Gary H. Benjamin

BenjaminA native of the Great Northwest, I was born in Spokane, WA. After all was said and done, I am back – probably to stay, although the temptation to become a “snowbird” rears its ugly head every winter.

I began military life as a combat demolitions guy in the Army. My buddy from high school and I joined together. He ended up in the engineering platoon (he would build it), and I in the demolitions platoon (I would blow it up). That rapidly was convincing me that there was no post-military future in demolitions, so I finagled my way into the Air Force to get into electronics (1950’s version).

I ended up first as a radio mechanic on fighters, then as a crew chief, then as a surveillance radar tech, then as a computer engineer on the analog computers that guided the matador missiles. Talk about primitive stuff!

Anyway, that ended me up in Korea, on an island 90 miles from Red China, 120 miles from South Korea proper, and 2000 yards from the North Korean artillery. There I encountered an absolute idiot; a West Point graduate who got somehow warped in the process and made me decide to apply for OCS to save the military from such imbeciles.

Of course, while I waited my turn, I was assigned to a mobile radar unit on a train, in SAC, in Glasgow, MT. Yuk!! But eventually, I got the good news, and it was off to Lackland. OCS was the same challenge and fun for me as it was for all of you, “wall dips”; “air power or sea power” aside. But for those that may have forgotten, OCS produced the finest breed of officer, bar none. Those academy “pukes” can say what they wish.

After Lackland, it was off to Keesler to become an aircraft maintenance officer. Spent most of my time in Air Defense Command in the fighter business. Uncle Sam wouldn’t let me get wings because I needed corrective lenses before entry, so maintenance it was. The Vietnamese government, on the other hand, needed whomever they could get, so on my first tour, I got my Vietnamese wings as a CH34 pilot. Lots of fun, fright, and all else that goes with it. Old man Sikorsky would turn over in his grave if he knew that we took that old beast inverted!

Ended up with the 49th Fighter Interceptor Squadron “Screaming Eagles” in ADC, and retired in May 1977 with 22 years. The pendulum was starting to sway too far the other way at that time, so it was best. Have absolutely ZERO regrets, despite the bad back and ears. After retirement, I bounced around in the engineering area, then in insurance sales, then lost my wife in 1980.

Later, I married my beloved Marcella and finally went to law school. I practiced law for 12 years until my circle of acquaintances became a bunch I no longer wanted to be acquainted with. Now I practice “proactive” law, driving a school bus, trying to influence young people positively.


Gary Howard Benjamin was born to Howard and Wava Benjamin August 6, 1939, in Spokane, Washington. He passed away Sunday, January 12, 2020. He is survived by his wife of 39 years, Marcella, his children Jennifer (Jim), Elizabeth (Greg), Gordon (Heather), Laurie (Travis), Morgan (Evan), and his “adopted” son Henrik in Copenhagen, his brother Hal (Liz), his grandchildren Colin, Grace, Cassie, Chloe, Avery, Carson, Jace, and Emmett, and numerous nieces and nephews. He is preceded in death by his parents, his first wife Susan, and his brother Benji.

Gary grew up in Spokane, graduating from Lewis and Clark High School. He and his first wife raised three wonderful children while he served over 20 years in the Air Force, retiring as a Major. After the passing of his first wife, he married Marcella with whom he raised their two children in Spokane. While spending years all over the world in the Air Force, and loving it, and serving in Korea and Vietnam, he earned his degree in history for which he was passionate.

After his military career, he was able to fulfill his dream of attending Law School at Gonzaga (Go Zags!). After practicing law he decided to pursue his other love, children, and worked at the local elementary school and then became a bus driver, and loved it. Gary served in the community throughout his life. In 1996 he was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and served in the Church faithfully to the end. He worked regularly at the temple, was a delivery driver for the Bishop’s storehouse, and in the community, he worked in the kitchen or served dinner to those in need regularly at The City Gate. Gary was an avid golfer, stamp collector, Sudoku player, follower of politics, and a patriot through and through; his country and flag meant everything to him. He was a blessing to all who knew him, and in the end, he just kept saying, “I am so blessed.”

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