The Clemson Corps will host a celebration of what would have been Brig. Gen. Ben Skardon’s 105th birthday at 10 a.m. Thursday, July 14, as they dedicate the “Sylvan Delight” nature trail. The one-third-mile trail is located at the entrance to Clemson University next to the Douthit Hills parking lot.
Skardon, a 1938 Clemson graduate and Bataan Death March survivor, passed away last November at age 104. He used the trail, – which connects the Clemson campus to his former neighborhood on Woodland Way,– to train for his annual trip to White Sands Missile Range to walk in the Bataan Memorial Death March.
Skardon served 23 years in the U.S. Army and earned two Silver Stars, a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. He went on to serve in Korea in 1951-52 and retired from the Army at the rank of colonel in 1962.
In 1964, he returned to his alma mater, joining the Clemson faculty in the Department of English, where he taught for more than 20 years until his retirement in 1985.
In 2006, at the age of 88, Skardon became the only survivor to walk in the annual Bataan Memorial Death March. He walked more than eight miles and returned to walk 12 more times until he was 101. His annual pilgrimage received national attention and was featured twice on CBS’s flagship news program 60 Minutes.
After the 15-minute ceremony on Thursday, attendees will be invited to walk the trail, so it is recommended to dress appropriately. Visitors will not need a parking pass to use the parking lot from 9 a.m. to noon on the day of the ceremony.
The Clemson Corps suggests that people can also celebrate Skardon’s birthday by making a $10.50 or a $105 donation to the Col. Beverly “Ben” N. Skardon, ’38 Clemson Corps Endowment, which benefits ROTC cadets.