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Biography of Benny Lawrence Wilson

Ferris, Texas

Benny Wilson was Storekeeper First Class in the United States Navy. He served aboard the USS Morrison (DD-560). 

The Morrison arrived off the southern coast of Okinawa on March 25, 1945, and participated in the pre-invasion bombardment before the the assault on April 1. Following the invasion, she continued with shore bombardment, night illumination and screen operations from  positions off the coast of Okinawa. 

At 2003 hours on April 28 the USS Gainard (DD-706) arrived at Radar Picket Station No. 2, and about that time or a short time later the USS Morrison arrived. The two destroyers replaced the USS Daly (DD-519) and USS Twiggs (DD-591) damaged in a kamikaze attack that had begun against the Twiggs at 1730, and ended with the Daly at 1739. The USS Van Valkenburgh (DD-656) in a “Good Samaritan” mission had come along side the Daly at 1910 to transfer her Medical Officer, Lieutenant M. E. Smale, along with Pharmacist Mate 3rd Class Charles B. Reed to attend the wounded on the Daly. The Daly’s Medical Officer, Lieutenant (j.g.) Theodore Roosevelt Curby, had been killed during the attack. Both the Daly and Twiggs were relieved at 2003 to return to the Transport Area west of Hagushi Beaches on the West Coast of the southern end of Okinawa. 

On April 30 the Morrison was assigned to Radar Picket Station No. 1. Three days of bad weather prevented kamikaze raids, but at dawn on May 4 the sky was bright and clear and ominous. At 0715 the Morrison vectored her combat air patrol to intercept 25 enemy aircraft headed in her direction. She was the fighter director ship in RPS No. 1, and the most prized in a kamikaze attack. 

Several of the enemy aircraft got through the CAP, and attacked the Morrison. The first to come at her was a Zeke (Mitsubishi "Zero" fighter) that came through heavy fire to drop its bomb that exploded off the starboard beam without damaging the ship. Next came a Val (Aichi dive-bomber), and then another Zeke without damage to the Morrison, but then at 0825 a Zeke came through heavy gunfire to crash into a smoke stack and the bridge of the Morrison. The suicide plane caused heavy casualties, and disabled most of the electrical equipment. This was followed by three float biplanes that crashed into the Morrison. With the crash of the fourth kamikaze into the fighter director ship, she listed sharply to starboard. 

The abandon ship order was mostly nullified by the damage to the electrical equipment caused by the crash of the first kamikaze. Two explosions followed the list to starboard, and the bow of the Morrison lifted upward, and by 0840 disappeared beneath the surface of the debris-strewn sea. 

Most of the crew below deck was lost. The USS Morrison was a USS Fletcher class destroyer with a crew of approximately 273. One hundred and fifty-two were lost. Benny Wilson was one of those lost and presumed dead on May 4, 1945. 

He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. John R. and Inez Stovall Wilson of Ferris. He graduated Ferris High School, and attended Baylor University. 

A cenotaph monument stands in Ferris Cemetery in memory of Benny Lawrence Wilson. He is listed on the Ellis County Veterans Memorial.

The picture is courtesy of Perry Giles, Giles Monument Company, Waxahachie, Texas.

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