Distinguished Alumnus
Class of 2016

Capt. Benjamin J. (Jim) Binford

AHS Class of 1959

Captain Benjamin J. “Jim” Binford, USN (Ret.), a 1959 graduate of Arcola High School, had a distinguished military Navy career, for which he was awarded two Navy Legion of Merit Medals, three Meritorious Service Medals, the Navy Commendation Medal, the Navy Achievement Medal, and numerous campaign medals.

During his many years of military service, Captain Binford continued to make regular visits to Arcola to visit his mother, Mary Elizabeth (Goggin) Binford. According to Binford, “I attribute whatever success I have achieved to my formative years in Arcola through the guidance of my mother Mary Binford and Grandmother Nellie Goggin and the support provided by the Arcola community leaders, friends and schools attended.”

Jim was born October 17, 1941, in Chicago, and moved to Arcola at the age of three. He was highly active during his years at Arcola High School. As an athlete he played football for four years, naming it his favorite sport in his senior yearbook. Binford also played basketball and ran track. His leadership skills developed through active involvement in the Student Council, as a class officer, on the Arco-Lite and Torch staffs, and in the class play his senior year. Binford was also a three year member of the Lettermen’s Club.

Binford has “many good memories [of Arcola], but most were centered around the friendly adults who supported me and activities with friends.” Binford fondly remembers becoming the first Eagle Scout from Arcola, crediting Scoutmaster Bill Vyverberg for his guidance and support.

As a high school senior, Binford’s ambition was to graduate from the University of Notre Dame, which he did in 1963, with a B.S. in Science. After Notre Dame, he was motivated to enlist in the Navy stating, “I always had an inclination to becoming a Navy officer and wanted to see the world but the stimulus that made me move out was my draft notice for induction into the Army.” In 1964, Binford enlisted in the Navy Flight Training program, earning his commission as an ensign in April 1965. His Naval training included jet training and carrier landing qualification. After being assigned to the USS Kearsarge, a carrier, Binford qualified as a Combat Information Control Tactical Action Officer, Electronic Warfare Officer, Aircraft Control Officer and Officer of the Deck Underway. On various ships in the Naval fleet, Binford deployed five times to the Pacific, including three deployments during the Vietnam War, one to North Korea, and one to the Persian Gulf. While on a homeport assignment in Japan, Binford was the Chief Staff Officer COMDESRON Fifteen for the USS Midway Battle group as Antisubmarine Warfare Coordinator, responsible for protecting the group from submarine attack. In 1975, Binford earned an M.S. in Communications Management from the Naval Postgraduate School. In 1987, he completed his M.A in Strategic Studies at the Naval War College; and in 1988, an M.A. in International Relations from Salve Regina College.

In September 1983, Binford was assigned to command the USS Stein FF-1056, an Antisubmarine Warfare frigate. He later was promoted to the rank of Navy Captain in 1986. While stationed in San Diego, Captain Binford was known to very generously host former Arcola High School classmates and their families on tours of the USS Stein and the Naval base. When not at sea, Captain Binford was assigned many staff billets and shore commands, including Carrier Placement Officer in Washington, D.C., where he was responsible for officer manning of Navy carriers, including the USS Nimitz CVN-68. As the Antisubmarine Warfare Surface Programs Officer on the Chief of Naval Operations staff, Binford was responsible for budgeting and oversight of all surface antisubmarine programs, including ship sonar systems, torpedoes, ASW helicopters and ship torpedo defense, managing an annual budget of $1.3 billion. Captain Binford served as commanding officer of the Antisubmarine Training Group Atlantic, which trained and evaluated carrier battle groups staff and officers, and evaluated ship performance in antisubmarine warfare during East Coast fleet exercises. He also served as commanding officer of the Fleet Antisubmarine Warfare Base in San Diego, again responsible for training surface ship officers and surface/submarine enlisted in antisubmarine warfare knowledge and skills.

After thirty years of active duty service, Captain Binford retired from the US Navy in 1995 and became a civilian contractor assisting in the management of the Navy Surface Ship Torpedo Defense (SSTD) Program. For the next seventeen years, Captain Binford prepared and presented numerous briefings to Congress and the Navy in defense of the SSTD program, while also rotating assignments from the Program Office in Washington, D.C., and Applied Research Laboratory at Penn State University.

While his Naval career is certainly distinguished, Captain Binford lists fifty-one years of marriage to his wife Myrna, his daughters Maura and Marla, and seven grandchildren as the great achievements in his life. Jim and his wife now reside in Fallbrook, CA, and have been actively involved in their church and community wherever they have lived. He has also been a member of the Kenya Lango Baya Orphanage and Development Mission Team. Jim is active in the San Diego Porsche Club, formerly serving as president, the San Diego BMW Club and the Fallbrook Vintage Car Club. As a sports car racer, Binford has earned numerous trophies.

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Last Revision November 11, 2017