Colonel Ben Skardon signed the Log book on 10 April 2019. This stoic gracious man – who has experienced unspeakable human cruelty – continues to give generously of his time and lead by example. Initially, I was floored by his words, “I am indeed privileged to sign this historic log book”.
Upon further reflection, i realized he was simply acknowledging the stature of the other phenomenal signatories. In every way possible, Col. Skardon stands shoulder to shoulder with them.
Mr Skardon served with the US Army and fought in the Philippines earning two Silver Stars and a Bronze Star for valor before becoming a POW as the American troops were forced to surrender to the Japanese April 9th 1942. Skardon survived for 3 years in Japanese prison camps and lived through one of the most infamous ordeals in World War II – the Bataan Death March. Skardon’s ordeals also included enduring a 47 day Philippines-Japan transfer aboard two Hell Ships; Ōryoku Maru & Enoura Maru.
Skardon is present in both of the two pictures below taken on 15 December 1944 in Subic Bay as Japanese hell ship Oryoko Maru is attacked and sunk by units from USS Hornet.
It was in October 2018, thanks to Mr. Scar, I reached out to Mr. Skardon via another close friend of his who kindly agreed to present the Log Book to him. The book itself was in the UK at the time and we agreed that on its return to the US (which is now) I would attempt to connect with Mr. Skardon. When I emailed again to inquire how the 101 year old gentleman was doing, I was told that before he could sign he would be heading off to New Mexico for the Bataan Memorial Death March.
Ben Skardon 1917 – 2021
It was with heavy hearts we learned of Mr Skardon’s passing on 15 November 2021. His promotion to Brigadier General had only just been announced by the Department of the Army and Department of Defense. We will forever remain floored by the gravitas of his profile and use of the word “privileged” to describe his ability to sign.
In the letter inviting him to participate in TLBP, we wrote:
“Your entry will add tremendous honor and gravitas to this project aimed solely at increasing awareness and appreciation for the freedoms we enjoy today. We who are isolated from war’s horror, have not the slightest clue of the unbearable burdens placed upon men like yourself and my hope for you is absolute peace in every sense.”
Peace be with you Brigadier General Skardon, no one deserves it more.