Acadiana Chapter - 82nd Airborne Division Association
Monument to Lafayette Recipient of the Medal of Honor, Captain Steven Logan Bennett, USAF
The Acadiana Chapter of the 82nd Airborne Association and Chapter 141 of the Vietnam Veterans of America had the monument to Captain Steven Logan Bennett, USAF, placed at the Cajundome to honor this Lafayette native's courage and sacrifice.
Captain Steven Logan Bennett of the U.S. Air Force was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor on August 8, 1974, for extraordinary heroism in Quang Tri, Republic of Vietnam on June 29, 1972.
Captain Bennett was raised in Lafayette, Louisiana; attended school in Youngsville; and studied at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. After receiving his commission in the U.S. Air Force, he spent a year flying B-52's in Vietnam and then volunteered to fly OV-10's as a Forward Air Controller. As described in the Medal of Honor citation below, Captain Bennett died when he ditched his aircraft in the South China Sea to save the life of his observer, Captain Mike Brown, USMC.
Captain Bennett's grave is in Lafayette Memorial Gardens. His name is inscribed on the Vietnam Memorial at Panel 01W - Row 051. And he is honored at the Forward Air Controllers' Monument in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Captain Bennett's Medal of Honor citation states:
Capt. Bennett was the pilot of a light aircraft flying an artillery adjustment mission along a heavily defended segment of route structure. A large concentration of enemy troops was massing for an attack on a friendly unit. Capt. Bennett requested tactical air support but was advised that none was available. He also requested artillery support but this too was denied due to the close proximity of friendly troops to the target. Capt. Bennett was determined to aid the endangered unit and elected to strafe the hostile positions. After 4 such passes, the enemy force began to retreat. Capt. Bennett continued the attack, but, as he completed his fifth strafing pass, his aircraft was struck by a surface-to-air missile, which severely damaged the left engine and the left main landing gear. As fire spread in the left engine, Capt. Bennett realized that recovery at a friendly airfield was impossible. He instructed his observer to prepare for an ejection, but was informed by the observer that his parachute had been shredded by the force of the impacting missile. Although Capt. Bennett had a good parachute, he knew that if he ejected, the observer would have no chance of survival. With complete disregard for his own life, Capt. Bennett elected to ditch the aircraft into the Gulf of Tonkin, even though he realized that a pilot of this type aircraft had never survived a ditching. The ensuing impact upon the water caused the aircraft to cartwheel and severely damaged the front cockpit, making escape for Capt. Bennett impossible. The observer successfully made his way out of the aircraft and was rescued. Capt. Bennett's unparalleled concern for his companion, extraordinary heroism and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty, at the cost of his life, were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself and the U.S. Air Force.
(signed) GERALD R. FORD
Acadiana Chapter, 82nd Airborne