A Fairfield World War II veteran’s winter just got warmer, thanks to Heat For Heroes, a program developed by Economy Fuel to help keep Veterans warm during the winter months.
The company announced Thursday that 88-year-old Glenn Benton, who served in World War II in the Quarter Master Corp, loading and unloading supplies while stationed in England, France and Germany from June 1943 through January 1946, has been chosen to receive up to $1,500 of home heating oil from the low-cost energy company that serves New Haven and Fairfield Counties.
Sergeant Benton was nominated by his daughter, Bonnie Lindsay, also of Fairfield, whose Heat For Heroes essay described her dad as “…88 years young and still working full time” as he struggles to pay his monthly bills, in spite of living a very simple life with her mother. Sadly, she notes that Glenn also recently lost his cherished parrot and is most deserving of this prize as a man who gave to his country, worked hard his whole life, and has never accepted charity.
During the month-long nomination period of November 11th, Veterans Day, through Dec. 11, the public was invited to nominate Veterans at www.heatforheroes.com. In addition to its search for a deserving Veteran to receive home heating oil assistance, Heat For Heroes is also raising funds through the sale of Heat For Heroes branded merchandise, including cammo t-shirts and caps, with 100 percent of the proceeds benefitting Fairfield-based Save Our Vets a 501 (c) (3) organization to help Veterans and their families make ends meet during difficult economic times. Also, New Haven and Fairfield County residents who sign up for Economy Fuel’s Consortium Program, a low cost home heating oil option that allows homeowners and businesses to purchase heating oil at heavily discounted rates, have 50 percent of their $100 membership initiation fee donated to the non-profit organization.
Sergeant Benton was thrilled that his daughter nominated him for Heat For Heroes and very surprised that he won. “I thought, ‘we’ll just wait and see.’ I never win anything. It’s amazing that I was picked,” says Sergeant Benton, who adds that the money he will save on this year’s heating bills will be put to good use.
A Fairfield native, Sergeant Benton recalls his WWII Army days like they were yesterday. He set sail for Liverpool, England on December 26, 1943 when he was just 19 years old. Traveling from New York City, his ship crossed the North Atlantic in a convoy of 800 to 900 ships.
“It was a long trip,” says Sergeant Benton. “We could only travel as fast as the slowest ship, and the waves were often 30 feet high.”
Initially stationed in England, Benton was moved from camp to camp until the Allied Troops invaded France. He arrived in France by motor pool on June 9, 1944, only three days after the invasion of Normandy.
“For the remainder of the war, I was assigned to the four-ton Diamond T trucks, driving and loading and unloading supplies all over France and Germany,” says Sergeant Benton.
Because his family had been in the automobile business since the early 1930s -- his father owned Dodge and Plymouth dealerships in Fairfield -– he was not at all surprised that the Army had him working with trucks.
In fact, Sergeant Benton continued his passion for automobiles after the war, working for his father and then opening a foreign automobile sales and service showroom, Benton Motors, with his brother in 1960. In 1970 he and his brother sold the business, and a short time later Benton went to work for Bruce Bennett Nissan in Wilton, where he has worked for the last 39 years.
Through the years, Sergeant Benton stayed in touch with his army buddies, but, sadly, they have all passed away.
“They all eventually retired from their respective careers and then died,” says Sergeant Benton. “That’s why I keep working, or I’d die too. I actually retired from the parts department at Bennett but, on the drive home, I realized I’d made a terrible mistake, so after taking a vacation with my wife, I went right back to work. Been working ever since!”
Sergeant Benton spent time in Holland not far from where the Battle of the Bulge took place. He remembers seeing General George Patton’s tank corps pass by with the General in his car.
“I was under Patton’s orders, so this was a memorable moment. I also remember going through deserted towns in Germany that were full of booby traps. We had to be careful, because you never knew where they would be. I spotted an accordion on the shelf in a music store and had to pull it to me with a rope in case the store was booby-trapped. I played that accordion until the end of the war, but had to leave it behind. We also came across an abandoned motorcycle factory and 40 or 50 of us rode those motorcycles until it was time to go home. We also found a piano factory and wouldn’t you know, those pianos were dragged out into the mud and a few of my fellow troops started to play them outside in the mud,” says Sergeant Benton.
“I was glad to serve my country and really appreciate this gift from Economy Fuel. It will really help a lot. Everything is going up, up, up. I’ll be able to use the money I’ll save on my heating bills for my great-grandchildren, and more.”
Managing Director of Economy Fuel Mike Gill says the company received so many heartfelt entries that choosing just one was a real challenge.
“At Economy Fuel we believe the men and women who have served our country deserve our thanks each and every day. Sergeant Benton put his life on the line for our country so many years ago and now we’re honored to help him, and other Veterans, stay warm this winter.”
About Economy Fuel
Founded in 1975, Economy Fuel is a full service heating and cooling business that has proudly served Fairfield and New Haven County residents for over 35 years. Economy Fuel’s “no frills” approach allows the company to focus its resources on what matters most to its customers: providing a low-cost home heating oil solution that saves its customers hundreds of dollars each year. For more information, please visit www.economyfuelco.com.
About Save Our Vets
Save Our Vets (SOV) is a Fairfield, Conn.-based 501(c)(3) non-profit with a mission to support the needs of the military men and women who have served our country, and their families. Founded by local business owner Debi Koulogianis, SOV accomplishes its mission by providing much-needed funds to help service men and women pay household bills, rent, and mortgages. SOV also strives to meet the basic needs for military families, from childcare to food to other household needs. For more information, please visit http://www.saveourvets.us/