Dickinson County

Ben Reed Jr.




Ben Reed, Jr., Home from Navy
First Time In Three Years

Ben Reed, Jr., arrived home Thursday night from Pensacola, Florida, Naval Air Station for a furlough visit with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Ben Reed. This is Ben’s first visit home in three years. Although Ben has greatly enjoyed seeing the home folks, he decidedly notices the absence of his former school friends, most of whom are now in the service the same as he.

Ben has had seven years in the Navy, having enlisted about a year after his graduation from high school here in 1934. During the first four years of his enlistment he was stationed aboard the U. S. S. California, the same battleship on which John Lyons, now missing in action, was also stationed at that time. Reed Clark of Orleans, son of Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd Clark of Monticello, was also stationed on the California, and Ben reports Reed is now at Corpus Christie, Texas, where he is a yeoman second class.

After his first four years in the service, Ben returned to Spirit Lake, and a month later, in July 1939, reenlisted and was sent to Pensacola to the Naval air Station for three years shore duty, during his second period of enlistment. Ben is an Aviation Machinist’s Mate, second class, and his job at the air station has been the upkeep and overhauling of aircraft engines. Just what opportunities for further training he will get in his third period of enlistment now coming up he as yet doesn’t know. He would like to get back on a boat, or in the air, anywhere to see more action.

His brother, Bill, five years his junior, is also in the Navy, having enlisted two years ago. Bill is an Aviation Machinist’s Mate, third class, and is stationed aboard the U. S. S. Hornet, aircraft carrier, somewhere in the Pacific. Bill’s duties are similar to his brother’s, but he has been taking care of planes used in combat where Ben has worked on smaller training planes.

Source: The Spirit Lake Beacon, Spirit Lake, Iowa, Thursday, September 24, 1942

Ben Reed Writes Parents Of Accident In Pacific

Mr. and Mrs. Ben Reed have received a letter from their son, Ben Reed, in which he tells himself of the injuries he received in the South Pacific. In another story in this paper some particulars are given in regard to the injuries to Ben and also to his brother, Bill, as written to the parents by Bill.

The following letter from Ben will be of interest to his many friends:
June 5,
Dear Mom and all,
Might have known you would find out I was in the hospital, but still not sorry I didn’t tell you sooner. You see I was getting letters from you that Dad was pretty sick and Mary with her appendicitis, so I decided to keep it to myself a while till things were more settled at home. I figured you had enough worries, as it was.

Well, here’s what happened. A crate of airplane parts (2300 lbs.) fell over on myself and another fellow. His back was injured and so he was evacuated to the States. I got a compound fracture of the right leg and other slight injuries. This was on the 3rd of April. One month later I was sent here from the other base hospital. I’ve been here five weeks. Due to the nature of the fracture, and the condition of my leg it will take more than four months of hospitalization to put me on my feet. The bone won’t stay set without some sort of a plate being put on it calling for an operation. Therefore I’m being evacuated to some hospital in the States, probably in California. I’ll be there from four to six months, so the doctor tells me. Part of the time I expect to be home on sick leave, if my plans work out. It will be at least four months yet and to me, all I want is to get a good leg out of it, and I know I will. The Navy has some of the world’s best doctors and I’m positive I’ll have the best of care and come out as good as new. So you see no need to worry about it, still I didn’t know how Dad or the rest of you would look at it and didn’t care to risk the chance of worrying you too much at that time.

If you remember where you wrote to me that Reed Clark has been, that’s where this hospital is that I’m at now. Really not bad here at all.  Good chow, lots of sleep, good movies (I go in a wheel chair) and even Navy nurses and Red Cross workers here. I feel good all the time except I’m anxious to be on my way again. Leg never bothers me in the least, though I’m plenty tired of the cast.  Most of the fellows here are in a very good spirits which helps a lot. We have a lot of fun and amusements so you know I’m in good hands and doing O. K.  Don’t worry about me now and I’ll be seeing you one of these days.

Sons of Mr. and Mrs. Ben Reed In Naval Hospital.

Mr. and Mrs. Ben Reed of Spirit Lake have received word from their son, Bill, aviation machinists mate first class, that he is confined to a hospital somewhere in the South Pacific, and he also writes that his brother, Ben, also an aviation machinists mate first class, is in a hospital with injuries. According to the information from Bill, received in a letter written May 15, Bill was burned about a week before that when a generator exploded at the naval air base at which he is stationed. He suffered second degree burns on his face, left arm and both legs, and added that the leg injuries seem to be the worst.

Bill had written in an earlier letter that he had flown to the naval air base at which his brother is stationed in the South Pacific, and that the following day Ben was injured.  Ben received that word from other naval men who had visited the base where Ben was stationed. Ben has written his parents three letters since that time but never mentioned having been hurt, although he did state he hoped to see them some time soon.  Bill wrote that Ben suffered a compound fracture of the leg when some supplies toppled over onto him and another man, who received serious injuries. From what the family has heard from Bill it is expected that Ben will be returned to the States for an operation on his leg.

It will be interesting to friends of the youths to know that while Ben has been in the Navy for eight and a half years, this is the first injury, although he has seen considerable action as tail gunner on a naval plane recently.  Bill is also a tail gunner, but has not fared as well as his brother in the more than three years which he has been in service.  It will be remembered that Bill suffered a fracture of the leg and shoulder on the deck of the Hornet during the Battle of Midway. The day before that he had had to bail out of his plane when it was shot down, and he was picked up from the ocean by naval rescue squads. At the time of the sinking of the Hornet, Bill was wounded in the leg by shrapnel, at which time several of his buddies nearby were killed. Because of his many lucky escapes in battle, Bill was nicknamed “Lucky” by the Hornet crew.

Source: The Spirit Lake Beacon, June 15, 1944