Benko, Arthur J., TSgt

Fallen
 
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Last Rank
Technical Sergeant
Last Primary AFSC/MOS
M 0611-Aerial Gunner
Last AFSC Group
USAAF
Primary Unit
1942-1943, 374th Bombardment Squadron, Heavy
Service Years
1942 - 1943
Technical Sergeant

 Last Photo   Personal Details 


Home State
Arizona
Arizona
Year of Birth
1911
 
This Military Service Page was created/owned by CMSgt Don Skinner-Deceased to remember Benko, Arthur J., TSgt.

If you knew or served with this Airman and have additional information or photos to support this Page, please leave a message for the Page Administrator(s) HERE.
 
Casualty Info
Home Town
Bisbee
Last Address
Hong Kong

Casualty Date
Nov 21, 1943
 
Cause
Hostile, Died while Missing
Reason
Air Loss, Crash - Land
Location
China
Conflict
World War II
Location of Interment
Manila American Cemetery - Taguig City, Philippines
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Tablets of the Missing

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World War II
Start Year
1941
End Year
1945

Description
Overview of World War II 

World War II killed more people, involved more nations, and cost more money than any other war in history. Altogether, 70 million people served in the armed forces during the war, and 17 million combatants died. Civilian deaths were ever greater. At least 19 million Soviet civilians, 10 million Chinese, and 6 million European Jews lost their lives during the war.

World War II was truly a global war. Some 70 nations took part in the conflict, and fighting took place on the continents of Africa, Asia, and Europe, as well as on the high seas. Entire societies participated as soldiers or as war workers, while others were persecuted as victims of occupation and mass murder.

World War II cost the United States a million causalities and nearly 400,000 deaths. In both domestic and foreign affairs, its consequences were far-reaching. It ended the Depression, brought millions of married women into the workforce, initiated sweeping changes in the lives of the nation's minority groups, and dramatically expanded government's presence in American life.

The War at Home & Abroad

On September 1, 1939, World War II started when Germany invaded Poland. By November 1942, the Axis powers controlled territory from Norway to North Africa and from France to the Soviet Union. After defeating the Axis in North Africa in May 1941, the United States and its Allies invaded Sicily in July 1943 and forced Italy to surrender in September. On D-Day, June 6, 1944, the Allies landed in Northern France. In December, a German counteroffensive (the Battle of the Bulge) failed. Germany surrendered in May 1945.

The United States entered the war following a surprise attack by Japan on the U.S. Pacific fleet in Hawaii. The United States and its Allies halted Japanese expansion at the Battle of Midway in June 1942 and in other campaigns in the South Pacific. From 1943 to August 1945, the Allies hopped from island to island across the Central Pacific and also battled the Japanese in China, Burma, and India. Japan agreed to surrender on August 14, 1945 after the United States dropped the first atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Consequences:

1. The war ended Depression unemployment and dramatically expanded government's presence in American life. It led the federal government to create a War Production Board to oversee conversion to a wartime economy and the Office of Price Administration to set prices on many items and to supervise a rationing system.

2. During the war, African Americans, women, and Mexican Americans founded new opportunities in industry. But Japanese Americans living on the Pacific coast were relocated from their homes and placed in internment camps.

The Dawn of the Atomic Age

In 1939, Albert Einstein wrote a letter to President Roosevelt, warning him that the Nazis might be able to build an atomic bomb. On December 2, 1942, Enrico Fermi, an Italian refugee, produced the first self-sustained, controlled nuclear chain reaction in Chicago.

To ensure that the United States developed a bomb before Nazi Germany did, the federal government started the secret $2 billion Manhattan Project. On July 16, 1945, in the New Mexico desert near Alamogordo, the Manhattan Project's scientists exploded the first atomic bomb.

It was during the Potsdam negotiations that President Harry Truman learned that American scientists had tested the first atomic bomb. On August 6, 1945, the Enola Gay, a B-29 Superfortress, released an atomic bomb over Hiroshima, Japan. Between 80,000 and 140,000 people were killed or fatally wounded. Three days later, a second bomb fell on Nagasaki. About 35,000 people were killed. The following day Japan sued for peace.

President Truman's defenders argued that the bombs ended the war quickly, avoiding the necessity of a costly invasion and the probable loss of tens of thousands of American lives and hundreds of thousands of Japanese lives. His critics argued that the war might have ended even without the atomic bombings. They maintained that the Japanese economy would have been strangled by a continued naval blockade, and that Japan could have been forced to surrender by conventional firebombing or by a demonstration of the atomic bomb's power.

The unleashing of nuclear power during World War II generated hope of a cheap and abundant source of energy, but it also produced anxiety among large numbers of people in the United States and around the world.
   
My Participation in This Battle or Operation
From Year
1941
To Year
1943
 
Last Updated:
Apr 24, 2009
   
Personal Memories

Memories
From the "CBI Roundup" dated 8 Oct 1943:

KNOCKING DOWN ZEROS HIS BUSINESS & BUSINESS IS GOOD

CHINA AIR BASE - Knocking Zeros out of the China sky is T/Sgt. Arthur J. Benko's business, And business is just fine, thank you. Benko, top turret gunner on one of Col. Eugene H. Beebe's Liberators, has 46 enemy planes confirmed to his credit, which ranks him first among all bomber gunners in the AAF. Last Friday he knocked the incredible number of seven Zeros out of the sky after the Japs engaged his flight in a running 40-minute battle out of Haiphong.

