High School Wall of Honor
Marion Arnold Benson
Class of June, 1939
1st Lieutenant; Died. MIA; June 17, 1944
Research done by Rick Nehrling, class of 1963.
|Marion Arnold Benson
Arnold Benson graduated from North High in the June, 1939 class.
His next of kin is listed as Leon E. Benson, 3831 Fourth Street,
Des Moines, IA. Marion enlisted in the US Army Air Corps on September
6, 1940 at Chanute Field, Illinois. At the time of his enlistment
he was single without dependents. His enlistment service number
was 16027896. His ID was 0-806035.
After training in several different aircraft he was assigned to
the 514th Fighter Squadron, 406th Fighter Group stationed at Congaree
Air Field, near the city of Columbia, South Carolina. The squadron
went through vigorous training in A-24's and P39 Aircobras. Eventually
the squadron was provided with the P-47 Thunderbolts which were
single-seat long range fighters and/or fighter-bombers.
The P-47 Thunderbolt was considered a rugged
aircraft that was excellent at ground attacks. Weighing nearly
7 tons with thick armor plating and a heavily-armored engine,
the P-47 could withstand massive damage from anti-aircraft guns.
It was also useful in air-to-air combat fighting, but was most
famous for its ground attack capability. The addition of droppable
fuel tanks enabled the plane to escort bombers from bases in
England to Berlin, Germany and back to England.
On March 13, 1944 the 406th Fighter Group was
moved to Camp Shanks, Port of Embarkation, near New York City.
The 406th Fighter Group boarded the HMT Starling Castle on March
22, 1944 for Liverpool, England arriving on April 4, 1944. The
Group then proceeded to Ashford, Kent near Dover, England. The
Fighter Groups first mission came on May 9, 1944 that was a
fighter sweep over northern France. During the next three days
the Fighter Group continued to conduct sweeps over France. During
these sweeps they did not encounter any enemy aircraft or anti-aircraft
On May 13, 1944, the Fighter Group received
its first assignment to escort 36 B-26 Marauder Bombers to bomb
a number of gun revetments near Abbeville, France. All bombers
and fighters returned from the bombing mission without any incident.
During the rest of May 1944 the Fighter Group participated in
a wide variety of sweeps, bombing missions, and escorting bombers
throughout France and Germany. During this time missions were
increased to four to five a day to soften up areas in France
along the English Channel. Marion Benson participated in these
On June 6, 1944 the Fighter Group began providing
air cover over the entire Normandy invasion area. Flights were
arranged so that the 406th Fighter Group maintained the air
cover 24 hours a day. Once the beach heads on Normandy, France
were secured, the Fighter Group was order to focus all of its
missions on various ground installations, bridges, communications
centers, and trains to cause havoc within the German Army and
assist the Allied Forces in making forward progress throughout
During a mission attacking German ground installations in France
on June 17, 1944, Lt. Marion Benson was critically wounded and
his P-47 Thunderbolt was badly damaged by anti-aircraft fire.
Since he was so critically wounded and his plane so badly damaged,
Marion plunged his plane into one of the German anti-aircraft
installations. For this action Lt. Benson was awarded the Distinguished
Service Cross. The Distinguished Service Cross is the Army's
second highest award for valor. The Congressional Medal of Honor
is the Army's highest award for valor. A synopsis of Marion
Arnold Benson's Distinguished Service Cross Citation is as follows:
"The President of the United States takes pride in presenting
the Distinguished Service Cross (Posthumously) to Marion Arnold
Benson (0-806035), First Lieutenant (Air Corps), U. S. Army
Air Forces, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military
operations against an armed enemy while serving as a Pilot of
a P-47 Fighter Airplane in the 514th Fighter Squadron, 406th
Fighter-Bomber Group, 9th Air Force, in aerial combat against
enemy forces on 17 June 1944, in support of Allied ground forces
following the landings at Normandy, France. On this date, in
aerial engagement, First Lieutenant Benson's fighter was badly
damaged and he himself was critically wounded. With little hope
for survival otherwise, Lieutenant Benson dove his falling fighter
plane into a German gun position, sacrificing his life to destroy
an enemy strongpoint. The personal courage and devotion to duty
displayed by First Lieutenant Benson on this occasion, at the
cost of his life, have upheld the highest traditions of the
military service and reflect great credit upon himself, the
9th Air Force, and the United States Army Air Force." Information
obtained from the American Battle Monuments Commission shows
that Marion is buried at Plot J, Row 11, Grave 14, at the Brittany
American Cemetery, St. James, France.
