Oct 062011

Howard Duncan Bennett

Birth: Jun. 13, 1942, Knoxville, Knox County, Tennessee.

Death: Feb. 3, 1968, Vietnam.

Warrant Officer Howard Duncan Bennett was born in Knoxville, Tennessee but became a native of Charlotte, NC. He was 25 years old and was married. It was reported that Howard died when his helicopter crashed. His body was recovered.

There is a book about that battle called, “The Beast Was Out There’ by James Shelton. Here is a synopsized excerpt: “A Major Holleder was killed during the battle and an OH-13 landed to bring his body back to the NDP (Night Defensive Position). A side bar to all of this. The OH-13 was flown by a Warrant Officer Howard Bennett. He and Lieutenant Bill Erwin (an Infantryman with the ground unit) sat beside each other a few months later as they flew to Hawaii to meet their wives. Unfortunately, Howard was killed during TET”.

NORTH MECKLENBURG GRAD KILLED IN VIETNAM: A former Charlottean was killed Saturday when his helicopter was shot down in Vietnam, the Army said Tuesday. Army Warrant Officer Howard Duncan Bennett, 25, died from metal wounds and burns suffered when the helicopter he was piloting was hit by ground fire while on an early morning reconnaissance mission. The helicopter crashed and burned. Bennett received the Distinguished Service Cross for heroism in action on Nov. 10, 1267 after a month in Vietnam. He was raised in Charlotte, was graduated from North Mecklenburg High School and spent two years studying architecture at Central Piedmont Community Cottage. He worked as a draftsman for Duke Power Company. Bennett was married to the former Jean Lineburger of Charlotte, who now lives in Denver, Colorado. Also surviving are his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Ward B. Bennett of Danla, Fla., and formerly of Charlotte; two sisters, Mrs. Hope Martin of the Philippines and Mrs. Bob Goul of St Thomas Virgin Island; a brother, Ward Bennett Jr. of Dania, Fla., and Aunt, Miss Ossie Bennett of Charlotte and an Uncle, Otway Bennett of Charlotte.

CITATION TO ACCOMPANY THE DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS: For heroism while participating in aerial flight on this date, Warrant Officer Bennett was flying his observation helicopter in support of an infantry battalion engaged in a defensive perimeter. It was heavily engaged with elements of a Viet Cong regiment and sustained a large number of casualties. The moment that he became aware of the situation, Warrant Officer Bennett voluntarily flew to a small clearing that had been picked out as an emergency landing zone. There, in spite of heavy hostile fire and with complete disregard for his personal safety, he landed, picked up a seriously wounded man, and flew him back to the friendly perimeter. On his second trip he was forced to take evasive maneuvers which consequently damaged the tail of his aircraft. Disregarding the damage to his ship and the heavy hostile fire, he returned twice more. After the fourth trip Warrant Officer Bennett was relieved by another aircraft, but not until he had personally evacuated four seriously wounded men. Warrant Officer Bennett’s actions are in keeping with the finest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, the 1st Infantry Division and the United States Army.

He served with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, “The Big Red One”. He was awarded The Distinguished Flying Cross, The Bronze Star Medal, The Purple Heart Medal for his combat related wounds, The Vietnam Service Medal, The Republic of Vietnam Campaign Service Medal, The National Defense Service Medal, The Good Conduct Medal(s) and The Air Medal with Ten Oak Leaf Clusters. Burial: Forest Lawn West Cemetery, Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, Plot: Bennett. (Source: Posted with permission of Tom & Jim Reece, #46857744; finding NC Vietnam KIA/MIA’s gravesites; Reconfigured and submitted by: Ron Yates)

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