Merit Bennett-Santa Fe Personal Injury Lawyer

Merit Bennett

The Bennett Law Group

(505) 983-9834

(505) 983-9836

https://thebennettlawgroup.com/

460 St Michaels
Dr #703
Santa Fe , NM 87505

Monday 8AM–5PM
Tuesday 8AM–5PM
Wednesday 8AM–5PM
Thursday 8AM–5PM
Friday 8AM–5PM
Saturday Closed
Sunday Closed

Merit Bennett

The Bennett Law Group

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Firm Summary

Merit was born in Spokane, Washington, to an Air Force family. His father enlisted in the Army Air Corps in WWII, served in Burma as a private in the Army Air Corps, became an officer, and advanced to the rank of Colonel over the span of his career, with his last assignment as Commander of Tinker AFB in Oklahoma. Merit moved whenever his father was reassigned (including when his father went to the Korean War), and, growing up, Merit lived in Maine, Mississippi, the Philippines, Kansas, Alabama, Turkey, and Northern Virginia. In the fifth and sixth grades when living in Ankara, Turkey, Merit learned to speak conversational Turkish, and his parents took him to Athens to view the Acropolis. He also attended a summer camp outside of Istanbul.

While growing up, during summer school vacations, Merit’s family would often go to where his grandparents lived – to the home of his mother’s parents in Parsons, Kansas, or to the farm of his father’s parents in central Mississippi. It was during one summer while at his grandparents’ farm in Mississippi when Merit was 13 years old that Merit awakened to the reality of racism for the first time. His grandparents had modern-day “slaves.” On their farm lived a black family, then called “tenant farmers” (code for “slaves”), who tended and harvested the crops on the farm to “pay” for their lodging, keeping a small portion to eat – just enough to enable them to survive in a small wooden cabin in the fields out of sight of Merit’s grandparents’ home. It was when Merit was berated by his grandfather for speaking to “Uncle Joe” (the slave “tenant farmer”) when Uncle Joe was unloading bushels of corn at Merit’s grandparents’ house that Merit was abruptly introduced to “racism.” Because Merit had by then traveled to other countries, experiencing many different races and colors as “equals,” he was naturally shocked to learn that such a thing as “racism” even existed, much less than it was rigidly and viscerally lodged in the mind of his beloved granddad and other otherwise “good” people. Ever since that moment, Merit would never tolerate racism, either in his personal life or in his work life, and he found it to be especially disgusting, and dangerous, when implicitly racist views were espoused by someone who claimed to be “educated” and/or “religious.” 

To this day, Merit is still opposing, and exposing, the two most imminent threats to our democratic way of life that he, as a cadet and as a military officer, swore to protect against – threats of institutional racism and cultural misogyny, which, when they manifest in combination, always portend the decline of a free society and the rise of authoritarianism.

High School

In 1965, Merit graduated from Mt. Vernon High School in Alexandria, Virginia, where he lettered in varsity football (quarterback), wrestling (145-154 lbs), and baseball (second base/shortstop). Merit played banjo in high school with a student group and taught himself how to play the 12-string guitar. During the summer of ’65, his father took him to watch the New York Yankees (Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris, coached by Yogi Berra) play the Washington Senators (Frank Howard). See excerpts from Merit’s ’64-’65 H.S. Yearbook.

Air Force Academy

Merit was awarded appointments to attend both USAFA and West Point, and, because of his father’s service in the Air Force (his father was then stationed at the Pentagon), Merit chose the AFA.

Merit lettered in Varsity Wrestling and Varsity Rugby and was on the Dean’s List and the Superintendent’s List. See http://usafarugbyalumni.com/index.php?title=Portal:1969_Spring_Men .

At the Academy, Merit lettered in Varsity Wrestling and Varsity Rugby and was on the Dean’s List and the Superintendent’s List.

In the varsity rugby match against the Cranwell (British Royal Air Force College) rugby team in the Spring of 1969, Merit scored a try in AFA’s 14-0 win, after receiving a perfect pass from teammate Roy Coppinger who had broken behind Cranwell’s line.

During one summer between semesters, Merit earned Army Airborne Jump Wings (5 battlefield parachuting jumps in full battle gear) at Ft. Benning, Georgia.  See https://en.m.wikipedia.org./wiki/United_States_Army_Airborne_School  (Most of Merit’s training mates were Army enlisted soldiers training for, and on their way to, the ongoing war in Viet Nam.) See Special Order No. 153.  See a description of this experience: https://www.defense.gov/Explore/Inside-DOD/Blog/Article/2062418/airborne-school-what-its-really-like-learning-to-jump/. See also https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&v=trVmoooTi50.

Merit also did his “Third Lieutenant” (officer training) tour at Tyndall Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, and was able to back seat in an F-4 Fighter Jet on a training mission.

Academically, Merit began as a math and science major, but soon became enamored with European languages, history, and culture. He switched majors after his sophomore year to seek a degree in “Western European Studies.” During the summer between his junior and senior years, Merit was assigned to the Deutsche Luftwaffe Schule (German Air Force Academy) in Neubiberg, Germany, to immerse in German language, history, and culture, and, as a part of that experience, was, along with a small group of American and German academy students, taken by German officers on an unforgettable tour of Dachau, the first (opened in 1933) Nazi concentration camp. The shame of the German officers leading the tour was palpable, but they felt it was their duty to show the AFA cadets this dark aspect of their country’s past. The tour of the gas chambers was heart-wrenching, the “final solution” of an autocracy – which can happen anywhere if we let it, even including here in the United States (currently aspired to by the right wing of the Republican Party). (See https://www.history.com/.amp/topics/world-war-ii/dachau).

During that same summer, Merit and ’69 classmate Mike Klindt took a “hop” (flight on a military transport plane) to Wiesbaden, Germany, where Merit’s father was then stationed as a Lt. Colonel in the Air Force, and they drove his dad’s VW Beetle from Wiesbaden to Paris. After returning to Wiesbaden, Merit and Mike took another “hop” to Berlin in East Germany (when the city itself was still divided between East and West). While in Berlin, one night after dark, Merit and Mike walked to the Berlin Wall and threw rocks at an East German guard tower – a feeble – and not very wise – symbolic protest against totalitarianism. The brief “protest” went unnoticed – and no shots were fired.

Merit learned how to downhill ski at the Academy as part of the curriculum. (After graduation, he also learned to cross-country ski and served on the Ouray County, Colorado, Ski Patrol during the record-snow 100-year winter of 1983-84.) (See Merit Bennett’s post-graduation photo from the US Air Force Academy).

While at the Academy, Merit became proficient in French, German, and Spanish and was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship for post-graduate study at the University of Europe in Bruges, Belgium. Unfortunately, the Nixon Administration slashed funding for the program, and Merit’s scholarship was withdrawn. In 1969, Merit graduated from the Academy on the Dean’s List with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Western European Area Studies.