Even after decades, Air Commandos take care of their own.
Angela Bennett-Engele, daughter of Medal of Honor recipient and OV-10 pilot Capt. Steven L. Bennett, received newly printed replica dog tags in his honor during a small ceremony at Hurlburt Field, Florida, Aug. 29, 2019. Bennett’s original dog tags recently went missing.
Bennett received the Medal of Honor for heroic actions performed while flying an artillery adjustment mission in Vietnam in June of 1972.
“I was two years old when my father died saving those 51 souls,” said Bennett-Engele. “My mom said if he didn’t die in combat, it would have been while helping an elder cross the street. That’s just the kind of guy he was, ‘God, country, family’ and in that order.”
Her father’s citation recounts that he knew the risks were great and he had no artillery or tactical air support.
With no regard for his own life, Bennett chose to strafe the hostile position, aid the small South Vietnamese unit in need, and ensure the survival of his Marine counterpart after heavy damage to the aircraft.
Col. Richard Anderson, Air Force Special Operations Command command chaplain, presented the dog tags to Bennett-Engele.
“I was extremely blessed to be able to take part in reuniting Angela with a tangible reminder of her father’s love for God, family, and country,” said Anderson. “Her father’s sacrificial service vividly demonstrated the essence of the Commando spirit, and his heroism afforded dozens of people fighting for freedom the opportunity to be reunited with their families. Demonstrating to Angela our continued appreciation for her father’s sacrifice, as well as for her own sacrifice, manifests our deeply held belief that humans are more important than hardware.”
Bennett-Engele offered her final thoughts on receiving the dog tags.
“I’m now complete and feel like I have my dad with me, again,” said Bennett-Engele.
Bennett-Engele still hopes to find the original tags and hang them on this year’s Christmas tree.