Thomas W. Bennett (conscientious objector)

Last updated
Thomas W. Bennett
Thomas W Bennett.jpg
Corporal Thomas Bennett
Birth nameThomas William Bennett
Born(1947-04-07)April 7, 1947
Morgantown, West Virginia
DiedFebruary 11, 1969(1969-02-11) (aged 21)
Chư Păh District, Pleiku Province, Republic of Vietnam
Place of burial
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service1968–1969
Rank Corporal
UnitCompany B, 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division
Battles/wars Vietnam War  
Awards Medal of Honor
Purple Heart

Thomas William Bennett (April 7, 1947 – February 11, 1969) was a United States Army medic who was killed in action during the Vietnam War and the second conscientious objector to receive the Medal of Honor (Desmond Doss, a medic in World War II, was the first).

United States Army Land warfare branch of the United States Armed Forces

The United States Army (USA) is the land warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces. It is one of the seven uniformed services of the United States, and is designated as the Army of the United States in the United States Constitution. As the oldest and most senior branch of the U.S. military in order of precedence, the modern U.S. Army has its roots in the Continental Army, which was formed to fight the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783)—before the United States of America was established as a country. After the Revolutionary War, the Congress of the Confederation created the United States Army on 3 June 1784 to replace the disbanded Continental Army. The United States Army considers itself descended from the Continental Army, and dates its institutional inception from the origin of that armed force in 1775.

Killed in action (KIA) is a casualty classification generally used by militaries to describe the deaths of their own combatants at the hands of hostile forces. The United States Department of Defense, for example, says that those declared KIA need not have fired their weapons but have been killed due to hostile attack. "KIAs" include those killed by friendly fire in the midst of combat, but not from incidents such as accidental vehicle crashes, murder and other "non-hostile" events or terrorism. KIA can be applied both to front-line combat troops and to naval, air and support troops. Someone who is killed in action during a particular event is denoted with a (dagger) beside their name to signify their death in that event or events.

Vietnam War 1955–1975 conflict in Vietnam

The Vietnam War, also known as the Second Indochina War, and in Vietnam as the Resistance War Against America or simply the American War, was a conflict in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. It was the second of the Indochina Wars and was officially fought between North Vietnam and South Vietnam. North Vietnam was supported by the Soviet Union, China, and other communist allies; South Vietnam was supported by the United States, South Korea, the Philippines, Australia, Thailand and other anti-communist allies. The war, considered a Cold War-era proxy war by some, lasted 19 years, with direct U.S. involvement ending in 1973, and included the Laotian Civil War and the Cambodian Civil War, which ended with all three countries becoming communist in 1975.

Contents

Bennett received the medal after repeatedly putting himself in harm's way to save wounded soldiers during operations in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. He was mortally wounded during one of these actions in Pleiku Province, and received the Medal of Honor posthumously.

Central Highlands (Vietnam) region of Vietnam

Tây Nguyên, translated as Western Highlands and sometimes also called Central Highlands, is one of the regions of Vietnam. It contains the provinces of Đắk Lắk, Đắk Nông, Gia Lai, Kon Tum, Lâm Đồng.

Gia Lai Province Province in Central Highlands, Vietnam

Gia Lai is a province in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. It is the second-largest province of Vietnam.

Biography

Born in Morgantown, West Virginia, Thomas W. Bennett was sociable and deeply religious. He was raised Southern Baptist, but while a student at West Virginia University, he formed the Campus Ecumenical Council during his freshman year. [1]

West Virginia University public university in Morgantown, West Virginia, United States

West Virginia University (WVU) is a public, land-grant, space-grant, research-intensive university. Its main campus in Morgantown, West Virginia consists of three adjacent sub-campuses. Its other campuses are those of the West Virginia University Institute of Technology in Beckley, Potomac State College of West Virginia University in Keyser, and a second clinical campus for the University's medical and dental schools at Charleston Area Medical Center in Charleston. WVU Extension Service provides outreach with offices in all of West Virginia's 55 counties. WVU is governed by the West Virginia University Board of Governors.

When he was placed on academic probation after the Fall 1967 semester, he considered his options should he lose his academic deferment. Deeply patriotic, but opposed to killing on religious grounds, he opted to enlist as a conscientious objector who was willing to serve. [2] This classification is different from a conscientious objector who will not assist the military in any way. He was trained as a field medic.

Combat medic military personnel who have been trained to at least an EMT-Basic level

Combat medic or field medic is a US term for military personnel who have been trained to at least an EMT-B level, and are responsible for providing first aid and frontline trauma care on the battlefield. They are also responsible for providing continuous medical care in the absence of a readily available physician, including care for disease and battle injuries. Combat medics are normally co-located with the combat troops they serve in order to easily move with the troops and monitor ongoing health. Other countries have similar services, but this article is primarily concerned with the US provision.

