Sunday, July 15th 1945
Louisianian, Mississippians Serve on Bennion - Edgar Poe (Times-Picayune War Correspondent)
Somewhere in the Pacific, July 14th
Of the hundres of warships that participated in the Okinawa invasion, perhaps none was under attack more that the USS Bennion. Attacked of threatened with attach 52 times, the destroyer shot down 12 suicide Japanese planes, assisted in bringing down 4 more, and escaped without battle damage. Prior to that, it shot down five enemy places and put three torpedoes in a Jap battleship. Arriving in port, the Bennion's crew found a piece of a Jap plane wing at the botton of the ship. The destroyer was on picket duty, mostly, at Okinawa for two months.
The first two planes to attach the Bennion off Okinawa were shot down on April 3rd. On April 12th, while sailing with a small task force, the task force was attacked by 10 planes and the gunners of the Bennion got three of them, and assisted in shooting two more.
On April 28th, the picket line ships were attacked by a large group of enemy planes. All were shot down except one that slipped through, but it was soon in flames. As it came over the Bennion, one of the flaming wings hit the ships after stack and four feet of it fell down the stack. The plane exploded 10 yards from the far side of the ship and fell into the water. There were 8 series of other attacks. One plane was shot down on the port side of the ship only 25 yards away. Another time a Jap "float plane" making an attempted suicide flight on the Bennion was shot down 300 yards from the ship. During all these attacks Lloyd Leo Thibodwaux of Eunice was feeding ammunition to the gunners. Seaman First Class Thibodeaux is the only Louisianian attached to the ship. He was on shore liberty when we went aboard. There are two Mississippians attached to her, both of whom were also on liberty. They are Lawrence Lee Sandlin of Nettleton and Leonard Neal Lindsey, of Burnsville.
Aboard another destroyer which shot down five enemy planes off Okinawa, was Seaman Second Class Cleo Russell of Roselandla whose father, Bolivar Russell, works at the Shell plant at Amite. Cleo has two brothers in the Navy. They are Royece and Cara Russell. Cara is attached to a seaplane tender in the Pacific.