Study extra in regards to the French Overseas Legion from an American enlisted particular person

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December 7, 1941, is a heartbreaking day for People – even 75 years later.


Regardless of the solemn reminder that over 2,000 folks perished on that day, examples of self-sacrifice and bravado present an inspiration to People.

Captain Bennion of the USS West Virginia is one such man, endlessly immortalized for his cussed refusal to desert his ship or abandon his males throughout one among America’s darkest hours.

Medal of Honor recipient Captain Mervyn Sharp Bennion. (Photograph courtesy of the Naval Historic Heart)

Mervyn Sharp Bennion was born within the Utah Territory in Could 1887. He graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1910, ranked third in his class. Her roommate, Earl C. Metz, recalled the short wit of the Mormon farmer throughout his faculty days. “He was in a position to focus mentally to a level that I’ve by no means seen matched. He might learn one thing as soon as and he had it. He had a wonderfully great mind and psychological processes, ”Metz remembers.

After commencement, Bennion served aboard the USS North Dakota as a lieutenant throughout World Struggle I. He methodically rose via the ranks of the Navy till he was given command of the USS Bernadou in 1932. He returned to the Naval Struggle School for a short while and served as an teacher. On July 2, 1941, Bennion took command of the USS West Virginia of the US Pacific Fleet stationed at Pearl Harbor. A little bit over 5 months after taking command, he’s stated to have died.

His brother, Howard Sharp Bennion, has printed an account of his actions within the assault on Pearl Harbor. Captain Bennion casually shaved in his cabin on the morning of December 7 earlier than going to church service. That stillness in his cabin was disturbed when one among his sailors barged in via the door and alerted him {that a} wave of Japanese planes have been heading straight for the ship.

Bennion rushed to the bridge and issued a collection of orders to arrange for the upcoming assault. Quickly after, a low-flying Japanese torpedo bomber dropped three bombs on West Virginia, inflicting extreme harm and tearing a gap within the aspect.

Learn more about the French Foreign Legion from an American enlisted person
A rescue operation underway from the burning USS West Virginia after the Japanese assaults. (US Navy, December 7, 1941)

On the best way to the Flag Bridge, a bit of steel tore the air and gashed Bennion within the stomach. The projectile almost decapitated him, tearing his torso to shreds and damaging his backbone and left hip. He was unable to maneuver his legs and his insides protruded from his abdomen.

A fellow pharmacist got here to her help and positioned a makeshift bandage over the deadly wound. Bennion demanded that the person go maintain different injured sailors and continued to challenge orders amid the chaos.

Bennion refused to be moved an inch from his location till the top of the primary Japanese assault. In the course of the lull earlier than the arrival of the second wave, he lastly allowed himself to be positioned on a cot underneath a sheltered place on the deck.

As he lay in agony, he resumed issuing orders and receiving stories when the second wave struck an hour later.

Because of the mixture of blood loss and shock, he started to go out. A number of of his males tied him to a ladder and carried the makeshift stretcher to the navigation bridge protected from the flames and smoke engulfing the ship.

Constant barley and someway nonetheless clinging to life, Bennion once more ordered his males to go away him and maintain themselves. About 20 minutes later, he handed away, one among 1000’s of People to perish that day.

An officer who stood by Bennion’s aspect to the top proudly proclaimed that “Captain Bennion’s noble conduct earlier than and after being wounded met the very best traditions of naval service and justified the excessive esteem through which he was universally held. . I think about it my nice luck to have served underneath him.

Learn more about the French Foreign Legion from an American enlisted person
The USS West Virginia continued to function an energetic battleship all through the Pacific and was current when the Japanese surrendered on September 2, 1945. (US Navy)

Bennion’s physique was transported to his residence and buried with honor in Utah. He then obtained the Medal of honor for his inspiring management. His quote learn: “For outstanding dedication to responsibility, extraordinary braveness and complete disregard for his personal life, past the decision of responsibility, within the assault on the fleet at Pearl Harbor by Japanese forces December 7, 1941. Because the Commanding Officer of the USS West Virginia, after being fatally injured, Captain Bennion solely confirmed obvious concern in combating and saving his ship, and strongly protested in opposition to the actual fact. to be transported from the bridge.

Though incapacitated initially of the motion at Pearl Harbor, Bennion refused to desert his ship and nobly inspired his males till the top.



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