44th Annual Woodbury Relays Dedication
George Benjamin, Jr. was an exceptional person and he was posthumously awarded our nation’s highest military award, the Congressional Medal of Honor on June 28, 1945, by President Harry S. Truman. George is Woodbury’s only Medal of Honor winner. George was a scholar athlete at Woodbury (‘35) and Temple University (‘39). “Benge” excelled in the discus, shot and javelin and was captain of Coach “Cap” Paine’s track team. He was a brilliant mathematician and artist and was loved by all.
During World War II he served in Co. A, 306th Inf. Reg., 77th Infantry Division, US Army. On Dec. 21, 1944, on the Island of Leyte, Philippine Islands, that PFC. Benjamin single-handedly led a fearless and spirited charge against a well-defended Japanese stronghold.
After several of his officers were killed, George left his secure position, ran across bullet-whipped terrain waving for his platoon to follow. Carrying his bulky radio and armed only with a pistol, he fearlessly penetrated intense machine gun and rifle fire to the enemy position, killing one of the enemy in a foxhole and moving on to annihilate a light machine gun crew.
Heedless of heavy fire concentrated on him, he continued to spearhead the assault, killing two more of the enemy before falling mortally wounded. After being evacuated to an aid station, his first thought was still of the American advance. Overcoming great pain, he radioed tactical information on enemy weapons and positions. His charge allowed the advance of his entire battalion, saved countless lives and was a source of great and lasting inspiration to his comrades. He is now resting peacefully in the US Army cemetery at Fort Bonifacio, Manila, Philippines.
PFC. George Benjamin’s son, Christopher Benjamin was six months old when his father died. It is Christopher’s wish that his father’s Medal of Honor, as well as other medals and items of interest, be on permanent display in the City of Woodbury. To that end, the Benjamin Medal of Honor Steering Committee has been formed to make this happen. It is hoped that the plans for this will be completed by Memorial Day 2016.
In memory of Benjamin’s heroism and sacrifice, and to celebrate the establishment of a permanent display of his Medal of Honor in the City of Woodbury, the 44th Annual Woodbury Relays are dedicated to PFC. George Benjamin, Jr.
In 1995, the 50th Anniversary of WWII, Olympian Browning Ross established a 5K race in honor of Benjamin. On June 5th, 2016, more than 300 runners will participate in the 22nd George Benjamin, Jr. & H. Browning Ross Memorial 5K Run/Walk, organized by the Road Runners Club of Woodbury.