Army Veteran Elvin Benton is today’s Veteran of the Day.
Elvin LeRoy Benton was born in Clovis, New Mexico, in 1925. Benton’s father was an evangelist and he had four siblings. He graduated from high school in Lincoln, Nebraska, in 1943, and was drafted that summer. He registered as a conscientious objector, under the classification of 1-A-O or non-combatant.
Benton attended basic training at Fort Carson, Colorado, in September 1943 to become a medical technician. In the first months of training, he experienced backlash from superiors because of his refusal to work on Saturday, due to his religious beliefs as a Seventh-day Adventist.
Benton was assigned to the 109th Evacuation Hospital, a 400-bed semi-mobile field hospital. He departed for Europe on RMS Aquitania, which docked in Scotland on April 14, 1944.
The 109th’s first location was in Dorchester, England, where they treated patients until July, including causalities from the D-Day invasion. On July 19, the 109th landed on Utah Beach and moved through France, setting up in St. Lo, Torigny, Houdan, Fontenelle and Doncourt, among other locations. The hospital was temporarily attached to the First Army, before joining Patton’s Third Army.
In his letters home, Benton describes his work as “giving everything from fruit juice to penicillin shots and enemas, or as I put it, this Majesty’s Royal Rectal Rinses. They usually don’t come back for seconds.” German air raids were a nightly occurrence and though Benton had a foxhole for cover, he wrote, “When the shooting starts, I just pull the blankets over my head and go back to sleep.”
The 109th continued its journey across Europe, going through Belgium and into Germany, crossing the Rhine River on March 28, 1945. Benton was in Kotzting, Germany, on May 8 for Victory in Europe Day. He spent most of the remainder of the war stationed in Pilsen, Czechoslovakia. The 109th was disbanded in July with five battle stars. The field hospital admitted more causalities and had the lowest death rate of any evacuation hospital in Europe.
Benton was stationed with the 67th Evacuation Hospital until he returned to the United States in December 1945. He was honorably discharged at the rank of corporal.
After the war, Benton attended university and worked as a lawyer, defending religious liberty. He had two sons, David and Roy, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He spent the last years of his life in Walla Walla, Washington, with his wife Pat and family.
Benton died on Feb. 15, 2022.
We honor his service.
Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.
It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. Visit our blog post about nominating to learn how to create the best submission.
Writer: Aubrey Benton
Editors: Nicolas Nunnally, Alexander Reza
Researcher: Kennady Hertz
Graphic Designer: Kiki Kelley