Joseph Houston Bennett was born on November 25, 1918 in Marlow, Oklahoma. He attended Abilene Christian College in Abilene, Texas and Eastern New Mexico University based in Portales, New Mexico prior to joining the Army Air Corps on April 25, 1941. He earned his wings and commission at Stockton Field, California on December 31, 1941 and was assigned to fly P-39 Airacobras with the 54th Fighter Group. On March 29, 1943, Bennett transferred to the 360th Fighter Squadron, 356th Fighter Group in Groton Field, Connecticut, where he transitioned to the more powerful P-47 Thunderbolt prior to his deployment to Goxhill, England in August. Promoted to captain, Bennett scored a “probable” on November 29, his final mission with the 356th. He was reassigned to the 56th Fighter Group, and scored his first confirmed victory on December 20th when he downed a Messerschmitt Bf-110 during an escort mission to Bremen. He was credited with another Bf-110 destroyed on January 29, 1944, and received half credit for another shot down that same day. On March 8th, Bennett became an ace when he was credited with shooting down two Messerschmitt Bf-109 fighters and one Focke-Wulf FW-190 during a melee with the Luftwaffe between Dummer and Steinhuder Lakes. Bennett was transferred to the 4th Fighter Group in April where he began flying a P-51 Mustang nicknamed “Lucky Ann”. Bennett scored his first victories with his new unit on May 22, 1944 when he destroyed a Bf-109 and received credit for a “probable” over a second aircraft of the same type. Three days later, Bennett was credited with shooting down two Bf-109s, “probable” victories over two FW-190s, and one unidentified aircraft damaged, near Chaumont, France. Minutes later his Mustang was rammed by a Bf-109 and he was forced to bail out. He was captured by German farmers and spent the remainder of the war in Stalag Luft III and Stalag Luft VIIA. Bennett left active duty as a major in January 1946 and became a farmer in west Texas. He subsequently moved to Clifton, Texas where he operated a resort on Lake Whitney, after which he served in the Army Corps of Engineers until his retirement in 1980. During the war, Joseph Bennett was credited with the confirmed destruction of 8½ enemy aircraft, 4 probably destroyed, and 3 damaged (including the one that rammed him). For his service, Bennett was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters, the Purple Heart, and the Air Medal with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters.
Offered is a pre-printed card, designed and produced especially for American air aces to sign. At the left are small views of 6 aircraft (4 World War II and 2 jets) staggered in a vertical row, printed in blue ink. Across the bottom is printed “A proud salute to ... American fighter Aces”, presented in red ink. In the blank area to the right of the planes is written “Joseph H. Bennett /356th, 56th, 4th F G.” in two lines. The signature and accompanying information are accomplished in black ink, boldly contrasting with the white background of the card. The back of the card is blank.
This card is in excellent condition, with no folds or damage at all. The printed material is sharp, and the signature is dark and bold. There is no toning or discoloration to mar this interesting piece. Overall measurements are approximately 3.50 x 5.00 inches. A nice, bold signature of this World War II American Prisoner of War.