Bennett arrived in South Vietnam on January 1, 1969, and was assigned to Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. [3] The unit began a series of strenuous patrols in the dense, mountainous terrain. On February 9, 1969, the unit came under intense fire, and Bennett risked gunfire to pull at least five wounded men to safety. That evening, his platoon sergeant recommended him for the Silver Star. Over the coming days, Bennett repeatedly put himself in harm's way to tend to the wounded. On February 11, while attempting to reach a soldier wounded by sniper fire, Bennett was gunned down. [4] On April 7, 1970, his posthumous Medal of Honor was presented to his mother and stepfather by President Richard Nixon.

South Vietnam Former country in southeast Asia

South Vietnam, officially the Republic of Vietnam, was a country that existed from 1955 to 1975, the period when the southern portion of Vietnam was a member of the Western Bloc during part of the Cold War. It received international recognition in 1949 as the "State of Vietnam", which was a constitutional monarchy (1949–1955). The country was renamed the "Republic of Vietnam" in 1955. Its capital was Saigon. South Vietnam was bordered by North Vietnam to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, Thailand across the Gulf of Thailand to the southwest, and the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, and Indonesia across the South China Sea to the east and southeast.

Silver Star military decoration of the United States Armed Forces

The Silver Star Medal is the United States Armed Forces's third-highest personal decoration for valor in combat. The Silver Star Medal is awarded primarily to members of the United States Armed Forces for gallantry in action against an enemy of the United States.

Sniper Highly trained marksman

A sniper is a military/paramilitary marksman who operates to maintain effective visual contact with and engage enemy targets from concealed positions or at distances exceeding the target's detection capabilities. Snipers generally have specialized training and are equipped with high-precision rifles and high-magnification optics, and often feed information back to their units or command headquarters.

In 1988 a center for young people at Schofield Barracks on Oahu, Hawaii, was named for Bennett. [2] A bridge carrying Interstate 79 over the Monongahela River in Morgantown, WV is named in his honor. At West Virginia University's Evansdale Residential Complex, the Bennett Tower residence hall is named in his honor. [4] A medical clinic at Fort Hood, Texas is named in his honor. [5] He is the subject of Peaceful Patriot: the Story of Tom Bennett by Bonni McKeown.

Schofield Barracks Census-designated place in Hawaii, United States

Schofield Barracks is a United States Army installation and census-designated place (CDP) located in the City and County of Honolulu and in the Wahiawa District of the American island of Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi. Schofield Barracks lies adjacent to the town of Wahiawā, separated from most of it by Lake Wilson. Schofield Barracks is named after Lieutenant General John McAllister Schofield, Commanding General United States Army August 1888 to September 1895. He had been sent to Hawaiʻi in 1872 and had recommended the establishment of a naval base at Pearl Harbor.

Fort Hood is a U.S. military post located in Killeen, Texas. The post is named after Confederate General John Bell Hood who is best known for commanding the Texas Brigade against the U.S. Army during the American Civil War. It is located halfway between Austin and Waco, about 60 miles (97 km) from each, within the U.S. state of Texas. Fort Hood is an installation of the United States Army.

Medal of Honor citation

Rank and organization: Corporal, United States Army, 2nd Platoon, Company B, 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment.

Place and date: Chu Pah Region, Pleiku Province, Republic of Vietnam, 9–11 February 1969

Entered service at: Fairmont, West Virginia

Birth: Morgantown, West Virginia Born: 7 April 1947

Citation

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Cpl. Bennett distinguished himself while serving as a platoon medical aidman with the 2d Platoon, Company B, during a reconnaissance-in-force mission. On 9 February the platoon was moving to assist the 1st Platoon of Company D which had run into a North Vietnamese ambush when it became heavily engaged by the intense small arms, automatic weapons, mortar and rocket fire from a well fortified and numerically superior enemy unit. In the initial barrage of fire, 3 of the point members of the platoon fell wounded. Cpl. Bennett, with complete disregard for his safety, ran through the heavy fire to his fallen comrades, administered life-saving first aid under fire and then made repeated trips carrying the wounded men to positions of relative safety from which they would be medically evacuated from the battle position. Cpl. Bennett repeatedly braved the intense enemy fire moving across open areas to give aid and comfort to his wounded comrades. He valiantly exposed himself to the heavy fire in order to retrieve the bodies of several fallen personnel. Throughout the night and following day, Cpl. Bennett moved from position to position treating and comforting the several personnel who had suffered shrapnel and gunshot wounds. On 11 February, Company B again moved in an assault on the well fortified enemy positions and became heavily engaged with the numerically superior enemy force. Five members of the company fell wounded in the initial assault. Cpl. Bennett ran to their aid without regard to the heavy fire. He treated 1 wounded comrade and began running toward another seriously wounded man. Although the wounded man was located forward of the company position covered by heavy enemy grazing fire and Cpl. Bennett was warned that it was impossible to reach the position, he leaped forward with complete disregard for his safety to save his comrade's life. In attempting to save his fellow soldier, he was mortally wounded. Cpl. Bennett's undaunted concern for his comrades at the cost of his life above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.

See also

Related Research Articles

Daniel J. Shea United States Army Medal of Honor recipient

Daniel John Shea was a soldier in the US Army who posthumously received the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions and sacrifice of life during the Vietnam War for actions occurring in the Quang Tri Province on May 14, 1969.

