BENJAMIN T. PUGH, LCDR, USN
Benjamin Pugh '43
Date of birth: October 21, 1920
Date of death: December 17, 1951
From the 1943 Lucky Bag:
Ben was lost on December 18, 1951, when the AD-2 Skyraider he was piloting was destroyed by its own bomb blast. He ditched the aircraft into Wonsan Harbor, but was found dead later, likely from exposure.
From the Class of 1943 anniversary book "25 years later…":
Ben was born on 21 October, 1920 in Clarksburg, West Virginia. He was appointed from Kentucky and entered the Academy on 29 June, 1939. Upon graduation he reported to the destroyer minelayer USS PRUITT where he saw combat in the Aleutians and the South Pacific.
In March 1944 Ben commenced his flight training and was designated a Naval Aviator in February 1945. He then served with Fighter Squadron Eighty-two and Eighteen A on the carrier USS RANDOLPH, followed by duty with the Commander, Naval Air Training Bases, and NAS San Diego. During the Korean War, Ben was attached to Fighter Squadron One Ninety-four. During a combat mission off Wonsan Bay, Korea, he lost his life on 18 December, 1951. Ben wore the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Navy Commendation Ribbon, the American Defense Service Medal with Fleet Clasp, American Area Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Area Medal with two Bronze Stars, World War Il Victory Medal and the Korean Service Medal with one Bronze Star. His citation for the Distinguished Flying Cross stated:
For heroism and extraordinary achievement in aerial flight as a Pilot and Flight Leader in Fighter Squadron ONE HUNDRED NINETY FOUR, embarked on the USS VALLEY FORGE, during operations against enemy aggressor forces in Korea on 14 December 1951. Skillfully leading his flight of twelve aircraft in a hazardous strike against vital enemy rail installations, Lieutenant Commander Pugh braved intense hostile antiaircraft fire to press home his attack, personally scoring three direct hits on a railroad marshaling yard and inflicting extremely heavy damage both to the yard and to the rolling stock. Under his inspiring leadership, the flight inflicted incalculable damage and destruction on the target and thereby completed a highly successful mission. By his aggressive determination, superb airmanship and courageous devotion to duty in the face of strong opposition, Lieutenant Commander Pugh upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
He was survived by his wife Joyce Stout and their children Karen, Elizabeth, and Benjamin T., Jr., who at Ben's death resided in Vinceburg, Kentucky.
He was Executive Officer of Fighter Squadron (VF) 194, which was operating from USS Valley Forge (CV 45).
Herbert Baslee, Jr. ’43 was also a pilot flying from USS Valley Forge (CV 45) during this period of the war.