Karl R. Bendetsen Oral History, October 24, 1972

Oral History Interview with
Karl R. Bendetsen

General counsel, Department of the Army, 1949; Assistant Secretary of the Army, 1950-52; Under Secretary of the Army, 1952. More

New York City, New York
October 24, 1972
by Jerry N. Hess

[Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | Additional Bendetsen Oral History Transcripts]

This is a transcript of a tape-recorded interview conducted for the Harry S. Truman Library. A draft of this transcript was edited by the interviewee but only minor emendations were made; therefore, the reader should remember that this is essentially a transcript of the spoken, rather than the written word.

Numbers appearing in square brackets (ex. [45]) within the transcript indicate the pagination in the original, hardcopy version of the oral history interview.

This oral history transcript may be read, quoted from, cited, and reproduced for purposes of research. It may not be published in full except by permission of the Harry S. Truman Library.

Opened 1981
Harry S. Truman Library
Independence, Missouri

[Top of the Page | Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | Additional Bendetsen Oral History Transcripts]

Oral History Interview with
Karl R. Bendetson

New York City, New York
October 24, 1972
by Jerry N. Hess


HESS: To begin Mr. Bendetsen, will you tell me about your introduction into the Army, when you joined the Army and what your assignments were?

BENDETSEN: Mr. Hess, I will undertake to give you a sequential account. I entered the United States Army on extended active service in 1940. I had been a commissioned officer of the Officer’s Reserve Corps since 1929 when I received my bachelor’s degree at Stanford University, and I was commissioned in the field artillery. I reached the rank of captain of field artillery in 1939, some ten years thereafter. In the intervening years I saw no active duty at any high level headquarters. All of


my commissioned active duty was performed at Fort Lewis, Washington, in fortnightly periods. The 10th Field Artillery was stationed there during that decade, and my assignment as a Reserve Officer was to that Regular Army field artillery unit. This arrangement obtained in a number of cases around the country where a Reserve Officer happened to have his residence sufficiently close to a Regular Army unit of his military branch to permit frequent communication, inactive duty assignments on weekends and other times of convenience. So, I had some preceding connection with the Army at numerous times each year.

Parenthetically, I would add that I joined the Washington State National Guard when I was 14 years old, enlisting in the 248th Coast Artillery Battalion (Separate). I now "confess" that I prevaricated about my age. It was general practice in those days. Many young men of high school age thought it was "the thing to do" to be in the National Guard. So did I. The State authorities maintained a convenient posture of official ignorance. My span


of military service began then.

In late 1939 while I was practicing law, then at Aberdeen, Washington, I became deeply concerned about our national situation. I shared the view of many others that the clouds of war were gathering and we were ill prepared. At my own expense and with my slender resources, I took myself to Washington, D.C. in late 1939 to talk to my Washington State U.S. Senators and to my Congressman about our woefully inadequate military posture. I stayed for two weeks. I was not encouraged by what I heard. I returned to Washington, D.C. in the spring of 1940 and joined with others of like mind. We were there as private citizens to persuade Congress to enact a draft law. I was really for universal military training, which as you know, so also was President Truman.

HESS: Very much so.

BENDETSEN: I believed strongly in it. We urged that the Congress adopt some such law. Short of that, certainly Selective Service was essential because our standing forces, our reserves and our federally


recognized National Guard were small and ill prepared.

On August 16, 1940, Congress passed Public Law 96. This authorized the President to call the Army, Navy and Marine Corps Reserves and the National Guard of the several states into active Federal service. This statute also authorized the establishment of Selective Service.

At that point, someone casually said to me, "Well, Bendetsen, you’ve been around here on your own for several months trying to help get this through Congress. As a citizen, it seems to me you had ought to be one of the first ones to come forward and say you are ready to come into the Army."

I said, "I can hardly deny the force of your argument so I will do just that. Let me have up to 60 days to settle my affairs. After all, I have been here on some sort of active service for three months as it is."

