Benny Lohman: From World War II to the medal stand

Photo courtesy Benny Lohman Benny Lohman smiles in her naval uniform during World War II. Lohman served as a naval recruiter, recruiting women to join the Navy and riding with them by train from California to New York.

Photo courtesy Benny Lohman
Benny Lohman smiles in her naval uniform during World War II. Lohman served as a naval recruiter, recruiting women to join the Navy and riding with them by train from California to New York.

Benny Lohman is best described as a character. At the age of 96, she is full of life and energy. She laughs easily at herself, with a light-hearted, self-deprecating sense of humor.

Every so often she says, “Oh gosh, I need to think of something interesting to tell you,” as if being a world traveler, multiple gold medal winner in the Senior Olympics and community icon is not interesting enough.

Many Pagosa-area residents might know Lohman as an avid golfer or active member of her church, but she is much more than that.

Lohman was recruited into the Navy shortly after graduating college. She attended Pennsylvania State University, where she was very active in running. After graduation, she began teaching physical education for college girls in New York.

She taught physical education for three years. Lohman’s boss at the time, who was a naval officer, knew she was an active young woman, and convinced the young woman the Navy would be a great fit for her.

Lohman was hungry for an exciting new experience, and consequently left her job to became a lieutenant.

“I knew it would be interesting and challenging, even though I couldn’t go overseas at the time,” she said.

Women’s involvement in the military was new when Lohman first joined. With World War II taking thousands upon thousands of American men overseas, women filled the gaps stateside, both militarily and in the workforce.

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This story was posted on November 5, 2015.