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Mervyn Sharp Bennion
Born (1887-05-05)May 5, 1887
Died December 7, 1941(1941-12-07) (aged 54)
Place of birth Vernon, Utah
Place of death KIA during the attack on Pearl Harbor
Place of burial Salt Lake City, Utah
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service 1910-1941
Rank US-O6 insignia.svg Captain
Commands held USS Bernadou (DD-153)
Destroyer Division One
USS West Virginia (BB-48)
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Awards 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.


Bennion was born in Vernon, Utah Territory on May 5, 1887. Bennion was a member of 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.

His first assignment after graduation was on the USS California (ACR-6) in the engineering division. Bennion became an ordnance and gunnery specialist. During World War I, he commanded the batteries aboard the USS North Dakota (BB-29). 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). Captain Bennion was hit by shrapnel from a bomb that blew up part of his command deck. Cook Third Class Doris Miller and several other sailors attempted to move Bennion to a first aid station, but Bennion refused to leave his post. Using one arm to hold his wounds closed, he bled to death while still commanding his crew.[1] Captain Bennion posthumously received the Medal of Honor. He is buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.

Captain Bennion was portrayed by Peter Firth in the 2001 film, Pearl Harbor.[2]

Medal of Honor citation[]

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.


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

See also[]



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

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