Reporting Esme Murphy
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ST. CLOUD, Minn. (WCCO) — A soldier who survived a rocket attack in Iraq that killed three of his friends got some unexpected help here at home. An auto body class in St. Cloud fixed up Jacob Benson’s SUV after it was nearly totaled in a five-car pileup this summer.
Benson suffered serious injuries and three other Minnesota soldiers were killed in that rocket attack back in July 2009.
Benson has been struggling to deal with it ever since. But now, the unexpected help from a fellow soldier and an auto body class, may have not only fixed his vehicle, but helped heal those wounds.
Benson still thinks about Basra every day. Still thinks about the soldiers he calls brothers: Carlos Wilcox, James Wertish and Dan Drevnick.
“I stay in very close contact with the families,” he said.
And now, he has a new reminder of the brothers he lost, and friendships he has gained. Last August, Benson’s Chevy Trailblazer was almost totaled in a five-car pileup, and he had no way to fix it, until fellow Red Bull Nick Buskey stepped in.
“When Buskey came up and put his arm around me and said he was going to take care of me,” he said, “and meeting this crew, that really reminded me of what brotherhood means.”
Buskey and other students at St. Cloud Technical and Community College fixed up the SUV, and unveiled it Thursday.
Local businesses donated $4,000 worth of parts and paint. The students put in 200 hours of labor. And they included a special message on the back of the vehicle.
“This is a memorial to them,” said Buskey, “to show that we care and we’re never going to forget they gave up the ultimate sacrifice.”
“I know they’re looking down,” said Benson, about his fallen brothers. “I know that they’re happy with what we’re doing and I’m happy that their legacy can continue.”
Suddenly the SUV is as good as new. And after a boost from some new brothers, so is Benson’s outlook.
“Fixed more than just this car,” he said. “That’s for sure.”
Buskey enrolled in the Auto Body program on the GI bill, and should graduate in two months. And Benson just opened a furniture business in Savage.