Celebrating Black History Month with a local american hero

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MINOT, N.D. - As Black History Month draws to close we recap the history made by local black heroes.

What better way to celebrate the last few days of Black History Month than by learning about a hero right here in our community.

While many soldiers didn't get a warm welcome after the Vietnam War, Edward Bennett warmly recalls his time serving his country.

"I figured that anywhere that they put me at where they spoke English I was gonna accept it and enjoy it," said Bennett, Vietnam veteran.

Nineteen-year-old Edward Bennett joined the Air Force in 1965.

"At the time when I joined and stuff like this here I was getting out of high school and it was something that President Kennedy has said at that particular time about what you could do for your country so I figured that hey I might as well join and do something," said Bennett.

Initially stationed in Turkey- after reenlisting- he was sent to Vietnam in 1969 as a squad leader and Canine handler.

On Jan. 13, 1970 his squad of 20 was attacked by armed forces.

"If they got attacked, I was their back up and supervised them as to what to do," said Bennett.

That night's attack led to several purple hearts for both his soldiers and canines.

After more than a year in Vietnam Bennett, ended up in Grand Forks and then Texas. But, he says he always felt like North Dakota was home.

He finished out his 20-year career while in the Bottineau National Guard. He became the Detachment first sergeant and the only black solider in the unit.

"Sometimes ya know you trail back on being the only African American, but it was nothing that really kept me down," said Bennett.

Since his retirement the family man hasn't stopped working with soldiers and veterans. In 2009, he became the Veterans of Foreign Wars State Commander, making him the first minority to hold the position in North Dakota.

But the American hero doesn't consider himself to be more than a man who served his country proudly.

"What do you mean a hero? You're not a hero, you're just doing your job," said Bennett.

To many, Bennett's story is one for the history books.

Bennett currently lives in Belcourt with his wife, daughter, and two grandchildren. He says he's still active in the VFW and tries to help soldiers and veterans as often as possible.