Friday, December 4, 2015

December 7, 1941; Captain Mervyn Bennion

December 7, 1941; Captain Mervyn Bennion

Today is Pearl Harbor Day.  Next year it will make 70 years the Japanese attack on Peal Harbor.  That day Captain Bennion was killed, and he was later honored for his courage.

Captain Mervyn Bennion was aboard the USS West Virginia.  He was the closest I have to a relative at Pearl Harbor.  My father's brother-in-law, Ellis Chase, was a cousin to Captain Bennion.  My father at this time was two years shy of graduating from high school.  His oldest sister, Audrey, had married Ellis Chase.

Captain Bennion was aboard the USS West Virginia when it was torpedoed.  It was on the outside of a row of ships.  However it wasn't a bomb striking his own ship, but a bomb strike on the USS Tennessee which was inboard of the USS West Virginia, that mortally wounded Captain Bennion.  He was struck by shrapnel in the abdomen.

He refused to leave his post.  The USS West Virginia was struck by 6 torpedoes and at least two other bombs.  The Captain held his wound closed with one hand, while commanding his crew.  He initially refused to leave the deck, and was instrumental in keeping the ship from listing so it was able to be later recovered.

He was eventually carried from the deck, but died from his wounds.  Captain Bennion was awarded the Medal of Honor.  I know one of the camps at Pend Orielle (Navy Boot Camp) was named for him.  Also the destroyer ship USS Bennion.

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