Saturday, September 09, 2006

Marine Cpl. Johnathan L. Benson

Remember Our Heroes

Greater love has no man than this, that he lays down his life for his friends... -- Tattoo on Cpl. Benson's back.

Marine Cpl. Johnathan L. Benson, 21, of North Branch, Minn.

Cpl. Benson died Sept. 9 from wounds suffered on June 17 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Marine, hurt in June in Iraq, dies
The Minneapolis-St. Paul Pioneer Press

September 10, 2006

Sir! Yes, sir! I will always be a Marine! Cpl. Johnathan Benson, of North Branch, lay in his Texas Army hospital bed, his left leg gone, most of his left arm, too, from midway between his elbow and shoulder.

The 21-year-old Marine had been wounded by a roadside bomb June 17 during his second tour of duty in Iraq. He was in rough shape and feeling down one day, uncharacteristic for the usually upbeat young man, his family said.

One of his superiors visiting him that day asked him, 'John, are you still a Marine?'

'Sir! Yes, sir! I will always be a Marine!' he responded. 'I will live as a Marine, and I will die as a Marine!'

His mother, Marjorie Benson, recalled that scene Sunday as she and her husband, Steve, reminisced about their son. Johnathan Benson, the youngest of their six children, died from his wounds Saturday at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio.

His family is making arrangements to bring his body home later this week for burial in his hometown, where friends and family remember an enthusiastic young man with an infectious smile, a prankster's heart and a love for adventure.

'We're extremely proud of him,' Marjorie Benson said from the Army hospital residence Sunday night. 'He's our hero, he's North Branch's hero, he's Minnesota's hero, and he's the world's hero.'

Benson, who served with Company K, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Division, was injured nearly three months ago when a bomb exploded under his vehicle near Habbaniyah. He lost his left leg and part of his left arm and was paralyzed from the waist down, according to the CaringBridge Web site created for him. After he was hospitalized, Benson had a stroke on both sides of his brain.

He was awarded a Purple Heart, which was pinned on him by a Marine commandant while he was at the hospital.

While hospitalized, many relatives and friends, including his Marine comrades, visited him. His birth mother, Dawn Schubert, whom he sought out after high school, had visited him as well, his family said.

When Benson was injured, he was two months away from completing his second tour of duty in Iraq. He joined the Marines in 2003 after graduating from North Branch Area High School.

'He was a good guy, a good friend. He always wanted to help people out,' said Brian Meskimen, a high school classmate of Benson's.

Meskimen described Benson as someone who liked to have fun but was 'very excited' about joining the Marines as a young man.

He played sports and acted in high school plays, strummed a guitar well and knew how to make people laugh, his parents said. He joined the Marines, his father, Steve, said, 'because he saw them as the best.'

'Johnathan liked adventure,' his mother said. 'He was what you call a 'point man' - it was a very dangerous job, but it was a very adventurous job.'

Family members were planning a funeral service for next weekend in North Branch, with burial in Fort Snelling National Cemetery.

Marine Cpl. Johnathan L. Benson, wounded in action, died on 09/09/06.

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