About this Episode
In this episode, the Clueless Gent talks to Texas author Ben H. English, a real Texan’s Texan! Ben writes about what he loves, and that is the Big Bend area of Texas. He’s written both fiction and non-fiction about the area, and at the time of recording, Ben is in the process of recording the audio book for his latest novel, Destiny’s Way. In addition to telling us a little about himself and a lot about the Big Bend, Ben gives some practical advice for anyone who wants to write about their favorite place on earth.
Photos of the Big Bend
About our Guest – Ben H. English
Ben H. English is an eighth-generation Texan who was born in Uvalde in the late 1950s. As a child, he spent most of his years in the Big Bend Country along the Rio Grande. He attended schools in Presidio, Marfa, and later, a one room school house in Terlingua. During this time, his family had several ranching and business interests in the area, including the historic Lajitas Trading Post, which was run by his grandparents.
His family moved to Fort Stockton, Texas, where he graduated from high school in May of 1976. He joined the United States Marine Corps on a delay enlistment program and turned eighteen years old while still in boot camp. Having volunteered for ground infantry, Ben was sent to Infantry Training School at Camp Pendleton, California.
While there, he was selected as a Marine Security Guard and sent to Marine Barracks, Naval Ammunition Depot, Hawthorne, Nevada. When the barracks closed in October 1977, Ben received orders for Okinawa to join Second Battalion, Fourth Marine Regiment.
After displaying certain field skills and marksmanship abilities, he attended the Third Marine Division Scout-Sniper School at Camp Hansen, Okinawa. Following the completion of this course, then Corporal English was assigned as a jungle and mountain warfare instructor at Northern Training Area in Okinawa until returning stateside in November 1978.
Serving as a scout-sniper for STA Platoon, Third Battalion, Second Marines, at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; he later became Chief Scout-Sniper and Platoon Sergeant while still holding the rank of corporal. He also attended and successfully completed the Scout-Sniper School for Second Marine Division. Ben was meritoriously promoted to the rank of sergeant and chosen as a unit leader for the Infantry Training School at Camp Geiger.
In January 1980, Sergeant English was offered the opportunity to join the Fourth Counterintelligence Team at Camp Lejeune, and did so after re-enlistment. For the next three and a half years he attended various schools for counterintelligence, interrogation, counter-terrorism, and took part in several field operations. By the time he had finished his second enlistment in July 1983, he had traveled to over thirty different countries; mostly in Asia, the Caribbean, Central and South America, and West Africa.
Despite several offers to stay in the Marine Corps, English mustered out and enrolled at Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas. Within three years he had graduated Magna Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree in Government as well as recognition by Alpha Lambda Delta, Alpha Chi, and Who’s Who In American Colleges and Universities.
After college, he was accepted to the Texas Department of Public Safety Training Academy in June of 1986. He graduated in October 1986 and was stationed as a Highway Patrolman in Ozona, Texas. During those years he was tasked as a Driving Instructor, Firearms Instructor, Defensive Tactics Instructor, and had several other secondary assignments. He was a member of the regional pistol team, regional honor guard, and served on the District Civil Disturbance Management Team for over twenty years.
On a more personal note, he coached his county 4-H small-bore rifle team to state competition and was an adult leader for the Boy Scouts of America. Mr. English retired from the Texas Highway Patrol in late 2008, and spent the following two years working as a criminal justice teacher at Ozona High School.
In November of 2017, Mr. English had his first book published. This was his beginning effort in writing and it was accepted by a university press almost immediately. Since then Yonderings has garnered several awards and continues to be a steady seller, having been compared to another Texas classic Goodbye To A River.
His second and third books, Destiny’s Way (January 2020) and Out There: Essays on the Lower Big Bend (October 2020), published by Creative Texts Publishers, have also done well. He signed a long term, multi book contract with this company in 2019.
With these recent successes as a starting point, he has branched into writing a series of novels that will use the history of the Lone Star state as a backdrop. Ultimately, this effort will encompass a dozen volumes concerning different settings and eras.
The great western novelist Louis L’Amour once advised: “Write what you know.” Mr. English’s intimate knowledge of the land itself lends credence and authenticity to his work, as has the life he has lived. When he writes of driving a car at over a hundred and fifty miles an hour, or riding a horse in a mad scramble across broken, eroded country, or making a shot at better than a thousand yards with a bolt action rifle, he speaks of what he knows.
The same goes for how it feels to get hit and hit back, or being thirsty, cold, wet, sick, injured, hungry or exhausted beyond imagination; in all he writes from personal experience. Finally, he also knows personally how it feels to be not only the hunter, but also the hunted.
He and his wife have two sons, both who graduated from the United States Naval Academy. Presently, Ben and his wife live in Alpine so he can be closer to the land that nurtured him. To this day, he likes nothing better than grabbing a pack and some canteens, and heading off to where few others venture.
Connect with Ben
Ben H. English’s Books
Additional Episode Information and Links
Book Recommended by Ben H. English
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