Ben Benson Pabawena


FORT HALL – Ben Benson Pabawena was born on October -5, 1926, to Julia Tosapantuich Birdy and Thomas J. Pabawena Jr. at Washakie, Utah. He was the youngest of six children.
Ben was the last person to pass away in his family. His Uncle James and aunt Bessie Pabawena raised him.
After his birth the Pabawena family moved several miles across the valley east of Washakie. Now this is where the Peterson brothers’ bull barns are located below the new interstate highway. The old trees and cold springs are the home site of the four brothers, James, John, Thomas and David Pabawena. There Ben recalled they raised good hay, potatoes, and a little grain. They always had fine bred horses, both riding and work horses.
Ben went to day school in Washakie. It was not easy then. Sometimes he would ride his horse to school or walk or run, not like today when school buses come right to your doorsteps.
Ben went to school in Wells, Nevada. Every holiday he had during school months, Ben would help his half-brother, Ray Antelope, who was a foreman for a big cattle ranch out of Dieth, Nevada. He liked feeding during the winter months and in spring he would help brand calves. And during the summer months he would work in the hay fields putting up wild hay. Ben enjoyed every hour of it.
During World War II Ben worked at the Utah General Supply Depot in Ogden, Utah. This was the first government job. He started as a laborer, than later went to school as a lift operator and also rigger, loading supplies on trains. Ben also worked at the naval supply depot at Clearfield, Utah, as a lift operator. That’s where one morning as he was loading cars, his boss called him over and said, “Park card for you.”
Ben thought he was fired from his job. But instead, Ben was told to report to Fort Douglas. He took basic training at Camp Roberts, California.
After basic training, Ben had a short furlough back to Fort Ord, California, to get ready for overseas duty. He was aboard the troop transport ship called USS Bolinger for 31 days, landing at Leyte in the Philippines at the Fourth Division as assistant mortar man. Later he was aboard a small LCI ship headed for Mindanao, and he landed at Zamboanga.
While he was there, the whole 41st Division boarded ship and headed for the little island of Eewtah, Okinawa. He remembered when the ships were at the bay, a call came over the box saying all ships move out, there was a typhoon coming in. There Ben experienced one of the worst boat” rides of his life. He was seasick for a while. After the ride he landed in a small village called Hiro, Japan. This was near where the hydrogen bomb was dropped.
There the division broke up and headed back to the states. Ben and some of his buddies signed up for occupation tour of duty in Japan, and some went to Europe. Ben joined the 697th motor ambulance company at Nagoya, Japan, and was assigned to the 13th General Hospital. He was later transferred to Tokyo and Yokohama. He saw Gen. Douglas McArthur a few times at Headquarters. Ben had served two years in the Army.
Ben had worked on the Church Farm at Washakie, Utah, and later met his wife, Jessie Pocatello, and was married May 16, 1947, in Elko, Nevada. After they were married, he got a job at Hill Air Force Base in Utah, working in the motor pool.
Ben and Jessie moved to Fort Hall, where he worked for the SMC for 18 years and was transferred to the Irrigation Department as the mechanic leader in the shop. Ben retired at age 55 from his job as the heavy mobile mechanic equipment leader.
Ben has enjoyed hunting and fishing and all types of sports. He was sports director for the Bannock Creek Branch for 7 years. At one time, Ben played basketball and Softball with the Seventh Ward in Tyhee. He played with the late Hubert Leclaire and Sy Williams. One summer they played ball all over Pocatello and had a wonderful time.
Ben has served as counselor to five Branch Presidents in the Bannock Creek Branch.
Ben and Jessie Pabawena have six children. Four are living, and two are deceased. Daughter Colleen and her husband Joseph Walker live in Albion, Oklahoma. Daughter Theresa and her husband Leonard Littlefinger live in Oglala, South Dakota. Son Maurice and his wife Carol Pabawena live in Fort Hall. Son Nyle and Deborah Pabawena live in Fort Hall.
Then there is Glen Thomas Bird, a grandnephew whom Ben and Jessie have raised since he was one month old. Glen and Jenny Bird live in Chubbuck.
Ben and Jessie went to the temple in Idaho Falls and there entered into the Celestial Marriage Covenant in 1975.
Ben and Jessie operated the Rock Spring Ranch in Arbon Valley where they did farming and ranching.
Funeral services will be held Monday, December 10, 2001, at LDS 44th Ward in Fort Hall. The family will receive friends tonight, December 9, 2001, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the I Colonial Funeral Chapel, 2005 S. Fourth Ave., and on Monday one hour prior to services at the church.
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