Unknown Sailor

BKR2c Sam Austin Benford

Samuel Austin Benford was born Aug. 1, 1917, in Nebraska. His mother, Esther B., was a homemaker and his father, Harry, an office manager.

The family moved from Omaha to Minneapolis, Minnesota, before 1930. Sam, as he was known, graduated in 1936 from Central High. The school yearbook said “Born for success he seems, With grace to win, with heart to hold.”

Navy muster rolls say that he enlisted on Feb. 2, 1938, though that might be a re-enlistment date. Mr. Benford was a baker and petty officer second class on the U.S.S. Arizona when he was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

He was survived by his widow, Bonnie Cook Benford. They married in November 1940 while the Arizona was being repaired at the Puget Sound Navy Yard in Washington. Mr. Benford never met their daughter, born in California in September 1941.

Sources: The Minneapolis (Minnesota) Star Tribune; Navy muster roll; Census; California birth record; grave marker; Washington marriage certificate. Central High yearbook photo. 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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