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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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