Ben Blakeman and his wife Mary Lou showed off their triplets.
Photo by Oscar Roloff.
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.