Sergeant First Class Alfred G. Bensinger, Jr. was repatriated to his home state of Oklahoma and laid to rest after more than 60 years as a POW/MIA in North Korea.
Bensinger was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on February 16, 1925. He proudly served in the Army and was awarded many prestigious medals and decorations including the Purple Heart, Bronze Star, Prisoner of War Medal, National Defense Service Medal, World War II Victory Medal, Korean Service Medal with three Bronze Stars, United Nations Service Medal, Republic of Korea War Service Medal, and the Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation.
Bensinger served in the South Pacific during World War II from 1943 to 1946. In the Korean War, he was a member of Company D, 2nd Engineer Combat Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division. The Korean battle of Kunu-Ri is a solemn moment etched in the memory of the survivors of the 2nd Engineer Battalion. After many days of brutal fighting in the cold fall of 1950, the U.S. and U.N troops ordered their troops to withdraw through the only escape route through a mountain pass.
With the approach of a massive Chinese force, the 2nd Engineer Battalion held off the assault long enough for the other troops to safely evacuate. Unfortunately, the remaining battalion received the full brunt of the enemy and their window of opportunity to escape closed. They soaked all their equipment in gasoline and set it on fire to prevent the Chinese from capturing it as possible war trophies. More than 700 troops were killed or taken as Prisoners of War, including Bensinger. On December 1, 1950, he was officially reported as MIA.
The 2nd Engineer Battalion continues to honor their fellow Soldiers from the Kunu-Ri battle each year by burning their colors in a unique ceremony. Several returning American POWs reported that Bensinger died at the prisoner of war transient camp known as the Hofong Camp, a sub-camp of the Pukchin-Tarigol Main Camp Cluster in mid-January 1951. Bensinger’s remains were identified by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency in July 2017.
Bensinger’s survivors include his son, Gary Clayton of El Reno, OK; two grandchildren, Glen Clayton and Andrea Clayton; and his sister, Joyce O Browning. His name is permanently engraved in the Korean War “Courts of the Missing” at the Honolulu Memorial along with others that were reported missing. A rosette will now be placed next to his name to indicate that he has been accounted for.
Sergeant First Class Alfred G. Bensinger, Jr. was received with Planeside Honors at Will Rogers Airport on February 14, 2018. A full procession including military officers, local and national veterans, the Patriot Guard Riders, and members from the 2nd Engineer Combat Battalion Association accompanied the remains to Smith & Turner Mortuary 201 E. Main St. in Yukon, Oklahoma.
A second full procession followed SFC Bensinger to a graveside service at Fort Sill National Cemetery in Elgin, OK on February 16.