The Amazing and Wonderful Benny Joe Holder

submitted by: Elijah Dudley

SUP CC Chapter 4th Grade Ancestor Awards

Holder-1 Benny Joe Holder

Holder-2 Pilot Benny Joe Holder

The Amazing and Wonderful Benny Joe Holder
Benny Joe Holder
By: Elijah Dudley
Mrs. Sherratt's 4th Grade Class
South Elementary School Third Place
Andrew & Lexie Dudley

Benny Joe Holder was born on June 17, 1936, in Anthony Kansas, to Hazel and William Holder. He was the fourth of six children, his siblings were Elmer, Verla, Clara, Ruth, and James. His younger years, the family was happy, the siblings loved being together and playing together. When his youngest brother was born, his Mom had a mental breakdown. The children were split up into foster care. This event changed his life. He said that all the foster homes he lived in taught him different skills, like milking, horseback riding, hunting, fishing, and how to fix almost anything. This was the beginning of his learning to make the best out of every situation. This skill would help him his whole story. He grew up and went to school and later graduated from high school, all in the same town of Anthony, Kansas. This meant that he got to see some of his family, occasionally, because they were in the same area.

When Benny turned 18, he joined the Air Force and after basic training, he was sent to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base near Tucson, Arizona. This is where he met Billy Hickman, another Private, who invited him to his parents home for dinner. This is where he met his wife, Sydney. They were married June 6, 1958. After the birth of their first child, the Air Force moved them to Puerto Rico, where their next daughter was born. The family moved, after three years, to Selfridge Air Force Base, in Michigan. Then, after one year, Benny was released from active duty. The family moved to Southern California, where Ben became a firefighter for the L.A. Fire Department. He continued to serve in the Air National Guard on the weekends. He became a private pilot and a paramedic. He and his wife then had two more children.

He had a wonderful career in the Fire Department and was named the Fire Captain. In 1976, while he was riding on the back of a ladder truck that went too fast over some railroad tracks, he got a brain injury. This took him off of active duty, and into rescue maintenance. At first this was very disappointing to him, but really this put him in a position to join the world wide breathing apparatus team. This team helped change the old version of the equipment. The old equipment was not working, because the masks that they used did not filter the smoke. They created a safer and better version of the mask that filtered the smoke, preventing lots of fire fighters from dying. What they created is still being used today. My Great Grandfather often said that "he saved more lives after his accident than before."

He went on to retire from both the Fire Department and the Military. After retirement, he was a big part in helping get the L.A. Fire Museum up and running. He loved dressing up in the old fire uniforms and giving tours to the public. He was funny and always had a smile on his face. When people would ask him how he was doing? He would always say, "finer than frog hear and sweeter than bear meat." He always made me laugh when he would make jokes and say silly things.

Benny passed away early in the morning on June 24, 2021. During his funeral, Benny got to ride on an old fire truck to his gravesite, where he was given full military honors, including an Air Force fly over with missing man formation. My Great Grandfather's funeral was really cool because I got to see jets fly over and watch people from the military shoot their guns. His funeral helped me realize how honorable his life was and how he impacted so many people.

My Great Grandfather inspired me because of all of the amazing things he did and through all of the hardships he went through, he still had a love for others and had a very amazing life. I have always admired how my grandfather flew airplanes in the Air Force and how many stories he shared of saving people's life as a Fire Fighter. Because of his example, I can always be kind to others and learn to make the bet out of any situation.