Her wounds had been grievous that morning in 1941, when Japanese torpedo bombers swept low over the shallow waters of Pearl Harbor and unleashed their deadly cargoes at the easy targets moored along Battleship Row. The surface might of the U.S. Pacific Fleet was virtually helpless against the onslaught, and those ships moored outboard received the brunt of the devastating attack.
Oklahoma capsized and West Virginia took 7 torpedoes into her port side, gouging huge holes in her hull. Two modified artillery shells, configured as
aerial bombs, struck aft. The ship’s captain, Mervyn Bennion, was cut down by a steel fragment but remained in command, perishing with courage and later receiving a posthumous Medal of Honor. Dorie Miller, a cook, manned a machine-gun and received the Navy Cross for heroism.
Alert counterflooding kept West Virginia from capsizing and the heavily damaged battleship settled to the bottom of Pearl Harbor upright…
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