MERVYN S. BENNION, CAPT, USN
Mervyn Bennion '10
Date of birth: May 5, 1887
Date of death: December 7, 1941
From the 1910 Lucky Bag:
Bennion was born in Vernon, Utah Territory on May 5, 1887. The religion of the family, which he shared, was The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His Welsh grandfather, John Bennion, had immigrated to Utah with the Mormon pioneers and established successful cattle operations near Taylorsville, Utah. Bennion was living near Preston, Idaho when he received his acceptance to the United States Naval Academy. Bennion graduated third in his 1910 class from USNA. His younger brother Howard Bennion, graduated first in his class of 1912 at the United States Military Academy.
His first assignment after graduation was on the USS California (ACR-6) in the engineering department. Subsequently, he was an ordnance and gunnery specialist serving in the Ordnance Bureau at Washington Naval Yard during World War I. Bennion's first command was the destroyer USS Bernadou (DD-153), followed by command of Destroyer Division One. He assumed command of the USS West Virginia on July 2, 1941.
Captain Bennion was killed in action during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, while in command of the battleship USS West Virginia (BB-48). He was mortally wounded by a shrapnel shard from a bomb that blew up part of his command deck. Cook Third Class Doris Miller and several other sailors attempted to move Captain Bennion to a first aid station, but he refused to leave his post. Using one arm to hold his wounds closed, Bennion bled to death on the spot while still commanding his crew. Captain Bennion posthumously received the Medal of Honor. He is buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.
From Naval History and Heritage Command: Mervyn's first duty station after commissioning was the USS California. He subsequently served aboard the USS Annapolis, St. Louis, Colorado, North Dakota, New Mexico, Florida, Tennessee, and Maryland. His first command was the USS Bernadou, followed by the Nitro and the West Virginia.
Medal of Honor
From Hall of Valor:
The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pride in presenting the Medal of Honor (Posthumously) to Captain Mervyn Sharp Bennion, United States Navy, for conspicuous devotion to duty, extraordinary courage, and complete disregard of his own life, above and beyond the call of duty, during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor, by Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. As Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. WEST VIRGINIA (BB-48), after being mortally wounded, Captain Bennion evidenced apparent concern only in fighting and saving his ship, and strongly protested against being carried from the bridge.
Division: U.S.S. West Virginia (BB-48)
USS Bennion (DD 662) was named for Mervyn; the ship was sponsored by his widow.