Madison man had five relatives at or near Pearl Harbor

Madison man had five relatives at Pearl harbor or nearby that day

jwarren@herald-leader.comDecember 6, 2011 

William C. Bennett wasn't at Pearl Harbor, but it seems that just about everybody else in his family was.

No fewer than five of his relatives were at Pearl Harbor or in nearby Honolulu on Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941.

"It's pretty unusual," says Bennett, a Madison County farmer.

Bennett's father, Warfield C. Bennett, was a young Navy officer on the USS Dewey, a destroyer docked at Pearl Harbor.

Bennett's grandfather, Army dentist William Caldwell, was stationed in Honolulu, along with his wife, Ethel Sutton Caldwell, and their children, William C. Caldwell III and Ann Caldwell, William Bennett's future mom.

Ann Caldwell and War field Bennett, who had met a few weeks earlier, were planning a picnic that Sunday afternoon. The picnic never happened.

"My mother was attending the University of Hawaii and was having a slumber party with some of her college girlfriends at my grandfather's house," Bennett said.

"The story I've always heard is that when the bombs started going off, the girls ran out to look, and my grandfather told them, 'It's not a drill; get back inside.'"

No one in Bennett's family was injured in the attack. But a bomb exploded near his father's ship, according to historical accounts.

"I've always felt that it was very unusual to have five people in one family at Pearl Harbor that day," Bennett said. "I sometimes tell people about it, but so many today don't have a clue as to what Pearl Harbor was about."

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