I was ordered to active duty effective about 75 days later. I then reported as a captain of


field artillery to the Commanding Officer, 10th Field Artillery, Fort Lewis, Washington . While serving there I chanced to meet the Judge Advocate of the Third U.S. Army Division which had its headquarters at Fort Lewis. He was then a colonel. His name was Harry Auer. He soon became a brigadier general as the Assistant Judge Advocate General of the Army under Major General Allen W. Gullion. As he was leaving for Washington, D.C. he told me, "You shouldn’t be here in the 10th Field Artillery; you ought to be in the Judge Advocate General’s Department at the War Department in Washington, D.C."

I said, "Colonel Auer, I want nothing to do with the Judge Advocate General’s Department. If I’m going to practice law, I would rather go back to my office, and that’s how it is."

"Well," he said, "that’s an interesting point of view. I suppose I should respect it."

I said, "I certainly hope you will."

After I had been at Fort Lewis a month, I was ordered to the headquarters of the 9th Service


Command at the Presidio of San Francisco. You may recall having heard the term "service command" with relation to the Army. There were nine service commands in the United States then. These constituted the field structure of the Army. Each respectively had responsibility for the administration and command and management of all posts, camps and stations, and Army troops in the field within Continental United States. This structure was soon to be abandoned in favor of other organizational arrangements. I will briefly allude to these arrangements later because they have some bearing on some of my subsequent remarks which will be closer to the center of the area of your interest in gathering this oral history.

To return to my new assignment, I was afraid I was going to be assigned to the Judge Advocate’s office of the 9th Service Command. As it turned out in the beginning, my fears were not well founded. To my delight, I was assigned to the office of the Assistant Chief of Staff G-3, the operations section


of the general staff of the 9th Service Command. I enjoyed that service. It did not last long. General Auer apparently had not changed his mind! I was transferred to the office of the Judge Advocate of the 9th Service Command!

This also became a relatively brief tour of duty. A month later, I received orders to report to the Judge Advocate General of the Army at the War Department in Washington, D.C.

I was assigned to the Military Affairs Section which can be described as the Attorney General’s office of the Army. It did not deal with military justice subjects. Instead, it dealt with the broadest range of legal questions: international law, civil functions of the Engineer Corps, administrative law, the status of Army personnel stationed offshore and abroad, the precursory considerations and legal bases for lend-lease agreements, for example. I met an expanding circle of both civilian and military personnel in the War Department and in other executive departments and agencies. I met members of the


House and Senate and their key staffers in the course of these duties. While it was not my desire to be in the law department or in Washington either, I found my role both stimulating and challenging.

I began to receive a number of assignments bearing very directly upon the provisions of the National Defense Act and also upon the civil status of draftees. It fell to me to draft, and to present to the Bureau of the Budget and then to ten committees, proposed legislation which I authored known as "The Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act." There were four legislative committees, two in each House dealing with military and naval affairs respectively. There were also four subcommittees of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees dealing with military and naval affairs. Finally, the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act also came under the jurisdiction of the Judiciary Committees, one in each House. Thus there were ten individual committees through which the proposed legislation required clearance.

This was an intensive experience. Two major law journals requested authoritative coverage. I


prepared them and each was published. Within certain large circles, the demand for these articles was unprecedented. Requests poured in to the Adjutant General (who then handled all War Department correspondence and issued all travel orders) that I address special groups in various sections of the nation. I received orders to do so.

This brought me into my first direct introduction to then Senator Truman as a member of the Military Affairs Committee of the Senate (which later was merged with the Naval Affairs Committee, as you know, to become the Armed Services Committee after the 1947 Act established the Defense Establishment). This was "The National Security Act of 1947," which Felix Larkin undoubtedly discussed with you. Senator Truman was very deeply interested in fair protection for draftees and as well for their families. Most of them had no real means to defend themselves against various kinds of civil actions brought against them for debt, or alleged debt, or for mortgage foreclosures or any number of actions whether in contract or tort, or domestic relations.


