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Northern Virginia Veteran Researches His Deep Roots in Military History

August 3, 2011

Ashburn resident compiles a website detailing the history of his ship and shipmates in World War II; along the way, uncovers details about military service by his father, grandfather, and great grandfather

 ASHBURN, VIRGINIA - About twenty years ago, Benjamin Givens decided to compile a record of his experiences on the U.S.S. Indiana, a ship on which he served from September 23, 1944 to March 6, 1946 in World War II.  Givens started compiling his memories and information, and then turned to collecting information from fellow veterans at reunions.  With organization in mind, Givens started a website in June of 1998 ( where he published his findings, and continues to update the records today.  He spent countless hours at the library and the National Archives in order to present the information on the website as it exists today.

Today, Givens updates and maintains several more websites from his home office at Ashby Ponds retirement community, where he moved in 2009 from his Vienna, Virginia home.  One of those sites reviews the history of his great grandfather who fought in the Civil War from June 20, 1861 to July 20, 1865 in the 43rd Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers (  He has also researched the military history of his grandfather who served in the Spanish-American War, as well as his father who served in World War I on the U.S.S. Florida.

The most satisfaction that Givens receives from his years and years of research is when "a son or daughter, grandson or granddaughter, contacts me and says 'I never knew what [they] did in the war'" until they came across the website, Givens said.  That, he says, makes it all worthwhile.
Ashby Ponds has almost 600 residents; ¼ of which are veterans of one of the branches of the military including Mr. Givens.  At last count (May 2011), there are 145 veterans at Ashby Ponds: 54 U.S. Army Vets, 41 U.S. Navy Vets, 34 U.S. Air Force Vets, 15 U.S. Marine Corps Vets, 1 U.S. Coast Guard Vet.  Combined, these veterans have given more than 1485 years of service defending America's freedom.
About Ashby Ponds:  Ashby Ponds, one of 16 retirement communities managed by Erickson Living, is situated on a scenic 132-acre campus in Ashburn, Virginia (approximately 30 miles west of Washington, D.C.).  The community is home to approximately 600 residents and is filled with fascinating people and fantastic opportunities.  Life at Ashby Ponds offers a true sense of community and is an exciting alternative to the typical retirement community.  More information about Ashby Ponds can be found