High School and graduated in 1964 from the West Babylon Senior High School. At WB, he was well loved by fellow students and teachers alike. Ben was a standout athlete participating in Track and Field and wrestling, but it was football where he truly excelled. He was an outstanding player who was rewarded by being chosen as one of Suffolk County’s best when he was selected to the All-County Football team.
Ben was ahead of his time, yet espoused the ancient values of Native culture. An Oklahoma Creek with family stories of the Trail of Tears, he grew up on New York’s Long Island with his grandmother. Ben was known for his indomitable spirit, engaging gargantuan smile, brilliant business sense, generosity and kindness to worthy causes and needy individuals. Ben’s radiance had a positive effect on all who knew him, yet he faced many obstacles that could have shaken his confidence and paralyzed his will.
A Vietnam Vet, he was a ground member of the Air Force mobile communications unit, coordinating air guidance systems during the 1968 Tet Offensive, labeled as the worst battle of the Vietnam War. He empathized with vets and was an active member of his local veterans association. Working his way up to an operations engineer, Ben got his Riggers union card and then became a US Navy Seabee, working with heavy construction equipment and as an instructor as well. He credited those years with giving him the foundation to open his own business.
In 1993, Ben founded Iron Eagle, a company engaged in every part of the construction industry with a focus on innovative environmental services. Ben found time for a myriad of causes from Down’s Syndrome to Native economic development. He was a cherished advisor to Carroll Cocchia, President of the Native American Chamber of Commerce. “Ben Reyes knew EVERYONE and everyone knew him”. No matter what you needed — a business connection — a friendly shoulder to cry on — an answer to a perplexing problem — Ben was always there to help. Ben knew how to develop business opportunities and assistance for Native people. He wanted so much to help them succeed. Once you met Ben, it didn’t take long to find out that he had had the biggest, caring heart of any one you will ever meet.