SFC (RETIRED) BENJAMIN BLAND (May 14, 1942- March 29, 2020)
Benjamin Bland (known to some close family members as "Uncle Ben", "Benny", or simply ''Ben") was born on May 14, 1942, in Georgetown, SC, to Doland Bland, Sr. & Minnie Bland, as the fourth of six children. After being a sickly child as an infant, he would recover and, in ironic twist, was rarely ever sick the rest of his life, which was a badge of honor for him.
After growing up in such areas such as Sumter, SC, and Baltimore, MD, he would enter the U.S. Army on March 2, 1964, a profession which would define the rest of his life. After completing Basic Training and Advanced Individual Training in Fort Dix, NJ, he would go on to Airborne School in Fort Benning, GA, and graduated in August 1964.
After serving in several Airborne Infantry units, he was assigned to serve in the Vietnam War. Although his initial tour of duty would be for 12 months, he would volunteer to serve in the conflict for an astounding 36 additional months. He would have gladly volunteered for another tour of duty after those 48 months of service, but rumor has he was one of the very few soldiers the Army had to force to leave Vietnam.
In his military service, he would garner such coveted honors only the most elite soldiers earn such as becoming a Jumpmaster, Ranger, and Drill Sergeant. He would earn awards such as the National Defense Service Medal (NDSM), Vietnam Service Medal (VSM), Combat Infantry Badge (CIB), Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal (RVNCM), Army Services Ribbon (ASR), Bronze Star Medal (BSM-2), Master Parachutist Badge (MST PRCHT) , President Unit Citation (PUC), Army 8th Awards Good Conduct Medal (NCO PD-1), among other awards.
He retired in 1991, from active duty military service. He would go on to work at the U.S. Post Office for 20-plus years and later retire from there as well. At his Post Office duty station in Linthicum, MD, he organized and hosted an annual Veteran's Day ceremony from 2002- 2012.
He was also most proud of his membership to the National Association of the 9th and 10th (Horse Calvary) of the Buffalo Soldiers (or simply "Buffalo Soldiers"). He was a charter member of the Baltimore Chapter of the Buffalo Soldiers in 1995 and later became a Lifetime member of the organization in 1999.
For all of this service, the National Association of Black Veterans (NABVETS) honored him with the Jacqueline Lanier Service Award in a ceremony held on February 16, 2019, where he was honored with along with other veterans such as those who served as Montford Point Marines and Tuskegee Airmen.
But most of all, the honor he was most proud of was the privilege of knowing Jesus the Christ as his Lord and Savior. He brought the soldier ethos he learned in the Army to the ministry as well. He served faithfully in his local church in Providence Inspirational Baptist Church in Baltimore, MD. He served as a deacon, Sunday School teacher, occasional singer, and as part of the transportation ministry where he (in his words) drove the "old people" to church. Even in his 60s and 70s, he apparently did not consider himself one of those "old people."
Moreover, he was not content to rest on his spiritual laurels, but (as the Apostle Paul would say), he continued to "press on" and grow in his knowledge of God. He frequently took classed at the Lancaster Bible College where he was known among his classmates and professors as an enthusiastic participant in class discussion. Among his accomplishments at the College, the said College awarded him two certifications on March 31, 2020, two days after his passing.
He was also frequently known to use his camera where he loved taking many pictures of friends, family, and even strangers. He was often known as the "head picture-taker" at many family gatherings and became so famous for his picture taking that this reputation got out into the local community and he was able to maintain a series of side-gigs taking pictures at events such as weddings, church conferences, among other social events.
He was predeceased in death by his father Doland, Sr., mother Minnie, and brother Doland, Jr. He leaves behind (among the many family members that adored him), two children: son Chauntel; and daughter Monica. His burial will be held at Washington Crossing National Cemetery, in Newtown, PA, where he will given full military honors.