Press release, Vera Nelson
A Remembrance of the 13 Airforce Men who lost their lives in a plane crash near Talihina will be held Saturday, Sept 28, 2019 in honor of the seventieth anniversary of this tragic incident. It will begin at 11a.m. with a parade followed by speakers and the unveiling of the memorial plaque.
Families of the crash victims will be present for all the activities. The men lost their lives far from their families, and they are getting the recognition they deserve at last.
One of those aboard was the plane’s navigator, 1st Lt. Philip Benefiel. He was born April 27, 1924 in Indianapolis, IN.
He had an older brother who died at the age four from typhoid fever. He also had a younger sister, Patricia.
Philip graduated from Shortridge High School.
At 19 he enlisted in the Army Air Corps. Aviation Cadet Benefiel received his navigator wings and commission at Hondo, TX in Oct. 1943.
2nd LT. Benefiel then went off to WWII serving as a B-17 navigator in England with the 8th Air Force, 301st Bomber Group, 601st Bomber Squadron. He completed thirty-one combat missions over Germany. He was awarded the Air Medal for meritorious achievement on bombing attacks over continental Europe, Later promoted to 1st LT he also received the Distinguished Flying Cross for his heroic actions, Aug 8, 1944.
When the war ended he was discharged from active duty. He enrolled in Butler University. He was a member of the Central Avenue Methodist Church and the vice president of the local Air of the Reserve Officers Association.
On Dec.26.1948 he married Jane Baumhofer of Evansville, IN.
He was recalled to service with the 15th Air Force, 301st Bomber Group at Smokey Hill AFB, Salina, KS.
His wife Jane joined him at Smokey Hill.
She was expecting their son Keith when he was killed in the plane crash. Philip Benefiel was only 25 years old when he died.
News paper story on Lt. Benefil