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Colonel (Ret.) Clarence  Benton Slaughter, Jr.

Obituary for Colonel (Ret.) Clarence Benton Slaughter, Jr.

May 8, 1920 - February 19, 2018
Richardson, Texas | Age 97


Clarence Benton Slaughter, Jr.
May 8, 1920-February 19, 2018

Career Air Force officer and combat veteran of World War II, Korea, and Viet Nam, Clarence Benton (Ben) Slaughter passed away February 19, 2018 in Richardson, Texas. He was the loving source of strength and stability to Elaine, his wife of 66 years, and the personification of ethics, love, and character to his daughters, Nancy and Suzanne.

Ben's strength of character was particularly evident in his "guidance giving", often hilarious, narratives of life experiences. At the age of 97, Ben continued to captivate family, friends, his caregivers, and fellow assisted living residents. He talked about the Air Force, the wars, learning to fly the Corsair, jets, and his beloved C-130 aircraft. He described schemes for escaping enemy capture, sacrifices on the part of the wives and families, and the many moves. He recalled a particular young airman under his command who had gotten into trouble for misplacing some items that belonged to the base and whose mother would only talk to Colonel Slaughter. The two collaborated on a plan; the airman became completely rehabilitated and was eventually named "Airman of the Year" for the entire Air Force. Another favorite story involved his response to the 911 terror attacks, "I might need a little help getting into the cockpit, but I can fly those airplanes!" He was 81 at the time.

Born May 8, 1920 in Commerce, Texas to Clarence Benton Slaughter, Sr. and the former Elsie Lee Harris, Ben grew up during the Great Depression. Picking cotton on the family sharecrop in Fairlie, working under the Civilian Conservation Corps, and playing football at Commerce High School led to college scholarships at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College and the University of Nevada, Reno.

College was interrupted by the outbreak of US involvement in WWII. In January 1942, Ben and most of his University of Nevada team mates enlisted in the US Army. Basic training was followed in rapid succession by duty in the Pacific, Aviation Cadet training, promotion to Second Lieutenant, Glider Pilot instruction, promotion to First Lieutenant, and assignment to the glider unit at Bergstrom AFB, Austin, Texas.

In 1944 Ben's personal life was forever improved when mutual friends introduced him to journalist and radio announcer Elaine Kincaid. Courtship was interrupted by a tour with the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) in New Guinea, where Ben contracted dengue fever. Ben was hospitalized in Austin, proposed to Elaine, and decided it was time to trade in gliders for something more durable with motors. The couple married December 22, 1946 at the Bergstrom AFB Chapel. After Ben completed Basic Pilot instruction at Randolph Field, San Antonio, the couple moved to Panama City, FL for Advanced Pilot training.

Ben loved flying and Elaine adored travel of any kind. Over the course of 25 years of active military service, Ben and Elaine lived at 26 different addresses, on or near 13 military installations across the US, in Europe, and Asia. Ben praised Elaine's contributions to military Family Services, American Red Cross, and Girl Scouts, as well as her talent for gracious living and entertaining. Clearly, the Air Force was getting two for the price of one. Kids were added in the 1950s. Nancy was born in Nashville, while Ben was flying missions in the Korean War. Suzanne was born in Weisbaden, Germany, while Ben was stationed at Toul-Rosières Air Base, since dependent hospital services were nonexistent in France.

In 1952 Ben was promoted to Major, in 1955 to Lt. Colonel, and in 1963 to Colonel. He was granted the aeronautical rating of Command Pilot in 1962.
Ben's military career was marked by assignments that led to numerous citations for leadership and bravery. In 1951 he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for extraordinary achievement while acting as Aircraft Commander of an unarmed, badly disabled, C119 transport aircraft airlifting urgently needed military supplies, ammunition, and personnel into the battle area of Korea, in direct support of Ground Force Units engaging in mortal combat.

In 1965 he was awarded the first of three Legions of Merit for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service. The first was awarded for Ben's service as Deputy for Operations and as Commander, 6315th Operations Group, Naha AFB, Okinawa, where he was recognized for superlative leadership and initiative in the successful execution of the USAF Special Air Warfare and counterinsurgency operations in Southeast Asia, from July 1963 to June 1965. The Legion of Merit, First Oak Leaf Cluster was awarded for Ben's service as Commander, 464th Tactical Airlift Wing, Pope AFB, North Carolina, from September 1967 to April 1969, where he directed the efforts of over eighteen major airlift operations, exercises, and deployments of national and international significance and was cited for establishing a reputation for complete reliability in meeting complex airlift requirements and an unprecedented working relationship and inter-services rapport between USAF Tactical Forces and US Army Airborne Forces, XVIII Airborne Corps, Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. Colonel Slaughter's Legion of Merit, Second Oak Leaf Cluster was awarded for his outstanding service as Commander, 838th Air Division, Forbes AFB, Topeka, Kansas, from January 1970 to July 1971.

Ben's reputation for establishing rapport across all branches of service began in the 1950s as the first Air Liaison officer assigned to the Army at Ft. Campbell, KY and an appointment to the Marine Senior Officers' Course at Quantico, VA. In the 1960s Ben worked with the US Embassy in Tokyo in his capacity of Joint Chiefs of Staff Chief of Operations, Readiness and Evaluation for the Military Command System. From August 1965 to July 1967, Ben was stationed with the Navy and received the Joint Service Commendation Medal for his performance while a member of the National Emergency Command Post Afloat, Operations Directorate, Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. His talent for organization, tireless efforts in supervision, and efficient guidance to decision making authorities were highlighted in the citation.

Ben Slaughter was honored to have served his country as squadron, wing, and division commander. By 1971 he had attained over 6,000 flying hours and completed thirteen combat missions. His final assignment prior to retirement was Commander, 4500th Air Base Wing, Langley Air Force Base, Virginia.
When Ben retired from the Air Force he and Elaine returned to Austin, where Ben was finally able to finish college. He earned a BA in Business with credits toward a Master's degree at St. Edward's University.

Highlights of retirement included countless rounds of golf, travels with Elaine to Australia and New Zealand, and numerous Air Force reunions where Ben and Elaine enjoyed reconnecting with former colleagues and lifelong friends. Ben was a member of The Order of Daedalians and was especially proud of his trip to the National World War II Memorial, sponsored by Austin Honor Flight; and his participation in the 2017 Dallas Veterans' Day Parade, made possible by Post-Acute Medical Rehabilitation Hospital of Allen and the Plano VA.

Ben's beloved Elaine passed away in 2012 and their cherished daughter Suzanne lost her battle with cancer in 2017. His surviving daughter Nancy and son-in-law Gary believe there is a reunion taking place in heaven.

The family wishes to thank Appletree Court Assisted Living, private caregivers Pam and Gwen, Baylor Hospital nurses Wendy and Alice, and Silverado Hospice nurse Susie for their extraordinary care and loving attention during Ben's final year.

Graveside service with full military honors will be held at Ft. Sam Houston Cemetery, San Antonio, where Ben will be laid to rest next to Elaine.

In lieu of flowers, please consider the Air Force Aid Society, 241 Eighteenth Street, S., Suite 202, Arlington, VA 22202.

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Suggested Memorial Donations

  • In lieu of flowers, please consider the Air Force Aid Society, 241 Eighteenth Street, S., Suite 202, Arlington, VA 22202.

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Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home North

3125 N Lamar Blvd.
Austin, TX 78705
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