Frederick, Oklahoma, USA
U.S. Marine Corps
Captain, F Btry, 2nd Bn, 12th Marines, 3rd Mardiv, III MAF
9/16/1967, Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam
I happened to find your website by accident while conducting research for a memorial project I am putting together for a family member, Captain Jerry Claud Bennett of Frederick Oklahoma. Capt Bennett was an Artillery Officer with Foxtrot 2/12, 9th Marine Division in 1966-67. While assigned to Mike Company, 3rd Battalion 9th Marines at Con Thien, he along with another young Marine, PFC Robert L. Gable of Kylerton Pa, his radio operator, were killed by an NVA 106mm recoiless rocket shell while they were manning OP1. A third Marine, LCPL Harry Hutchinson, who was on watch with Bennett and Gable was wounded by the back blast from the same shell. Hutch’s picture was taken by the famous war correspondent David Douglas Duncan, while he was being treated in the Doc’s hooch. The picture appeared in one of the Oct 1967 editions of LIFE magazine.
A few months back I became obsessed with the idea of finding out as much information about Capt Bennett as I could and decided to put together a memorial book as a gift to his surviving family, especially one of his older brother’s (my Father in Law). The hardest part has been keeping this project a secret from him. Jerry was born and raised in Frederick Oklahoma, a small town in the Southwest part of the state not far from the Texas border. Jerry came from a large family, mostly all boys, and being the middle child in a lower middle class family, well things were tough, but after talking with some of his brothers, I think that just made Jerry want to succeed in life even harder. Jerry graduated from Frederick High School and went to college at Southeastern Oklahoma State College, where after 4 years, he graduated with a degree in Business management. I’m pretty sure that out of a sense of patriotism, Jerry first enlisted in the Marines, but applied to become a Marine officer.
After the usual military red tape, he was selected for, and attended the 39th Officer Candidate Class at MCB Quantico Virginia. After he graduated from OCS, he came back home to Oklahoma and attended the Basic Artillery Officers course at nearby Ft Sill. Like most young people in the service, he soon had orders to Vietnam. If I read his records correctly, shortly after arriving in country, he was assigned to Foxtrot 2/12 in early 1966, and served as an Artillery Forward Observer for several Marine rifle companies out in the “bush” in Quang Tri province area. He was wounded in the leg by shrapnel in June 1967. and decorated with a Purple Heart medal on 12 Sept, 1967. Four days later, he was Killed in Action.
The last picture the family has of Jerry is of him receiving the medal along with two other marines. I have enclosed a picture of Jerry in his Marine Dress Blue uniform. It is a bit faded, and I pray that it will be sufficient for you to work with. I refuse to let Jerry’s memory fade. I have looked in amazement at the drawings you have done of all those wonderful people, and I hope you will find time in your busy schedule to draw Jerry. My father in law looks at the picture in a shadow box I had built for him every day. He is extremely proud of his little brother. I am extremely proud of Jerry, even though I never met the man, he has become an integral part of my life. I am also very proud of what you are doing for the veterans and their families with your drawings of their loved ones. People who have never served in the military can only stop and wonder why we have such a strong bond, no matter what service we, or when we served. No one can ever take that away from us and for that, I am extremely grateful. It would be an honor and privilege to present my father in law a drawing of Jerry to him. Memories fade, but brothers live on forever.