Posted by Cathy Gowdy on Tuesday, January 10, 2012 at 05:41:38 :
Tuesday, September 3, 1974
Last Rites Scheduled For William Benedict
UKIAH – Funeral for William Pershing Benedict, former San Rafael High school athlete and World War II flying ace, will be held tomorrow in Mesa, Ariz.
Benedict was killed Saturday while fighting a forest fire in the Hopland Rancheria area near here. He was piloting a converted F7F Navy fighter dropping chemicals on the fire when his plane crashed into a mountainside, according to the Mendocino County sheriff deputies. He was 56.
He was flying for the Sis-Q Flying Service out of Santa Rosa under contract with the State Division of Forestry, said Robert Davis, owner of the firm.
Benedict was born in Ruth, Nev., but grew up in San Quentin, where his father was a guard. He attended elementary and intermediate schools in San Rafael, graduating from San Rafael High school in 1938.
Benedict joined the Royal Canadian Air Force before the United States entered World War II. He went to England, where he served with the Royal Air Force. He was flying in North Africa when the United States entered the war and transferred to the U.S. Army Air Corps.
His flying exploits against Rommel and others were written up in Life and other national magazines, Davis said. He retired from the Air Force as a Lieutenant Colonel. For six years he has worked for the Sis-Q Flying Service, Davis said.
Benedict is survived by his wife, Mary, and two sons, William Jr. and Rodney, all of Mesa, where he will be buried.
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