"The Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act" provided such means. It became milestone legislation.

The very intelligent and penetrating questions which Senator Truman asked were of major assistance to me. Several times he asked me to come to his office and explain to him whether in fact the provisions of certain parts of the bill would take care of special situations. He was interested not only in preparedness, but he thought that protection of draftees, other military personnel and their families had much to do with that subject. Most fully, I agreed with him.

HESS: When you would go to his office would you also see Hugh Fulton, the Chief Counsel of the Committee, or was it generally Mr. Truman?

BENDETSEN: Senator Truman primarily. I knew Mr. Hugh Fulton, but not well. He was widely respected and I was among the many who admired him. Many people knew him well but I doubt that he would remember me. Although I met him on a number of occasions, these were very active days for him.


A proposal for legislation of this nature such as the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act, originating in the War Department, fell within the purview of the G-l section of the War Department General Staff (the Personnel Section). The Assistant Chief of Staff then was Brigadier General [Wade Hampton] Haislip, who after World War II became the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army. General Haislip presided over the entire Personnel Section of the General Staff. He was responsible to the Chief of Staff for personnel program preparation and for proper personnel actions of every nature, a gargantuan task. He was a very able man. He took a deep interest in the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act. Thus, I had occasion to brief him. On introduction of the measures, after clearance by the Bureau of the Budget and the White House, he went to Capitol Hill to introduce the subject and me first to the Military Affairs Committees of each House.

He then had many other legislative problems to deal with. Apparently he believed that my handling of the relationships with Senators and the Congressmen


and the other agencies of the Government which were directly or indirectly involved in the course of the Civil Relief Act’s passage, etc., qualified me to assist him in a variety of other legislative subjects. He requested that the Judge Advocate General (Major General Gullion) make my services available to assist him. Shortly this relationship reached the point in which he would not go to the Hill for any purpose without taking me along. By that time I could recite from memory, every line of the National Defense Act, and all of its amendments. It was a case of necessity. Someone had to be there by his side who knew the subjects well. In the rush of legislation, much unintentional damage can otherwise be done.

These assignments led in a very natural way to answering many of Senator Truman’s questions and to my attendance at informal conferences with him and others.

Another significant legislative problem arose during the prewar emergency. A bill, which had been


introduced in both Houses of the Congress was pending before the Judiciary Committees of both Houses, the exact title of which escapes me at the moment--it may later return to my recall, it probably will, usually does. The effect of the bill would have been to require "quasi-judicial" proceedings, involving notice, hearings, the right to counsel, in regard to hundreds of thousands of Executive Department and independent agency actions, both at the seat of Government and in the field. Its provisions were so sweeping that, for example, the War Department and Navy Department could not issue regulations touching military personnel either at the seat of Government or in the field without giving advance notice of publication of the proposed regulations and of a date and place for a formal hearing before an administrative law judge. The provisions of the legislation were such that the Corps of Engineers in making decisions related to Civil Works would become enmeshed in a stranglehold of red tape. The concept did not violate anybody’s sense of justice.


However, the bill had a potential for great damage by seeking to erect a massive bureaucratic superstructure over the military departments during a national emergency.

As the hearings developed, I had been directed to represent both the War and Navy Departments with the consent and approval of both Secretaries and their respective chief military subordinates as well as the Chief of Engineers with regard to his extensive civil functions. I cleared the thrust of my prepared testimony with the Director of the Bureau of the Budget.

Oh, yes, I do recall the title. It was a measure whose title was: An Act to Provide for Quasi-Judicial Processes and Procedures Throughout the Executive Branch; For Notice and Hearings; for Appeals to the Federal Circuit Courts; and for Other Purposes. It was 350 pages long!

