A guest speaker during Bensley’s 22nd annual Veterans Day ceremony, Ret. Army 2nd Lt. James “Jimmy” Boehling gave a detailed account of an April 21, 1945 bombing mission he was on where the plane stalled and went down. Boehling alerted others on the crew, made a split decision to grab a parachute, and jumped out head-first. His face was burned by the slipstream, and he had forgotten to latch one side of the parachute. Luckily, while spiraling downward from 27,000 feet, he was able to latch and deploy it. It saved his life, as the plane went down loaded with bombs, killing the rest of the crew.
Boehling is a Richmond native, graduating from Benedictine High School in 1942. He attended Virginia Tech for one year before being drafted into the Army Air Force. He entered as an aviation cadet and received his training at Selman Army Airfield in Monroe La. Boehling was then deployed to Germany to fight in World War II and served as a navigator on a B-17. After the war, he went on to graduate from the University of Richmond in 1948. Boehling, went on to a successful career and remained in Richmond. In fact, Boehling who is now 92, has lived in the same house for 91 years.
Platform speakers during Saturday’s event were William “Billy” T. Stubbs, president Bensley Veterans Association, John Cogbill Jr., Bermuda District Supervisor Dorothy Jaeckle, Rev. Trent Boyd, pastor of Kingdom Principles Ministries, and Jack McHale, the former Bermuda District Supervisor who was instrumental in getting the WWII memorial in Bensley Park during his time as supervisor.
Thomas Dale High School JROTC raised the service flags. The Fort Lee Army Band performed the service songs as well as the national anthem and “God Bless America.” Just over 100 people attended. Lunch was served following the ceremony.