Corporal Herbert Emanuel Benson

NAME:
Herbert Emanuel Benson
NICKNAME:
SERVICE NUMBER:
271950
HOME OF RECORD:
South Orange, NJ
NEXT OF KIN:
Father, Mr. Ernest Benson
DATE OF BIRTH:
~1919
ENLISTED:
May 1, 1939
DATE OF DEATH:
August 13, 1942
CAMPAIGN UNIT MOS RATE FATE
Guadalcanal HQ Company, 1st Marine Division Corporal KIA
CAUSE OF DEATH:
Unknown. KIA on Goettge Patrol.
INDIVIDUAL DECORATIONS:
Purple Heart
LAST KNOWN RANK:
Corporal
STATUS OF REMAINS:
Scattered on Guadalcanal
MEMORIAL:
Manila American Cemetery and Memorial

Birth and Early Life:
Herbert was born in South Orange, New Jersey around the year 1919. He was the oldest son of Swedish immigrants Ernest and Helga Benson.

Enlistment and Boot Camp:
Benson joined the Marine Corps Reserve on May 1, 1939. His reserve unit was based out of the post office building in nearby Elizabeth, New Jersey; Benson attended weekly drills with William Bainbridge until the spring of 1941, when he was assigned to Company G, Second Battalion, Seventh Marines.

Wartime Service:
In October, 1941, Private First Class Benson was assigned to the intelligence section of Headquarters Company, First Marine Division. He immediately made an impression. “Benson was tall and blond,” recalled Lieutenant Thayer Soule, “a good kid with a flair for drawing and telling jokes.” (1) In April 1942, Benson was made corporal, and assisted with the preparations for the division’s invasion of Guadalcanal.

On August 12, 1942, Benson was ordered to accompany Colonel Frank Goettge and several other intelligence personnel on an expedition to try and capture a Japanese garrison near Point Cruz, Guadalcanal. Shortly after gaining the beach, shots rang out, killing Goettge and wounding most of the senior officers and NCOs. The survivors formed a defensive perimeter on the beach, and over the course of the night and following morning were gradually picked off by the Japanese defenders.

Date Of Loss:
“Quiet, artistic Benson,” who had no business on a combat patrol, lost his life on a Guadalcanal beach on August 13, 1942. His remains were never recovered.

Next Of Kin:
Father, Mr. Ernest Benson

Status Of Remains:
Buried on Guadalcanal

Memorial:
Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Philippines.
_____
NOTES:
(1) Thayer Soule, Shooting the Pacific War: Marine Corps Combat Photography in World War II (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2000), 28. Soule, the division photographic officer, misremembers Benson’s first name as “Howard.”

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