OXFORD – Joseph Benenati was honored Wednesday at the New York State Veterans’ Home. Family members, State Troopers, city and county officials and friends from World War II attended a birthday celebration honoring Benenati. At 93 years old, Benenati is sharp as a tack and willing to recount the excitement of a life lived in service to his community and his country.
Benenati recalled his time in the state police, and his motivation for joining the Marine Corps during World War II. As part of the escort team accompanying President Franklin Roosevelt and his family on their visits to Hyde Park, he got to know the members of the Roosevelt family. It was the President’s son, Jim, whom Benenati credits for convincing him to join the Marines. “One day he said, ‘You would make a good Marine,’ and so I enlisted,” Benenati said.
Benenati fought in World War II. He received a rare Battlefield Commendation, and was promoted from Platoon Sergeant to Second Lieutenant for his leadership in the Battle of Guam. Fifty-two years later, he received the Bronze Star and V for Valor, for his leadership in the battle.
After returning home, Benenati returned to the New York State Police, and was instrumental in proving the existence of organized crime in the Binghamton area and providing critical evidence in the investigation...