Benko is old as gunners go. He has celebrated his 31st birthday. His hair is liberally sprinkled with silver. But he is close to being a perfect physical specimen. He is six feet tall and carries 180 pounds well. His face is bronzed by Chinese sun and wind and his eyes are clear. He has a 12-year-old daughter, Beatrice June, and, when he talks about her, his eyes brighten and you know his life revolves around the little girl.

Benko, a native of Bisbee, Ariz., is quiet spoken, modest and well liked by the officers and enlisted men of his squadron. He doesn't drink, except, as he says, for an occasional glass of wine with a meal, doesn't play cards and doesn't like dancing. Since arriving overseas, he has learned to play chess and enjoys the game.

Benko's hobby is guns. It's been that way ever since he was a kid and his father first taught him how to shoot. His father was a good teacher, for he was a rifle instructor in World War I - in the German Army. While his dad fought for the Kaiser in 1917, he came to the United States after the war and is proud of his citizenship and
T/Sgt. Arthur J. Benko
allegiance to the Stars and Stripes. Benko's mother was also born in Germany, but shee too has her citizenship papers.

Ever since he can remember, shooting and hunting have been Benko's favorite pastimes. He used to throw tin cans into the air and shoot them down with a .22 caliber rifle. He thinks perhaps this practice has taught him the proper way to "lead" enemy planes into the path of his death-dealing .50 caliber machine guns.

His interest in shooting led him into membership in the Bisbee Rifle and Pistol Club, which is affiliated with the National Rifle Association, and he at one time was president of his city's club. He attended C.M.T.C. camp, where he says he learned a lot about the fine art of shooting. In 1941, the year before he entered the Army, he won the Arizona state championship in the .30 caliber rifle competition at a meet in Fort Huachucha.

For three years he was a member of the Arizona state championship team which competed at the National Rifle shoot at Camp Perry, O. - a competition which annually draws the best shots in the Army Forces, in addition to crack shots from city and state police departments, gun clubs, etc. In 1937, he placed 16th among all civilian participants in the .30 caliber competition at Camp Perry. In 1938, he entered the Dupont Trophy match open to all competitors, military or civilian, and placed sixth despite the fact that he used two borrowed rifles.

An indication of Benko's thoroughness is the fact that he loaded his own ammunition in preparation for match shoots. He carried that thoroughness into the Army with him, for now he "sights" his own machine gun and tests it thoroughly before each mission. He has developed a gadget of his own to help him in the job of shooting down Zeros, but it's a military secret and too much can't be said yet about his development.

He hates the Japs and the only time his quiet voice rose during our interview with him was when we mentioned them. However, he gives them credit for being courageous and persistent. "They don't make only one pass at your ship," he says. " They keep coming back until you either shoot them down or they run out of gas."

There is not the slightest touch of nervousness about Benko. His large, strong hands are steady and there is confidence in every movement. He says: "I guess I just love the smell of burnt gun powder." Once he says he was frightened. That was when a Zero came at him from an angle that didn't give him a shot. "Those guns of his kept blinking at me like a flashlight," he said, "and I tried to crouch closer in the turret. Fortunately, he missed."

Daughter Beatrice June is taking piano lessons and her dad is proud of her progress. She is attending grade school in Bisbee and, when she first heard her father was making a name for himself shooting down enemy planes, she wrote a letter telling him, "There's no limit on Japs, Daddy; you don't even have to have a license."

Benko is a member of the crew of "The Goon," four-motored bomber, whose pilot is another Arizonian, Lt. S. J. Skousen, who hails from Thatcher. Benk thinks his pilot is the best in the business and is proud, too, of the other members of the crew of The Goon. T/Sgt. Robert Kirk, tail gunner, has three Zeros confirmed. Sgt. Caspar Chirelson has two confirmed and one probable. And T/Sgt. William Novak, radio operator, has one confirmed.

Other members of the crew are Lt. Ralph E. Bowers, co-pilot; Lt. Malcolm S. Sanders, bombardier; Lt. Daniel J. Palmer, navigator; T/Sgt. Archie Fleharty, engineer.

In addition to his nine confirmed Zeros, Benko is also credited with damaging four others. He got his first four confirmed over Ichang and his next five over Hankow before last Friday's jackpot.

When we contacted him for this interview, Benko had just returned from inspecting a Jap Zero that had been shot down and he had several souvenirs - a piece of the Nip pilot's belt, a piece of the fuselage and a section of the plane's metal bearing the "Rising Sun" insignia.

Somehow or other, it seemed symbolic seeing Gunner Benko carrying a battered insignia of the "Rising Sun."

   
My Photos From This Battle or Operation
T/Sgt. Arthur J. Benko

  3660 Also There at This Battle:
  • Adair, William, Sgt, (1943-1946)
  • Adams, Billy H., Capt, (1944-1970)
  • Adcock, David, 1st Lt, (1942-1945)
  • Agin, Thomas, SSgt, (1942-1949)
  • Ainsworth, John, Capt, (1942-1946)
  • Alcorn, Cecil Clyde, SSgt, (1941-1945)
  • Alcorn, Ernest Merton, TSgt, (1942-1945)
  • Alenier, Stanley J., 2nd Lt, (1942-1944)
  • Allen, Herman Fredrick, Col, (1942-1945)
  • Allen, William Harry, Maj, (1942-1963)
  • Alness, Harvey Thompson, Lt Gen, (1934-1964)
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