My prepared testimony consisted of twenty pages of summary; plus twenty-six chapters such as, for example, in each case a chapter for the functions,


respectively, of the Secretaries of War and Navy (including their Under and Assistant Secretaries); the Chief of Staff and the General Staff of the Army; the Chief of Naval Operations and the Navy Staff; each of the Technical Services and Bureaus respectively of the Army, Navy and Marine Corps; the Munitions Board, etc., etc. These chapters were topical and were cross-referenced to each section and subsection of the bill. The chapters filled 200 pages plus annexes. There was a complete index. The summary, also indexed, was made available separately to meet obvious necessities.

My principal appearances on the Hill were before the two Committees on the Judiciary. It took sixty days of eight to twelve hours each to complete the research and prepare my testimony.

When I testified as the War Department representative, both in the House and in the Senate, I was still a captain. And here again, the then Senator Truman had a very deep interest in this subject because he could see that it would have profound implications


upon the ability of the armed services to lift themselves by their boot straps. I might remind you in this regard that in August of 1940, only 16-1/2 months before Pearl Harbor, the U.S. Army consisted of 165 thousand officers and men, total.

HESS: Total?

BENDETSEN: Yes. That included offshore as well as stateside personnel, commissioned, warrant and noncommissioned officers as well as enlisted personnel. It did not include civilian personnel.

HESS: This was at a time too that when the Army would go on maneuvers, they would have to use broomsticks for rifles, isn’t that correct?

BENDETSEN: Well, that is almost correct but not quite. In August of 1940 the only Army troops on active duty were Regular Army troops and officers. While their arms were antiquated, they did not use broomsticks. They had rifles, sidearms and French 75 nun. and other World War I artillery pieces, still horsedrawn, not even mechanized, some tanks, a few howitzers,


some WWI machine guns, gas masks and old trucks. It was when pursuant to the Act of August 16, 1940 (Public Law 96), that the large elements of the National Guard were activated into the Federal service and when a few months later, large numbers of selectees began to report for induction into the Army, that there was not sufficient ordnance materiel to equip them with the basics such as rifles, sidearms, bayonets, or even canteens. That was the "broomstick" era.

It was during this latter period, in which efforts to remedy these deficiencies were accelerating, that Senator Truman became interested, on the one hand, to see to it that preparedness actions would not provide an umbrella under which to hide abuses, and on the other, to facilitate an effective preparedness effort.

To return to the "Quasi-Judicial Process" bill, Senator Truman asked me to summarize for him, before the hearings on the proposed measure, what I was going to say and why. He wanted to be sure that he understood it, mainly for his Preparedness Subcommittee


of the Military Affairs Committee (then known as a Committee because it was established by the Senate as a whole).

HESS: That’s right.

BENDETSEN: It was during the Louisiana maneuvers in the winter and spring of 1941 (General Eisenhower was then a Brigadier General) that shortages of ordnance weapons led to the issue of wooden rifles to many of the personnel involved.

Well, back to the Procedures Act. After I had "negotiated" the ordeals at the Judiciary Committees, General Haislip asked that I be assigned to the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff G-1 over which he presided. I was then made a member of the General Staff of the War Department, which is a detail and not a branch. An officer can be detailed to the General Staff, War Department, or to the General Staff with Troops from any basic Army branch. It was then that General Haislip suggested that there was a law which would enable the President to appoint me as an officer of the Regular Army if I were willing


to accept a commission. I said that I was highly complimented by his offer and hoped that such an appointment would not immediately change the assignment I had just been given. In consequence, I accepted a commission in the Regular Army, as a captain. It was a direct appointment by the President, confirmed by the Senate, and with rank, just before the members of the graduating Class of 1929 at the Military Academy. Army serial number 022885 was assigned.

HESS: You will remember that for a long time, won’t you?

BENDETSEN: Yes, although I also remember the serial number I have now as a retired Reserve officer because it is the same as my Social Security number!

