 Lt Jack L. Roberts radar op
SSgt Elbert L. Edwards radio op
SSgt Charles A. Versafsky central fire control
SSgt Elmer Jelgerhuis rg
SSgt Stanley J. Berger lg
SSgt Carl J. Drummond tail gun
SSgt Edwards was the lone survivor. He blacked out after bailing out and believed the rest of the crew was saved. He did not know of the crew's fate until he was liberated from the POW camp.
Missing Air Crew Report 10592 is applicable.
Service photo source: