Buffalo-Based Coast Guardsman Honored at White House Dinner

March 2, 2012 Updated Mar 2, 2012 at 1:02 PM EDT

By WKBW News

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Credit: Debbie Leavitt

Coast Guard Lt. James Cullen, Petty Officer 2nd Class Lawrence Benson, Chief Petty Officer Joseph Castro and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Michael P. Leavitt pause for a photo while attending the White House dinner, called "A Nation’s Gratitude: Honoring the U.S. Troops of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn," hosted by President Barack Obama at the White House Feb. 29, 2012.

March 2, 2012 Updated Mar 2, 2012 at 1:02 PM EDT

(WKBW release) A Buffalo-based Coast Guardsman, originally from the Pennsylvania/Western New York area, was among the servicemembers honored at a White House dinner, hosted by President Barack Obama in Washington, D.C., Wednesday.

According to a news release, Petty Officer 2nd Class Lawrence Benson, a maritime enforcement specialist at Coast Guard Station Buffalo, was selected to attend the dinner, titled "A Nation's Gratitude: Honoring the U.S. Troops of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn."

Before he joined the Coast Guard, Benson served in the Army from 1999 to 2005.  He deployed overseas three times in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for Valor.

"I was very honored to be chosen to represent my fellow Coast Guardsmen, as well as anyone who has served, past or present," said Benson.

Benson was born in Erie, Pa., but later moved to Allegany, N.Y., graduating from high school there in 1995.  He later graduated from St. John Fisher College in 1999.