Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Hospital Corpsman Third Class Edward C. Benfold

Edward C. Benfold was born on 15 January 1931 in New York, NY. At the time of action he was a Hospital Corpsman Third Class. His citation reads, “For gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a hospital corpsman attached to a company in the 1st Marine Division during operations against enemy aggressor forces in Korea on 5 September 1952. When his company was subjected to heavy artillery and mortar barrages,
followed by a determined assault during the hours of darkness by an enemy force estimated at battalion strength, Benfold resolutely moved from position to position in the face of intense fire, treating the wounded and lending words of encouragement. Leaving the protection of his sheltered position to treat the wounded when the platoon area in which he was working was attacked from both the front and the rear, he moved forward to an exposed ridge line where he observed two Marines in a large crater. As he approached the two men to determine their condition, an enemy soldier threw two grenades into the crater while two other enemy charged the position. Picking up a grenade in each hand, Benfold leaped out of the crater and hurled himself against the onrushing hostile soldiers, pushing the grenades against their chests and killing both of the attackers. Mortally wounded while carrying out the heroic act, Benfold, by his great personal valor and resolute spirit of self-sacrifice in the face of almost certain death, was directly responsible for saving the lives of his two comrades. His exceptional courage reflects the highest credit upon himself and enhances the finest traditions of the United States naval service. He gallantly gave his life for others.”

He is buried in Beverly National Cemetery, Beverly, NJ (Distinguished Service Section, Grave 12). The Benfold Naval Branch Health Clinic, in Millington, TN and the USS Benfold (DDG-65) are named in his honor.


  1. My father, William T. George, was the corpsman replaced by Edward Benfold in Korea. I don’t believe my father witnessed Corpsman Benfold’s heroic action, but he mentioned him in a letter he wrote to a friend of his who had been wounded and was recovering back at Great Lakes.

    “The corpsman that relieved me, a kid named Benfold, was with the company about 2 weeks, and he got killed. He is up for the congressional medal, because the enemy threw a few grenades in a bunker that he was treating casualties, [in] and he scooped them up in his hands running out with them and they went off.”

    That is all he says about the “kid.” My dad was 21 when he wrote the letter. The corpsman my father replaced had also been killed in action. My father was wounded twice in combat and was awarded the Bronze Star for his heroic actions on August 9, 1952. According to his medal citation, a Marine platoon on patrol “suffered numerous casualties from intense enemy mortar and artillery fire. GEORGE constantly exposed himself to devastating hostile fire in an effort to administer medical aid to the stricken men and, in one occasion, bravely advanced into an active enemy mine field to assist one of the wounded Marines.” He was able to reorganize the men and “led them to a safe position in the rear area.”

    In his letter he mentions several other combat incidents, including one where the company went out on a raid, and “it turned into a mess, there were 12 men missing, and the next morning they found them all staked out on a hill.” He told me the enemy would capture Marines, torture them, mutilate their bodies and stake them into the hillsides.

    What heroic men. I guess they were chosen as corpsmen in part because they put the lives of others ahead of their own. My father died at age 72, and always remembered the sacrifices made by the Navy corpsmen. I read where Corpsman Benfold’s son received the Medal of Honor. I believe his son would be about my age, and it would certainly be an honor to be in touch with him.

  2. Mr George - thank you very much for your note. I will print it out and make a biographical folder for your father. We'd be glad to receive copies of his letters, citation, or other information about his career as a Corpsman. As the new staff member, I don't know if we're in touch w/ Mr Benfold, but one of the other staff will know.