Nearly 100 of Saline County's citizens are listed here, among the fallen of America's wars. Unfortunately I can only find information on a few of their number. That's the case at most of the memorials I visit. The endless lists are matched only by the boundless sorrow they represent.
Sorrow, and pride. The families grieve for a generation or two and at some point; a few years or maybe a few decades later, the grief matures into a somber pride that the family has given a special kind of support to the republic. Their kith and kin stepped forward in a time of crises and swore to protect not only their friends and relatives, but an ideal that embraces many tiny sacrifices that ensure the freedom of those they served.
The thousands of memorial stones I have visited across this nation represent about one and half million veterans who died while serving. We tend to think that the fallen all died heroically in battle. If my journey has taught me one important truth it is that our men and women enumerated on the cold stones passed on because they elected to serve. The manner of their death isn't really relevent. Some died on the battle field; over it, on the sea, or under its surface. Nearly as many died because of disease, malnutrition and exposure. Some wasted away as prisoners of war while others were taken as their missions of mercy took wrong turns into a foggy mountain top.
These monuments commemorate the sacrifice of a community and of the individuals and the families that comprise the community. I will share a few stories with you, but I just do not have enough time to relate all of themu. The rest is left to you and those around you that care enough to know what it means when a gravestone or paving brick reads - "We sent our best."
TSgt James A. Beaty, USAAF, was killed on 12 August 1944 near Penn, England when the B-17 G-DG # 42-107191 exploded while outbound to its target. I was unable to determine if, or how, he was related to another of the fallen listed here, William J. Beaty.
Pvt John B Alley, US Army, died 11 December 1942. Did he succumb to disease while training? The family knows, but you have to track them down for that story.
PFC Beuford Rhodes died 11 September 1943, probably while serving with the 532nd Engineer Boat and Shore Regiment. That unit was fighting with the Aussies around Lae, New Guinea, at the time. I found some descriptions of the fight, but nothing that specifically tied Rhodes to the engagements. Over 75 years later it is unlikely that the surviving family even knows the significance of Lae and our ties to the Australian Army. Another good story lost to time.
Rev John W Tinkle has a cenotaph in one of the local cemeteries that reveals the 28 year old Navy Yeoman Third Class entered the service as an ordained minister. He had to have enlisted well before the attack on Pearl Harbor, because the ship he was aboard was sunk on 3 March 1942. The USS Asheville (PG-21) was at Manila Bay, Phillipines, when the war started.
The 23 year old gunboat was long in the tooth and her best days of Asiatic Fleet service were far behind her wake. Sailing alone, she was heading to the safety of an Asutralian port when attacked by two Japanese destroyers and a cruiser. Of nearly 170 crewmen aboard, only one survived to tell the story of the ships demise. That sailor was taken prisoner and died later in camp, but not before passing along the story of Asheville to his fellow prisoners. The old gunboat was outmatched in every sense and was completely torn apart by shell fire before sinking.
The names, and the stories, of the fallen of Benton continue far beyond my time alloted to relate them. Pick a name, research it, and then tell others what you learned. Keep these warriors alive. Continue to ensure they are not forgotten.