BETHEL V. OTTER, LT, USN

From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Bethel Otter '37

Date of birth: September 12, 1914

Date of death: May 6, 1942

Age: 27

Lucky Bag

From the 1937 Lucky Bag:


Loss

From Corregidor:

Lieutenant Bethel V. "Butch" Otter, USN, had been gunnery officer aboard the USS Canopus and in the Naval Battalion on Bataan, which was transported to Corregidor. It made up a large part of 4/4, the Reserve Battalion of the 4th Marines. Otter was CO of Company T, and led an assault against a Japanese machine gun near one of the water towers about 0730 on 6 May. Otter, Ensign William R. Lloyd and four volunteers armed only with grenades and sidearms took out the machine gun, but the dead gun crew was quickly replaced. Otter and his men attacked again. The following account, from Ghosts of Canopus p. 123, is by squad leader BM1C Walter E. Portis:

"Mr. Otter rushed the machine gun with only a .45 and was hit several times before he died there. S1C Andy Henry from the Canopus had taken a bayonet away from a Nip and had rushed in with Mr. Otter. A Storekeeper 1C named Clark (SK2C Vernon F. Clark; chadhill)) was hit in the stomach with a burst from the machine gun. 'Somebody get over here and cut this god d**n thing out of my belly'. Conn, a Coxswain from the Canopus, started over to help him but before he could reach him, Clark had reached for his .45 and shot himself through the head. Conn said Clark could not possibly have lived as the whole machine gun burst was right in his abdomen". The machine gun remained in operation.

His mother was listed as next of kin. His remains were recovered after the war; he is buried in the Philippines.

Navy Cross

From Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Lieutenant Bethel Veech Otter (NSN: 0-78738), United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism in action against enemy Japanese forces during the final assault on Corregidor, Philippine Islands, on 5 - 6 May 1942. Constantly exposed to the enemy's long-range shell fire and bombings during the siege of Corregidor, Lieutenant Otter consistently disregarded all personal danger as he directed his men with unfaltering skill and ingenuity in the defense of his assigned beach area. Tenaciously holding his ground in the final assault on Corregidor's beaches on 5 May, he boldly defied the increasing fury of Japanese rifle and machine-gun fire in a desperate effort to turn back the invading forces, repeatedly countering the enemy's landing attempts until struck down and fatally wounded during the bitter action. A fearless leader, Lieutenant Otter rendered valiant service during this historic engagement, and his personal courage, determination and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of opposition reflect the highest credit upon himself and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

General Orders: Board Serial 458 (April 19, 1946) - Upgraded from Silver Star previously awarded for this action.
Action Date: May 5 & 6, 1942
Service: Navy
Rank: Lieutenant
Division: Corregidor Defense Forces

Silver Star

From Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Silver Star (Posthumously) to Lieutenant Bethel Veech Otter (NSN: 0-78738), United States Navy, for gallantry in action and distinguished service as Fire Control Officer of the U.S.S. CANOPUS (AS-9), in organizing and directing volunteer gun crews, and in controlling the gun fire against enemy Japanese heavy bombers, Mariveles Harbor, Bataan, Philippine Islands, on 5 January 1942. Despite the fact that the CANOPUS was moored and immobilized, nearly helpless against high altitude attacks, Lieutenant Otter volunteered for this hazardous duty and maintained a constant anti-aircraft fire until the ship was straddled by bombs, and, though suffering a painful fragment wound, he refused first aid for himself until assured that his Commanding Officer was safe and other wounded personnel attended. His actions were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Action Date: 5-Jan-42
Service: Navy
Rank: Lieutenant
Division: U.S.S. Canopus (AS-9)

Namesake

USS Otter (DE 210) was named for Bethel; the ship was sponsored by his mother.


Class of 1937

Bethel is one of 45 members of the Class of 1937 in Memorial Hall.