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Info Sheet - Richard "Rick" Benner

comments Ron Welsh

Aerorifle Platoon Sergeant 1971

(Jan 2021) My name is Richard Benner. I am a retired CPT. US Army. I was assigned to F Troop at Lai Khe when F Company 75th Rangers was deactivated. Iwas a SSG at that time and served as a Team Ldr of a LRRP Team. I am trying to confirm the name of the rescued pilot of the LOH shot down in Cambodia and reach out to him.

I trained a South Vietnameze Ranger Platoon at Lai Khe to replace the Blue Platoon. Most operations were over Cambodia and no US ground forces were allowed in Cambodia at that time.

We were on stand by when we were sent in to rescue the down LOH (21 Dec 1971). I had 20 Vietnamese Rangers and 1 interpreter. It was a race between us and the NVA to get to the down LOH. Lucky we had all the cobras and other LOHs flying in support to keep the enemy delayed.

I was on the ground and led my people in. We circled the LOH and lifted the aircraft and rescued the Pilot, who I believed is Jackie Rookie White. I never got his name or the name of "UHIH" Pilot that hoovered down between the Jungle Triple canopy and took the pilot and also the body of Wayne Burns. The pilot was amazing.

I want to thank all the brave pilots that supported us on that rescue mission and were able to extract us back to safety.

Ron Welsh: I first met Rick in late 1970, at Camp Frenzel Jones, Long Binh. He was in the 75th Rangers and I was with D/F Troop. He stated that his team had supported a Brigade of the 25 ID, which was returning to Hawaii and he wanted to transfer to D Troop.

Benner volunteered to the F Troop, Air Cav, Aero Rifles. His Rangers, Boudreau, Smitty, and Wyatt, among others, who were also not close to DEROS, volunteered to came with him. That shows the respect and confidence his men had for him.

He and some of his teams members were ultimately able to transfer to D/F Troop in Lai Khe.

He was a baby faced kid and I was about 27 at the time. He told me that he was from Pennsylvania, I think it was Lancaster or near there. I learned that he had enlisted in the army right after high school, which made him about 18. He went to basic training, infantry AIT, airborne school, Ranger School and ultimately to Infantry NCO School, all at Fort Benning, they might not be in that exact order.

We hit it off well and had other personal contacts at Camp Frenzel Jones, Long Binh, from then until we met up again at Lai Khe, in late 1970 or early 1971. That was when we both were with F Troop Air 4th Cav. Rick was the Aero Rifles Platoon Sergeant and I was the Slick Platoon Sergeant.

I next saw Rick in 1980, during a chance encounter at the Army Personnel Office, which was in the Hoffman Building, in Alexandria, VA. At the time, I was working in that building doing a liaison job for an army unit. I just had left my office and got in an elevator, and two army officers got in behind me, and they were talking. I heard Rick’s voice and said “Rickey The Ranger”, and you should have seen the expression on his face. He was then a CPT, assigned to Fort Bragg, and he was at the Hoffman Building to see his Branch Manager about his next assignment. I think was Hawaii. I talked him into them stopping for a few minutes at my house which was in Dale City, VA, just off I-95 which they had to take to drive down to Fort Bragg.