BENTON, GREGORY REA, JR.

Name: Gregory Rea Benton, Jr.
Rank/Branch: E2/US Marine Corps
Unit: Company D, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, 3rd Marine Division
Date of Birth: 18 April 1950
Home City of Record: Vallejo CA
Date of Loss: 23 May 1969
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 160700N 1072000E
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Category: 3
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground

Other Personnel In Incident: (none missing)

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 March 1991 from one or more of the
following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with
POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W.  NETWORK in 2017.

REMARKS:

SYNOPSIS: Greg Benton is an American Indian (the USG shows Benton as
Caucasian) and above all he wanted to do his part for his country. He has a
pin in his leg as a result of a car accident while delivering newspapers as
a boy. Because of the pin, Greg had to fight to get into the Marine Corps
and had a difficult time in boot camp because of it. But he badly wanted to
become a Marine.

When PFC Benton went to Vietnam, he was assigned to Company D, 1st
Battalion, 9th Marines in Vietnam. Like other soldiers in Vietnam, Benton
was overwhelmed by the death of his comrades. In a letter home he wrote:
"Death is slowly catching up with me, and I cannot avoid it much longer. I
dislike having my life end in this hole, but there is little I can do to
prevent it. Though my body may be weak and soft my spirit is strong and
bold."

On May 23, 1969, Benton was part of a security force evacuating casualties
at Quang Tri when his helicopter landing zone was overrun. A firefight
ensued, and when it was over, search efforts were conducted of the area. All
personnel were accounted for except for Benton. No trace was found. It was
not known whether he had been injured, captured, or killed. Benton was
classified Missing In Action.

When U.S. involvement the war ended in 1975, thousands of refugees fled
Vietnam to escape the communist regime, bringing with them stories of
Americans still in their country. Since then, over 10,000 such reports have
accumulated in U.S. agency files. Many experts, after reviewing the
information, believe hundreds may still be alive today, still prisoners.

It is not known if Benton survived the attack on the landing zone on May 23,
1969 or if he is one of those said to be still alive. If he is still alive,
he surely remembers and has lived by the Marine Corps slogan, "Semper
Fideles". He knows the importance his fellow Marines placed on recovering
even the dead from the battlefield. If he is alive, he must wonder why his
country has broken faith with him and why he has been abandoned. It's time
we brought our men home.

===============================
From - Mon Jul 10 17:03:48 2000

My name is Mary E. Benton and I am Greg's older sister and his Primary Next
of Kin as listed with HQMC.

I just wanted to correct a few mistakes.  The reason the USG shows my
brother as Caucasian is because when we were born our parents registered us
as Caucasian because they were ashamed to be Native American in those days.
I have provided the Marine Corps and other government agencies with
documents to correct my brother's nationality to Native American. It is very
important because of the DNA testing. Greg's date of birth is April 18,
1950.

The quote you have:  "Death is slowly catching up with me, etc." is actually
part of a poem Greg wrote while he was in Vietnam and sent to me.

On May 23, 1969 Greg had just come off a 4 hour patrol when 2nd squad was
ambushed down in the valley below hill 891 where Greg's squad was (3rd
squad).  His squad went back down the hill to act as security while the two
dead marines and one wounded were loaded aboard the helicopter. Because the
enemy was still in the area, the squads were ordered back up the hill
immediately after the helicopter left and it was while the men were going
back up the hill from the valley that my brother disappeared.  No one went
back down the hill for four hours to conduct a search because the enemy was
still in the area.  They searched for approximately 45 minutes and could
find no trace of my brother.  My brother is the only MIA from 1/9, Delta
Company, 3rd Marine Division during the entire Vietnam conflict.

Two years ago I found 1Lt Larry McCauley and SGT Cecil Phillips who were
with my brother that day in Vietnam.  Larry was my brother's Platoon
Command and Cecil was the Platoon Sergeant.  They both feel that my
brother was captured by the NVA troops that were in the area.  No shots
were heard after the initial incident and no trace was found of my
brother or any of his belongings.

