Ben Irons

Obituary of Ben Gibson Irons

Major Ben G. Irons, USAF retired Ben Irons passed away peacefully on December 27, 2010 surrounded by his family. Ben was married to his beloved wife Mary Ellen Rouse Irons of Santa Cruz, CA, for fifty years. His sons are Ben (Yvette) Irons of Chico, CA, Dr. Ted (Martha) Irons of Auburn, CA, and John Irons of Truckee, CA. His grandchildren are Lillian & Camille Irons of Chico and Tommy, Scott, & Tori Irons of Auburn. His nephews are Dr. Tom (Carol) Irons of Greenville, NC, Ben (Susan) Irons of Greenville, NC, Dr. Fred (Susan) Irons of Chapel Hill, NC, and their families. Ben is survived by Bob and Joan Rouse of Lincoln, CA, Ruth Rouse and Roger Dennis of Gardnerville, NV, and numerous relatives. He was predeceased by his brother Dr. Fred and sister-in-law Dr. Malene Irons of Greenville, NC, sister Evelyn and brother-in-law Wallace Lynn of Occoquan, VA, and sister Sarah and brother-in-law Billy Williams of San Francisco, CA. Ben was born in Pickaway, West Virginia, on January 11, 1918; he was raised in Virginia and Florida. His grandfathers both fought during the American Civil War for the Army of Northern Virginia. Ben enlisted in the US Army in 1938, and then transferred to the Army Air Corps where he trained as a bombardier. His B-17 was shot down over Germany in July 1943 and he spent nearly two years as a Prisoner of War, first in Luft Stalag III, then Stalag VIIA. The most difficult part of his POW experience occurred during the forced evacuation from Sagan, Germany, ahead of the advancing Russian Army and subsequent "March" to Moosburg, Germany, during the brutal winter of 1945. He received a Purple Heart for injuries incurred when he was shot down. He was a "mustang," rising from private to major by the time he retired in 1958. He continued to fly during his career in the USAF and spent the final years in the Strategic Air Command as a navigator on B-47s. He met his wife Mary Ellen while stationed at March Air Force Base. They married in 1960 and had three sons by 1964! Ben graduated Summa Cum Laude from East Carolina University in 1962. His second career was with the Social Security Administration from 1962 until 1986. He worked the final twenty years in Santa Cruz, CA. Always a fan of the SF Giants, he rarely missed a game. He was delighted with their World Series victory this year! He traveled widely, both in the military and with Mary Ellen, including trips to Europe, the Balkans, Antarctica, South America, the Galapagos Islands, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Ben and Mary Ellen also traveled across the Unites States many times and visited most of the fifty states; they enjoyed seeing family and friends around the country. He was a member of the First Congregational Church of Santa Cruz and Soquel for fifty years and was a Santa Cruz Elk and member of SIRS and a 35 year friend of Bill W. We will miss "Big Ben" and his sense of humor. He was hardworking, honest, and a Southern gentleman until the end. Most importantly, he loved and was loved by his wife and family. Ben G. Irons can be honored by donating to the charity of your choice, or to the American Red Cross, whose rations helped him survive as a Prisoner of War in Germany. A Memorial Service will be held for Ben on Saturday, January 8, 2011 at Benito & Azzaro Pacific Gardens Chapel, 1050 Cayuga St. in Santa Cruz at 2 o'clock p.m.
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A Memorial Tree was planted for Ben
We are deeply sorry for your loss ~ the staff at Benito & Azzaro Pacific Gardens Chapel
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