PHENIX CITY, Ala. – They have been called the greatest generation. One of our distinguished World War II veterans who lives in this area received a heart warming honor for his military service.
On a crisp, cold January morning, Jacquelyn McKinstry drove from Enterprise, Alabama to Phenix City to present a special quilt to a special man. Jacquelyn represents the quilts of valor of foundation. Their mission is to cover all service members and veterans touched by war with healing and comforting quilts of valor. The recipient was 95-year-old retired Command Sergeant Major Jay Benton, Jr. a World War II veteran.
“The thing I’m most proud of is just the fact that he volunteered. He went in ’40 before the war actually started for the U.S. He knew it was coming and still went ahead and volunteered,” says Kevin Benton, Jay Benton Jr.’s son.
During the ceremony, Command Sergeant Major Benton’s long list of military accomplishments were highlighted.
“He landed in North Africa with operation Torch in Casablanca. He went across North Africa to Tunisia, Algiers, and then held there once they forced the Nazis out of North Africa,” says Kevin Benton.
The rest of the war he spent in the Italian campaign from Naples to Rome to Leghorn. Benton’s military career also took him to Japan and Korea.
“I think we’re all so proud of him and just our country in general. I don’t think I see a soldier that I don’t say..I appreciate you. You just understand that from the way your father taught you to respect others,” says Kevin Benton.
After being blanketed with love and admiration, the honoree was presented with his Quilt of Valor, handmade by a volunteer from Dothan, Alabama.
“Let me give you a hug. We’ve got to seal it,” says Jacquelyn McKinstry.
“I just want to make sure I honor each veteran for their service. I want to try and learn from each one,” says Jacquelyn McKinstry.
Benton’s contributions to our country form a beautiful tapestry of dedicated service that will not soon be forgotten by those who know and love him.