Mervyn S. Bennion

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Mervyn Sharp Bennion
Mervyn Sharp Bennion.jpg
Born(1887-05-05)May 5, 1887
Vernon, Utah Territory
DiedDecember 7, 1941(1941-12-07) (aged 54)
Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii
Place of burial
Salt Lake City Cemetery, Salt Lake City, Utah
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service1910-1941
RankUS-O6 insignia.svg Captain
Commands heldUSS Bernadou (DD-153)
Destroyer Division One
USS West Virginia (BB-48)
Battles/warsWorld War I
World War II
AwardsMedal of Honor ribbon.svg Medal of Honor

Mervyn Sharp Bennion (May 5, 1887 – December 7, 1941) was a captain in the United States Navy who died during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. While mortally wounded, he remained in command of his ship. For "conspicuous devotion to duty, extraordinary courage, and complete disregard of his own life," he posthumously received the Medal of Honor.

Family background[edit]

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 the USNA. Coincidentally, his younger brother Howard Bennion, graduated first in his class of 1912 at the United States Military Academy.

Career as a naval officer[edit]

His first assignment after graduation was on the USS California (ACR-6) in the engineering division.[citation needed] 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.[1] Captain Bennion posthumously received the Medal of Honor. He is buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.

Medal of Honor citation[edit]

Bennion's grave marker
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 USS West Virginia, after being mortally wounded, Capt. Bennion evidenced apparent concern only in fighting and saving his ship, and strongly protested against being carried from the bridge.[A]


On July 4, 1943, the destroyer USS Bennion (DD-662), named in his honor, was christened by his widow.


Captain Bennion was portrayed by Peter Firth in the 2001 film, Pearl Harbor.[3]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Despite his grave injuries, he continued at his post trying to manage the situation. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. His conduct is regularly cited in training as the epitome of proper command deportment under fire.[2]


  1. ^ "USS West Virginia". United States Navy. Retrieved 2009-07-24.
  2. ^ Mink, Michael (December 4, 2015). "Leaders & Success: Mervyn Bennion Stood Tall To The End At Pearl Harbor". Investor's Business Daily. Retrieved December 4, 2015.
  3. ^ "IMDB,"

General sources[edit]


This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.

External links[edit]