NASIC honors distinguished alumnus

  • Published
  • By MSgt Benjamin Wiseman/Mrs. Michelle Martz
  • National Air and Space Intelligence Center

— On May 5, 2020, officials from the National Air and Space Intelligence Center announced the renaming of one of the its most utilized spaces in honor of one of its most distinguished alumni.

NASIC senior leaders metaphorically cut the ribbon on the Larry L. Benson Auditorium after the planned naming ceremony was cancelled in response to COVID-19 physical distancing requirements.

Known informally over the years as the Intelligence Production Complex or IPC, the 500-person secure compartmented intelligence facility auditorium is one of the largest of its kind. It is used for briefings, commander’s calls, conferences and even an annual talent show.

The renaming coincides with the recently completed renovations of both the auditorium and an adjacent area known as the Forum. Visitors to these updated spaces will now be greeted by large, visual displays representing each of NASIC’s four groups and their responsibilities. Running horizontally toward the auditorium is a living history timeline highlighting the center’s accomplishments over the last century. Finally, at the entrance to the auditorium is an expansive, modular legacy wall featuring NASIC members who have significantly contributed to the mission – members such as U.S. Air Force Col. Larry L. Benson, retired.

When it came time to name the newly renovated space, NASIC senior leaders agreed the honor should go to Benson.

“Colonel Benson devoted over fifty years of service to NASIC and its predecessor organizations,” said Col. Parker Wright, commander, National Air and Space Intelligence Center. “From a frontline analyst here to serving NASIC as a senior advisor, Colonel Benson has been an integral part in furthering NASIC’s mission and mentoring generations of employees.”

A native of Kannapolis, N.C., Benson graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Emory University, Atlanta, Ga., in 1961, and a Master of Public Administration degree from Auburn University, Auburn, Ala., in 1974. He commissioned in the U.S. Air Force in August 1962.

Following completion of a photo intelligence course at Sheppard AFB, Texas, Benson was assigned to the Air Force Systems Command Foreign Technology Division at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. FTD is one of NASIC’s predecessor organizations.

Over the course of his 30-year active duty career, Benson would return to NASIC three more times. With each new job, his duty title changed but he said his responsibilities remained the same.

“Never possessing the technical talent necessary to excel in scientific and technical intelligence business, I always saw my role as seeking to provide the top cover, leadership and resources necessary for the dedicated and brilliant analysts to succeed,” said Benson.

His last assignment– both at NASIC and for the Air Force – was to serve as Senior Intelligence Officer and Vice Commander of the Foreign Aerospace Science and Technology Center, another predecessor of NASIC’s. Upon completion of that tour, Benson retired in the grade of colonel in September 1992.

Benson went on to work both for and with NASIC in a civilian and contractor capacity. In the 1990s, he served as Defense Intelligence Agency Production Representative to the Air Force and what was then-known as the National Air Intelligence Center. Later, in 2003, he moved to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency as Chief of the NGA Support Team at Wright-Patterson AFB. In this capacity, he supported and coordinated the transfer of NASIC imagery intelligence support to NGA and the transition of the majority of the existent MASINT program to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Program. 

Benson most recently served as the Senior Geospatial-Intelligence and Measurement and Signatures Intelligence Advisor in NASIC’s Geospatial and Signatures Intelligence Group. In this position, he led the development of a comprehensive, integrated roadmap for the advocacy and implementation of emerging advanced technical intelligence capabilities.       

“To be honored by the organization I love in such a memorable and lasting way while still alive to appreciate and revel in it is rare and so very special,” said Benson.

All told, Benson spent 46 years working at NASIC – an impressive longevity by most standards and one marked with countless contributions to the Center. And now, a piece of that Center bears his name.

“I cannot think of a more deserving person for this honor,” said Wright, “and I hope that it inspires our team by his example of a life of service before self.”