|BENTON, GREGORY REA, JR.
Name: Gregory Rea Benton, Jr.
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 2018.
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
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,
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: email@example.com
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.firstname.lastname@example.org / (703)
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.
Proud sister of a Marine,
On 12/26/2016 10:38 PM, Mary Benton wrote:
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,
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.
Proud sister of a Marine,
I look forward to all your updates. It has been so frustrating to get these guys to do their job that they get a big check for. We, as family members do not get a check and spend a lot of our own money just trying to get our loved ones home.
I was at the San Diego update on Jan. 20th and was so frustrated. I wrote to Gen. Mattis in August asking for him help for my missing brother, Marine SSGT Gregory R. Benton, Jr. The Marine Corps Casualty office stopped helping me and I wrote 2 letters to that Fern Sumpter Winbush asking for her help and she did not even have the courtesy of answering either letter. That is why I wrote to Gen. Mattis.
Gen. Mattis had Director McKeague call me in September. He then set up a meeting in Palm Springs for me to meet with my NEW analyst Dr. James Clonninger, Jr. on Oct. 26th, along with Hattie Johnson from HQMC Casualty. What a waste of time.
Hattie hasn't helped me for years. All she wants to do is gossip about people. Someone spread rumors about me that I am only handling my brother's case so I can get money by filing suit against the government.
In 2013 I put together a timeline from my brother's official company investigation showing all the lies and discrepancies in that report. I had my brother's platoon commander, Larry McCauley at our annual meeting in 2003 and had analysts from DIA and the Pentagon interview him for new testimony.
It was at that time that he admitted he did not see my brother come back off his 4 hour patrol and did not see him at the attack area/landing zone where some individuals in the investigation said he was. They said they saw him at 1500 yet, when I got copies of the Command Chronology and After Action Report for Apache Snow, they both show my brother reported Missing in Action at 1400. So how could he be at a landing zone at 1500?
I took the investigation and went line by line writing down all the times. Then I put all the like times together and nothing made sense. Not one thing. I can't believe no one caught these lies all these years.
I sent all of my findings to HQMC Casualty in 2013 and never heard anything from them. When I contacted DPMO no one would speak with me.
While at the annual meeting in 2003, Bill Forsyth from DIA found me and wanted to share an email he received from one of his teams that were in a Lao village. They found 2 farmers who told them of an American body they found during the war that was laying halfway in an enemy fox hole. They described what he was wearing and that he had light brown skin. If they found a body that had light brown skin, he had either just died or was in the process of dying. You don't see a dead person with light brown skin if he has been dead for a long time.
There were at least 5 JFA's set to take those farmers to that mountain but all were cancelled for some reason. I firmly believe it was Dr. Tom Holland that was responsible for cancelling them. He has hated me since 2001 when I got up to the microphone the last day of our annual meeting and asked if JPAC was using dogs to search for our missing in Vietnam. Dr. Holland was so disrespectful and negative about the use of dogs. A Pentagon staff member made him do a study on search dogs and told him to give me a copy of his report. He never did so the staff member got a copy for me. Then Gen. Redmann, the JPAC commander at that time got a copy of my article that I found in a magazine about a dog that was trained to find hundreds of remains in one day. Gen. Redmann put together his own program that took a year of research. He found Rhode Island State Trooper, Matt Zarella and had Matt bring his two German Shepherds, Max and Panzer, to Vietnam in 2002 and 2003. They were successful.
When Gen. Redmann left JPAC Dr. Holland got the program cancelled. Dr. Holland never spoke with me again and if I ever came across him at a meeting, he completely ignored me. I never understood that until I found an article about how abusive he was to his employees and how he hated to be challenged.
I even wrote a long, long letter to Gen. Winfield asking him to please continue the dog program so more of our loved ones could come home. He never answered me and I think that was because of Dr. Holland.
Dr. Holland said dogs were not conducive to the weather in Vietnam. Our troops and Australian troops had dogs in Vietnam the entire time they were there.
At the update in San Diego, I asked Bob Maves why they stopped the dog program and he said it was because it didn't work and that dogs were not conducive to the weather in Vietnam. Then another female staff member in the back of the room said the same thing. She even said it would be a lot of trouble trying to set something up like that with Vietnam. It had already been done in 2002...by Gen. Redmann. I read that Dr. Holland had complete control of everything and that none of the commander's could interfere with his decisions.
