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BEN BLAKEMAN, BMCM
Ben Blakeman and his wife Mary Lou showed off their triplets.
Photo by Oscar Roloff.
Big Ben's clock of life has stopped
by Oscar Roloff
Though London's Big Ben continues onward, the clock of life has stopped for Big Ben Blakeman of the Eastside ... at age 81.
On my rolltop desk, I have had a note to do a followup story on Ben and his family. I'm a known procrastinator, but mainly due to my own medical concerns in life.
Our Ben is now ashore on an island of no return where peace and tranquility prevail. I'd known the popular retired sea salt for many years. We were both associated with the Greater Seattle Chapter of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association.
On 7 Dec. 1941, I loaded the 50-caliber machine gun that reportedly fired the first shot inside Pearl Harbor Base at the attacking enemy planes. When the machine gun malfunctioned, I grabbed a pen and paper and wrote an account of the attack that appeared in local newspapers and several national magazines.
Quickly Ben jumped into the red-hot fray to help rescue 76 of the many sailors trapped inside the new capsized battleship USS Oklahoma.
During all of Ben's many years of nautical service, he stood out tall and proud in his uniform. He was well-liked by all and a personal friend of many an admiral. He kept getting praised and promoted.
Before, during, and after the wars (he was in three), Ben became an actor and took part in many movies. He was a "stand-in" for some of the great stars.
But the most oustanding fame came when Ben, at 75, fathered triplets: Adele, Joy, and Benjamin. Their mother, Mary Lou, was 38 years younger than her husband.
The three offspring, now six, are eligible to become members of the Sons and Daughters Association of Pearl Harbor Survivors. In fact, the process is active. Also, the PHSA group are going over plans for the day when the last Survivor makes the final journey and the new group will take over.
Ben was noted, too, for Ben's Banjo's New Orleans Dixie-cats. My wife and I attended several of his sessions. He gave us several tapes for our files.
He was a prominent gung-ho American and loved his flag and country, as I do. For 36 years, he sailed under the flags of his many ships of sea. Daily, he saluted our flag. There'll not be another one like Ben.
Ben had retired as a Master Chief Petty Officer, one step below an Officer. Years ago while in Washington, D.C., I was asked by the Navy Department to suggest several steps above a Chief Petty Officer. I mentioned two, the top being Master Chief Petty Officer. I'd never mentioned that to Ben and how I got him a nice pay raise.
Anyhow, so long, old shipmate, and let fair winds take you to your final resting place.
Courtesy of the Woodinville Weekly-Woodinville, WA
Our friend and shipmate "Banjo Ben" Blakeman passed away on March 6, 1996 in Bellevue, WA.
At his death, Benjamin N. Blakeman resided at 16636 SE 26th Pl., Bellevue WA. 98008.
He joined the PHSA October 12, 1966, while living in Hawaii at 92361 Laaloa
St., Ewa Beach, Hawaii. In 1966 his wife was listed as Noressa Fay Blakeman.
When he died his wife was listed as Mary Lou Blakeman.
Mr. Blakeman had 7 children: Pat, Gayla, Bruce, David, Michelle, Evette and Colette.
December 7, 1941, he was aboard the USS Argonne. Date of birth: August 9, 1914.
Joined the Navy June, 1936.
25, JULY 2000
MESSAGE RECEIVED FROM DWIGHT MATLACK
Al, I was a crew member on Strauss in 1970 and there was a BMC Ben Blakeman
on board. I was an HM2 at the time and we (Strauss) were outchopping from
South China Sea when BMC Blakeman fell from the 01 level down to the main
deck. He suffered a fracture of the spine. He was medivac'd back to PH
Hawaii. When we finally returned from the WestPac he was TAD to the Naval
Station as the Chief Master-at-Arms. What happened to him after that I am
not sure, but I think he was placed on the retired list. He had to have
been in his fifties at that time. September 1970 I think it was. I found
the Web site from the reunion notice in the "Shift Colors" Newsletter for
July-September 2000 and I have chatted with Bart who is a big help and a
very nice person.
Dwight Matlack. Vienna, WV