CAPT Arthur J. Benline, USNR and Mrs. Peggy Cornell Benline

CAPT Arthur J. Benline, USNR
30 October 1902 – 11 May 1995

Peggy Cornell Benline
unknown – 30 August 1986)

At the age of 14½ when WWI began, Arthur Benline enlisted in the 8th Coast Artillery Corps, 10th Company at Mt. Vernon, New York Armory. When WWII began, he was commissioned as a Lieutenant Commander in the Civil Engineering Corps, (SEABEEs), USNR. In 1942, at the age of 40, he commanded the 70th USN SEABEE Battalion and attached units in North Africa, Italy, and the Mediterranean. Later, he deployed to the Pacific where he was the SEABEE Officer on the staff of Admiral J. L. Hall, Commander, Amphibious Forces both in European and Pacific theatres. The 70th SEABEE Battalion was engaged in many island assaults from the South Pacific to Iwo Jima and Okinawa and was cited for performance of duty in actual combat operations as being the first armed forces units to engage all Axis enemies in assault attacks on their own soil. The 70th SEABEE Battalion was scheduled to make further assault landings on Kikai and Amami Shima and on the home islands of Kyusu and Honshu when the atom bombs ended WWII. He was awarded the Purple Heart, Bronze Star medal and ten other decorations including the Distinguished Service Cross, N.Y. State. Many other members of the Battalion were also awarded Purple Hearts for injuries incurred at Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

Returning to the U.S. he entered public service thru the civil service route. He directed the construction of many schools, hospitals, and other projects throughout the state of New York in the 1930’s for the Federal Public Works Administration. He also supervised the design and construction of many large theatre and commercial buildings for the Loew’s-MGM, Fox, and RKO chains, as well as for Socony-Mobil. In 1952, he was asked to direct the development of the N.Y. State Building Construction Code. In 1960, Mayor Robert F. Wagner asked him to return to the city as Commissioner of the Deparment of Air Pollution Controls as he had been involved in the pioneer efforts of the Building Department. Captain Benline was widely known for his work in drafting, administering and enforcing modern building regulations including the N.Y.C. Air Pollution Control Code which was distributed worldwide by the Public Health Service.

He was a registered Architect and Licensed Professional Engineer in New York State and also a Professional Engineer in New Jersey and Connecticut.

Captain Benline, Engineer, N.Y. State Guardsman, Naval Officer, was presented the Ninth Regiment, New York Guard Lifetime Achievement Award for service to the state and the nation on December 9, 1987.

Peggy Cornell came to New York from Kansas City, Missouri. She studied dance with Isadora Duncan before going to Europe in the early 1920s. While there, she appeared in the Paris Opera and the Berlin Opera. She soon gave up classical dancing to team up with Harland Dixson doing tap and interpretive dancing up and down the French Riviera and at Cannes in Monte Carlo. Her dance partner was Carl Randall. Upon her return to the United States, she became one of the original members of the Ziegfeld Girls and appeared in Florenz Ziegfeld’s “Rio Rita” in 1927, and “Show Boat” in 1932, and the Ziegfeld Follies until they were discontinued. She was the star of the “Casa Habana Latin-American Revue” on stage in New York City in 1941. During WWII, she voluntarily performed either a USO or Stage Door Canteen show for American servicemen every night after her regular show.

In 1951, Peggy Cornell retired from the stage to marry CAPT Arthur J. Benline, USNR. Mrs. Benline joined the Ziegfeld Club, a charitable an organization that helped needy women in theater, and served as the club’s co-president for five years.

Captain Benline established the “Peggy Cornell Benline Designated Scholarship” in memory of his wife.