(WTNH)–Captain Benjamin Sklaver was a son, a humanitarian, and a soldier. He was killed by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan on October 2, 2009. He didn’t have to be there.
“He could have turned it down because his deployment, his requirement for ROTC would have ended in May or June, but since his unit was going to be going back over there, he felt he had to go as well,” his father Gary said.
Seven years after his death, his parents Laura and Gary finally feel ready to talk about their son openly. Ben grew up in Hamden, graduating from high school in 1995.
He went on to Tufts University and earned his Master’s degree in Law and Diplomacy. He surprised his parents by joining the army reserve.
“He enrolled in an ROTC program so while he was getting his Master’s he was also doing his basic training and doing officer training,” Gary said. “It was pretty scary for us with an active military presence overseas for our son to be going into the military. But he was determined to do it.”
Benjamin first deployed in 2007–to Uganda. His second deployment was to Afghanistan in 2009. Now, his medals and the flag that draped his coffin are treasured keepsakes.
His name is now etched in stone at memorials across the state for others to see. For the Sklavers, every day is one to remember their son. On Monday, as the nation honored its fallen heroes, the hope is that people will take time to understand the sacrifice.
“We never thought it would be this, we were like every other American, Memorial Day was the kickoff to the summer season,” said his mother Laura. “Now of course, it’s very different, and what we notice are the flags, and we think about Ben. I think we’re grateful for the people who come up to us and say they remember Ben.”
Before his death, Ben founded an organization to help bring clean water to thousands of people in Africa.