Clemson U. honors Ben Skardon (102)

‘Ben’ Skardon

Clemson University will award its highest honor, the Clemson Medallion, to two distinguished alumni — Professor Emeritus Beverly “Ben” Skardon and Trustee Emeritus Allen Price Wood. Skardon and Wood will be honored at a presentation ceremony in February 2020. Skardon, who lives in Clemson, is a native of Walterboro. His brother, Jimmy Skardon, still lives here.

Clemson University President James P. Clements said he is proud that the university is honoring Skardon and Wood for their leadership and contributions to the university. “Both of these men have helped shaped the university in important ways,” said Clements. “Col. Skardon made a lasting impact by teaching countless students during his career on the faculty, and students are being educated every day in buildings that Allen Wood designed. It is safe to say that our university would not be what it is today without these two outstanding leaders.”

Ben Skardon in Army dress greens, formal photo in 1938 Clemson University TAPS yearbook.

Skardon, 102, is a 1938 Clemson graduate and veteran of the U.S. Army. He fought in the Philippines in World War II, earning two Silver Stars and a Bronze Star for valor before becoming a prisoner of war when American troops were forced to surrender to the Japanese April 9, 1942. Skardon lived through one of the most infamous ordeals of World War II, the Bataan Death March, and survived for more than three years in Japanese prison camps despite becoming deathly ill.

Two fellow Clemson alumni, Henry Leitner and Otis Morgan, kept him alive by spoon-feeding him and eventually trading his gold Clemson ring — which he had managed to keep hidden — for food. It is a story now told at every Clemson ring ceremony, when Clemson seniors receive their class rings. Leitner and Morgan did not survive the war. Skardon honors them every year by walking in the Bataan Memorial Death March at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.

Retired U.S. Army Col. Ben Skardon, at 99, a survivor of the Bataan Death March, walks in the annual Bataan Memorial Death March at White Sands Missile Range, accompanied by two Army medics, March 19, 2017. This was the tenth time Skardon walked in the march, and he is the only survivor of the real Bataan Death March who walks in the memorial march. (U.S. Army Reserve photo by Staff Sgt. Ken Scar)

He is the only survivor of the real march who walks in the memorial march. Last year, at 101, he walked more than three miles through the desert to honor his friends. Skardon went on to serve in Korea in 1951-52 and retired from the Army at the rank of colonel in 1962. He joined the Clemson faculty in the department of English in 1964 and was named Alumni Master Teacher in 1977. He taught at Clemson until his retirement in 1983.

Skardon has received several honors from the university, including the Alumni Distinguished Service Award. In 2013 the university established the Skardon Clemson Ring Endowment, which helps fund the ring ceremony, and in 2016 the Memorial Stadium flagpole was dedicated in his honor.

On Skardon’s 100th birthday on August 11, 2017, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster presented him with the Order of the Palmetto, the state’s highest honor. In March 2018 Skardon received the Congressional Gold Medal honoring Filipino and American Veterans of World War II, which is one of the highest civilian awards in the United States.

 

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

William Blythe – Long Beach, CA; US Navy, WWII, ETO, minesweeper / PTO, USS Ticonderoga

Bruce Brigham – Fort Knox, KY; US Army, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, Lt. Colonel, Quartermaster Corps

Alive Ferguson (99) – Williamsburg, VA; US Navy WAVES, nurse

Ruth (Baker) Gilbert – White Plains, NY; Civilian, aircraft riveter

Lyle Norquist – Thief River Falls, MN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO

Monroe Ozment – Rome, GA; USMC, PTO, Purple Heart

Nathan Rawson – Thompson, VA; US Army, WWII

Fred Reed – Gardendal, AL; US Army, WWII, Purple Heart

Mary White – Perryville, MD; Civilian nurse’s aide

Al Worden – Jackson, MI; US Air Force / NASA astronaut, West Point Alum 1955

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on March 23, 2020, in Current News, First-hand Accounts, Home Front, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 113 Comments.

  1. Great story. Thanks for sharing. I always learn a lot from your blog posts.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh boy..102. He’s probably seen it all.. Now he has experienced the pandemic. Once in anyone’s lifetime! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A great story about these men.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I wrote the son of my High School Band Director, who had become Band Director at Clemson, asking if Bruce Cook knew Ben Skardon. The son wrote back that his father likely knew Skardon as all the Liberal Arts people were in the same building. He is inquiring of his contacts at Clemson, armed with the link to your post about Skardon.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Amazing story. I was impressed by the time I got to “two silver stars” and blown away by the erst of the story.

