But this story isn’t about me. It’s about Benny.

Benny was a merchandiser before the war, and he wasn’t going to let armed guards and barbed wire keep him from making a few bucks. While the rest of us gathered around an illicit Net connection listening to the BBC Webcast tour dates for bands like Mark Knopfler and Kid Rock, he’d be sitting on his bunk, wearing his shirt with the stitched-on pocket protector, his glasses held together with Scotch tape, punching sales figures into his Palm Pilot and working profit margins on his slide rule. Benny had an angle for everything, whether it was trading Frank Black & The Catholics T-shirts for smokes or All Saints baseball caps for booze. Yeah, that Benny was a wheeler dealer, alright. A real geek.

It was sometime before Christmas when Logan joined our little group. Our captors suspected him of being an independent promoter who had organized radio station holiday shows featuring Cypress Hill, Incubus and Papa Roach, but they couldn’t prove it. That is, not until someone in our barracks ratted him out. We didn’t know who finked on him, but we had a pretty good idea. Benny.

The morning after we pummeled Benny into a black and blue lump of flesh, our security chief came up with a plan. The night the enemy was planning on transferring Logan to a concertration camp, we created a diversion by scattering Luther Vandross dates in the exercise yard. In the confusion, sergeants Penn & Teller snatched Logan and hid him in the Pepsi tower (the official soft drink for prisoners of war) in the middle of camp. He was safe for the moment. Now all we had to do was get him out.

They say heroes are “made, not born.” I never thought much of Benny, but that night made him a hero. Not only did he expose our security officer as the spy by showing us his hidden SFX stock options, but he also volunteered to get Logan out of the camp. I still remember his last words right before he disappeared through the secret trap door in the barracks floor. “If any of you bums ever see me at for Marc Anthony, or in Seattle where Dokken is playing, you don’t know me. Okay?”

The history of war is written by the victors, but they must have overlooked the actions of that brave merchandiser, and how he smuggled Logan out of the camp to freedom. There were no medals for Benny. No welcome home parades or keys to the city. But he did the job that night. That little man with his pocket protector and slide rule, he showed us what true heroes are made of.

And I’ll always remember the Nerdman of Alcatraz.