Marine killed in Afghanistan memorialized in central Pa. as patriot, hero

To Benjamin Hine’s family members, he seemed like a “superhero."

  • Sean Sauro, PennLive

(Camp Hill) — Looking to pay their respects to Staff Sgt. Benjamin Hines, hundreds of mourners walked Wednesday morning thorough the front door of Christian Life Assembly in Camp Hill.

At those doors, they were greeted by a line of patriots, each holding an American Flag, which rippled in the wind.

The red, white and blue of those flags would become a theme throughout the memorial, with speakers often poking fun at Hines’ willingness to wear the colors for seemingly any occasion.

But to those closest to him, Hines’ love for the colors also highlighted his patriotism, his military service and his heroism.

“Benjamin, there’s no one like you, and you can never be replaced,” his sister, Meghan Hines, said during the memorial service. “I know God has acquired another hero in heaven.”

Benjamin Hines, 31, of York County was one of three Marines killed by a roadside bomb April 8 in Afghanistan, where they were serving as part of a NATO mission.

His sister spoke at his Wednesday memorial, remembering the fallen Marine for his silly personality at home and as a protective older brother.

Near the end of her speech, Meghan spoke for herself and the rest of her family, imagining a single message they’d tell her brother: “We love you.”

“And all I can hear you say is ‘I know,’” she said.

The reply is a reference to the Star Wars film series and was once uttered famously by the character Han Solo.

Dan Gleiter / PennLive

A memorial service is held at Christian Life Assembly for Marine Staff Sgt. Benjamin Hines, 31, of Dallastown, York County, who was killed April 8 in an attack in Afghanistan. April 24, 2019.

At the Wednesday memorial music from the series was played, and Chaplain Jay Libby spoke about the importance that Star Wars played in the life of Benjamin, who saw it as the perfect representation of good battling evil.

To Benjamin’s family members, he seemed like a “superhero,” especially when he was dressed in his Marine Corps uniform. That’s according to his father, Scott Hines, who took time to read messages other family members had written about his son.

But he also took time to share his own memories, starting with the day, when he first learned that Benjamin’s mother, Wendy Hines, was pregnant.

Wendy had baked a tray of cookies and arranged them to spell out the word “daddy,” Scott said.

Sharing memories, featured prominently at the memorial, where photos of Benjamin were projected onto a big screen.

Smaller photos of Benjamin were printed and left under a sign, reading, “Every picture tells a story. Please take one.”

A 2006 graduate of Dallastown High School, Benjamin was a member of the school’s first Marine Corps Junior ROTC unit. And after his death, district superintendent Ron Dyer called him a leader.

On Wednesday, he was remembered similarly by a group of Marines who served alongside him.

Many of them called Benjamin their “best friend” and struggled through tears to tell funny stories about his goofiness and touching anecdotes about his loyalty.

“I love you, buddy,” Second Lt. Anthony Owens said. “Thank you.”

Dan Gleiter / PennLive

A memorial service is held at Christian Life Assembly for Marine Staff Sgt. Benjamin Hines, 31, of Dallastown, York County, who was killed April 8 in an attack in Afghanistan. April 24, 2019.

Benjamin joined the Marine Corps after graduating high school, and was able to quickly advance his rank, also receiving dozens of awards, his obituary says. He served two tours of duty.

On April 8, he was killed alongside Staff Sgt. Christopher K.A. Slutman, 43, of Delaware and Cpl. Robert A. Hendriks, 25, of New York.

Slutman and Benjamin were reservists assigned to the 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, in Harrisburg, according to Department of Defense spokesman Maj. Roger Hollenbeck.

Slutman is from Newark, Del., and was a New York City firefighter. Slutman’s father lives in York County, the York Daily Record reported.

Hendriks was a reservist with the 2nd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment in Garden City, N.Y.

Throughout the Wednesday memorial, Benjamin’s family and friends all made sure to point out his devotion and love for his fiance, Anna Steg.

And before the memorial’s end, Libby read a letter that Wendy had written for her son. In the letter, Wendy said goodbye to Benjamin, but also told him she’d one day see him again.

“And I imagine that the wings that you wear will be red, white and blue,” she said.

 

 PennLive and The Patriot-News are partners with PA Post.

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