Story by Sgt. Gerald Wilson
ZABUL, Afghanistan – Dragoons from the 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment and Soldiers from Combined Team Zabul packed the small building on Forward Operations Base Apache Thursday night, July 22, to pay their respects and honor the memory of a very special hero.
First Lieutenant Robert N. Bennedsen was killed on July 18, when he was struck by an improvised explosive device when conducting a vehicle recovery mission outside of Qalat, Afghanistan. Bennedsen joined 2nd Squadron in 2009 as the logistical support team leader. Bennedsen was described by his fellow Cougars as a happy, caring person; the epitome of a leader and friend.
“Rob joined 2nd when we trained in Bulgaria last summer,” Lt. Col. Omar Jones, the 2nd Squadron Commander said. “He made a great first impression on me, the Soldiers and leaders across the squadron.”
“His positive attitude and enthusiasm toward training his Soldiers to support this squadron was infectious.”
Jones went on to describe Bennedsen as a very dynamic person.
“From day one Rob was well liked,” Jones said, “by his peers, his NCO’s, senior officers, but most importantly his Soldiers respected him and enjoyed working with him.”
Capt. Richard Faille, Bennedsen’s close friend, described him as a man with an encouraging and contagious spirit that always leads by example.
“He emitted a positive presence,” Faille said. “He was someone you always wanted to be around.”
“No matter what the situation,” Faille continued, “no matter how much you had on your plate or how much he so often had on his, he always had a joke, funny comment or a smile to make light of the situation.”
“He always had the ability to make your day that much better,” Faille said.
Faille described his close friend Rob as a guy who always led from the front, was never afraid to get into the trenches and help his Soldiers complete a task.
“His Soldiers loved him,” he exclaimed. “He was always right there with them, pulling apart generators and he was never afraid to get his hands dirty.”
“Sometimes I think he would have been happier rolling around under a Stryker,” Faille observed, “than in his office.”
Several others went on to describe Bennedsen as a caring man and a leader. They went on to say that he embodied the character traits of a true hero. All in attendance agreed that the best way to honor their fallen brother would be to carry on and fight the good fight in his honor.
Bennedsen is a native of Vashon Island, Wash., where he also served as a volunteer firefighter. He was commissioned into the U.S. Army Logistics Corps in 2008 after graduating from Seattle University with a degree in Business Management. His awards include the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, the Combat Action Badge, National Defense Service Medal and the Army Service Ribbon.
Bennedsen was an avid sportsman who enjoyed football, wrestling and scuba diving as well as restoring classic muscle cars.