Maj. Urban Drew, Ben to those close to him, was a father and a real-life hero for his son David Drew. Ben served in 75 operations over Europe during the Second World War, where he fought against at least 6 German fighter jets and a Luftwaffe Flying Boat, while piloting his P-51 Mustang. After, he was sent over Iwo Jima, where he remained until the end of the war.
After the war, he worked as a commercial airline pilot and aircraft broker in Africa and Europe. But what made his son David so proud, was his military service. David said how toward the end of his life, Ben would salute every American flag he saw.
The caisson was pulled by 7 black horses and three rifle volleys. David came with his family from San Diego to be at the funeral procession in Arlington. “My father would have been very happy”.
Ben’s father, just like his grandfather, died at the age of 29. He and his brother were raised by their mother who was a teacher and Catholic. Ben was born near Detroit in 1924, the Air Force Times reports.
Ben enlisted in the Army Air Corps when he was 18 years old, in 1942. He trained to become a pilot in Florida, served as an instructor pilot and then went to war. He started as a replacement pilot in the 375th Fighter Group, with the Royal Air Force Station Bottisham, England. Later on he began flying as an “A” flight leader, in his Detroit Miss – P-51.
He was the first Allied airman to score two aerial victories over Achmer, Germany, in October 1944. Forty years later he was awarded the Air Force Cross.
After the war he returned to Michigan and began flying the P-47 and C-54 for the Air National Guard, where he also was the first Adjutant General. “Twice in his life after the war, he was called upon by the U.S. government to work on clandestine bases in the Belgian Congo and Vietnam,” said his son, David Drew.
Ben Drew was an extremely handsome and sociable man, who liked women and whiskey, who would make a lot of money just to lose it. His son David spent numerous summers with him overseas. David said that for many years, his father was certain he would die at 29, just like his father and David’s grandfather.
When David was 7, his mother and father divorced and Ben was the one who was awarded custody, however, his mother took him to California and they lived their under a different name.
David took a part of his father’s ashes to South Africa, where they once spent a year together. The rest remained in Arlington. Ben died aged 89.