Legacy of D-Day soldier preserved at VMI

The legacy of a local soldier, killed in action on D-Day in Normandy, will live on here at home.

We’re sharing what happened after VMI alum Colonel Dick Rankin tracked down the soldier’s nephew, arranging a very special donation.

War can lead to some serious reflection, and twists of fate.

VMI lost three of their own on D-Day — and items from one of them arrived at their museum...on the 80th anniversary.

“This last chapter for these items, a Purple Heart, a casket flag, an emblem of the 29th Infantry Division, this becomes a part of their story,” said Col. Keith Gibson, executive director at the VMI Museum system.

Lt. Benjamin Kearfott — Martinsville native, VMI ’43 — buried in the cemetery above the cliffs of Normandy, through twists of fate, was in Boat 6 with the Bedford Boys.

After moving to full-time status with the National Guard, he would write the institution in hopes of becoming a commissioned officer.

“And he writes to VMI, ‘Dear Sir, I’m going before the Board of Officers to get my commission as a second lieutenant in the Virginia National Guard,” Gibson said.

From there to Europe, where a chance illness brought the Martinsville native to Company A.

“Lt. Kearfott gets a message through port headquarters that he’s being re-assigned. And he will now be with Company A, apparently one of the platoon commanders had taken ill,” Gibson said.

So Lt. Kearfott was one of the commanders of the Bedford Boys, and became one of the three VMI alumni killed on D-Day.

The Kearfott legacy...forever tied to the Bedford Boys, now immortalized at VMI.

About the Authors

John serves as the Sports Director at WSLS 10. From Virginia Tech, to NASCAR and everything in between, WSLS 10 Sports covers the names making big plays in the NBA, NFL, NHL and MLB.

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