John Wynn's BBS Message on Ben's Passing
Bernard A. "Ben" Bastura
1933 - 2003
It is with the very deepest regret that I must inform you of the
passing of our dear friend and mentor, Ben Bastura...
Ben passed away yesterday from natural causes at his Submarine
Library and Museum in Middletown, Connecticut.
Ben had long been a supporter of the Submarine Force. Many years
ago in 1954 Ben and his brother took up a hobby of Submarines. Even
though he never served a day on Submarines. What started as a hobby
evolved into a major collection of Submarine history, and memorabilia.
Ben has been an incredible source of reference and material. He
has been maintaining files on all Submarines for many years. Many
members of SUBVETS, and people across the country would contact
Ben for information or pictures, or history. He was a great source
of reference and information on the Submarine Force.
In addition to single handedly operating the Submarine Museum in
his own home, he was also an author, who was greatly involved in
the writing of the History of the Submarine Veterans of WWII. Ben
was an Associate member of the SUBVETS WWII, and also Lockwood Internet
Ben's last wishes were as simple and straighforward as his life
was....His ONLY request was to be creamated and have his ashes scattered
on Long Island Sound...
His wish did not specify a submarine, but given his life's work
and his Honorable Discharge from the Army, I hope and pray that
his ashes might be carried by one of our newest and fastest Fast
Attack submarines....There could be no more fitting tribute to our
lost National Treasure, Bernard Bastura...
There is a port of no return where ship?s may ride at anchor for
a little space.
And then some starless night the cable slips leaving only an eddy
at the mooring place.
Gulls vear no longer, Sailor rest your oars, no tangled wreckage
will be washed ashore.
Shipmate Bastura rest your oars!
Robert "Dex" Armstrong's
GOD NEVER MADE A BETTER AMERICAN THEN BEN BESTURA
AND THE SUBMARINE FORCE NEVER HAD A FINER FRIEND
John Wynn phoned this evening to inform me of the death of Ben Bastura.
Anyone who has ever been “gut punched” and had his breath taken
away will know how I felt. All of us who ever wore Dolphins lost
If you never had the honor of meeting this gentle man you missed
one of life’s’ wonderful experiences. Patriotism and loving respect
for the ships’ and men of the United States Submarine Service ran
through the heart of this soft spoken, self appointed guardian of
our heritage, with every stroke of the heart that finally gave out.
The expression, “To know him was to love him” was never more aptly
applied to an individual. The honor of receiving a soft handshake
from this man burns brightly in my memory tonight.
Tonight Ben’s porch light that has served as the navigation beacon
for the most personal and lovingly assembled collection of U.S.
Submarine memorabilia and historical information does not burn.
People flying by his modest home and entering Middletown, Connecticut
have no way of knowing that contained within the walls of that simple
frame home is a tribute to men who went to sea in submersibles,
that formed one man’s lifes work Ben ran the whole thing out of
a cigar box.
Try to visualize someone devoting his entire home (bedrooms, living
room, dining room, every inch of hallway space, kitchen, and even
the bathroom), to house and display our heritage and hallmarks of
our history…a kind man who had the sparkle of goodness in his eyes…a
man who radiated kindness and gentility from as pure an American
soul as was ever assembled by the Eternal Master of Good Works.
I cried tonight because I will miss him. Knowing him was a gift
John Wynn gave me. At this stage in my life, it takes a helluva
lot to awe and amaze me…but it would take a soul so cynical and
jaded that the person was past salvage, to visit Bens’ home and
not be awed. Ben was an unnoticed, unheralded and unrewarded national
treasure. If modern science could reproduce the Bastura heart, the
world would be an infinitely better place.
All you old bluejackets rump buffing barstools at the “Goddess of
The Main Induction” Bar at the head of the Silver Pier, send some
idiot E-3 to go find Ben….He served in the Army, but tell the first
Sergeant that Ben has a middle rack on one of those raggedy boats
over at the Silver Pier. Tell him Ben will always belong to us…Any
man who personally carved one of every class of boat the U.S. Navy
ever sent to sea…one he carved out of a creosote soaked railroad
crosstie will always have a place in the hearts of the men he beloved
and honored…Somebody in the Sub Force would do us all a great favor
if they could find a way to award Ben Silver Dolphins. No man did
more to honor all they represent.
Old Gringo…Harrison…Capt. Beach...buy Ben a beer and find him a
barmaid to give him shoulder rub…he’s one of us. God bless you Ben…you
sir, left a big hole in the hearts of all of us on whose shoulder
you rested your gentle hand. I, sir, hope that wherever you are,
flowers have arrived and the spring breezes met you when you tossed
your lines over. God…tell Saint Peter to announce, ”Bastura arriving”,
get a clean white hat on that topside watch…and tell our beloved
shipmate those he left behind have the “cigar box watch”.
