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