Leo O. Bench

Contributed by Bob Cooper

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Heroes come in many forms. One of my heroes was established in my mind back in 1942. I had been involved in an accident resulting in having to walk on crutches for a few months. Being disable makes an impression on ones brain and causes one to realize that he is vulenerable. So, being small in stature to begin with, my nature was meek.

However, that still didn't keep some of the bullies in the school from inflicting themselves upon me. I didn't receive any real bad things ... just got shoved around ... just because they could.

Then along came Lee O. Bench. He was of such a character that he didn't like to see anyone being picked on. So many times he would step in and it got around to leave me alone ... because Lee O. was my friend and protector.

In the class photo of 1946. Lee O. is to my right. (I was even smaller than most of the girls in the class).

On 17 December 1947, he joined the US Navy. Usually when you think of Navy ... you think of one in a white sailor hat and bell bottoms. Well it wasn't always that way with Lee. Since the Marines are a part of the Navy ... every time a war occurred during Lee's years of service, he would be transferred into the Marines. (They can do that ... and they did in the two wars in which he served ... Korean and Viet Naum. He has indeed had an outstanding life. He served 27 years in the United States Navy and Marines.

A Pharmacist Mate in the Navy and Marines is the same thing as a Medic in the Army. As would be expected ... medical men are of a great value on the front lines during war time. And he did spend many months on the front lines in both wars. Not only did he have training in Naval service but also took training in the Marine Corps ... and during those times he also would be required to wear Marine uniform and marine combat clothing. The photos below ... doesn't look much like a 'Navy" man does it?

Bench setting on sand bagsBench driving a jeep

My admiration for Lee O was much enhanced after seeing him again after 50 years ... and much more when I learned that during all those years of strife ... he had not lost his faith in God. Today he is a very active member in the cause for Christ ... a Deacon in the church to which he attends.

These days I hear politicians flaunt their military life and the public cheer them as being heroes. Evidently the nation as a whole doesn't know a real hero when they see one. I just wanted you to see "my hero" ... and yours also ... Lee O. Bench from Turley, Oklahoma.

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