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Killed In Action, Missing In Action, & Died In Service
Joseph Tatem Benton
SP4 Benton died in South Vietnam on 2/18/1966 during the Vietnam War - Battle for Cu Chi as a member of Charlie Company . The soldier's injury type or status was recorded as 'Gun, Small Arms Fire'. Benton originated from Hertford, North Carolina .
On February 18, 1966 the First Platoon of Company C began a raiding mission at 0100 hours. All 18 members of the raiding party were volunteers. They crossed their line of departure (LD) at about 0115 hours and the Ben Muong at 0130 hours. After crossing the stream they moved through dry rice paddies for about 900 meters, stopping some 25 meters short of the wood line, where they set up security. Sp/4 Fernandez and the squad leader went into the wood line on a brief reconnaissance of the area. At about 0235 hours Sp/4 Fernandez and the squad leader returned and the party moved forward into the rubber plantation for about 300 meters. The raiding party set up a perimeter and SP/4 Fernandez and the squad leader went out on another reconnaissance of the area. When they returned to the raiding party they stated that there was nothing to raid. The party then moved back about 100 meters and set up in a line perimeter near a graveyard (XT 178654), where they were going to wait until moving back to the base camp at 0900 hours. At about 0700 hours, contact was made with some VC on the left front. The M-60 machine gunner on the left flank opened fire, killing 3 of the Viet Cong. Immediately the entire patrol came under intense enemy small arms, automatic weapons and grenade fire. At this time the M-60 gunner was shot and killed. The left flank was pushed back about 20 meters. Sp/4 Fernandez and the medic moved forward in an attempt to rescue the M-60 gunner. Three more men came out to help them. The gunner was picked up and the group started to move back when the man carrying the M-60 gunner was shot in the left leg. Everyone hit the ground and returned fire. Grenades and small arms and automatic weapons fire from the VC was intense. Sp/4 Fernandez observed a grenade land amongst his small group. He accidentally kicked the grenade when he attempted to move away and it rolled nearer to the wounded soldier. Sp/4 Fernandez yelled a warning and dove onto the grenade and smothered the blast with his body, saving the lives of those around him. Artillery and mortar fire was called in on the enemy positions around the patrol. Tactical air strikes with napalm were also summoned. The remainder of the 1st Platoon of Company C made their way out to the patrol. At that time the raiding party moved back to the rice paddy area at the edge of the woods. Sp/4 Fernandez was laid on the ground and the wounded man he saved was laid next to him. The wounded man held Sp/4 Fernandez’s hand and talked with him. Sp/4 Fernandez told him he was hurting. The Dust-off arrived and the wounded along with the dead M-60 gunner were evacuated. The man with the leg wound was placed next to Sp/4 Fernandez at the hospital. The next time he looked, Sp/4 Fernandez was not there anymore. The wounded man asked the doctor about SP/4 Fernandez but the doctor would not tell him anything. The 1st Platoon of Company C returned to the base camp perimeter by 0935 hours. SP/4 Daniel Fernandez was later posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions