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LT. COL. BENJAMIN JOHNSON MELTON, JR., USAFR RET Einan's at Sunset Benjamin Johnson Melton, age 96, resident of Richland, Washington, died peacefully in his sleep on April 29, 2017 at Guardian Angel Homes. Ben was born December 6, 1920 in El Reno, Oklahoma. He was raised in and spent the fir st half of his life in New Mexico. He graduated from Clayton High School in Clayton, New Mexico and attended New Mexico State College in Las Cruces, New Mexico where he met his wife, Marje Melton. He left college to join the Army Air Corp shortly after the start of WWII. On October 9, 1942 Ben and Marje were married at Kelly Field, San Antonio, Texas. On that same day, he received his wings and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant. Ben led a life of adventure that he found very fulfilling. As he would tell people in recent times, "I married the prettiest woman I ever met, was a flight instructor and test pilot, flew the biggest plane that existed at the time, the fastest plane that existed at the time, worked as a roustabout, shot the biggest buck I ever saw, caught the biggest salmon I ever saw and worked as an explosives engineer." The only daring thing he never got around to trying was skydiving. Ben returned to school after WWII graduating with a degree in Chemical Engineering from University of New Mexico. He worked briefly for the Gulf Oil Corporation, for seventeen years at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory and in 1967 went to work for the Atomic Energy Commission in Richland, WA. He held various positions in the AEC, ERDA and the U.S. Department of Energy retiring in 1984 as the Director of External Affairs for the Richland Operations Office. He continued his military service in the Air National Guard and then as an officer in the US Air Force reserves eventually retiring as a Lt. Colonel. Ben was an avid photographer spending hours in the darkroom and later at the computer in Photoshop. He also enjoyed model railroading, camera collecting, and tinkering in his shop. He had every tool known to mankind and some that he invented. Ben is survived by his daughter, Sharon Lippincott and her husband Parvin of Austin, Texas; daughter Robin Klein and her husband Bill of Bernalillo, New Mexico; son Ronald Melton and his wife Carol of Richland, Washington; 10 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife, Marjorie; parents; sisters; son, Donald; and a granddaughter. A memorial service will be held at Einan's at Sunset Chapel, Richland on Saturday, May 6, 2017 at 2:30PM. In lieu of flowers donations in Ben's memory to the Surgical Implant Generation Network (SIGN) or the Kadlec Hospital Foundation would be appreciated. Express your thoughts and memories on our online Guestbook at
Funeral Home
Einan's Funeral Home, Inc.
915 By-Pass Highway
Richland, WA 99352
(509) 943-1114
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Published in Tri-City Herald on May 3, 2017