Joe Bennett was born on November 25, 1918, in Marlow, Oklahoma. He enlisted in the Aviation Cadet Program of the U.S. Army Air Forces on April 26, 1941, and was commissioned a 2d Lt and awarded his pilot wings at Stockton Field, California, on December 12, 1941. After training in the P-47 Thunderbolt, Bennett joined the 360th Fighter Squadron of the 356th Fighter Group at Groton, Connecticut, in March 1943, and moved with the squadron to Mitchel Field, New York, and then Grenier Field, New Hampshire, before deploying to England in September 1943. He transferred to the 61st Fighter Squadron of the 56th Fighter Group in November 1943, and the 336th Fighter Squadron of the 4th Fighter Group, flying the P-51 Mustang, in April 1944. He had a mid-air collision off the Dutch coast on April 15, 1944, and was rescued. Capt Bennett was credited with the destruction of 8.5 enemy aircraft in aerial combat, plus 4 probables and 3 damaged, before being forced to bail out over France after another mid-air collision on May 25, 1944. He was captured and taken as a Prisoner of War, being held at Stalag 7A in Moosburg, Bavaria, until his camp was liberated in May 1945. Capt Bennett remained in Europe for a short time and then returned to the United States, where he left active duty. Joe Bennett died on August 15, 2000, and was buried at the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery in Dallas, Texas.
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew -
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untresspassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.