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Glendale veteran from viral cross country road trip passes away

Sgt. Jeff Turney and Howard Benson (Sgt. Jeff Turney Photo)

PHOENIX — A 94-year-old veteran who took the internet by storm following his cross country road trip with a Glendale police sergeant has died.

Howard Benson passed away from a heart attack, Glendale Police Sgt. Jeff Turney told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Tuesday.

“I had sent him a message on Veterans Day wishing him a happy Veterans Day and I didn’t get a response,” Turney said. “And one of his sons came up on my phone and I kind of figured there was some bad news coming.”

Turney connected with Benson after the sergeant showed up to the World War II veteran’s home for a welfare check because Benson wanted to drive alone to his new assisted living facility in Florida.

When Turney realized he wasn’t going to be able to talk the 94-year-old out of it, he decided he would accompany Benson on the journey.

Turney, who is also a veteran, heavily invests his time off-duty to helping veterans that need a hand.

“He got to see his United States one more time,” Turney said. “He got one more birthday and one more Veteran’s Day,”

It was evident the bond the two made on their near three-day road trip across the country they both loved and served for.

The biggest thing Turney wants people to know is that good still exists.

“Our story went national, I received letters from all over the country and there seemed to be a common theme that people had given up on humanity,” Turney said.

“Maybe just open up our minds a little bit to see we aren’t the only ones in the world that has the right answer and just pay a little respect to our elders.”

Turney said after he heard the news of his friend’s passing, he wrote a poem in his honor:

When countries invade, they’re on the front line; they stand tall and defend, pushing death from their mind

They may be afraid, but the enemy won’t know; they’ve answered the call, defending liberty as they go

Our way of life is so precious, they will fight to the end; standing beside each other, they will not bend

Protecting our freedom, can take a tremendous toll, but liberty requires them, to perform their role

They signed on a line, turning over their life; they stand in the way, of injustice and strife

Wars will be fought, by land, air and sea; by those with a cause – by those who believe

They protect those standing, to their left and their right; ready to sacrifice, themselves with all their might.

When thanked for their service, some veterans will shudder; they didn’t do it for glory, they hoped to make the world better…

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