Hospital Corpsman Third Class Edward Clyde Benfold hailed from Staten Island, New York, and enlisted as a hospital recruit in the U.S. Navy in June 1949. Following additional medical training, and previous duty with the Fleet Marine Force, Pacific (FMFPac), HM3 Benfold rejoined FMFPac in late July 1952 for duty with the 1st Marine Division in Korea.
On 5 September 1952, just a few weeks after his arrival in Korea, HM3 Benfold was killed in action while treating two Marines. He was serving with Company E, 2d Battalion, 1st Marines in operations against enemy aggressor forces during the battle of “Bunker Hill.” When his company was subjected to heavy artillery fire, and an assault by a battalion-sized enemy force, he moved from casualty to casualty under intense enemy fire, administering aid. As Benfold approached a crater where two Marines lay wounded, he saw two grenades land inside, while two enemy soldiers charged the position. He rushed in, grabbing the grenades, and, according to his award citation, “leaped out of the crater and hurled himself against the onrushing hostile soldiers, pushing the grenades against their chests and killing both the attackers. Mortally wounded while carrying out this heroic act, Benfold, by his great personal valor and resolute spirit of self-sacrifice in the face of almost certain death, was directly responsible for saving the lives of his two comrades.”
Rear Admiral John H. Brown, Jr., Commandant of the 4th Naval District, presented the Medal of Honor to HM3 Benfold’s young son, who was just over a year old at the time, on 16 July 1953. The guided missile destroyer USS Benfold, named in honor of the hospital corpsman, was launched on 12 November 1994. In December 2004, more than 50 years after the Korean War, 300 members of the Arleigh Burke class destroyer bearing his name provided humanitarian relief to tens of thousands survivors of the tsunami in Indonesia.