Ben N. Craton, Jr.
Seaman 1st Class
U. S. Navy
WWII US Military
Dates of Service: 07/25/1944 - 06/07/1946
Higgins Boat Coxswain

Ben was born in Minden, Louisiana, one of three children of Ben, an automotive mechanic, and Lela McCall Craton. He recalls difficult times during the Depression when the family had only grits for supper. Ben worked hard as a teenager. He was employed at A&P Grocery store as a "package boy" making twenty-five cents an hour. With his savings he bought a house for the family. He lacked half a semester of finishing high school when, along with eleven other boys, he joined the U.S. Navy on July 25, 1944. The food in boot camp in San Diego, he recalls, was "super." A lot of men joined the service, he says, "because they were tired of being hungry." After boot camp he was stationed at Naval Air Station, North Island, near San Diego, then at Oceanside where he began training as a coxswain of an LCVP (Landing Craft Vehicle, Personnel) or Higgins boat. Ben was sent to Pearl Harbor, then to Eniwetok Atoll, a place of earlier, fierce fighting. By the time he arrived, he says, it was a place for R&R (rest and recuperation). There he served as coxswain on a Higgins boat transporting personnel between ship and shore. Lying in his bunk waiting for the evening meal one night he heard a loudspeaker announcement that "a new-type bomb" had been dropped on Japan, causing "massive destruction." Returning to America, Ben left Eniwetok on December 6 and arrived at Long Beach, California on December 25, 1945, where he remained until June 7, 1946. He was discharged in New Orleans. On the Monday after he arrived home in Minden he entered summer school, took senior grammar and earned his high school diploma. On June 26, 1948 he married Tressie Stansbury. (They would have one child.) He enrolled at Louisiana Tech in September of 1949, earned a degree in engineering in June of 1953, and went to work for Texaco that September. He retired in 1982.