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CMSgt Don Skinner-Deceased
Bennett, Joseph Houston ("Joe" ), Maj.
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Home Town Marlow, OK
Last Address Clinton, Texas
Date of Passing Aug 15, 2000
Location of Interment Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery - Dallas, Texas
Wall/Plot Coordinates Section 10 Site 299
Last Known Activity
Joseph H. Bennett was born in Marlow, Oklahoma on November 25, 1918. After graduating from high school, he attended Abilene Christian College in Abilene, Texas and Eastern New Mexico University in Portales, New Mexico.
He enlisted in the Aviation Cadet program on April 25, 1941, and graduated on December 13, 1941, one week after Pearl Harbor. Awarded a commission as 2nd Lieutenant, and with pilot wings, he was assigned to the 54th Fighter Group for combat training in the P-39. In March 1943, he was transferred to the 360th Fighter Squadron of the 356th Fighter Group and underwent combat training in the P-47 at Mitchell Field, New York and Grenier Field, Connecticut.
In August 1943, he deployed to Coxhill Field in England, and was promoted to Captain. On November 29, he scored a "probable kill" on an enemy fighter, and this was his last mission with the 356th Fighter Group. He was assigned to the 61st Fighter Squadron of the 56th Fighter Group, where he transitioned into the P-51 aircraft. On December 23, he received his first confirmed aerial victory. In April 1944, his aircraft was involved in a mid-air collision over the Dutch coast, but Bennett was rescued from the English Channel.
The next month, he was awarded 4 more aerial victories, but almost met his end in a dogfight. While engaging a flight of German fighters, Bennett was jumped from the rear by a BF-109. As the German pilot pulled into firing position, his guns jammed. Intent on destroying the American aircraft, the pilot deliberately rammed the nose of his aircraft into the tail structure of the P-51. The tail assembly disintegrated, and Bennett managed to bail out of the spinning wreckage, while the German managed to make a succesful belly-landing. Bennett was captured and imprisoned in Stalag Luft VII near Moosburg, Germany. Here he was visited by the German flier who rammed him, Oberfahnrich Hubert Heckmann. After the war, they became friends and visited each other annually.
Liberated in April 1945, Bennett remained in Germany on Occupation duty until January 1846, when he returned to the U.S. and was honorably discharged. He moved to West Texas and became a farmer. Later, he worked with the Army Corps of Engineers until his retirement in 1980.
Major Joseph H. Bennett passed away on August 18, 2000. He is buried in the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery in Dallas, Texas.
USAAC/USAAF Aircraft Inventory records
Major Joseph h. Bennett had an interesting relationship with aircraft. His first assigned aircraft with the 61st Fighter Squadron was P-47D #42-8396, nicknamed "Lucky." This aircraft was later assigned to another pilot and was severely damaged in a landing accident on February 2, 1945 while being flown by Flight Officer William H. Carrington.
Bennett's next aircraft was P-47D #751XX*, nicknamed "Ann II." He was then assigned to P-47D#42-75269, no name or artwork. After his transfer to the 336th Fighter Squadron, he was assigned P-51B#42-106686, nicknamed "Ann III." This was the aircraft lost in the mid-air incident off the Dutch coast. Later, he was given P-51B#43-6572, nicknamed "Paul," after his son. This aircraft was assigned to him the day before he flew the mission in which he was rammed and became a POW. Missing Air Crew Report # 5720 applies.
*Note: USAAC/USAAF records indicate only the first three numbers in the serial number of "Ann II."
Maj. Howard D "Deacon" Hively, Athens OH. 334th Fighter Squadron. P-47C 41-6576 QP-J "The Deacon". The Deacon is seen here with Duke, the German Sheppard normally seen hanging around with Kid Hofer. The P-47 in shot appears to be a later model currently unknown as assigned to Maj. Hively or has possibly had its cowling gills modified.