I will be going to Vietnam for my brother's birthday on April 18, 2001
with Larry McCauley.  I want to leave a Native American totem pole and a
plaque for my brother.  I want to perform some Native American spiritual
ceremonies for him.  I am going to try to find information about him
while I am in Vietnam.

Mary E. Benton

Thank you for all you have done for our men and women on the Wall.
My E-mail address is:  pow52369@earthlink.net

====================
09/2005

 PFC Gregory Benton (D Co, 1 Bn, 9 Marine, 3 Marine Division)

  My name is Bill Dwyer and I am a Southeast Asia Analyst at the Defense
  POW/Missing Personnel Office in Arlington, VA.  I am currently looking for
  Marines that served in D Co, 1 Bn, 9 Marine, 3 Marine Division in May
  1969.  I am looking for anyone involved in the incident of 23 May 1969.
  Additionally, I am trying to locate an individual who left a note to
  Gregory at the Wall in D.C.  The signature looks like J Cortez "E" 2/9,
  but I can't be sure.  Any help or direction would be greatly appreciated.
  My e-mail address and phone number are William.dwyer@osd.mil / (703)
  699-1240.  Thanks!!

SFC (Ret) Bill Dwyer

Southeast Asia Intelligence Analyst

==============================================
At 09:27 AM 10/25/2006 -0700, you wrote:

Thank you.  Yes, my brother is Gregory R. Benton, Jr., MIA since May 23,
1969.  I am waiting on pins and needles this month because a team from JPAC
will be in Laos this month to pick up two farmers who found a body on a
mountain just 1/2 mile from where my brother disappeared.  They crossed the
border  37 years ago into South Vietnam to go hunting and while on this
mountain came across an American soldier laying close to a enemy foxhole.  I
have been fighting with everyone for years to just go into Laos and ask any
of the villagers if they remember finding any of our soldiers during the
war.  The mountain Greg's company was on was on the Laotian border  even
though his investigation said South Vietnam.  Finally, while I was in Wash,
D.C. at the Ntl Lg meeting in 2003, one of the analysts found me and showed
me a message on his computer that had just come in from team members at a
village in Laos.  They got information on two shootdowns and 2 other ground
troops that were killed...just from two villages.  I have been to every
meeting, every update in my area in California...to include Nevada and
Arizona...so I could meet with people one on one and keep my brother's case
active.  It finally paid off.  My brother was alive when they left him
behind.  He had malaria, an injured knee, and a hyrnia which made it
difficult for him to even walk.  He wasn't allowed to get any medical
attention.  I learned this from his Platoon Commander after I found him in
1998.  He lives in Pennsylvania but flew out to California to spend 3 days
with me going over my brother's case.  I feel sure that this is my brother.
I have a headstone in place for him already at Arlington, Virginia.  When he
is  returned I will have him buried there and when my time comes I will be
buried with him.  I am a SSGT also.  Thank you for all you do for us.  You
are so important for our cause.

Semper Fi,
Proud sister of a Marine,
Mary Benton


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

On 12/26/2016 10:38 PM, Mary Benton wrote:
 
Dear Cary,     (http://pownetwork.org/bios/h/h174.htm)
I am so sorry you are having to go through such pain and frustration just trying to get your Marine home.
 
I, too, have uncovered what happened to my baby brother, Marine SSGT Gregory R. Benton, Jr., MIA 5-23-1969 in Vietnam. Greg was with the notorious 1/9, 3rd Marine Division, Delta Company, The Walking Dead.
 
When I discovered Greg's commanding office was the son of the Commandant of the Marine Corps I knew his investigation was full of lies and discrepancies.  It has taken me almost 48 years to put together the truth and have done it all alone all these years.  HQ Marine Corps Casualty has closed ranks on me and will no longer help me.
 
I will be attending an update in Arizona Jan. 28th and am not going to leave until I have the attention of someone who will investigate my brother's case as thoroughly as I have.
 
