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Newport Honor Rolls

Newport City Hall
Broadway at Spring St
Newport, Newport County, Rhode Island
 
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"World War II
 
These Honored Dead
Newport Mourns
 
Erected from funds raised by American Legion Post 7"
 

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Was CMC Theron Benton killed before USS Pecos (AO-6) sank, or was he one of the many sailors left in the water as other US Navy vessels fled the area to avoid Japanese submarines? The 21 year old fleet oiler had sailed with both the Atlantic and Pacific fleets. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, and then the Philippines and other US territories in the Pacific Ocean, USS Pecos was assigned to duties with the Navy's Asiatic Fleet. On the 8th of December, while smoke was still rising from the debris at Pearl Harbor, Pecos left Cavite Navy Yard in the Philippines and made for Borneo. From there she fueled the American and Allied fleet vessels as they began to organize a defensive posture against the Japanese forces. 

USS Pecos was steadily employed for the next ten weeks, sailing the waters between Australia, Java, and India in a frantic effort to keep the Navy warships running. On February 27, 1942, she was in company with  two destroyers, USS Edsall and USS Whipple. They wanted to transfer survivors of the seaplane tender USS Langley (CV-1), which had been scuttled after it was attacked by Japanese bombers early that morning. 

Continued attacks by enemy carrier based aircraft damaged Pecos, and it took another day to get the Langely survivors aboard as a running battle ensued. Pecos was finished by early afternoon of March 1st and went down with the CO, XO, and senior officers still fighting. Destroyer Whipple was able to pick up over 230 men from the water, but had to leave a large number of men drifting in their life vests. Submarines were known to be in the area and any ship stopping to pick up survivors was simply an easy target. The men left adrift were listed as Missing In Action until December 15, 1945, when it was obvious they were not among the Americans repatriated from Japanese POW camps. 

Later in 1942, on November 15, MM1 Walter Brockelbank, US Navy, is listed as killed in action. He is shown as buried at the American cemetery in Manila. It is very likely that he was among the crew of the USS Walke (DD-416) that was sunk on that day near Guadalcanal. 

An after action report filed by the 320th Bomb Group, USAAF, relates that just after midnight, 19 January 1945, 27 B-26 bombers took off from their French air base enroute to Achern, Gernmany. One aircaft turned back almost immediately with one engine misfiring and a second, BuNo 43-34605, crashed due to mechanical failure after the flight had been airport about 12 hours. A radio transmission from "My Gal" indicated the crew would attempt to bail out. All were killed. 1st Lt Elmer Cudworth Jr, is remembered here at Newport, his hometown. The people of the French village where the aircraft crashed honored the crew with a monument after the war and their decendants continue to hold a memorial ceremony each year. 

Alfred Barclay was an aviation cadet at Tuskegee, Alabama. He was killed in a training accident on January 30, 1945, just two weeks after turning 19 years old. His body was brought home for burial in Newport's Common Burial Ground, a cemetery that dates back to the Colonial Era. Barclay rests among the bones of many early American patriots, statesmen, and heroes. 

 

Missing In Action

Combined with the fallen of Korea, there are about 180 men of Newport remembered here. Several of them, like Theron Benton, were never located and remain Missing in Action. One of the lost from the Korean war is Sgt Manuel Viveiros, USAF. He was the tail gunner aboard a B-26 bomber of the 8th Bomb Squadron, 3rd Bomb Wing that went missing over Korea on the night of March 25th, 1951. He remains listed as MIA to this date.  

As I researched the names of the fallen at this memorial I found many more that were left behind and remain missing on a foreign battlefield. For their families the war never ended, it remained an open wound until it came their time to be memorialized.  

08/21/2017

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State Title - Rhode Island

state headline RI