August 22, 1942 - The 4th Fighter Group is constituted by the U.S. Army Air Force. It encompasses the three RAF Eagle Squadrons made of American pilots. No. 71 Eagle Squadron becomes the 334th Fighter Squadron, No. 121 Eagle Squadron becomes the 335th Fighter Squadron and No. 133 Eagle Squadron becomes the 336th Fighter Squadron. Operational command will remain with the British until the end of the year and Wing Commander Raymond Miles B. Duke-Woolley would serve as Group (Wing) Commanding Officer.
CASUALTY NUMBER 1
September 21, 1942 - The 4th has its first casualty. While flying a shipping reconaissance mission from Flushing to Haamstede, Netherlands, John T. Slater was killed while crossing Overflakkee.
September 26, 1942 - In the only 4th mission in which these aircraft were used, twelve Spitfire IX's of the 336th took off to support B-17s bombing Morlaix, France, then sweep the area. In a combination of navigational error, weather, German fighters, and low fuel, 11 of the Spits were forced down on the Brest Peninsula. Four pilots were killed, six taken prisoner and one, Robert E. Smith, managed to evade back to England. One of the POWs, Edward G. Brettell, was later executed by the Germans for his part in the Great Escape of 76 POWs from Stalag Luft III. He had served as the escape map maker. There was also 1 abort that day: Don Gentile had engine trouble and returned to base.
Constituted as 4th Fighter Group on 22 Aug 1942. Activated in England on 12 Sep 1942. Former members of RAF Eagle Squadrons formed the nucleus of the group, which served in combat from Oct 1942 to Apr 1945 and destroyed more enemy planes in the air and on the ground than any other fighter group of Eighth AF. Operated first with Spitfires but changed to P-47's in Mar 1943 and to P-51's in Apr 1944. On numerous occasions escorted bombers that attacked factories, submarine pens, V-weapon sites, and other targets in France, the Low Countries, or Germany. Went out sometimes with a small force of bombers to draw up the enemy's fighters so they could be destroyed in aerial combat. At other times attacked the enemy's air power by strafing and dive-bombing airfields. Also hit troops, supply depots, roads, bridges, rail lines, and trains. Participated in the intensive campaign against the German Air Force and aircraft industry during Big Week, 20-25 Feb 1944. Received a DUC for aggressiveness in seeking out and destroying enemy aircraft and in attacking enemy air bases, 5 Mar-24 Apr 1944. Flew interdictory and counter-air missions during the invasion of Normandy in Jun 1944. Supported the airborne invasion of Holland in Sep. Participated in the Battle of the Bulge, Dec 1944-Jan 1945. Covered the airborne assault across the Rhine in Mar 1945. Moved to the US in Nov. Inactivated on 10 Nov 1945.
Activated on 9 Sep 1946. Equipped with P-80's. Converted to F-86 aircraft in 1949. Redesignated 4th Fighter-Interceptor Group in Jan 1950. Moved to Japan, Nov-Dec 1950, for duty with Far East Air Forces in the Korean War. Began operations from Japan on 15 Dec 1950 and moved to Korea in Mar 1951. Escorted bombers, made fighter sweeps, engaged in interdiction of the enemy's lines of communications, flew armed reconnaissance sorties, conducted counter-air patrols, served as an air defense organization, and provided close support for ground forces. One member of the group, Maj George A Davis Jr, commander of the 334th squadron, was awarded the Medal of Honor for action on 10 Feb 1952 when, leading a flight of two F-86's, Davis spotted twelve enemy planes (MiG's), attacked, and destroyed three before his plane crashed in the mountains. The group returned to Japan in the fall of 1954. Redesignated 4th Fighter-Bomber Group in Mar 1955.
Bushey Hall, England, 12 Sep 1942
Debden, England, Sep 1942
Steeple Morden, England, Jul-Nov 1945
Camp Kilmer, NJ, c. 10 Nov 1945.
