Benjamin Newsom was born on July 31, 1925, in Lawrenceville, Virginia. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve on June 28, 1943, and went on active duty beginning August 7, 1943. After completing basic training and aviation ordnance training, Cpl Newsom served in the United States and then deployed to the Pacific Theater in February 1945, returning to the United States in March 1946. He received an honorable discharge from the Marine Corps on May 21, 1946, and later served as a Sergeant in the Marine Corps Reserve for 8 months from April 20, 1948, to December 21, 1948. After completing his bachelor's degree at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Virginia, he was commissioned a 2d Lt in the U.S. Air Force Reserve on March 8, 1951, going on active duty beginning June 10, 1951. Lt Newsom next completed Radar Observer Electronic Countermeasures (ECM) school at Keesler AFB, Mississippi, in July 1952, and then served in combat aboard RB-26 Invaders with the 67th Tactical Reconnaissance Group in Korea from July to December 1952, and then with the 12th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron in Korea from January to June 1953. His next assignment was as an ECM Officer with the 103rd and then the 643rd Air Control and Warning Squadrons at Otis AFB, Massachusetts, from July to September 1953, followed by service as an ECM Officer with the 507th Tactical Control Group at Pope AFB, North Carolina, from September 1953 to July 1954. Lt Newsom completed Communications Officer school at Scott AFB, Illinois, in May 1955, and Technical Instructor school at Scott in August 1955 before serving as a Communications Officer Instructor with the 3337th, 3318th, and 3324th Technical Training Squadrons at Scott AFB from August 1955 to January 1959. After completing B-52 Stratofortress Combat Crew Training, Capt Newsom served as a B-52 Electronic Warfare Officer (EWO) with the 26th Bomb Squadron of the 11th Bomb Wing at Altus AFB, Oklahoma, from March 1959 to September 1965, followed by service on the staff of the 11th Strategic Aerospace Wing at Altus AFB from September to December 1965. He next completed F-105 Thunderchief Combat Crew Training, and then served as an F-105 EWO with the 354th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Takhli Royal Thai AFB, Thailand, from June 1966 until he was forced to eject over North Vietnam and was taken as a Prisoner of War on July 23, 1966. Maj Newsom died in captivity 3 days later, on July 26, 1966, but was officially listed as Missing in Action until the end of the war, having been promoted from Major to Colonel during this time. His remains were returned to the United States on March 6, 1974.
His Distinguished Flying Cross w/Valor Citation reads:
Major Benjamin B. Newsom distinguished himself by heroism while participating in aerial flight as an F-105 Electronic Warfare Officer near Phuc Yen, North Vietnam on 23 July 1966. On that date, Major Newsom was in the lead aircraft of a four F-105 flight assigned to patrol the heavily defended Red River Delta in search of hostile surface-to-air missile sites. Despite encountering adverse weather and heavy hostile defenses, Major Newsom fearlessly pressed the attack with complete disregard for his own personal safety. The outstanding heroism and selfless devotion to duty displayed by Major Newsom reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.