Thursday, August 4, 2011

Tarleton Thursdays: Did You Know?

Col. James D. Bender

Tarleton's Bender Hall, the men's dormitory built in 1953, is named for Col. James D. Bender. From 1936-1941, Major and then Lt. Col. Bender was professor of military science and tactics at John Tarleton Agricultural College. He left Tarleton and returned to active duty in May 1941. Dean Davis was so impressed with how Lt. Col. Bender ran the Tarleton ROTC program that he had asked Bender to stay another year after his four year term had expired.

Prior to coming to Tarleton, Col. Bender had won the Silver Star for gallantry in action with the 6th Division in France in World War I. Afterward he served in the Philippines, Hawaii, and the Panama Canal Zone and with the 2nd Division at Fort Sam Houston. He also served as regional commander of the CCC in Central West Texas. During his years at Tarleton Bender instructed some 1500 cadets who became commissioned officers in various branches of the armed forces.

The September 19, 1936 JTAC states... Major Bender trains polo ponies along with work - a first in ROTC! Whoever heard of a polo player at Tarleton! Tarleton has one now in the person of Major James D. Bender! In fact, polo was Bender's major hobby. He played many times during his service at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio before coming to Tarleton. He stated that training polo ponies was very easy....all you have to do is ride each one about thirty minutes a day, making it stop, start, and turn rapidly. If the horse doesn't stop quickly enough, one has to ride where there are a number of fences and let the horse run into the fence a few times! Another sport he enjoyed was sitting on the curb in front of the bank and listening to a recitation of all the horse trades that had been accomplished in the last ten years!

Bender left Tarleton to become an instructor in machine gun and automatic rifle at the Fort Benning Infantry School. In 1942 he transferred to Camp Swift where he activated the 387th Infantry for combat. He was promoted to full colonel during World War II. Col. Bender and his troops landed in Normandy on June 6, 1943. He was killed in France July 1944.

Cross Timbers Historic Images Project, photo and obituary.

Guthrie, Christopher E. , John Tarleton and his Legacy, p.84.

JTAC, September 19. 1936.

1 comment:

Lynda Wilkins said...

I knew Col. Bender as a child while living on the campus at John Tarleton Colege in Stephenville, Texas. He was a very imposing man--military all the way. He was a brave military man. My father was stationed in England at the time of the invasion and as they had worked together at Tarleton was pleased to meet up with him even under war circumstances. A true hero.