Benjamin Felix Marshall
Felix was born March 31, 1916 at the Marshall homestead “Walnut Glenn” near Phillipsburg, MO, across the Dallas County line. He completed his very full life on November 26, 2020 after a short decline. He was 104.
Felix was the eighth of twelve children born to Nora Haddick Marshall and Peter Breckenridge Marshall. He was preceded in death by his parents, four sisters and six brothers. He is survived by his brother, Peter B Marshall of Prescott Valley, AZ, Felix’s wife, Margaret Hanna Marshall of Monmouth, OR, his daughter Yvonne Heintz of Monmouth, OR, and son Richard Basinger of Lincoln, CA. He also leaves two grandchildren, David and Jon Basinger and two great grandchildren, Austin Basinger and Nathanial Basinger.
Despite a rural birth, Felix had no desire to become a farmer while there was so much world to see. In 1934 he hopped a freight train to Seattle, WA and joined the National Guard. With his new military training, he then enlisted in the Marines, August 1935, at the age of 19. He spent most of 1935 to 1939 in Tientsin, China (now Tianjin, China) serving as a Marine embassy guard. The pay was $20.80 per month and the food was good. He later recalled seeing the Great Wall of China, the Princesses’ Tombs, the Forbidden City and Her Majesty’s Marble Fleet as highlights of his service career.
His younger brother, Peter B, was old enough in 1939 to join the navy. Felix’s four year tour with the Marines was complete, so they decided they should see the south Pacific together. Felix joined the Navy in December 1939. His first ship was the USS Argonne where he was trained as a radio operator. On Dec 4, 1941 he was re-assigned to the USS Tern, a mine sweeper stationed in Pearl Harbor, HI, and he was on the Tern when the Japanese attacked December 7, 1941. The Tern was tied to the dock for boiler overhaul, but once it was cut loose and powered, it assisted in rescuing seamen from the water and pumping water on burning ships. He later learned his younger brother, Peter B, was captured along with the other medical staff on Guam. The following few years were spent on the Tern in the south Pacific and Felix fondly remembered that crew as the best he ever served with.
On August 8, 1945, Felix returned to Missouri to visit family and marry a beautiful woman he knew from grade school, Margaret Hanna. She brought into the family a son Richard C Basinger. They relocated to San Diego, California, his home port, where he was stationed with the Tactical Air Control Squadron One and anticipated ample shore duty. But the Korean War began and he instead flew to Japan to join his outfit on the USS Mt. McKinley where he served from 1947 to 1949. His duties were in communications and crypto. While in Seoul his commanding officer learned Felix had entered the marines before finishing his senior year, so Felix took the exam and received his high school diploma. Notable memories from these years were sailing through the Panama Canal, witnessing three of the joint atomic bomb tests on Eniwetok Island, and shore leave in post war Japan.
In June 1955 he became a member of the Fleet Reserve and moved the family (now including a daughter, Yvonne) back to Phillipsburg, Missouri where they built a large home off Rt. 66. In 1957 he was recalled to active duty on the aircraft carrier the USS Antietam, home port in Florida. In 1959 he retired from active duty and worked with the Missouri penitentiary system, the Missouri conservation department and then as postmaster of Phillipsburg, Missouri, a position he maintained until full retirement.
Felix was a member of the Springfield chapter of Pearl Harbor Survivors and active in the Phillipsburg Christian Church. In later years he and Margaret traveled to visit their daughter and son’s homes out of state, and in doing so were able to tour parts of Texas, New Mexico, Wyoming and California. They joined the Church of Christ in Lebanon, Missouri and enjoyed wonderful friends who helped them in their advancing ages. Felix was a gentle man who enjoyed his family, conversations with close friends, reading and as he aged, many naps!
In 2019 they sold their home and moved to Monmouth, Oregon to be closer to family. At 103 it was a road trip to remember but Felix enjoyed the scenery. We will greatly miss him but we should all aspire to have such a long, healthy and interesting life. Felix did manage to see the world and so many amazing sights and now it is time for him to progress to his next adventure.
Private interment will be in the Willamette National Cemetery in Portland. The Dallas Mortuary Tribute Center is caring for the family. www.dallastribute.com