Jim Downing was the postmaster for the battleship USS West Virginia (BB 48). As he and his wife were entertaining friends for breakfast on 7 December 1941 on Oahu, they heard the first of many explosions. Radio broadcasts soon confirmed an attack underway by Japan. Downing returned to his ship of eight years. On board, the skipper, Capt. Mervyn S. Bennion, clutched at abdominal wounds from shrapnel as he continued to direct his battleship's defense in Pearl Harbor. He refused attention, succumbing to his wounds. Captain Bennion would posthumously receive the Medal of Honor. A destroyer bearing his name was launched in 1943 and served throughout the war in the Pacific. 


Leave a Reply