Ben started out cowboying on his family’s ranches and by the age of ten was expected to do a man’s work in the saddle. By the time he graduated high school Ben had worked in a salt processing plant, operated heavy equipment, worked as a grocery store sacker, a bus boy, a groundskeeper, a store stocker and in magazine deliveries. Also during his teenaged years he learned to repair and modify old cars; an enduring hobby which continues to this day.

Ben’s Family in the Big Bend – circa 1960’s

His years in the Marine Corps also serve as a depository of memories from which he draws from when he writes. Ben enlisted as a grunt (ground infantry) when he was only seventeen. While at Infantry Training School following boot camp, he was selected first to be a mortarman and upon completion of ITS was picked to become a Marine Security Guard. Following a short stint as an MSG, he went back to his primary MOS until being transferred to the battalion Surveillance and Target Acquisition (STA) platoon where he learned to work with ground sensors, night observation devices and man pack radar.

After displaying a certain prowess on the rifle range, he was given the opportunity to attend the first scout-sniper school given on Okinawa since the end of the Vietnam War. Rotating back stateside, he attended an expanded version of this same school and ended up as chief scout-sniper as well as acting platoon sergeant for STA 3/2. Following this assignment, he was chosen to be a unit leader for the Infantry Training School at Camp Geiger to train younger Marines fresh out of boot camp.

Ben H. English in Marine Corps Boot Camp

On recommendation from a prior commanding officer, Ben was recruited into Marine Counterintelligence. In that position he attended numerous military schools put on by the Marine Corps, the Navy, the Army and the Air Force. Furthermore, he was afforded the opportunity to work with Army Airborne and Special Forces units, and was involved in some lengthy real-world operations. During these seven years, Ben spent time on four different continents, in thirty different countries and sailed many of the seas in between.

After mustering out, Ben went to college on the old GI Bill. He supplemented his veteran benefits with scholarships and by working at an area J.C Penney before landing a security job at a regional hospital. Even with a sometimes hectic work schedule, he ended up with a BA in Government (Magna Cum Laude) along with several other attending academic awards. His course of study was completed in less than three years.

Even before graduating college, Ben had obtained a slot in the Texas DPS All Service Recruit Academy and graduated from there as a highway patrolman in Ozona, some eighty miles north of the Rio Grande. This small, unincorporated town is divided neatly in half by a seventy mile county-wide stretch of Interstate 10, which is the main thoroughfare between Florida and Southern California. Ben spent 22 years as a trooper there, and with Ozona having no police department he had the unique opportunity to deal with everything from a teenaged jaywalker or a loud music complaint to arresting jewel thieves, kidnappers, armed robberers, prison escapees, drug smugglers and an occasional cold-blooded killer.

1987 Ford Mustang patrol car , nicknamed "Iron Pony II", driven by Ben H. English, Trooper for the Texas DPS.
1987 Ford Mustang patrol car , nicknamed “Iron Pony II”, driven by Ben H. English, Trooper for the Texas DPS.

During those years Ben also managed to get instructor certifications in Defensive Tactics, Patrol Procedures, ASP Baton, Firearms, Specialized Performance Driving, Officer Survival, and was also certified as a police armorer for the DPS. He helped train hundreds upon hundreds of recruits as well as seasoned police officers, and also was a member of the Regional Honor Guard, the Regional Pistol Team and the District Civil Disturbance Management Team for two decades. Finally, he holds a Master Peace Officer rating with some 2,740 TCLEOSE education hours.

Upon retirement Ben was asked to be a teacher at the local high school, developing and then instructing a Criminal Justice program for the school’s students. He did this for two years, and found himself involved in yet another of the many facets of his life’s experiences. While living in Ozona, he also served as a coach for the local 4H rifle team, volunteered as an adult leader in the Boy Scouts and held several committee seats for the Ozona First Baptist Church.