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Taylor County Military World War II History

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Lt. Benjamin H. Hodges

Benjamin enlisted Sept. 8, 1942, in the Regular Army Reserve at Turner Field in Albany, Georgia (Army Air Corp branch). His Army Serial Number is #14059599. Benjamin H. Hodges, Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army Air Forces, Service #O-818485, 82nd Fighter Squadron, 78th Fighter Group, died June 20, 1944, and is buried in Plot G, Row 12, Grave 8, at the Normandy American Cemetery. He was awarded the Purple Heart.

The village of Rouy-le-petit, Somme, Frances plans to honor Lt. Benjamin H. Hodges who died during World War II in defense of their village. Contact Jean Noel Pecheur Email

The airplane was a trainer -- Vultee BT 13A " Valiant " nicknamed " Vibrator" - Tallahassee Fl

Misson of 78th

(extract from a letter of a former 78 FG pilot )

On 20 June 1944, the 78th Fighter group was assigned an air support mission for US medium bombers attacking targets in the area between Cap Gris Nez and Compiegne.The group took off at 0520 hours and crossed into France at 625,then flew south. In the Amiens area, the group noticed contrails circling at 30000 feet above them. At 0705 ,the Group was attacked by more than 20 Me109 aircraft,which then dove to very low altitudes in an attempt to lead Group P47's over enemy airfields, which were heavily defended by antiaircraft guns .

The 82nd squadron Commander, Major Ben MAYO, destroyed one 109 and pilots of the 83rd and 84th squadrons destroyed two Me109's. Combat action continued between Amiens and Montdidier , before the Group returned to his base at Duxford,England at 0845 hours.

The fate of Lt Hodges

2nd Lt. Benjamin Hodges was declared as missing in action after the 82nd Fighter Squadron returned to Duxford . He was later confirmed as being killed in action , and had been shot down by an Me109. He fell at ROUY LE PETIT.
The aircraft was a REPUBLIC P47 D 25 .coded MX-I , serial number 42-26446. Information from Jean Noel Pecheur Email

At Duxford is this commemorative plaques:
" Erected by American Air Forces Personnel to commemorate two years of combat operations against Nazi Germany while stationed at Duxford.
American pilots flew 465 combat missions from this airfield from 8 April 1943 until the Victory in Europe 8 May 1945. They destroyed 333 German aircraft in aerial combat and 343 while strafing airfields.
This plaque is offered as a tribute to the courage of those airmen and to the devotion to duty of ground specialists whose work made these victories possible." Memorial Story

You who go by this stele have a thought for Lieutenant Hodges.
Volunteer at the age of 21 in the American Air Force, he left Georgia, the state where he was born to fight for the free peoples.
On the 20th of June 1944 at five past seven, while he was escorting bombers, his flight of aircraft was attacked by German plans Messrschmitt 109.
Some people who were there said it had been a spectabular aerial fight The Thunderbolt P47D 42-26446 of Lieutenant Hodges was hit by the Germans, it went into a dive with a deafening noise and embedded itself in the peat bog as the place known "LeGrand Marais".
In September 1944 the US Army tried to exhume the pilot's body, they only found a tiny part of it. Officially Lieutenant Hodges lies in the cemetery of "Saint Laurent sur Mer" in Normandy. Here, you only have a copy of the stele you can see in "Saint Laurent sur Mer" Memorial. [Translated from French] Memorial Stele A moving ceremony was held at Rouy le petit with a hundred people on May 2012. A member of US embassy was present.

You Tube Video of Service.

For more information see: 78th Fighter Commemerative Page

He was the son of Eugene Walton and Winifred H. Newsom Hodges born Jan 24, 1921. Benjamin and Dorothy Brunson were high school sweethearts in Reynolds. He attended one year of Mercer after graduation before going into the Service.
His mother, Winnie, played the organ at the 1st Baptist Church in Reynolds for over 50 years. His father, Walton, was a Railroad Depot agent.
Walton, Jr. (two years older than Benjamin) was in the Navy and flew a torpedo plane. He was stationed aboard an aircraft carrier. He returned to Reynolds following the war.

He was trained in Dale Mabry Field, Tallahassee Florida

He married Dorothy Brunson in Taylor County soon after joining the Air Force. The tragedy of Benjamin's death came first as "MIA" - missing in Action then later was confirmed as "KIA" - killed in action.
His widow after several years, remarried to Raymond Nystrom, also a fighter pilot during the war. They lived in Atlanta.

Photos contributed by Robert Brunson, younger brother of Dorothy Brunson Hodges.

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