Captain Roland G. Bienvenu, a member of the U.S. Naval Academy Class of 1941, was born in Lafayette, Louisiana, and grew up in nearby St. Martinville, Louisiana. After attending the U.S. Military Academy, for one semester, in 1936, he left and attended the Naval Academy from 1937 until 1941.
He served in the U.S. Navy from 1941 until 1965, and in this interview he discusses his naval career from his entrance into the Naval Academy until his retirement in 1965. Included are details of his various assignments at sea aboard the USS HYMAN, USS LANING, USS BURDO, USS JOUETT, USS CHARLES P. CECIL, and USS YOUNG; and his duties as commander of Landing Ship, Squadron 5 (1958) and as a Naval Attaché in Greece (1947-1949), Lebanon (1949-1951), and Canada (1962-1965). Mentioned briefly are his assignments with the Office of Naval Intelligence (1951-1953), the Secretary of Defense (1955-1958), and the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1959). After leaving the military service in 1965, Bienvenu served as Director of Housing at Southwestern Louisiana University from 1965 until 1977.
After giving a brief comparison of his experiences as a student at the U.S. Military Academy and at the U.S. Naval Academy (p. 2), Bienvenu relates his service as an ensign in the South Atlantic, primarily out of Brazil, from 1941 until 1943 on the USS JOUETT, a destroyer. He describes the ship's involvement in anti-submarine and convoy work (p. 4), includingthe escort of President Franklin D. Roosevelt across the South Atlantic, from Brazil to Casablanca, for the Casablanca conference (p. 4).
From 1943 until 1945 Bienvenu was assigned to the destroyer, USS YOUNG. He was the gunnery officer and later served as the executive officer. The interview describes the ship's shakedown cruise and the training of "green sailors" (1943, p. 5). The USS YOUNG was on duty in the Pacific and operated out of Attu and Adak in the Aleutian Islands. Described are the foul weather and the night bombardment operations in the Kurile Islands (p. 6). Also of interest are his comments pertaining to the second Leyte Gulf landing (p. 7), the Mindoro operation (p. 8), and the Lingayen Gulf operation (p. 8). He describes a near miss by a Japanese suicide plane in the Mindoro operation and damage to U.S. ships in the Lingayen Gulf operation.
Bienvenu describes his experience of serving as executive officer and navigator aboard the newly commissioned destroyer, USS CHARLES P. CECIL, in 1945. He mentions the shakedown cruise in Guantanamo Bay and passage through the Panama Canal into the Pacific (p. 7).
Also included in the interview are descriptions of his first command, aboard the high speed transport USS LANING, in 1946 (pp. 8-9), and his subsequent command of the USS BURDO, another high speed transport, which he commanded in the Caribbean in 1946 (p. 9). Also provided in the oral history is information pertaining to the rigors of the Naval Intelligence School, which Bienvenu attended in 1946 (pp. 9-10).
Described in depth are his duties as a Naval Attaché in Greece, Lebanon, and Canada. There is a description of the shelling in Salonika, Greece, during the Greek civil war in 1948 (p. 10); mention of the expiration of British mandate in Palestine (pp. 10-11); and the civil war in Lebanon (pp. 10-11); and descriptions of the people and land of Lebanon (pp. 11-12). He describes travels through Canada, including camping on the barrens of Hudson Bay, and dealings with the Canadian Navy (1962, pp. 18-19).
Also included are descriptions of Bienvenu's command of the USS HYMAN (1953, pp. 13-14), and its deployment in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean. He describes making customary courtesy visits to local officials in Venice (pp. 13-14) and mentions that the USS HYMAN received the Destroyer Force Atlantic Fleet "E" award for efficiency (p. 14). Of final note is his service as commander of Landing Ship, Squadron 5, in Okinawa, in which Bienvenu discusses conducting amphibious operations with his eight LSTs, especially during a typhoon in the Pacific (1958, p. 15-16).
For related material, see Collection #621.
Gift of Roland G. Bienvenu
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