Captain Benjamin Sammis '96 killed in Iraq
Marine Captain Benjamin Sammis, 29, of Rehoboth, Massachusetts, died in combat in central Iraq on Saturday, April 5. He was a Cobra helicopter pilot with the HMLA-267 Unit out of Camp Pendleton, Cal.
Benjamin Sammis was born in Rehoboth, Mass., the son of a Marine drill sergeant.
He was a member of the The Citadel's Class of 1996. A member of Kilo Company, he majored in civil engineering.
CE Professor Thomas Dion taught Sammis several classes and remembers him as a focused student with impeccable manners and a good sense of humor. "He was the epitome of what we are all about -- the citizen soldier," Dion said.
After graduating from The Citadel, Sammis set his sites on becoming a pilot and earned his wings on April 2, 1999 in Pensacola, Florida. According to his wife Stacey, he made Weapons and Tactics Instructor (WTI) in October 2002, an achievement in which he took great pride.
The two met while he was in basic training and Stacey said that while she had never visited The Citadel, Benjamin spoke of it often. "It's where he changed from a high school boy into a man, a Marine and a gentleman," she said. The couple planned to come to the campus this summer while they were on the East Coast for a family wedding.
"Sometimes in life you are lucky enough to find and marry your best friend," Stacey Sammis said. "Ben and I were that lucky. Ben is the most gentle, loving and kind man. He loved flying and he loved his country."
Stacey Sammis hopes to establish some type of memorial fund at The Citadel to remember her husband so that future cadets can benefit from his legacy.
Captain Sammis is the second Citadel alumnus to die in action in Iraq. Major General John Grinalds, president of The Citadel, said "The Citadel family feels this loss keenly and we offer our heartfelt condolences to his wife and the Sammis family."
There will be a memorial service for Captain Sammis and the other Marines who died in the helicopter crash at Camp Pendleton on April 10.