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WWII Marine to be reburied at Andersonville service tomorrow

Photo by J.D. Sumner

Photo by J.D. Sumner

ANDERSONVILLE, Ga. -- A Marine killed in battle in World War II is to be reburied today during a service at Andersonville National Cemetery with military honors and an escort from the Patriot Guard Riders.

Private James Howard Benjamin was part of the distinguished Montford Point Marines, the United States Marine Corps' first black unit and was killed in action on Oct. 29, 1944.

According to Eric Leonard, the chief of interpretation and education at Andersonville National Cemetery, Benjamin was originally buried in Hawaii, where he stayed until 1949 when, for some unknown reason, his remains were moved a cemetery in Montezuma, Ga.

"There is a lot we still don't know about Pvt. Benjamin, and I think that adds a little mystery to his story," Leonard said. "But what a fitting time to allow us to take care, perpetual care, of him than on Memorial Day weekend."

But, according to some sources, the condition of Benjamin's grave had fallen into disrepair and a group of people, including representatives at the National Parks Service, the Oglethorpe, Ga., post of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the City of Montezuma felt that Benjamin deserved better conditions.

So, at 1 p.m. today, the Patriot Guard Riders -- a national group of bikers who escort war dead and survivors to funerals -- will escort Benjamin's remains and his surviving relatives to Andersonville for re-burial.

"It seems like the right way to honor the man, and to honor the holiday," Leonard said.