Operation Iraqi Freedom, Fallen Heroes, Iraq War 03/19/03

Richard A Bennett

Girard, Kansas

May 30, 2006

Age Military Rank Unit/Location
25 Marine Cpl

Marine Light/Attack Helicopter Squadron-169, Marine Aircraft Group-39, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, I Marine Expeditionary Force

Camp Pendleton, California

 Died following a non-hostile helicopter accident near Al Taqaddum, Iraq.

GIRARD -- A Marine from Girard was killed in Iraq during the weekend when the helicopter he was in crashed into a lake during a maintenance flight in Anbar province, a Marine spokesman said Tuesday. 

Cpl. Ricky Bennett, a 1999 graduate of Girard High School, died Saturday along with the pilot of the helicopter, said Capt. Martin Horner, with the U.S. Marine Corps Mobilization Command in Kansas City, Mo. 

Bennett's body was recovered from Al Habbaniyah Lake on Tuesday. 

Bennett was part of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force Forward, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, 16th Marine Air Group, HMLA 169. The accident remains under investigation by the U.S. Marine Corps
From Girard Press

Story last updated at 9:19 a.m. Wednesday, June 7, 2006 

Cpl. Richard A. "Ricky" Bennett 

Cpl. Richard A. "Ricky" Bennett, 25, of Girard, died Saturday, May 30, 2006. He died when the Cobra helicopter he was in crashed into Al Habbaniyah Lake, 30 miles west of Baghdad, in Iraq. 

Bennett was part of the First Marine Expeditionary Force Forward, Third Marine Aircraft Wing, 16th Marine Air Group, HMLA 169. 

He was born on Feb. 10, 1981 in Girard, to Larry and Marilyn Bennett. 

He received his Automotive Technician Degree from Pittsburg State University in 2002. 

He enlisted in the Marines on May 10, 2004. He was deployed to Iraq on March 27, 2006. He received a Letter of Appreciation, the National Defense Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal, and the Navy and Marine Corp. Achievement Medal. 

Survivors include his parents, of the home; his sister, Angela Barrett of Nevada, Mo.; his fiancee, Janine Cracchiolo of San Clemente, Calif.; his grandfather, Roscoe Peterson, Sr., of Girard; a nephew, a niece, and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins. 

He was preceded in death by his maternal grandmother, Carrie Peterson; his paternal grandparents, Alva and Mildred Bennett; and three uncles, Floyd, Bob and Harold Bennett. 

Funeral services will be at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at St. Michael's Church Hall in Girard. Pastor Bill Cox of the First Baptist Church in Nevada, Mo. will officiate. The eulogy will be given by Greg Malm. Burial will be in the Girard Cemetery with military honors given by the United States Marine Mobilization Command, the George C. Brown Post No. 26, American Legion of Girard, the sons of the American Legion of Girard, and the Stephen Bennefeld Post No. 7479 and Veterans of Foreign Wars of Girard. 

Patriot Guard Riders Honoring Our Hero

Thank You

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GIRARD - The hearse carrying the casket of Marine Cpl. Richard Bennett proceeded through a garden of American flags on its way to the Girard Cemetery Thursday. 
It was one of the many tributes offered to Bennett as he was laid to rest. 

Bennett, a 1999 Girard High School graduate, was killed after the Cobra helicopter he was in crashed into the Al Habbaniyah Lake, 30 miles west of Baghdad, on Saturday, May 27. 

During the services, Bennett was remembered as a man who loved serving his country and loved his job as a helicopter mechanic in the Marine Corps. 

He also was remembered as a man who found spirituality. 

Pastor Bill Cox said that when Bennett left for training, he took his Bible with him. But Bennett left it behind when he was deployed with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force Forward, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, 16th Marine Air Group, HMLA 169 to Iraq. Shortly after he arrived in the Middle East, he asked his mother to send his Bible to him. 

"He called his mother at 5:30 in the morning and was excited that a package had arrived from home and it contained that Bible," Cox, of the First Baptist Church in Nevada, Mo., said. "That was a week before he was killed." 

Cox described Bennett's life, mentioning that he had been a member of the Boy Scouts and the National Honor Society. Bennett graduated from Pittsburg State University with a degree in auto mechanics in 2002 and enlisted in the Marine Corps on May 10, 2004. 

Cox also reflected on the love Bennett had for his family, and the special bond he had with his nephew Matt. So special, in fact, that a picture of Rick and Matt was included in his memorial program, handed out to those at the service. 

"Matt was born on May 16, and Rick arranged to have an American flag flown over the base that Matt's family lived at on his birthday," Cox said. 

Bennett's dog, called one of his best friends during the service, was laid to rest beside him. In a strange twist of fate, the dog died the Friday before Bennett's accident. 

Many groups were involved in saying goodbye to Bennett, including the Patriot Guard and the U.S. Marine Crops Mobilization Command. 

Before the service began on Thursday, around 300 members of the Patriot Guard lined Forest Street across from St. Michael's Catholic Hall, where services took place, holding American flags overhead. The Guard held that position to shield friends and family from eight protesters. 

"We just came here to support the family ... that is the main thing," said Travis McCauley, a member of the Pittsburg American Legion Post No. 64 Patriot Guard riders. 

As his casket was brought into St. Michael's Catholic Hall by members of the U.S. Marine Corps Mobilization Command from Kansas City, Mo., onlookers stood in slience. 

From the service, his casket was taken to the Girard City Cemetery for burial. 

After the casket was at Bennett's gravesite, the Patriot Guard circled the area where Bennett's grave is located with American flags. 

Members of the Mobilization Command presented a 21-gun salute that visibly rattled members of the crowd, then a member of the Command played Taps. 

Emotions were at their peak when three F/A-18 Hornet fighters from Texas flew over Bennett's casket in the 'Missing Man' formation. 

"My family is very blessed with all of the support that we have received from family, friends and strangers," Jaylene Brown, Bennett's cousin from Owasso, Okla., said. "The military ... just everyone ... has been there from the beginning showing their support."

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