I had various assignments in the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff G-l. These entailed coordination with other elements of the General Staff. In the course of those assignments came the answers to the questions which had not then been asked and fully answered for a long time such as, for example:


If war comes, how will prisoners of war be handled? Should steps immediately be taken to work out the details of a Prisoner of War Information Bureau as contemplated by the Geneva Treaty on the subject, to which the U.S. was a signatory? The Germans and most of our allies were signatories whereas the Japanese and the Soviets were not. What steps should be contemplated regarding enemy aliens if war came? What, if anything, should now be done to prepare for such contingencies?

There had not been a Provost Marshal General since World War I and no Corps of Military Police since 1921. Should these be reestablished? If war came and we found ourselves engaged overseas, what about military government and civil affairs? How would these vital functions be effectively performed? How would suitably trained officers conversant with these essentials be provided in a timely manner?

I prepared a study and research agenda to deal with such questions as these. I formulated a series of recommendations for proposed appropriate actions which after General Haislip approved, I coordinated


through the sections of the General Staff. These followed presentations to the Chief of Staff and the Secretary of War and briefings for appropriate Senate and House subcommittees. Then Senator Truman had a deep and abiding interest in all these questions. We discussed each topic frequently. He had a keen perception of all aspects of preparedness.

These considerations culminated in approvals (some by the President) and concurrences by the Military Affairs Committees of the Senate and the House to create the Office of the Provost Marshal General; the Corps of Military Policy; and a School of Military Government. In the Senate, the active support of then Senator Truman was indispensable.

Colonel Wilton B. ("Jerry") Persons, later Major General Wilton B. Persons, later Special Assistant to the President of the United States, Mr. Eisenhower, who later became a dear friend of mine, had observed the performance of my duties on Capitol Hill. He was then the Chief Congressional Liaison officer of the War Department. His assignment was a part of the


Office of the Chief of Staff. He recommended to General Marshall that I be assigned as an assistant to him (Colonel Persons) for congressional relations.

It was during that service in August of 1941, five months before Pearl Harbor, that a crisis event took place in the House of Representatives. The Selective Service Act of August 16, 1940 would expire on August 16, 1941 if not extended by congressional action. The Senate had voted for extension in a relatively close vote. In the House there were great pressures to let the Act die. Most people have probably forgotten how some of the draftees and many others were behaving in those days. Draft cards were publicly burned. There were riots. There was a concerted effort to end the draft. It was a "rehearsal" for the anti-Vietnam demonstrations.

As mentioned, the bill passed the Senate by a narrow margin but only as a consequence of a major effort there. We had worked night and day trying to supply the Senators, who were the Managers of the Bill to extend the draft, with every conceivable kind


of information. This was a very sensitive task. As neither of us was eligible to be on the floor of the Senate, gallery seats were reserved for Persons and me in the first row where the Managers of the Bill could see us and we them. We would signal one of them by a prearranged method or one of them would signal us, using a mutually agreed method unobservable to the uninitiated. One or both of us would then rush to the cloakroom of the Senate for a conference. In some cases, the questions put to us would require that we reach by telephone either the Chief of Staff of the Army or his Deputy. Senator Truman was totally committed to extension of the Act. He knew it to be absolutely essential.

The bill came to the floor of the House for debate a very short time before it was due to expire, about seven days as I recall. Mr. [Sam] Rayburn was Speaker of the House. He was for extension. Jerry Persons and I literally "lived" 18 hours a day on Capitol Hill. There was strong sentiment against the extension. The Speaker was very kind to us. He made his outer office and a


special pair of telephones available to us wherewith to make and receive calls. He assigned a secretary to us also. He knew that we had to support the Managers of the Bill in the same manner as in the Senate. Similar arrangements were made with the Managers of the Bill in the House. We were required to inform Mr. Stimson, the Secretary of War, the Chief of Staff and the office of the President of all significant developments. We provided the Speaker with background.

