Four Kentuckians, including one Lexingtonian, who died while serving in the National Guard are being honored by having their names added to the Kentucky National Guard Memorial.
They will be among those remembered at a public Memorial Day service at 2 p.m. Monday at the memorial, 100 Minuteman Parkway in Frankfort.
Maj. Mortimer Murray Benton, a Lexington attorney who graduated from Lexington High School and the University of Kentucky, was 37 when he died in Sicily on Aug. 16, 1943.
According to the memorial’s online biography of him, Benton was riding in a vehicle that “dropped off a bridge just blown by the retreating German forces. The Allies’ Sicily Campaign ended the next day.
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“The German and Italian forces were completing an orderly withdrawal from Sicily to Italy using mines, demolitions and other obstacles to delay the allied forces’ advance.”
Benton first enlisted in the Guard in 1926. He was inducted into the Coast Artillery Corps in 1941 and was sent overseas the following year, first serving in Ireland and North Africa before participating in the invasion of Sicily.
He was married to Pauline Bowman Benton, the daughter of A.H. Bowman, for whom Bowman Field in Louisville is named. He had two daughters: Betty, who was 4 at the time of his death, and Terry, who was 7.
Benton was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
Others whose names have been added to the memorial this year all died in 1917. Two of them were hit by trains.
Cpl. Thomas Higdon, 22, of Breckinridge County, was giving semaphore signals when he was hit and killed by an Illinois Central passenger train on April 7, 1917, in Ohio County. High winds were said to have kept him from hearing the train’s approach.
Pfc. Joseph Raoul Losson, 19, of Bardstown, caught pneumonia while assigned to guard duty at Kentucky bridges and died a week later on April 18, 1917, at a military hospital in Louisville. He was a member of Company B, First Kentucky Infantry Regiment, and had previously served with his unit on the Mexican border.
Pvt. Edward F. Orr, 26, of Pendleton County, died after being hit by a Southern Railway train while serving on guard duty near Waddy on June 1, 1917.
The memorial recognizes 255 Guard members who have died in the line of duty since 1912. Maj. Steve Martin said the names are added to the memorial each year as they become known, either through incidental research, family members who step forward or other means.
The Kentucky National Guard urges families of any of those named on the memorial to attend the service and be recognized.