I discovered his own men were responsible for his death. He was left in an enemy foxhole on a mountain on the Ho Chi Minh Trail to die all alone because he was a new replacement and no one cared about him.  He was sent to Vietnam with a "possible hernia" and given a truss.  Just before he went missing he fell and injured his right knee.  I have his letter stating that he fell and the "doc" would not let him get any rest saying he would be "better" in a couple of days.  He was very ill from Malaria, also, and was not allowed to get medical attention.
 
When I was active duty Army I fell and injured my right knee and had to wear a brace for six weeks and now have a permanent brace to wear daily.
 
Because my brother's case involves the son of the Commandant of the Marine Corps, they have turned their back on me because I found out the truth.  I had my brother's platoon commander give more testimony to the Pentagon analysts while we were attending a POW/MIA annual meeting in 2003.  He told them what really happened.
 
My brother's remains were found by 2 Laotian farmers while they were hunting on that mountain shortly after Greg died.
 
No one will go to that mountain to do a JFA (Joint Field Activity) because they say they go by what is in the company investigation.  Because the entire investigation is full of lies, it is up to me to prove it.
 
I will definitely help you by contacting my Congressional rep and my Senators.
 
Bless you for all the pain and hard work you have had to go through for your loved one.
 
I promised my brother I would not die until I get what is left of him home to Arlington where I already have a headstone in the MIA section for him.
 
Semper Fi,

 
Proud sister of a Marine,

Mary E. Benton
 

December 28, 2016

I can remember back to 1969 when we were notified that Greg was missing.  Back then, we were told not to speak to anyone about his case and could not share information with other families who had someone missing or captured.  That is one of the reasons it has taken me so long to find the truth.  I found Greg's platoon sergeant and platoon commander in 1998.

I can remember when our presidents cared enough about our missing to attend the annual meetings.  That ended after the Clinton administration.
 
We also used to receive a Christmas card from the president going back decades.  That all ended with O'Bama.
 
One thing I want to get started again is the use of forensic trained dogs to search for remains.  I was able to get former JPAC commander Gen. Redmann to use dogs in 2002 and 2003.  They use an expensive ship to search for pilots and planes in the water but I was told it wasn't cost effective to use dogs.  Dogs can save a lot of money but it was Dr. Holland that ended that program because he was ticked off at me.
 
As of January General Mattis will be in charge of DPAA.  I am going to send my brother's case to him and ask for his help.  I am sure he has no idea what a mess that office is.
 
Good to hear from you.
 
Proud sister of a Marine,
 
Semper Fi,

 
Mary
 

 

12/29/2016
 

No one has tried to recover any remains on that mountain yet.  Brad Taylor has tried to get a JFA but has not been successful because they go by the coordinates in Greg's investigation which are 1 kilo from that mountain.
 
I have the name of the village and the names of the farmers as well as the name of the son of one of the farmers.  The son said his father took him to the mountain to show him where the body was.
 
In one of my reports the son recanted saying he knows nothing about a body but I know that cadre members will threaten and intimidate witnesses so they won't tell the truth.
 
David Combs, a former Army Ranger who retired as a Major, led fourteen expeditions into Laos and Cambodia wrote a book, "Thick Luck".  DPAA was not very happy about that book because David tells many of their secrets. I still read and re-read it for questions to ask our government.  I have a photo I took of David at one of our annual meetings before he wrote the book.
 
Before Dick Hites retired, he told me a JFA was scheduled to go to that mountain which required a tri-lateral operation.  The next time I saw him he told me it was cancelled because of weather.  Nothing has been done since the farmers were interviewed in 2003.  I just get excuses.  One excuse is they say my brother's case has been investigated 6 times already.  I keep telling them that they are not looking in the right place because his investigation is a complete lie.
 
Greg's case # 1447 and I can email you a copy of my own investigation if you would like to see what I have done.
 
When I was a police officer I never found 2 witnesses who remembered the same details about an incident.  There were 1,500 people in the room when Abraham Lincoln was assassinated yet no 2 witnesses recalled the same details.  Yet, the statements in Greg's investigation all have the same times, etc.
 
Semper Fi,
 
Proud sister of a Marine,


Mary