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John Arthur Bennett

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September 10, 2000 | RICHARD A. SERRANO, Richard A. Serrano is a Staff Writer in The Times' Washington bureau. He last wrote for the magazine about the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building, which was also the subject of his book, "One of Ours," published in 1998 by W.W. Norton
Rain always frightened him, and on the night he was hanged in a military prison in Kansas, a rolling prairie thunderstorm was kicking up outside. That was four decades ago. Pvt. John Bennett had just turned 26. He went to his death perhaps more terrified of the thunder and lightning than of the gaunt hangman waiting upon the gallows. News of the hanging scarcely made the papers. Executions then, like today, were commonplace, so much so that his story has never been told.
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July 12, 1994 | RICHARD A. SERRANO, TIMES STAFF WRITER
He was 18 when he joined the Army, 19 when he was court-martialed and three days past his 26th birthday when he was hanged. It was the only time he ever was in trouble. His birth certificate said he was "colored," and his death certificate said "negroid." Karl Menninger, the renowned Kansas psychiatrist, lobbied the Kennedy White House not to take the life of this "undistinguished epileptic Negro soldier."
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