CTTCS R.D. Starnes's BBS Post
Honorary Chief (SS) BERNARD A. "BEN" BASTURA, USN
The Final Patrol
I have one consolation that lives with me today.
That God is near to them, in his own special way.
So God in all Your mercy, keep near Thyself the soul,
Of every Submariner, still on his final patrol.
Lord, this departed shipmate with HONORARY dolphins on his chest is part of an outfit known as the best.
Make him welcome and take him by the hand. You'll find without a doubt he was the best in all the land.
So, heavenly Father add his name to the roll of our departed shipmates still on patrol.
Let them know that we who survive will always keep their memories alive.
Sailor, Rest Your Oar. And thanks for your unselfish service
to keep the history of the Submarine Service alive.
May God be with you and your family in this time of needed comfort.
The Starnes Family.
Bill Whalen's BBS Post
"Say That He Loved Old Ships"
Say that he loved old ships; write nothing more
Upon the stone above his resting place;
and they who read will know he loved the roar
Of breakers white as starlight, shadow lace
Of purple twilights on a quiet sea,
First ridge of daybreak in a waiting sky,
The wings of gulls that beat eternally
An haunt old harbours with their silver cry,
Speak softly now, his heart has earned its rest,
This heart that knew each alien star by name,
Knew passion of the waves against the breast
When clouds swept down the sea and lightning's flame
Tore skies asunder with swift finger tiips;
Write nothing more; say that "he loved old ships".
-- Daniel Whitehead Hickey
So What Happens Now?
Per Ben's wishes, his collection will be donated
to St. Mary's Submarine Museum. As more is learned about the whereabouts
of Ben's collection, it will be posted here.
[On 8/4/2003, Ben's ashes were committed
to the sea - JW]
So long Ben.... (photo from John Wynn, 6/2003)
(click on photos for larger size)
||Ben and John Wynn
||Ben John Carcioppolo
||Bill Linne and
||John Wynn, Ben,
||Ben's Life Member
certificate for Lockwood Internet Base, USSVI
||Ben Bastura Submarine
Library and Museum
Shipmates Pay Tribute
This goes to show that we should not put off doing the things we want. I had/have plans to go to the Groton Base Back to Submarine School. I had collected several cases of copier paper from the local paper mill to drop off for Ben's use. Never got to meet him. I've missed out on meeting a man that I wanted to meet ever since I heard of him. I guess I'll have to wait on that meeting for a while.
I hope Ben is treated as well by God as Ben treated us. Smooth Sailing and God Bless You, Ben
Ron "Warshot" Smith
I have lost a friend and the Submarine Service has lost a champion. Rest in peace Ben.
The submarine force has lost one of it's strongest supporters. May the Navy, who you supported
for so long, grant you burial at sea from a submarine. Rest in peace, Ben.
Ron [in reponse to a post by Ron Wert], I will be at the Return
to Sub School in May and was also going to Ben's after. I waited
to long. I have had conversations with him and recieved some
pictures of Cavalla's patches from him. This Submariner thanks
you for your devotion to our world. "Ben, Rest Your Oar"
|| Joe Roche
Every now and then, a man passes by quietly, leaving little or no wake. He’s unlike the others. He has a passion, a desire. He doesn’t need the pomp and circumstance others crave. He gives himself completely and selflessly to the memory of others.
Ben will be remembered by the submarine community for a very long time. My only regret was, in never having the honor of meeting him.
Ben left a long wake behind him. It goes out to the horizon.
God Bless you Ben…Rest in peace.
Ray "Olgoat" Stone
This is truly sad news. We've lost an institution with Ben's passing, as he was most assuredly,
the 'Keeper of the Flame' of our proud heritage.
His spirit though, will live on through all of the many contributions that he has made to the
submarine service. I think it is a fitting tribute that his life's work, his fine library with all of
his research, will continue to inspire and inform both young and old for generations to come.
God bless you Ben for your devoted, dedicated service.
One of the most interesting persons that I have ever met. May his wish come true.
Lord take him into your harms and hold him.
May he march with his friends and sail with us for ever.
"REST YOUR OARS". "THANK You" for your interest in our Submarine Service. "Hand Salute", "Two"
I have had correspondence with the man on a few occasions and found him to be every bit a gentleman.
My only regret is I never got to meet him in person or see his collection.
Ben was a fine gentleman and a friend to the entire submarine community. I am happy I had
the prviledge of meeting him. He will be missed by us all. Fair winds and following seas, Ben.
Had the privilege of visiting Ben's Museum and meeting him in the 70's. He provided me with the
History of the 3 Patrols the Charr made and also some pictures I didn't have. For that I will be ever
grateful. I regret that the contact I had after that first meeting was very limited.
