ENS Benjamin Raymond Jr. Marsh

Unknown Sailor

ENS Benjamin Raymond Jr. Marsh

Benjamin Raymond Marsh Jr. was born Oct. 11, 1916 in Lansing, where his father, Ben Sr., was manager of the local branch of Michigan Bell Telephone before being transferred to Detroit. He eventually became chairman of Michigan Bell. His mother, Marjorie Bills Marsh, was a homemaker.

Ben. Jr. was an Eagle Scout and member of Grosse Pointe Memorial Church Troop 96.  He graduated from Grosse Pointe High in 1934 and attended the University of Michigan from 1936-38. He was a member of Alpha Tau Omega fraternity. He worked as a salesman before he  was appointed as a midshipman in the Naval Reserve in August 1940. He studied at the Naval Academy in Annapolis and was commissioned as an ensign on May 15, 1941.

He went aboard the U.S.S. Arizona just a month before his death in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.  On the morning of the attack, he was in the wardroom for breakfast and planned to go ashore to play golf with a high school buddy. When the attack began just before 8 a.m., he headed for his battle station in the engine room. He was never seen again.

His sister Winnifred was pregnant when her brother died. She named her son Ben. Winnifred was about a year older than her brother but said they were “inseparable buddies.” Fifty-five years after his death she told a newspaper reporter that “at this time of year, he is foremost in our minds. It is just a day of reflection. So many years have passed, you just learn to accept. it.”

A destroyer escort was named in memory of Ensign Marsh and served in wars and trouble spots around the world.

His mother sponsored DE 699, which was built in 1943 not far from the family’s Grosse Pointe home. During World War II she escorted convoys across the Atlantic and in the Mediterranean. As the war in Europe neared an end, the Marsh sailed for the Pacific, where it escorted convoys to Guam, Saipan, Ulithi, and Iwo Jima. It became the flagship of the Northern Marianas Expeditionary Force.

The Marsh was also in the Korean War, and, before the official entrance of the United States into the Vietnam War, conducted training exercises and patrolled with the South Vietnamese Navy.

The ship won one battle star during World War II and four for the Korean War. It was taken out of service in April 1973 and sold for scrap the next year.

A 1949 article in the Lansing (Michigan) State Journal said Mr. Marsh’s parents “have virtually adopted the ship and its 180 officers and men.” They gave an initialed cigarette case to every new officer assigned to the Marsh.


Sources: Lansing State Journal; Detroit Free Press; Grosse Pointe News;  Naval History and Heritage Command; The Michigan Alumnus; Grosse Pointe Historical Society; Boy Scouts. This profile was researched and written on behalf of the U.S.S. Arizona Mall Memorial at the University of Arizona.

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