Bennak, John, MM1c

Fallen
 
 Service Photo   Service Details
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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

 Last Photo   Personal Details 


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.

If you knew or served with this Sailor and have additional information or photos to support this Page, please leave a message for the Page Administrator(s) HERE.
 
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

 Official Badges 




 Unofficial Badges 

Pearl Harbor Memorial Medallion Order of the Golden Dragon


 Military Association Memberships
World War II Fallen
  2013, World War II Fallen [Verified]

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World War II
Start Year
1941
End Year
1945

Description
Overview of World War II 

World War II killed more people, involved more nations, and cost more money than any other war in history. Altogether, 70 million people served in the armed forces during the war, and 17 million combatants died. Civilian deaths were ever greater. At least 19 million Soviet civilians, 10 million Chinese, and 6 million European Jews lost their lives during the war.

World War II was truly a global war. Some 70 nations took part in the conflict, and fighting took place on the continents of Africa, Asia, and Europe, as well as on the high seas. Entire societies participated as soldiers or as war workers, while others were persecuted as victims of occupation and mass murder.

World War II cost the United States a million causalities and nearly 400,000 deaths. In both domestic and foreign affairs, its consequences were far-reaching. It ended the Depression, brought millions of married women into the workforce, initiated sweeping changes in the lives of the nation's minority groups, and dramatically expanded government's presence in American life.

The War at Home & Abroad

On September 1, 1939, World War II started when Germany invaded Poland. By November 1942, the Axis powers controlled territory from Norway to North Africa and from France to the Soviet Union. After defeating the Axis in North Africa in May 1941, the United States and its Allies invaded Sicily in July 1943 and forced Italy to surrender in September. On D-Day, June 6, 1944, the Allies landed in Northern France. In December, a German counteroffensive (the Battle of the Bulge) failed. Germany surrendered in May 1945.

The United States entered the war following a surprise attack by Japan on the U.S. Pacific fleet in Hawaii. The United States and its Allies halted Japanese expansion at the Battle of Midway in June 1942 and in other campaigns in the South Pacific. From 1943 to August 1945, the Allies hopped from island to island across the Central Pacific and also battled the Japanese in China, Burma, and India. Japan agreed to surrender on August 14, 1945 after the United States dropped the first atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Consequences:

1. The war ended Depression unemployment and dramatically expanded government's presence in American life. It led the federal government to create a War Production Board to oversee conversion to a wartime economy and the Office of Price Administration to set prices on many items and to supervise a rationing system.

2. During the war, African Americans, women, and Mexican Americans founded new opportunities in industry. But Japanese Americans living on the Pacific coast were relocated from their homes and placed in internment camps.

The Dawn of the Atomic Age

In 1939, Albert Einstein wrote a letter to President Roosevelt, warning him that the Nazis might be able to build an atomic bomb. On December 2, 1942, Enrico Fermi, an Italian refugee, produced the first self-sustained, controlled nuclear chain reaction in Chicago.

To ensure that the United States developed a bomb before Nazi Germany did, the federal government started the secret $2 billion Manhattan Project. On July 16, 1945, in the New Mexico desert near Alamogordo, the Manhattan Project's scientists exploded the first atomic bomb.

It was during the Potsdam negotiations that President Harry Truman learned that American scientists had tested the first atomic bomb. On August 6, 1945, the Enola Gay, a B-29 Superfortress, released an atomic bomb over Hiroshima, Japan. Between 80,000 and 140,000 people were killed or fatally wounded. Three days later, a second bomb fell on Nagasaki. About 35,000 people were killed. The following day Japan sued for peace.

President Truman's defenders argued that the bombs ended the war quickly, avoiding the necessity of a costly invasion and the probable loss of tens of thousands of American lives and hundreds of thousands of Japanese lives. His critics argued that the war might have ended even without the atomic bombings. They maintained that the Japanese economy would have been strangled by a continued naval blockade, and that Japan could have been forced to surrender by conventional firebombing or by a demonstration of the atomic bomb's power.

