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Dickinson vet honors deceased vets

Vietnam veteran Brian Benesh places a flag at the grave marker of Radioman Third Class Donald J. Kusie on Wednesday afternoon in Dickinson.

Four grave markers in the Dickinson Cemetery serve as memorials to veterans who were killed in action during World War II, though their remains were never recovered.

It's their memory that counts to Vietnam veteran Brian Benesh, who has placed miniature American flags on their grave markers, as well as those of nearly 860 others for Memorial Day.

Benesh, along with fellow Vietnam veterans Jim Jensen and Jim Fisher, placed flags in cemeteries at Dickinson, New Hradec, South Heart and Schefield on May 17.

The flags will remain in place until Tuesday. It is the ninth year Benesh has placed flags in the cemeteries.

"It's to honor every person who has served and sacrificed for this country," he said.

By tradition, he researches a veteran or veterans who have grave markers in cemeteries.

This year, he singled out Radioman Third Class Donald J. Kusie, and Air Force pilot First Lt. Charles H. Blomburg, Seaman First Class David J. Schwartz and his brother, Fire Controlman Second Class Edward J. Schwartz.

Benesh learned that Kusie was killed during the Pearl Harbor attack on Dec. 7, 1941.

The Schwartz brothers were both killed at sea, one in 1942 and the other in 1944.

Blomburg was killed on a mission during the Korean War.

The markers for Kusie and Blomburg are near the north entrance to the Dickinson Cemetery. The markers for the Schwartz brothers are near the south-side road through the cemetery, close to the crest of the hill.

"We honor them even though they're not here," Benesh said. "Secondly, we must never forget them. And thirdly, imagine the family learning their loved one is missing and having to wait 10 years before he is declared officially dead. I suspect that creates a tremendous amount of problems."

Benesh encourages everyone to attend a Memorial Day program, to visit the cemeteries and to reflect on the veterans' service to America. Dickinson's program is at 10 a.m. Monday at Dickinson State University's May Hall.

The count of deceased veterans goes up annually -- this year by 18.

"As long as I can walk or crawl, I'll be doing this," Benesh said.