Benz was born on 29 December 1984 in Bangkok Thailand and passed away from cancer on 26 April 2021, in between he lived a life as full as anyone.
Benz had a great life growing up in Thailand. He attended the Bangkok Christian College until high school and then went to the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School. He loved to play team sports including basketball, volleyball and soccer. He also excelled at golf and travelled to many tournaments with his father. His love of golf developed into a lifelong enjoyment of the game.
He was very focused on his education and always strived to do his best and learn as much as possible. His many successes in school and sports, lead him to seek a profession in the Royal Thai Air Force and so he joined the Royal Thai Air Force Academy Class 51 after completing prep school. Identified as a future leader based on his excellent performance at the academy, plus his strong abilities in English, he was selected as an exchange Cadet to the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. This appointment had significant expected and unexpected effects on his life. On the expected side, Benz studied hard and learned how the US Air Force develops an Air Force Officer. He loved his time at the Academy, made many friends, and he excelled in all endeavors. He majored in meteorology and was successful enough to be both a distinguished academic graduate and a distinguished military graduate of the Class of 2009. On the unexpected side, his decision to attend the USAF Academy resulted in his meeting a young woman from Thailand who herself had decided to travel to Colorado for a hotel management internship. Benz and Pui met through mutual friends during Benz’s senior year at the Academy at a party and soon became the love of each other’s lives. Who could have imagined that it would take them both moving to the United States to meet each other and begin their life together?
After USAF Academy graduation, Benz was on his way back to Thailand where he had to attend flight school and continue his Air Force Career. Primary training was in the CT-4 followed by advanced lead-in fighter training and operational flying in the L-39. Ultimately, Benz made his way to his beloved F-16. As an operational pilot he participated in the Cobra Gold exercises most every year and did deployments to Singapore and Australia for various exercises. He served in numerous positions including fighter pilot, Training Officer, and ultimately the Deputy Commander of Squadron 403, Wing 4.
In 2019 he got the chance to attend the National Test Pilot School in Mojave California. Benz did the extra-long version which included 4 months of Pre-TPS, and then the 12 month Professional Test Pilot Course. As per SOP, Benz excelled again and graduated in June of 2020 as a Distinguished Graduate of NTPS Class 2019B. He and Pui made great friends in NTPS Classes 2019A, 2019B, and 2020A. While at NTPS, Benz and Pui continued their exploration of California and the US taking every opportunity to travel to see new places and visit old friends.
Back home in Thailand after NTPS, as a brand new Wing Commander, Benz was appointed the Deputy Chief of the Flight Test and Evaluation Unit and began enhancing his test pilot experience and having fun testing the AU-23, the Diamond 40, Diamond 42, the F-16, the C-130, RTAF-6 and the P-180. In 2021 he was appointed as the Chief of the Flight Test and Evaluation Unit and had a long and bright future in flight test and the RTAF in front of him.
Out of nowhere in early 2021, he was diagnosed with a rare Angiosarcoma cancer and was taken quickly despite his best efforts fighting the disease.
Benz will be remembered by everyone he knew as a good person, a hard worker, and an outstanding officer. But most of all, his infectious smile and hearty laugh will be remembered and missed by all of his family and friends. He is survived by his loving wife of 12 years Superat “Pui” Rattana and their soon to be born baby girl. Godspeed Benz. May you always have Blue Skies and Tailwinds. https://twitter.com/thentps/status/1387105498944528384