The unleashing of nuclear power during World War II generated hope of a cheap and abundant source of energy, but it also produced anxiety among large numbers of people in the United States and around the world.
   
My Participation in This Battle or Operation
From Year
1943
To Year
1943
 
Last Updated:
Nov 2, 2014
   
Personal Memories

Memories
Seven minutes after she opened fire, she was hit by a torpedo; within the next 3 minutes, she was struck by two more. Almost at once she began to jackknife. Below, she was flooding rapidly even before she broke up and sank stern first. In a well-drilled manner, Helena's men went over the side.

Helena's history closes with the almost incredible story of what happened to her men in the hours and days that followed. When her bow rose into the air after the sinking, many of them clustered around it, only to be fired on there. About a half hour after she sank, two American destroyers came to the rescue.

At daylight, the enemy was in range once more, and again the destroyers, Nicholas and Radford, broke off their rescue operations to pursue. Anticipating an air attack, the destroyers withdrew for Tulagi, carrying with them all but about 275 of the survivors. To those who remained they left four boats, manned by volunteers from the destroyers' crews. Captain C. P. Cecil, Helena's commanding officer, organized a small flotilla of three motor whaleboats, each towing a life raft, carrying 88 men to a small island about 7 miles from Rice Anchorage after a laborious all-day passage. This group was rescued the next morning by Gwin and Woodworth.

For the second group of nearly 200, the bow of Helena was their life raft, but it was slowly sinking. Disaster was staved off by a Navy Liberator that dropped lifejackets and four rubber lifeboats. The wounded were placed aboard the lifeboats, while the able-bodied surrounded the boats and did their best to propel themselves toward nearby Kolombangara. But wind and current carried them ever further into enemy waters. Through the torturous day that followed, many of the wounded died. American search planes missed the tragic little fleet, and Kolombangara gradually faded away to leeward. Another night passed, and in the morning the island of Vella Lavella loomed ahead. It seemed the last chance for Helena's men and so they headed for it. By dawn, survivors in all three remaining boats observed land a mile distant and all who were left were safely landed. Two coastwatchers and loyal natives cared for the survivors as best they could, and radioed news of them to Guadalcanal. The 165 sailors then took to the jungle to evade Japanese patrols.

Surface vessels were chosen for the final rescue, Nicholas and Radford, augmented by Jenkins and O'Bannon set off 15 July to sail further up the Slot than ever before, screening the movement of two destroyer-transports and four other destroyers. During the night of 16 July, the rescue force brought out the 165 Helena men, along with 16 Chinese who had been in hiding on the island. Of Helena's nearly 900 men, 168 had perished.

Helena was the first ship to receive the Navy Unit Commendation. Her actions in the Battles of Cape Esperance, Guadalcanal, and Kula Gulf were named in the citation. Helena also earned the Asiatic-Pacific Area Campaign Medal with seven stars.

   
My Photos From This Battle or Operation
No Available Photos

  1432 Also There at This Battle:
  • Abbott, Floyd Eugene, PO3, (1943-1946)
  • Abramson, Arthur, LT, (1942-1945)
  • Agesen, Bruce Martin, LCDR, (1942-1966)
  • Ahlfs, Jerold Francis, CDR, (1940-1954)
  • Albertson, Dean Howard, LTJG, (1943-1953)
  • Alexander, William Patrick, S2c, (1942-1945)
  • Alexatos, Michael Stephen, CAPT, (1942-1970)
  • Ambellan, Charles Herbert, CAPT, (1942-1970)
  • Anderson, Leroy Marvin, LT, (1942-1946)
  • Arnold, Arlington Reid, LTJG, (1941-1946)
  • Arnold, John Jacob, LCDR, (1942-1976)
  • Aschenbrenner, John, S1c, (1943-1945)
  • Azer, John, CAPT, (1928-1948)
  • Badger, Heber Jenkins, CAPT, (1941-1961)
  • Bainbridge, Robert, PO3, (1940-1949)
  • Ballard, John Vernon, LT, (1942-1966)
  • Barley, Donald Loree, LCDR, (1942-1946)
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