- Published on Wednesday, 14 August 2013 01:30
- Written by Los Altos Town Crier Staff
Los Altos Hills long-time resident since 1955.
Ben H. Smith died peacefully in his home with his family around him on August 4, 2013.
Ben was the loving husband of Val Smith (died May 5, 2007). He was born on a farm in North Henderson, Illinois, January 9, 1918 as Bengt Herbert Smith, the younger
of two brothers. His parents were both Swedish immigrants, Olaf and Selma Haakanson (after moving to America, his father changed the family’s last name to Smith). Ben graduated from Blackburn College in Carlinville, Illinois.
After college Ben enlisted and served in World War II as a decorated Major in the 3543rd AAF Base Unit AAFMTC San Antonio, Texas from December 11, 1941 to November 23, 1946. He flew P-38 Lightning fighters mostly in the Pacific front. However, he was shot down in the Atlantic off the coast of North Africa where he was adrift alone for almost 24 hours until he was rescued. Ben was a recipient of the World War II Air Medal for meritorious achievement while in aerial combat.
At the end of World War II he met and married his wife, Val Ballard in Brisbane, Australia.
After the war Ben was hired by Pan American World Airlines where he flew for almost 32 years, retiring as a Pan Am Boeing 747 captain in 1978. Ben flew around the world numerous times, often pioneering routes that modern airlines fly to this day.
Ben is survived by his daughter Donna Rae Smith of Santa Clara, son Aaron Ballard of Morgan Hill, and grandson David Hackett of San Francisco.
The memorial service will be held at 10 a.m., Saturday, August 17, 2013 at St. Luke Lutheran Church, 1025 The Dalles Avenue, Sunnyvale, California 94087.
At Ben’s request, in lieu of flowers, give to St. Luke Lutheran Church Memorial Garden, Sunnyvale, California.