SAILOR REST YOUR OARS--MAY GOD BLESS AND COMFORT THOSE YOU LOVED
I'm in shock! When Cowboy and I visited Ben's phenominal museum last year, Benny was as spry as either of us!
The Submarine Force has lost one of it's strongest supporters and finest gentlemen.
Ben Bastura may you rest in peace. It was my honor and privilege to make your acquaintance.
John "Chainfall" Pryzbyla
Rest your oars, Benny. I'm going to miss your fights and arguments. They were fun.
Ben was a man whose kindness was only matched by his passion for the submarine service. He will be missed by all who knew him (myself included), and all whom didn't should pity thier inaction.
With deepest regret and regards, Bruce
Bob "Spider" Spide
I am proud to have met Ben at his Middletown Museum and especially to have been his sponsor for
Associate Member of USSVI and LIB. Rest in peace, Historian, Author and devoted friend. May you
now rest your oar with those on eternal patrol that you so memorialized through your dedicated efforts.
My sincere regrets and condolences,
John and Terry Ackerman
Peace be with you Ben.
It is a relativly short drive from Ben's home to the Sub base, having grown up in Windsor. I made that
trip more times than I can remember. Please gather as many Sub Vets and as many active duty and Sub
School students as possible and give this man that devoted his life to all that wore the "FISH" past and
present a proper send off.Ben, you are going to get that patrol that you always dreamed of.Thank you
my friend.... and may God bless you ...You were the patron saint of all of us that rode the boats.
A rare treasure in this life. A treasures memory for the future. Rest in Peace Ben, you have made
us all better by knowing of you and your work.
God bless you and keep you safe Ben, and may he privide you with a little house for yourself in which
to continue on with your work. I am sure one day some young sailor on a "Seawolf Class" will look over
his shoulder while underway, having felt your energy present. If he is lucky he will have met you and
have personal rememberance, if not, he will still be lucky to sail with your spirit on that "Seawolf Ride"
that was your wish. Thanks again Ben for your undying energy and effort towards making sacred
something that a small band of old Rag Hats would have sold their souls to do. It gives physical presence for others to see, to something each and every Submariner holds near and dear in his heart.
I am very sorry to learn of Ben's passing. I had the great pleasure of spending time with him and his
fabulous collection four times over the past few years, and we corresponded often. He provided much
information in support of my work on the USS Conger history and newsletter. If I raised a question he
would research his files and send me the information in a few days and he never asked anything in return.
He was a gentleman and a friend and I will sorely miss him.
Last year sometime I sent Ben a small donation and promptly forgot about it. Lo and behold come
Xmas time, my wife asked me one day, "Who is Ben Bastura?"
I asked why and she replied, "We just received a Xmas card from him." So, I guess that answer's her
question. Ben Bastura, a man who always had a moment for an old sub sailor. Soldier, you never served
in a submarine but the world has lost a genuine man and we will be the worse for the loss.
I didn't realize that I was that busy. I just got off
the phone with DEX, he asked me something about Ben
and when I answered in the negative, he told me that
he passed away 2 or 3 weeks ago.
Where the hell was I?
I guess I'm not in the loop any more, my apologies
I fully regret that I didn't take that saturday off
last month and come visit you - hell I even live in
Connecticut and I couldn't take one simple, short
little trip down to visit you, and I can't let my
excuses of "chores" or foster kids this and that
relieve me of my own personal let down, it's all
strictly my fault for not going to check out your
gift. From what I hear it was my loss and now it's an
even bigger loss.
We've lost, probably the largest contributor to
keeping the history of our service alive, and for all
that boat sailors do to perpetuate the memory of our
comrades and our service, you out did a division of us
with your "hobby". I for one will surely miss what I
didn't get to see.
I hear that your collection will be sent to Georgia,
well that's good, with all the stuff in Groton, I
believe it would have gotten pigeon holed, thus lost
to future generations. Now it means that I have a lot
farther trip to take to see it, I just won't have you
as the curator to explain it all and give it the life
that I've been told that you gave it.
Rest in peace Mr. Bastura and know that we all
appreciate the service you gave this country, both in
your service in the Army (TDY from your boat service)
and in keeping the USSVI creed...
"TO PERPETUATE THE MEMORY OF OUR SHIPMATES WHO GAVE
THEIR LIVES IN THE PURSUIT OF THEIR DUTIES WHILE
SERVING THEIR COUNTRY. THAT THEIR DEDICATION, DEEDS
AND SUPREME SACRIFICE BE A CONSTANT SOURCE OF
MOTIVATION TOWARD GREATER ACCOMPLISHMENTS. PLEDGE
LOYALTY AND PATRIOTISM TO THE UNITED STATES
Rest in peace "shipmate",
Attention on deck...
Billy Bob Lary