Bennak, John, MM1c

Fallen
 
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Last Rank
Petty Officer First Class
Last Primary NEC
MM-0000-Machinist's Mate
Last Rating/NEC Group
Machinists Mate
Primary Unit
1942-1943, MM-0000, USS Helena (CL-50)
Service Years
1939 - 1943
Official/Unofficial US Navy Certificates
Order of the Golden Dragon
MM-Machinists Mate
One Hash Mark

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Home Country
United States
United States
Year of Birth
Not Specified
 
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Nicole Summers, MMFN to remember Bennak, John, PO1.

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Casualty Info
Home Town
Not Specified
Last Address
Not Specified

Casualty Date
Jul 06, 1943
 
Cause
Hostile, Died while Missing
Reason
Other Explosive Device
Location
Solomon Islands
Conflict
World War II/Asiatic-Pacific Theater/Northern Solomon Islands Campaign (1943-44)/Battle of Kula Gulf
Location of Interment
Not Specified
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

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Pearl Harbor Memorial Medallion Order of the Golden Dragon


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World War II Fallen
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Northern Solomon Islands Campaign (1943-44)/Battle of Kula Gulf
Start Year
1943
End Year
1943

Description
The naval Battle of Kula Gulf took place in the early hours of 6 July 1943 during World War II and was between United States and Japanese ships off the coast of Kolombangara in the Solomon Islands.
Background
On 5 July, United States Navy Task Group 36.1 (TG 36.1)—commanded by Rear Admiral Walden L. Ainsworth and consisting of the light cruisers USS Honolulu (CL-48), USS St. Louis (CL-49), and USS Helena (CL-50), plus four destroyers, had received word of another "Tokyo Express" mission down "the Slot" in the Solomon Islands, and the task group proceeded northwest past New Georgia Island.

The Allies were in the process of launching their next offensive in the Solomon Islands, having just landed troops on the island of Rendova as a preliminary step to seizing the major Japanese airstrip at Munda on New Georgia Island. In support of this landing, which was to set up an initial beachhead for moving U.S. troops across Blanche Channel to New Georgia, Admiral Ainsworth had the night before conducted a cruiser bombardment of Vila on Kolombangara Island and Bairoko on New Georgia and, short of fuel and ammunition, was in the process of retiring to the Coral Sea to replenish. A U.S. Marine landing was scheduled on the northern shore of New Georgia on 10 July, that would require further naval support.

Battle
At 01:06 off Kolombangara, the task group came into contact with a Japanese reinforcement group commanded by Admiral Teruo Akiyama which consisted of ten destroyers loaded with 2,600 combat troops that were bound for Vila, which they used as a staging point for moving into Munda. The Japanese were divided into two forces, a formation of three escorts trailing the main column first came under attack.

The U.S. ships opened fire at 01:57, firing 612 shells in 21 minutes and six seconds, quickly sinking the destroyer Niizuki and killing Admiral Akiyama. However, Helena had expended all of her flashless powder the previous night, she was forced to use smokeless powder, thus illuminating herself to the Japanese ships with every salvo. Two of the Japanese destroyers launched their Long Lance torpedoes and hit Helena, fatally damaging her. The main Japanese force, which had countermarched away from Vila with the first contact, then broke away, having landed only 850 of the 2,600 troops. The Japanese destroyer Nagatsuki ran aground, while Hatsuyuki was damaged.

Both forces began to withdraw from the area, but one Japanese and two American destroyers remained to rescue survivors. At about 05:00, the destroyers Amagiri and USS Nicholas exchanged torpedoes and gunfire. Amagiri was hit and retired. The beached Nagatsuki was abandoned by her crew in the morning, she was bombed and destroyed by American aircraft.

Aftermath
The destroyers USS Radford and Nicholas both stayed behind to rescue survivors from Helena. While rescuing over 750 men, Radford and Nicholas had to reengage the enemy three times, they were awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for their rescue. Amagiri escaped and later rammed and cut in half the motor torpedo boat USS PT-109, captained by future President of the United States John F. Kennedy (1917-1963), in Blackett Strait southwest of Kolombangara on August 2.
   
My Participation in This Battle or Operation
From Year
1943
To Year
1943
 
Last Updated:
Oct 21, 2008
   
Personal Memories

Memories
The landing of troops was completed successfully by dawn, but in the afternoon of 5 July 1943, word came that the Tokyo Express was ready to roar down once more and the escort group turned north to meet it. By midnight 5 July, Helena's group was off the northwest corner of New Georgia, three cruisers and four destroyers composing the group. Racing down to face them were three groups of Japanese destroyers, a total of ten enemy ships. Four of them peeled off to accomplish their mission of landing troops. By 01:57, the Battle of Kula Gulf had begun, Helena began blasting away with a fire so rapid and intense that the Japanese later announced in all solemnity that she must have been armed with "6 inch machine guns". Ironically, Helena made a perfect target when lit by the flashes of her own guns.

   
My Photos From This Battle or Operation
No Available Photos

  71 Also There at This Battle:
 
  • Brosnan, Ryan
  • Garrett, Earl, PO2, (1941-1953)
  • Street, William, CPO, (1940-1946)
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