Retired U.S. Army Col. Benedict Alexander Tarnell, 96, died peacefully at home in Morrisville on January 29, 2018.
He was born July 13, 1921, in Bayonne, New Jersey, to the late Anthony and Alexandra Tarnogursky.
Col. Tarnell retired from a 33-year career in the U.S. Army. On June 6, 1944, as a first lieutenant in the 1st Battalion, 175th Infantry Regiment, 29th Infantry Division, he was part of the second wave at Normandy, landing at Omaha Beach under the command of General Cota. All but 28 men in his battalion were lost that day. Later, he joined the 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg and had been scheduled to be dropped into the Bay of Pigs until President Kennedy aborted the mission.
Throughout his long career, Col. Tarnell earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Maryland, a master’s at George Washington University and a diploma from the Command and General Staff College. As part of military intelligence, he served with the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon.
His many awards and commendations include a Purple Heart, three Bronze Stars with three oak leaf clusters for valor, combat and expert infantry badges.
Col. Tarnell was a member of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Warrenton, the American Legion and the Military Officers Association of America.
He is survived by a daughter, Karen A. Tarnell; a sister-in-law, Helen Tarnogursky, and several nieces and nephews.
In 1982, he was preceded in death by his wife, Mary Dorothy Van Horn Tarnell, who was from Baltimore. He was also preceded in death by three brothers, Vincent Tarnogusky, John Tarnogusky and Edward Tarnell.
The family will receive friends from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, February 7, at Moser Funeral Home in Warrenton. A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, February 8, at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church. Rev. Kevin Fimian will officiate. Interment will follow at Culpeper National Cemetery with military honors.
Memorial contributions may be made to Fisher House or the Wounded Warrior Project.