PFC Benjamin Hadden “Ben” Gore

PFC Benjamin Hadden “Ben” Gore

Hopkinsville, Christian County, Kentucky, USA
Death 25 Nov 1943 (aged 20)
Tarawa, Gilbert Islands, Kiribati
Burial Hopkinsville, Christian County, Kentucky, USA
Plot Section W
Memorial ID 89023709 · View Source
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September 2016
Remains identified by Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency
PFC Gore has been identified.
Reinterment service location and details are pending.
Ben H Gore, 20
Dies in Action

Played on Football
Team Here Before
Going Into Marines

Dave Gore, Lafayette Pike, received word today from the Marine Corps that his son, PFC Ben Hadden Gore, 20, had been killed in action in the Pacific. The message said that additional details would be given in a letter.

Young Gore, a member of the champion Tiger Football Team of 1941, had been in the service since last January, enlisting in the Marine Corps, and had been away from the continental United States since April a year ago. He had been in the thick of the fighting somewhere in the Pacific.

He played in the Tiger-Madisonville game at Madisonville November 21, 1941. The Hopkinsville victory over Madisonville team, 14-0, clinched the Tiger state championship, the local boys having won 23 games without a loss in two seasons. He was on the squad making the trip to Atlanta to play Boys High, and played in half a dozen or more games in 1940 and 1941.

The young Marine completed three years of work at High School. He was born in this county and spent his entire life here until he entered the service of this country.

The survivors are his parents, one sister, Mrs. Frank E. Keener, Nashville; four brothers, William Lee Gore, George Gore, student at Hopkinsville High School, John Michael Gore, and his grandfather W. Lee Gore.

--Kentucky New Era, November 2, 2016, page 1. Reprinted from Kentucky New Era, January 3, 1944.


After 73 Years, Local Soldier Comes Home

In January 1943, a young man left Hopkinsville to enlist in the Marines. His story was not uncommon. Like many young men at the time, he was called to service for a country in the midst of fighting World War II.

He was to serve in the Pacific Theater where the Marines and Navy were locked in conflict with the Imperial Japanese.

He never came back.

His family received a telegram indicating he had died, but his body never came home.

There was never any closure. A headstone bearing his name lies above a vault that has never been filled.

After decades, those who knew him grew old and died. His mother and father are buried in Riverside Cemetery near his empty plot, as are all his siblings. His remaining family lost hope. It seemed he would be forever lost, his final resting place known only to God.

But finally, after 73 years and a DNA test, Ben Hadden Gore is coming home.

Life and death

Born March 23, 1923, Gore was an all-American boy that grew up on a farm near Swallow Spring, off LaFayette Road, the second oldest of six siblings. According to New Era archives, he was a member of a Hopkinsville High School football team that won 23 straight games. He played in the state championship game in 1941, when the Tigers defeated Madisonville 14-0 to go undefeated and win the state crown.

After graduating high school, PFC Gore drove to Nashville to enlist in the Marines in January 1943. After completing his training, he was shipped in April to the South Pacific to aid in the fight against Japan.

From Nov. 20 to 23, he fought in the Battle of Tarawa on Betio Island (“BAY-she-o”), part of the Tarawa Atoll in the Gilbert Islands.

“Bloody Tarawa,” as it became known, was a few tiny acres of flat sand that was barely large enough for planes to take off from. In a Nov. 26, 2003 article in the New Era, Navy veteran Vernel Hunter talked about his experiences in the battle.

Hunter said Tarawa was a learning experience for the Navy and Marines. The untested operation was almost a failure. Many Marines and Navy personnel ferrying soldiers from Navy ships became sitting ducks for Japanese defenders when landing craft became marooned on a coral reef. The reef was shallower than military planners believed. Marines had to wade through as much as 800 yards of chest-deep water from their stranded landing ships to the beach under a hail of gunfire. The bloodbath was so concentrated on the island and in the shallows around the invasion point that the sea was red with American blood for hours.

"Bodies floated as far out as 8 miles where our ships were," Hunter said.

According to records from History Flight — a nonprofit that funds recovery expeditions of missing and killed in action U.S. soldiers — Gore survived the initial battle, but was killed on Thanksgiving, Nov. 25, during a time when the Marines were still clearing the last pockets of Japanese resistance from the atoll.

He was less than four months from his 21st birthday. He was posthumously awarded a Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon, Presidential Unit Citation, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal and World War II Victory Medal.

Gore was one of more than 1,000 Marines and almost 1,700 total U.S. servicemen who were killed during the battle. The National Parks Service called Tarawa the most heavily defended atoll invaded by Allied forces in the Pacific Theater.

He’s been missing ever since.

Missing in action

His niece, Betsy Gore Bond, said the Allied force pulled out of Tarawa immediately following the battle. Many of the war dead were buried in makeshift graves on the island. U.S. forces returned to the site in 1945 and recovered more than 500 bodies. Gore’s was not among them.

Bond speculated that many remains of those killed overseas have been lost forever as towns expand and the landscape changes.

According to Christian County Historian William T. Turner, it was not a common practice then for bodies to be shipped back home.

“Everybody was too busy fighting a war,” Turner said. “I don’t mean to sound callous about that, but we were just preoccupied.”

Turner said he remembered as a small child when local funeral homes began handling the return of service members killed overseas. He said funerals were frequent up until the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950.

According to New Era archives, Gore’s mother and father received a telegram regarding his death Jan. 3, 1944. Their son’s body was not recoverable.

In May 1944, they bought their son a plot in Riverside Cemetery that still stands empty.

Bond and another of Gore’s nieces, Betty Gore Stites, said the family did not talk about his death. His last sibling, brother George, died in 2011. As a result, they knew little about the man or his service. They had heard a few stories, like how he survived an explosive accident in 1940 when a friend tampered with a shotgun shell, but the family had all but given up hope of Gore ever returning to Hopkinsville.


But after being contacted in the summer of last year for DNA samples, the family’s hope was renewed.

After a long wait without much contact, Hattie Johnson of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency called on Sept. 1 to confirm a match.

A recovery team found Gore’s remains on the island. According to Bond, the remains are in remarkably good shape for being more than 70 years old. All Gore is missing is a tooth.

“We truly thought this would never happen,” Stites said.

His remains have been transferred to Honolulu, where a History Flight team will fly them on Nov. 11 to Nashville.

Given Gore’s military status, the family was offered an option to bury him at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. They declined, opting instead to have him reinterred in his plot at Riverside.

“This is home,” Bond said.

At 11 a.m. Nov. 14, a procession will arrive from Hughart, Beard and Giles Funeral Home for Gore’s funeral service. The public is invited to the service.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for closure,” Turner said.

Gore might have died on a remote stretch of sand in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, but thanks to organizations like History Flight, his story did not end there. He’s finally coming home.

--JESSE JONES, The Eagle Post, Kentucky New Era, November 2, 2016, Page 1

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  • Maintained by: Joe Craver -- KY Legionnaire
  • Originally Created by: Mike H
  • Added: 23 Apr 2012
  • Find A Grave Memorial 89023709
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for PFC Benjamin Hadden “Ben” Gore (6 Mar 1923–25 Nov 1943), Find A Grave Memorial no. 89023709, citing Riverside Cemetery, Hopkinsville, Christian County, Kentucky, USA ; Maintained by Joe Craver -- KY Legionnaire (contributor 48586211) .