Mervyn Bennion was born in Vernon, Utah, May 5, 1887. He entered the U.S. Naval Academy in June 1906, and graduated near the top of his class. Bennion commissioned as an ensign in June 1910.
His first assignment was to the armored cruiser USS California from 1910-1912. While on his first assignment Bennion had various duties including acting as a fire control officer, navigator, and gunnery officer. From 1936-1937, Bennion served on the USS Arizona, and was later assigned as the commanding officer of the USS West Virginia.
On December 7, 1941, during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Bennion was on the bridge of the USS West Virginia delivering orders to his crew. Tragically a bomb blew up a part of his command deck, mortally wounding Bennion. Despite attempts by his crew to move him to the first aid station, Bennion refused and remained at his post using one arm to hold his wounds closed. Bennion and 105 other crew members were among the casualties aboard the USS West Virginia. Because of Bennion’s leadership, everyone else made it out alive.
He posthumously received a Medal of Honor for his actions.
We honor his service.
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Fact checker: Claire Dufault
Graphic artist: Deanna Cannon