Benjamin Middleton will mark his 100th birthday on Friday, July 28. The World War II veteran and longtime Angeleno plans to enjoy a centennial celebration with family friend at the Calimesa Country Club in Calimesa, California.

A native of Beaufort, South Carolina, Mr. Middleton was born on July 28, 1923. Reared by his father, he lived his formative years in Hartford, Connecticut before enlisting in the U.S. Army at the age of 18.

Benjamin Middleton (Courtesy photo)

When Mr. Middleton joined the military, WWII was underway and he was assigned to serve in the historic 93rd Infantry Division, the first all-Black combat regiment to fight in the Pacific.  He received an honorable discharge in 1945 and soon relocated to Los Angeles where he landed a position as a machinist with Boeing, the international aircraft and telecommunication company.

According to his stepdaughter, Monique Earl, “Ben climbed the ranks to management – an elusive feat for African Americans at the time – and his work contributed to the construction of the Apollo Spacecraft. Ben also served as a reserve officer for the Los Angeles Police Department.”

Mr. Middleton retired from Boeing after a 37-year career and then embarked on a new career as a band manager, which meshed perfectly with love of music. Monique said, “Ben’s greatest passion is music, particularly the classic sounds of Duke Ellington, John Coltrane and Billie Holiday.”

As he prepares to enter his 11th decade of life, Mr. Middleton – affectionately known as “the King Pen” – continues to impress visitors with his karaoke-style singing.  His other pastimes include working in his garden and relaxing with a cold beer.

“His family and friends are grateful for him and look forward to this Centennial Celebration,” added Monique.