An hour before the final vote, Mr. Rayburn sent word that he wished to see us both at once. He instructed us to get in touch with the Secretary of War. He said that if the Secretary agreed with him that we should state that the Speaker desired that Mr. Stimson get in touch with the President to seek the latter’s agreement. He told us that a compromise had been proposed which would assure passage if agreed to. He then outlined the compromise. He stated that the extension Act would limit the total length of service of each draftee


to 12 months; prohibit service outside the Continental limits of the 48 states; and require the immediate redeployment of each individual draftee then serving beyond these territorial limits, such as for example: Puerto Rico, the Canal Zone, Hawaii, the Philippines and Alaska. "What do you think of the compromise?" he asked?

I waited for Jerry Persons, my senior, to speak. Colonel Persons said, "Mr. Speaker, there is a custom in the armed services that the junior speaks first, because his views should not be prejudiced by hearing from his superior first, when then he would be constrained to express his own views." He said, "Karl, tell the Speaker what you think."

I said, "Mr. Speaker, while I would rather not tell you what I think, because I don’t want to prejudice anything I say, or may be called upon to say to Mr. Stimson, or the Chief of Staff, or anyone else on the executive side, if you really want to know I will, of course, respond."

He said, "Yes, I do want to know."


I told him, "It’s untenable, unworkable. It will intensify the crisis that we already face. This compromise will make it impossible adequately to train, deploy and replace our soldiers. The logistics which this compromise would impose are unworkable. They would be inordinately expensive. The President has declared that an emergency exists. If the draft is extended under the proposed severe limitations, the people will believe that the Congress does not believe there is an emergency and the draftees themselves, those on board now and those later drafted, will not believe there is any emergency. Morale is not high now. If the Congress does this, morale will vanish and we could have a series of mutinies. The country will be torn apart. It will make conditions in the ranks far worse than they are today. Beyond all this, it will send the wrong signal to our potential adversaries. Mr. Speaker--that is my view."

He then asked, "Jerry, what do you think?"

He said, "I think we’re caught up with an unacceptable proposal."

The Speaker said, "Well, so do I."


It was a critical situation. Jerry and I made our telephone calls to the Chief of Staff and the Secretary of War. After 20 or 30 minutes, we were instructed to advise the Speaker that the Secretary and the Chief of Staff "cannot, in deference to our accountability for the preparedness of the nation agree to such a compromise."

The Speaker said, "We will see what happens. I can’t predict the result." He handled the situation masterfully. A final vote was soon taken. It was the then to become famous vote of 201 to 200 in favor. Mr. Rayburn banged the gavel at a critical moment and declared the Bill had passed. If he had not banged it at the precise moment he did, the vote would have been reversed in the next few minutes. The fainthearted Congressmen who had voted "aye" would have switched their votes when they realized that there were 200 votes against. The Speaker sensed this and he knew his parliamentary rules full well. If the nation owed anyone a debt, it was to him for that forthright action. He later told us in his office that as he raised the gavel,


he saw five "doves" on the way to the floor of the House. He knew they would sink the extension! Still later, we all went over to see Senator Truman who invited us to Les Biffle’ s office (The Secretary of the Senate) where we raised a toast with a small splash of bourbon!

Shortly after this dramatic experience, my assignment to the office of the Chief of Staff under Colonel Persons terminated. I disliked to leave it. The establishment of the Provost Marshall General’s Office had been approved while all of this had been going on and General Allen W. Gullion, who was the Judge Advocate General when I was suddenly transferred from the Presidio of San Francisco to General Gullion’s office, had been appointed the Provost Marshall General. He went to the Chief of Staff and later told me that he said to the Chief of Staff, "I’d like to have Captain Bendetsen, and I’d like you to promote him to temporary Major. He knows more about what needs to be done than anybody else. He made the study, he did the work, he


researched the World War I history, he has a good base. This will require coordination with the FBI, the Justice Department and other agencies. He will have to keep certain people on the Hill informed. He has demonstrated his capacity for this assignment. His experience is just what I need." The Chief of Staff agreed. I was promoted to the temporary rank of Major and assigned as General Gullion’s assistant.

