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Collection Dale Bender
WVM ID Number OH 1060
Object Name Oral History
Title Oral History Interview with Dale Bender
Date 2007
Event World War II
Narrator's Name Dale Bender
Interviewer's Name John Weingandt
Description In this oral history interview, Dale O. Bender discusses his service in the Navy during World War II aboard LST-901, including his experiences during the post-war occupation of Truk.

Bender touches on the assemblage of the crew, the ship production lines at Dravo Ship Yards where his LST was built, and sailing the new ship downriver with the assistance of a Coast Guard crew. He comments on the ship's use of ballast, riding rough seas in a flat bottomed ship, and the shakedown cruise at Panama Beach (Florida). Bender addresses the inexperience of the officers, the ship's armaments, and passing through the Panama Canal. He tells of stopping in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico because someone forgot to refill the oil in the daily service tank. As an engineering officer, he details running fire drills at nearly every port, making repairs, censoring mail, and earning a good reputation among the crew.

During his return to the States, Bender recalls a near-disaster after the captain forgot to set a special sea detail and the throttle got stuck. He tells of supervising the ship's fog generator at Okinawa, constantly having to repair the laundry machines, and causing a commotion after conveying some women nurses to shore. Bender relates how the crew hoarded empty Coke bottles, turned them in for over 200 dollars after returning to the States, and had a big party. He mentions developing and printing photographs aboard ship and making a photo album for the crew. Bender discusses shooting at kamikaze planes and not being allowed to shoot into restricted zones. He characterizes the stores officer who served as captain and a mustang officer named Patrick Henry Sullivan, who was in charge of overseeing the ship's yard overhaul. Bender tells of being made captain of the ship after the other officers with seniority were discharged and getting put in charge of the flotilla headed to Portland (Oregon) for decommissioning. He reflects on breaking regulations such as no liquor or photograph-taking, as well as bribing a port commander with food so the ship could tie up at a pier rather than hit the beach. He talks about dating a nurse in Portland. Bender speaks of taking a probationary commission in the Navy in 1941, having difficulty finding his birth certificate, working at Allis-Chalmers after graduating college in 1943, and not being called up right away because the Navy had lost his orders. He mentions his indoctrination at the University of Arizona and attending diesel school in Flint (Michigan).

After the war, Bender details being part of the pre-occupation force at Truk: escorting Marines and a general to shore on an LCVP, being the first American to set foot on the island, seeing the damage at the airfield from American bombardment, and interacting with Japanese soldiers. He talks about being a mother ship for small mine sweepers, receiving a huge number of eggs by accident, and trading cigarettes to the Japanese for souvenir swords and pornography. Bender describes refueling a Japanese destroyer and receiving a bottle of Suntory scotch as thanks. He reflects on the positive reactions he encountered from the Japanese on Truk.

Extent and Medium of Description Analog audio recording: 3 audio cassettes (approx. 1 hour, 40 minutes)
Transcript: 48 pgs.
Reproduction Conditions / Copyright WVM owns copyright to this material. Contact the WVM Research Center for further information about Terms of Use.
Biographical Record Bender, Dale O.