Dr. Holland is an idiot. He said, to him, dogs are only good for fetching his newspaper and slippers. Then he said they would have to put a dog in quarantine for 6 months before they could go to Vietnam. So what. I told him that he was in a room with family members who had been waiting over 30 years...at that time...to learn the fate of their loved ones. I told him if he could find a dog that could tell the difference between a steak bone and a human bone, he might want to get one. I could not believe how negative and stupid he was acting.
So, when I read how he hates to be challenged, I knew why he was treating me that way and why he was probably responsible for cancelling all the JFA's for my brother.
I was shocked to hear Bob Maves and the other staff member said the exact same thing Dr. Holland said in 2001. Bob Maves was so hostile with me.
I did not know it but the new Deputy Director, Rear Admiral Jon C. Kreitz, was sitting behind me in the meeting. He leaned forward and told me that he asked them why they didn't use dogs when he first arrived in Hawaii. He said they told him because dogs did not work out. I just happened to have a stack of photos and articles about Matt Zarella, Max and Panzer with me. The Deputy Director asked if he could see what I had. He was taking photos of the information but I told him to keep them because I had tons of that information. Matt is retired as a state trooper and runs his own dog training business. His phone number was one one of the articles. I told the Deputy Director that someone needed to call Matt and see what really happened back in 2002 and 2003. He said he would call Matt. Then he took his phone and pulled up photos of all the dogs he has on his private property here in California. He is a dog lover.
I don't know why individuals in Hawaii are against using a tool that can help bring our loved ones home but I intend to find out. They lied to the Deputy Director and I am going to contact Senator Claire McCaskill and find out why Dr. Tom Holland still has a job with the Pentagon after being fired from Hawaii.
To date, no one has gone to that mountain where those farmers found that body that I believe is my brother. Even though JFA after JFA were set up to take those farmers there. They are probably all dead now after all these years.
Now, Dr. Clonninger is telling me that he and Brad Taylor from DIA will be going to that Lao village to see if they can find any of my brother's personal things. Brad was in that village in 2003 when Bill Forsyth shared his email with me. It is shocking to realize how individuals who get a paycheck...which I am sure is a lot of money...treat a family member who is just trying to get her baby brother home and give him a proper burial. I have done all the work for them over the past 49 years. Not one analyst has done the research I have and they seem to be resentful that I have uncovered what really happened.
Dr. Clonninger mentioned that it may have been remains traders that took my brother's remains. How would he know. No one has ever been to that location with the farmers to find out. It is such a remote area and not well traveled through the years. An analyst mentioned that it would be difficult to get to that location. Funny, our troops got to that location. My brother got to that location.
I have not heard from anyone since the update on Jan. 20th. One thing that Dr. Clonninger mentioned was that he had contacted NCIS about my brother's case and he said he was told that they could not do anything until someone from the investigation confessed to lying. What!!! I thought that was the responsibility of NCIS to get the truth from individuals in a cold case. I am going to contact the Secretary of the Navy and the Director of NCIS in D.C. and challenge them to contact those lying thugs that did that to my brother. They left my brother to die on a mountain just 1 kilo from their command post. The company investigation was not even started until 4 days after Greg went missing. Most of the individuals wrote statements 7 to 10 days later.
As a former police officer, I know if you wait that long you will not get good information from a witness. Another curious thing about the statements in the investigation. Some of the individuals said exactly the same thing happened at the same time. That never happens. There is always a variation of information. These thugs got together after Greg went missing and put together a story that would cover up what they did. I proved that in my own investigation/timeline.
I came away from that update in San Diego more disturbed than ever. Johnie Web approached me and said he was looking for me and that he was supposed to be in my meeting with Dr. Clonninger. He said he had another meeting to go to. Really? I think certain people were just trying to be nice because I wrote to Gen. Mattis. I think they are all disgusted with me because I wrote to Gen. Mattis and some are disgusted with me because I said Dr. Tom Holland should have been fired and that I was glad he was fired and that he looked like a homeless man in a photo I was of him sitting at his desk with dozens of post it notes all over the place and photos of his hand on his wall. At meetings he writes on his hand and then takes photos of his hand and puts them on his wall. What??? His desk was such a mess that I said if he couldn't find anything on his desk how could he find our missing in action?
I know they all stick together and hate family members interfering. Well, I am one family member who is not done with all of them yet. I am going to get my brother home before I die. I am going to contact everyone and anyone that will help me accomplish that since no one else has...so far. I just don't get it.
Keep up the good work and a big thank you to all of you for helping us all these years.
Proud sister of a Marine,
Mary E. Benton