Town of Huntington Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci announced on February 22 that the Town discovered over the weekend the name of a Tuskegee Airman from Halesite, Joseph B. Bennett, that will now be added to the Town’s World War II Memorial.
“On this final week of Black History Month in 2021, we are thrilled to be able to add this most deserving Word War II pilot, Joseph B. Bennett, to the Town of Huntington World War II Memorial in just the nick of time, thanks to the Newsday article on local Tuskegee Airmen and the great work of our Veterans Affairs Coordinator Carol Rocco,” said Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci.
Town of Huntington Veterans Affairs Coordinator Carol Rocco was reading the Sunday Edition of Newsday this weekend and happened upon the article, Famed Tuskegee Airmen included LIers who paid a price abroad and at home, where she discovered one of the five Long Island airmen featured in the article was “2nd Lt. Joseph B. Bennett” of Halesite.
On Monday, February 22, Rocco returned to Huntington Town Hall and checked her database to find that Joseph B. Bennett was not in the list of names on the Town of Huntington World War II Memorial located in Veterans Plaza on the front lawn of Town Hall.
The World War II Memorial on Veterans Plaza honors the memory, service and sacrifice of Huntington’s World War II veterans; there are 6,000 names on the memorial, which have been added in four phases on 15 plaques. After significant community outreach over the past few years, the Town has been working on a final plaque of names of World War II veterans who ever lived in the Town to be added to the memorial.
The unveiling ceremony for the final plaque was expected to take place in June 2020 but the Town was forced to postpone the event due to COVID-19 gathering limitations and concerns; the delay and a final proofreading of the plaque allowed for the late Joseph B. Bennett’s name to be added on February 22, 2021, the final name of 364 new names to be added to the memorial on the last plaque.
Rocco researched Bennett’s name and found an obituary, which revealed he passed away at the age of 93 on January 13, 2021; she contacted the James Hunt Funeral Home in New Jersey who put her in touch with Bennett’s daughter, who gave approval to add his name to the World War II Memorial.
Joseph B. Bennett grew up in Halesite and entered the Civilian Pilot Training Program at Tuskegee Institute, Tuskegee, Alabama. As a WWII Pilot, he earned several medals and retired with the rank of Captain. As a civilian, Mr. Bennett continued his flying career flying private chartered planes for presidential families and other socialites until becoming an aviation consultant.
Photos of Tuskegee Airman Joseph B. Bennett provided by James Hunt Funeral Home