    Thanks for sharing it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. How great to be able to make that march at 101. He is a real survivor in so many ways and a great example for all of us.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great story. I hope you are hanging in there in this crazy jumbled up uncertain world. 🙋

    Liked by 1 person

  8. What a remarkable man! Thank you for sharing his story.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Wow what a long survivor

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Our daughter-in-law, Cammie, graduated from Clemson, G, and I expect she knows the story. Marching at White Sands for three miles at 101 is impressive. White Sands, BTW, is close to the Three River Petroglyph site I posted about. –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for adding to the post, Curt. I had no idea his walk was near your petroglyphs! I’m sure Cammie must have heard about Mr. Skardon at some point during her studies.

      Like

  11. What an astonishing man! Walking three miles at his age is a triumph. Hope you are keeping safe and well. K x

    Liked by 1 person

  12. The Col is my cousin’s neighbor in Toccoa, Ga and her grandson’s honorary godfather—thank you for sharing his story

    Like

  13. I hope you are doing well and looking after the needy, in these exceptionally difficult and trying times.

    Like

  14. He is an amazing man. Thank you for the great story honoring him.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Great story, GP. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. My Uncle Paul Browning was a survivor of the death march and subsequent imprisonment portrayed the the book “The Great RAID.” He married my aunt, separated only by his peaceful natural passing about 20 years ago. He was a very subdued quiet man as I recall, seemingly possessing demons from the past, as I saw it. These men mentioned above are the hero’s, each living with those memories for over half a century. Bless them! M 🙂

    lifetimes

    Liked by 1 person

    • I wish your uncle was still here for me to thank, M. How any of them ever emerged from those prisons, especially after the march is beyond me! I thank you for bringing us a bit of your uncle’s story – their trials are unequaled, yes Bless them all!

      Like

  17. He is 102 after surviving all that! A special moment of silence for his comrades Henry Leitner and Otis Morgan, who helped make that possible.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Remarkable man, well deserving of the honor.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. My God. We’ve all read about it, but can’t really have any idea what these guys went through. And somehow went on to be exemplary citizens. Salute.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Skardon sounds an amzing guy.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I choked up reading how Skardon’s alumni friends spoon fed him so he’d survive, and then read that the two didn’t survive the war. 😢 Wow, Skardon is 102 years old! I’d like to know what Leitner and Morgan fed him.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Reblogged this on Subli and commented:
    Surviving the Bataan Death March is an ultimate feat of endurance!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. An amazing man to survive the Bataan Death March and still alive today. Great tribute to him for receiving the Order of the Palmetto.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. Congratulations to both of these folks. What a life Skardon lived!

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Outstanding, GP!
    My high school band director, Bruce Cook, left his position to become the band director at Clemson. He stayed at Clemson until retirement. I’ll send the link to your story to his son. Mr. Cook very likely knew Ben Skardon.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. Wow. Amazing man! I wish I could do that memorial walk.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. What a story he has. Congrats to him. Thank you for honoring “one of the best”. Michael

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Great story, GP. Thanks for sharing it today.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. This is truly a touching story about how love and compassion can make a difference between life and death. Thanks for sharing, GP!

    Liked by 2 people

  30. My goodness! A man who survived the Bataan Death March and more than three years as a valued guest of the Imperial Japanese Army. He is worthy of every bit of the respect that everybody gives him.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. A true American hero!

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Keep telling these stories GP. Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

  33. I’ve been following the amazing Ben Skardon story for awhile. The photographer, Ken Scar, is the son of my only older cousin–and a great nephew of the Wilson brothers. Ken Scar has even involved his teenaged son and daughter when he’s doing a story on Mr. Skardon.

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Fascinating story. I love both cartoons. Nitpick– the write up says he will be honored in February 2020, it’s now March. (I’m hoping he was honored last month). How are things in your part of FL? Hope you weren’t one of those young people cavorting on the beach during Spring Break. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  35. What an amazing story and an amazing man. Thanks for sharing this, GP.

    Liked by 2 people

  36. This is the first person you’ve written about whose story I already knew. A friend who lives in Charleston has significant ties to Clemson, including a father who taught there. She told me about this fellow at one time, although I can’t remember the exact circumstances. It may have been when he received one of his previous awards. It’s a marvelous story.

    Liked by 3 people

  37. A great story, and a worthy honour too. Pleased to see such thing continuing.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

  38. Thank you for sharing!

    Like

  1. Pingback: Clemson U. honors Ben Skardon (102) — Pacific Paratrooper | Ups and Downs of Family History V2.0

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