82nd Fighter Squadron, 78th Fighter Group
Plot G, Row 12, Grave 8
2ndLt. Benjamin H. Hodges was born on January 24, 1921 and grew up in Reynolds, Va. with his brother, Walton Jr, who would serve in World War II as a Navy pilot, flying a torpedo bomber. Hodges married his high school sweetheart, Dorothy Brunson, soon after he joined the Army Air Corps. Hodges enlisted and was selected for active duty pilot training in September of 1942. He was later sent to Duxford, England before the invasion of Normandy.
On June 20, 1944, the 78th Fighter Group was assigned to a combat air support mission for U.S. medium bombers attacking targets in the area between Cap Gris Nez and Compiègne, France. The group took off from Duxford Airfield at 5:20 a.m. and crossed into France at 6:25 a.m., then flew south. In the Amiens area, the group noticed contrails, signs of enemy aircraft circling at 30,000 feet above them. At 7:05 a.m., the group was attacked by more than 20 German Me 109 aircraft, which then dove to very low altitudes in an attempt to lead the group’s P-47's over enemy airfields, which had been heavily defended by anti-aircraft guns.
The 82ndSquadron Commander, Maj. Ben Mayo, destroyed one Me 109 and pilots of the 83rd and 84thSquadrons destroyed two others. The fighting continued between Amiens and Montdidier, before the group began heading back to base at Duxford, England.
Hodges’ formation encountered German aircraft while en route and climbed to intercept them. Hodges’ P-47 got lost in the fight and his aircraft crashed into a peat bog called “Le Grand Marais” (the big Swamp) near the town of Roy le Petit. First classified as missing in action, it was later confirmed he was killed in action, having been shot down by an Me 109. Hodges was 23 years old.
Awards: Purple Heart
Benjamin H. Hodges is buried in Normandy American Cemetery Plot G, Row 12, Grave 8.