In Memory of
Army Private
Robert Waldemar Benson
 Howard, South Dakota
Miner County
February 16, 1921 – June 11, 1944 
Killed in Action on Normandy battlefield in France

Robert Waldemar Benson

Robert Waldemar Benson was born in Howard, South Dakota, on February 16, 1921, the fourth child of Victor A. and Anna Marie Benson. Baptized and confirmed in the Bethany Lutheran Church, Robert graduated from high school in Howard in 1939; he was remembered as being outstanding in music as a cornetist in the band.

Robert entered the Civilian Conservation Corps on July 7, 1939, where he served as the Supply Sergeant for his unit. He was honorably discharged on June 27, 1941. After that he was employed in a civil service position with the U.S. Engineers in the War Department as a sailor in coastwise trade in the Pacific from Seattle to Alaska and the Aleutian Islands.

Robert returned to South Dakota and was inducted into the U.S. Army on November 21, 1942, volunteering as a Para-trooper. He received his basic training at Fort Benning, Ga., becoming a member of the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment. Benson qualified as a parachutist and was awarded his wings on March 12, 1943.

Upon completion of more training at Camp Mackall, N. C., where he won distinction in his Company, Robert was sent overseas on December 25, 1943, first for a brief stay in North Ireland, and then he was stationed in a camp somewhere in England. Pvt. Benson participated in the Allied Invasion of Europe as part of the 508th Paratroop Infantry Regiment.

On June 7, 1944, as he and fellow paratroopers jumped from planes over Normandy, the Germans shot them down. Robert W. Benson died of injuries on June 11, 1944. Several years later his parents were told by a fellow paratrooper that Robert had not “suffered terribly.”

Robert Benson is buried at Plot C, Row 19, Grave 36, in the military cemetery at Normandy. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart for his bravery.

This entry was respectfully submitted by Kaylee Merkle, 8th Grade West, Spearfish Middle School, Spearfish, South Dakota, November 3, 2000. Information for this entry was provided by clippings and Robert’s sister, Eva Anderson, “submitted in loving memory.”