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Bennett, Floyd

Bennett, Floyd

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Machinist, USN, (1890-1928)

Floyd Bennett was born on 26 October 1890 in Warrensburg, New York. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in December 1917 from that same state during World War I. His first duty station was at Naval Air Station, Bay Shore, New York. In the Spring of 1918, Bennett transferred to Naval Training Station, Norfolk, Virginia and was rated as a Machinist Mate Second Class, Aviation. Later in the Spring, he received orders to Naval Air Station, Hampton Roads, Virginia and in September was promoted to Machinist Mate First Class. In February 1919, Bennett was promoted to Chief Machinist Mate. That December, he was assigned to Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida and attended the aviation course for enlisted pilots. After graduation, he returned to the Hampton Roads Naval Air Station. In September 1924, Bennett served on board USS Richmond, where his rating was changed to Chief Aviation Pilot.

In April 1925, Bennett was assigned to Naval Air Station, Anacostia, Washington, D.C. and participated in the Naval Air Detail of the MacMillian Arctic Expedition. While on the expedition, he obtained the respect of Lieutenant Commander Richard E. Byrd, USN, who picked him as a co-pilot for his Byrd Arctic Expedition in the Spring of 1926. On 9 May 1926, with Lieutenant Commander Byrd, Bennett courageously co-piloted as they flew over the pole. For "the risk of his life" on this occasion, he was awarded the Medal of Honor.

In January 1927, he was commissioned to the warrant officer rank of Machinist. Bennett then made a tour of America cities in the same plane from the Byrd Expedition. That April, as Bennett prepared to fly with Byrd in his trans-Atlantic flight from New York to France, he was injured during a test flight, rendering him unable to fly. In preparation for Byrd's next Expedition, which was to the Antarctic, he again picked Bennett to be his co-pilot. While the Expedition was in preparation, Bennett served as a team member on the first westbound trans-Atlantic flight from Ireland to Newfoundland, Canada. During the flight, he contracted pneumonia and remained afterwards in Quebec due to the illness. Floyd Bennett succumbed to pneumonia and died on 25 April 1928. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia.

USS Bennett (DD-473), 1942-1973, was named in honor of Machinist Bennett.

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