It proved to be a many faceted assignment entailing extensive research and detailed preparation of plans and programs which required coordination and concurrences both within and beyond the War Department.

Included were specifics for site selection; construction arrangements for housing of enemy aliens during wartime; laying the groundwork and readying for immediate activation in case of war of a Prisoner of War Information Bureau. In this latter case, the Department of State, the Swiss Embassy and the International Red Cross were heavily involved.


As should be evident, the enemy alien aspects entailed close consultation with U.S. intelligence agencies, notably the FBI, the Offices of Naval Intelligence and Army Intelligence.

Negotiations were initiated for the establishment of a School of Military Government to be located at the University of Virginia.

Senator Truman envisioned all of these needs. He closely questioned me and made many valuable suggestions.

Some of my duties dealt with subjects of a very sensitive and highly classified nature. These led General Gullion to conclude that someone be sent to the Hawaiian and Philippine Departments of the Army, as they were then known, for coordinating conferences. The Commanding General of the Hawaiian Department was General Walter C. Short whose headquarters were at Fort Shafter on the outskirts of the City of Honolulu. The Commanding General of the Philippine Department was General Douglas MacArthur.

General Gullion made such an urgent recommendation to the Chief of Staff who talked to the Secretary of


War. The recommendation was approved and it was decided that I should go with the title of Special Representative of the Secretary of War. This answers the question you asked me about how I happened to see General Douglas MacArthur in late 1941 and also answers a similar question relative to my conference with General Short and Admiral Kimmel at Fort Shafter shortly before the attack on Pearl Harbor.

I conferred with General Short and his staff on the way to the Philippines as well as with the Office of Naval Intelligence, the FBI and the Immigration and Naturalization Service. At the conclusion of my Hawaiian Department mission, I left via Boeing Clipper for the Philippines.

On my return from the conferences in the Philippines with General MacArthur and his staff and others, I briefly stopped over at Fort Shafter, the Headquarters of the Hawaiian Department arriving via Boeing Clipper at Pearl Harbor on the afternoon of December 4. The through passengers, myself included, were advised that scheduled departure for San Francisco would be delayed several hours. General Short sent for me.


HESS: What did General MacArthur and General Short have to say to you during the trip?

BENDETSEN: Before responding to your question, I will summarize my remaining travel. I stayed overnight with General Short at his invitation because we (the passengers) had been informed that the Boeing Clipper would not be ready for departure until the next night. This explains why I could not leave until the night of December 5.

I was introduced to Admiral Kimmel at dinner the night of the fifth. After dinner at General Short’s quarters, I left for San Francisco.

At San Francisco I boarded the first available flight to Washington. It flew overnight landing there about 9 a.m. December 7, 1941 (before the fateful attack on Pearl Harbor). Nine a.m. Washington time was 4 a.m. at Honolulu. The Clipper departed Pearl Harbor at approximately 9:30 p.m. It landed at San Francisco nonstop over fourteen hours later on December 6. The cross-country flight with three essential stops entailed about fifteen hours. Thus,


the United AirLines flight could not reach Washington, D.C. until approximately 9 a.m., December 7.

Upon arrival, I went by taxi directly to the office of the Chief of Staff. Walter Bedell Smith was on duty. He was then a Lieutenant Colonel in the office of the Secretary, General Staff. As an Assistant Secretary, he was duty officer that morning. (Parenthetically, I omitted to mention that I had briefly served in that Secretariat.) To go on--I reported to Colonel Smith that I had been requested by General Short to convey a personal and important message to the Chief of Staff as soon as possible. He said, "The Chief will want to see you, and he will soon be here, so instead of briefing yourself to me, you look a little tired, why don’t you go home, ki