94-year-old jump master makes 116th leap in Minden

Ben Hagans

Ben Hagans

Dayton resident Ben Hagans celebrated his 94th birthday by jumping out of an airplane on Monday.

It wasn’t the first time, the Korean War veteran has made a jump, but well-wishers said his 116th might be the last one.

“Nice thing about today is that we’ve got heavy air,” the former jump master said. “It slows down the fall.”

Members of Honor Flight Nevada and the Douglas County Sheriff’s Mounted Posse saw Hagans off on his jump with Skydive Lake Tahoe at Minden-Tahoe Airport.

“Wow!” he said. “Thank you, it’s quite a tribute.”

“You want us to shoot at you when you hit the ground,” son Marty asked while they were waiting for the preparation.

Hagans grew up in the Philippines and was a teenager when the Japanese invaded. He was captured and served three and a half years in a prisoner of war camp, according to friend Denise Davis.

When he was liberated he weighed 50 pounds and thought his family was dead. Happily they were not.

He was in college when the Korean War broke out, and tried to enlist to go fight, but was turned down by one recruiter. Showing the sort of perseverance that gets you to 94 years old, he tried again and was accepted, Davis said.

Before he took off on Monday, Hagans was blessed by Calvary Chapel Dayton Valley Pastor Garry Leist.

“We are so thankful we can celebrate this,” Leist said. “Bless him on his birthday spent drawing closer to his lord and bring him safely back to us.”

The blessing may have helped as Hagans completed the jump successfully.

Hagans received a Quilt of Valor from the Comstock Lode Quilters last year, Davis said.


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