|Awards and Citations
- Distinguished Service Cross and Air Medal w/Oak Leaf Cluster
|Date of death: Missing
in Action/Presumed KIA
Awards and Citations - Distinguished Service
Cross, Air Medal w/Oak Leaf Cluster
Awarded posthumously for actions during World War II
(Citation Needed) - SYNOPSIS: First Lieutenant (Air Corps) Marion
Arnold Benson (ASN: 0-806035), United States Army Air Forces,
was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (Posthumously) for
extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against
an armed enemy while serving as Pilot of a P-47 Fighter Airplane
in the 514th Fighter Squadron, 406th Fighter-Bomber Group, NINTH
Air Force, in aerial combat against enemy forces on 17 June 1944,
in support of Allied ground forces following the landings at Normandy
France. On this date, in aerial engagement, First Lieutenant Benson's
fighter was badly damaged and he himself was critically wounded.
With little hope for survival otherwise, Lieutenant Benson dove
his falling fighter plane into a German gun position, sacrificing
his life to destroy an enemy strongpoint. The personal courage
and zealous devotion to duty displayed by First Lieutenant Benson
on this occasion, at the cost of his life, have upheld the highest
traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon
himself, the 9th Air Force, and the United States Army Air Forces.
|General Orders: Headquarters,
U.S. Strategic Forces in Europe,
General Orders No. 48 (1944)
Action Date: 17-Jun-44
Service: Army Air Forces
Rank: First Lieutenant
Company: 514th Fighter Squadron
Regiment: 406th Fighter-Bomber Group
Division: 9th Air Force
514th Fighter Squadron
406th Fighter Bomber Group
9th Air Force
US Army Air Force
Distinguished Flying Cross; Air Medal w/Oak Leaf Cluster
above information was obtained from the following:
(1) The World War II Honor List of Dead and Missing Army and Army
Air Forces Personnel was created by the War Department, the Adjutant
General's Office, Administrative Services Division, Strength Accounting
Branch. The original records are held at the Modern Military records
LICON, Textural Services Division (NWCTM), National Archives at
College Park, Maryland.
The documents contain the latest and most complete information
available of all Army and Army Air Force personnel who were killed
or died, or became and remained missing, between the President's
declaration of unlimited national emergency on May 27, 1941 and
the cut-off date of this report, January 31, 1946. This document
includes both battle and nonbattle dead and missing. The records
are available online at http://www.archives.gov/.
The type of casualty is indicated by the following:
* KIA - Killed in Action. This is an individual who was killed
in action at the front, by enemy action in the rear, or if a
prisoner of war.
* DOW - Died of Wounds. This is an individual was who wounded
and later died.
* DOI - This is an individual who suffered fatal battle injuries
and died in a line of duty status.
*DNB - Died Nonbattle. This is an individual who died in a line
of duty death, such as from sickness, homicide, suicide, or
accidents outside of combat areas (training).
*M - Missing. This is an individual who is reported as missing
and later was determined to be dead.
*FOD - Finding of Death. Findings of death fall within Public
Law 490 and its amendments and are made when there is either
conclusive proof that the person is dead or equally overwhelming
evidence that under the circumstances the person could not have
This document only contains the names of those individuals who
died in the line of duty status. Those individuals who were not
in the line of duty at the time of their death are not listed
in this document.
(2) The World War II Army Enlistment Records contain information
on more than nine million indivdual enlistments. These records
can be found online at
(3) The American Battle Monuments
Commission was established in 1923 to commemorate the service,
achievements, and sacrifice of US Armed Forces. There are 24 overseas
cemeteries that serve as the final resting places for almost 125,000
American war dead. The servicemen and women are listed on tablets
of the missing that memorialize these men and women. These records
can be found online at http://www.abmc.gov/home.php.
(4) The comprehensive list of names from North High's 1893-2019
graduation classes are from Claradell Shedd's North Des Moines
High School website. The names of all North High School graduates
can be found online at http://ndmhs.com/.
Marion Arnold Benson's 1939 class page can be viewed at
June 17, 1944; KIA. Information obtained from
the American Battle Monuments Commission shows that Marion is buried
at Plot J, Row 11, Grave 14, at the Brittany American Cemetery, St.
Marion's final resting place: http://www.abmc.gov/cemeteries/cemeteries/br.php
"Wind Beneath My Wings"
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