Benjamin W. Strickland, March 20, 1931 -August 26, 2005
by Charlene Hazzard
(Miami, Florida )
When someone you love becomes a memory the memory becomes a treasure
Benjamin W. Strickland was a true hero, who passed away from Pancreatic Cancer, here is his story:
Benjamin W. Strickland, better known as B.W. or "B" was born on March 20, 1931 in Miami, Florida. He is the son of Thomas Wright Strickland and Catherine Mills Strickland Spicer. He has two brothers, Donald and John and three sisters Faye, Pat and Jerrine.
B.W. attended elementary through high school in Miami. During his school years, he developed a reputation as a "class clown", enjoying the art of making people laugh and feel happy. This was a gift that he carried throughout his life. Unfortunately, his teachers didn't appreciate his sense of humor, as he received numerous after-school detentions for his antics. As a means of expressing his apologies B.W. often brought his teachers cakes and pies as a peace offering. Even early in life B.W. learned the importance of food in everyday life.
B.W. joined the U.S. Army in 1950 and received his basic training at Ft. Jackson in South Carolina. After completing his training the United States was at war with Korea, so B.W. was sent directly there in 1951. During his tour of duty, he was wounded and sent to the 4077 MASH Hospital unit to recuperate. Due to his injury, he was unable to return to his infantry unit. The officer in charge reviewed B.W.'s records and noticed he was interested in cooking, and suggested that he change his career field to food service. During his years in the service he worked in mess halls and dietary kitchens in hospitals.
When B.W. was working in the field kitchens on the 38th Parallel in Korea, he heard a loud voice say to him "Soldier, don't you know to stand up and salute when a general comes into the room?" He apologized and told him he was so intent on his work he didn't hear him come into the kitchen. B.W. offered the general food and drink. The general returned later and complimented him. The general was General Douglas MacArthur.
B.W. had some anxious moments as he worked in the field kitchen in Korea. Some North Korean soldiers with rifles broke through the line and went into the kitchen. B.W. didn't have any weapons on him, but he could see they were starving, so the only thing he could think of was to toss them loaves of bread, his assistant called the military police and the excitement was soon over as the Korean soldiers surrendered.
After Korea, B.W. was sent to several bases and was sent to Germany where he met his wife of 50 years and had two daughters. During his career B.W. had five assignments in the United States, and five in Germany, one in Korea, one in Japan and one in Vietnam. During that time B.W. wroted articles for the army's Stars and Stripes newspaper. B.W. retired from the Army in February 1977 as a Master Sergeant with 27 years of service. Because he was adept at his work throughout the years, he received many accomodations including the Bronze Star.
After retiring from the army, B.W. and his family returned to Miami. He had many passions in his life, the most important of which was his family. He also had a love of cooking, from which we all benefited. B.W. developed the term "supersize" long before the fast food industry, as he always prepared food as if he was still cooking for an "army" of hungry appetites.
He loved the Lawrence Welk show, football, fishing and had a special place in his heart for his Chihuahua Cindy. In closing, B.W. fought many battles in his life, battles in Korea and Vietnam, which caused him to witness things no one should ever have to see, and also led to the heartache of being seperated from his family. He also fought a valiant and courageous battle against cancer, asking only that the pain be taken away. Fortunately, with God's blessings, that wish was granted.
The measure of any family's worth is not best evaluated when things are going well, but during times of challenge. Throughout B.W.'s illness, his family stood tirelessly at his side, comforting him. He benefited from their presence. In a world where too many poeple die alone, B.W.'s family was there for him, and with him when he took his final breath. We should all be as fortunate.
We are all better people because B.W. was a part of our life. That we can be thankful for. One thing is for certain; with B.W. in heaven, God is going to have a lot more fun.
Rest in peace Hero, you will never be forgotten.