Selfridge Field, Mich, 9 Sep 1946
Andrews Field, Md, Mar 1947
Langley AFB, Va, c. 30 Apr 1949
New Castle County Aprt, Del, Aug-Nov 1950
Johnson AB, Japan, Dec 1950
Suwon, Korea, Mar 1951
Kimpo, Korea, Aug 1951
Chitose, Japan, c. 1 Nov 1954-.
Col Edward W Anderson, Sep 1942
Col Chesley G Peterson, Aug 1943
Col Donald M Blakeslee, 1 Jan 1944
Lt Col Claiborne H Kinnard Jr, Nov 1944
Lt Col Harry Dayhuff, 7 Dec 1944
Col Everett W Stewart, 21 Feb 1945-unkn.
Col Ernest H Beverly, Sep 1946
Lt Col Benjamin S Preston Jr, Aug 1948
Col Albert L Evans Jr, Jun 1949
Col John C Meyer, c. 1 Sep 1950
Lt Col Glenn T Eagleston, May 1951
Col Benjamin S Preston Jr, Jul 1951
Col Walker M Mahurin, 18 Mar 1952
Lt Col Ralph G Kuhn, 14 May 1952
Col Royal N Baker, 1 Jun 1952
Col Thomas D DeJarnette, 18 Mar 1953
Col Henry S Tyler Jr, c. 28 Dec 1953
Lt Col Dean W Dutrack, c. 19 Jul 1954
Col William D Gilchrist, c. 9 Aug 1954
Col George I Ruddell, c. 4 May 1955-.
World War II: Air Offensive, Europe; Normandy; Northern France; Rhineland; Ardennes-Alsace; Central Europe. Korean War: CCF Intervention; 1st UN Counteroffensive; CCF Spring Offensive; UN Summer-Fall Offensive; Second Korean Winter; Korea Summer-Fall, 1952; Third Korean Winter; Korea Summer-Fall, 1953.
Distinguished Unit Citations: France, 5 Mar-24 Apr 1944; Korea, 22 Apr-8 Jul 1951; Korea, 9 Jul-27 Nov 1951. Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citations: 1 Nov 1951-30 Sep 1952; 1 Oct 1952-31 Mar 1953.
"Ridge Runner III" flown by Maj. Pierce W. McKennon, 335th Fighter Squadron, 4th Fighter Group, 8th Air Force out of Debden, England:
Lt. Calvin H Beason, Anderson IN. 334th Fighter Squadron. P-51D 44-14518 QP-P "NAD" Named after his wife Nadaline.
Lt. Woodrow "Woody" F Sooman, Republic WA. 336th Fighter Squadron. P-47C 41-6192 VF-D "Lollapoluza". Left: S/Sgt Glesner Weckbacher c.c. Right: S/Sgt John Wilson a.c.c.The 200 gallon drop tank was the first type used by the Group, complete with statement concerning Herr Hitler's suspected ancestry.
The famous Disney fighting Eagle, affectionately known as the "Boxing Chicken" is well represented along with the Eagle Squadron patch.
Capt. Donald S Gentile, Piqua, OH. 336th Fighter Squadron. P-51B 431-6913 VF-T "Shangri-La"
Lt. Frank E Speer. Albertis, PA. 334th FS. P-51B 43-6957 QP-M "Turnip Termite".
Capt. Vernon A Boehle, Indianapolis, IN. 334th Fighter Squadron, ex 71 "Eagle" Squadron. P-47C 41-6400 QP-O "Indianapolis". Later the word "Indiana" was added under the name. This is the A/C that lost its engine on 9 September 1943 causing Vern to ditch into the Channel 45 miles south of Beachy Head. He spent 48 hours in his dinghy before being rescued.
Capt. Ted E Lines, Mesa, AZ. 335th Fighter Squadron. P-51D 44-13555 WD-D "Thunderbird". This is the first of two D models assigned to Capt. Lines who was "A" Flight Commander.
Capt. Spiros N "Steve" "The Greek" Pisanos, Plainfield, NJ. 334th Fighter Squadron, ex 71 "Eagle" Squadron. P-47D 42-7945 QP-D "Miss Plainfield".