Joseph G. LaPointe Jr. United States Army Medal of Honor recipient

Joseph Guy LaPointe Jr. was a combat medic in the United States Army who posthumously received the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Vietnam War.

Rodolfo P. Hernández United States Army Medal of Honor recipient

Rodolfo Pérez "Rudy" Hernández was a United States Army soldier who received the Medal of Honor — America's highest military decoration — for his actions on May 31, 1951, during the UN May–June 1951 counteroffensive in the Korean War. Despite his wounds, Hernández took actions during an enemy counterattack near Wonton-ni that allowed his platoon to retake their defensive position.

Ronald E. Rosser United States Army Medal of Honor recipient

Ronald Eugene Rosser is a former United States Army soldier who received the United States military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions in the Korean War.

Alfred V. Rascon Medal of Honor recipient

Alfred Velazquez Rascon is a retired United States Army lieutenant colonel. In 2000, he was awarded the Medal of Honor—the United States' highest military decoration—for his actions as a medic near Long Khánh Province during the Vietnam War.

Lewis Albanese United States Army Medal of Honor recipient

Lewis Albanese, born Luigi Albanese, was an Italian born United States Army Private First Class during the Vietnam War who posthumously received the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Vietnam War.

Kenneth E. Stumpf United States Army Medal of Honor recipient

Kenneth Edward Stumpf is a retired United States Army soldier and a recipient of the United States military's highest decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions in the Vietnam War.

Lester R. Stone Jr. United States Army Medal of Honor recipient

Lester Raymond Stone Jr. was a United States Army soldier and a recipient of the United States military's highest decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions in the Vietnam War.

William D. Port United States Army Medal of Honor recipient

William David Port was a United States Army soldier and a recipient of the United States military's highest decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions in the Vietnam War.

Charles B. Morris United States Army Medal of Honor recipient

Charles Bedford Morris was a United States Army soldier and a recipient of the United States military's highest decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions in the Vietnam War.

Edgar Lee McWethy Jr. United States Army Medal of Honor recipient

Edgar Lee McWethy Jr. was a United States Army soldier and a recipient of the United States military's highest decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions in the Vietnam War.

Thomas J. McMahon Army Medal of Honor recipient

Thomas Joseph McMahon was a United States Army soldier and a recipient of the United States military's highest decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions in the Vietnam War.

Phill G. McDonald United States Army Medal of Honor recipient

Phill Gene McDonald was a United States Army soldier and a recipient of the United States military's highest decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions in the Vietnam War.

Milton A. Lee United States Army Medal of Honor recipient

Milton Arthur Lee was a United States Army soldier and a recipient of the United States military's highest decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions in the Vietnam War.

Kenneth Michael Kays United States Army Medal of Honor recipient

Kenneth Michael Kays was a United States Army soldier and a recipient of the United States military's highest decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions in the Vietnam War.

Charles C. Hagemeister United States Army Medal of Honor recipient

Charles "Chuck" Chris Hagemeister is a retired United States Army officer and a recipient of the United States military's highest decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions in the Vietnam War.

Joseph Xavier Grant United States Army Medal of Honor recipient

Joseph Xavier Grant was a United States Army officer and a recipient of the United States military's highest decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions in the Vietnam War.

Michael Fleming Folland United States Army Medal of Honor recipient

Michael Fleming Folland was a United States Army soldier and a recipient of the United States military's highest decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions in the Vietnam War.

Donald W. Evans Jr. United States Army Medal of Honor recipient

Donald Ward Evans Jr. was a United States Army soldier and a recipient of the United States military's highest decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions in the Vietnam War.

James McCloughan

James C. McCloughan is a former United States Army soldier and a Vietnam War veteran. For his actions during the war, McCloughan was authorized the Medal of Honor by United States President Barack Obama and Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning in December 2016. McCloughan was presented the Medal of Honor on 31 July 2017 by United States President Donald Trump, the first such award of Trump's administration.

References

  1. Murphy, Edward F. (June 2003). "A Conscientious Objector's Medal of Honor". Vietnam. Historynet.com. Retrieved 5 August 2014.
  2. 1 2 "A Conscientious Objector's Medal of Honor | HistoryNet". www.historynet.com. Retrieved 20 July 2017.
  3. Davis, Ken. "Thomas Bennett, CPL, Army, Morgantown WV, 11Feb69 32W010 - The Virtual Wall®". www.virtualwall.org. Retrieved 20 July 2017.
  4. 1 2 Matlick, Chad. "February 11, 1969: Medal of Honor recipient Tom Bennett killed in action" . Retrieved 20 July 2017.
  5. ""Medal of Honor recipient Corporal Thomas W. Bennett", Bennett Health Clinic dedication ceremony September 25, 1997" . Retrieved Aug 15, 2019.

Notes

PD-icon.svg This article incorporates  public domain material from websites or documents ofthe United States Army Center of Military History .
  1. ^ "Medal of Honor recipients". Medal of Honor citations. United States Army Center of Military History. August 3, 2009. Retrieved July 1, 2010.