Arkansas
Military Veterans'
Hall of Fame

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Arkansas
Military Veterans'
Hall of Fame

Staff Sergeant Harold George Bennett | Arkansas Military Veterans' Hall of Fame

Staff Sergeant Harold George Bennett

Staff Sergeant Bennett, deceased (POW), Thornburg, U.S. Army, Viet Nam. Awards include the Silver Star Medal for Gallantry in Action, and the Purple Heart Medal. On June 26, 1965, Staff Sergeant Bennett became the first American prisoner of war to be executed by the Viet Cong.

Harold Bennett was interned as a Prisoner of War in Southeast Asia after he was captured in South Vietnam on December 29, 1964 and was held until his death in captivity. He was reportedly executed for injuring one of his captors during one of his three escape attempts. His remains have never been recovered. The Silver Star for his heroic actions was belatedly presented by Senator Blanche Lincoln. 

Staff Sergeant Bennett’s Silver Star narrative reads as follows: “The president of the United States, authorized by act of Congress July 9th 1918, takes pride in presenting the Silver Star (posthumously) to staff sergeant Harold George Bennett, United States Army, for gallantry in action from 29th December 1964 to 25 June 1965, while serving as a ranger advisor to the Vietnamese during the Vietnam war. On 29 December 1964, Staff Sergeant Bennett assisted two companies of the third Vietnamese ranger battalion and assaulting a powerful Viet Cong Force occupying the village of Binh Gia in Phuo Tuy Provence. In route, the Rangers were ambushed and overwhelmed by enemy forces and flooring mortars, recoilless rifles, and small-arms Fire. Staff Sergeant Bennett fearlessly Traverse the battlefield, rallying survivors and calling in support fire from American gunships in the area. On two separate occasions, staff sergeant Bennett refused extraction, electing instead to stay behind and fight. He was eventually captured by the enemy. During this time in captivity, staff sergeant Bennett planned three separate Escape attempts, the third of which resulted in his finger being bitten to the Bone by the Vietcong he was attempting to overcome. As a result of his tenacity and insubordination, staff sergeant Bennett was frequently blindfolded and beaten, given reduced rations and Shackled In solitary confinement for prolonged periods. On 25 June 1965, the Vietcong announced that they had executed staff sergeant Bennett in reprisal for the Saigon government execution of a communist terrorists. Staff sergeant Bennett's Valor and intrepidity during combat and his conspicuous courage and bravery while in captivity are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Army.”

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