1stSgt Ben Holmes


Mission Accomplished on Sept. 25, 2021

Marine First Sergeant Ben Holmes immigrated to the United States from New Zealand in 1989 at the age of 12. In 1995, after finishing high school in rural East Texas, Ben joined the Marine Corps. He would call the Marine Corps home for the next two decades.

Ben’s service included nearly four years as a Marine Corps drill instructor, six deployments, including two combat tours in Iraq, and one in Afghanistan, and concluded with his assignment as the I-MEF (First Marine Expeditionary Force) Inspector General Chief. Ben’s personal awards include two Purple Hearts and a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with ‘V Device’ denoting valor in combat.

In 2011, while deployed to Afghanistan with the 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion (3rd LAR), and just a few days before he was supposed to leave the country, the vehicle Ben was commanding struck an improvised explosive device (IED) in Southern Helmand Province. Prematurely ending a highly successful deployment as a Company Operations Chief, the IED blast shattered Ben’s right ankle and broke the left side of his pelvis. A little more than a year and 16 surgeries later, doctors determined that a below-the-knee amputation was the best course of action.

Since retiring in 2015, Ben has completed master’s degrees in both history and education. He currently works as a middle school teacher. In 2019, Ben was selected as the Vista Unified School District substitute teacher of the year. When he is not in the classroom, he enjoys spending time with his wife, Diana, and their three children.

At the end of the day, Ben typically transitions from his prosthetic to a wheelchair. Having an accessible bathroom and kitchen in a Homes For Our Troops home limits how often he has to transfer from his wheelchair, mitigating the risk of falling. Living in a safe, barrier-free environment enables Ben to focus on his studies and gives him more time for family and coaching youth sports.

Despite his international roots and being raised as a Texan, Ben chose to build his home in California for the warm climate and to be close to family and the VA.

Ben is grateful to have received a specially adapted custom home and promises to give back to the American people. “I am determined to repay the kindness and generosity my family has received by making a positive impact on the lives of others,” he says.

related articles: