50 years later, Bentley gets card

December 06, 1991

It took 50 years, but Rep. Helen Delich Bentley finally got the Christmas card Marine Private William M. Smith wanted to send her Dec. 7, 1941, from Pearl Harbor.

Bentley, R-2nd, was then just Helen Delich, a student at the University of Nevada in Reno. Smith, assigned to the USS Phoenix, was the brother of Delich's brother-in-law.

Smith's card, postmarked the day of the Japanese attack on the Hawaii base, was held back by the ship's officers for security reasons, according to Bentley's office. During World War II, Smith passed on that card and five other unsent cards to his nephew, Mark Smith, with instructions that they be mailed.

But Mark Smith put them into a drawer. He only recently found the cards, including the one meant for Bentley, which he sent to her Capitol Hill office. She received it a week ago, Bentley said yesterday.

William Smith was on duty watch during the morning of Dec. 7 and, after the attack began, he sounded the general quarters alarm. He received a medal and commendation for shooting down a Japanese plane during the second wave of the assault.

Bentley, who had planned to attend Pearl Harbor anniversary ceremonies in Hawaii, will instead attend ceremonies at 12:30 p.m. Saturday in the Inner Harbor in Baltimore, aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Taney, a vessel that was in Hawaii during the attack.

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