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Echo Article II

The following is the text of a newspaper article from the Cass County Echo that appeared on February 21, 1944.  A copy of this article was provided by the Cass County Historical Society.

A second radio message came through this week from Benny Hopkins, Japanese prisoner.  It arrived just two years after the crippling of his ship, the Marblehead, off Java.

Mr. and Mrs. G. B. Hopkins received a cardboard recording from a Mr. Todd in California on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning the following telegram arrived from Washington:

Mrs. G. B. Hopkins, 205 Lincoln Ave.  Following short wave broadcast from Japan has been intercepted:

"Hello, Mother and Dad.  I'm in very good health and living comfortably.  I do miss some of the things I am used to but find I can get along without.  I would like very much to hear from you.  I haven't received any communications as yet from home.  I would also like some pictures and candy, razor blades, etc.

"Give my love to Merle, Georgia and Louise and all the rest.  Please don't hesitate to use any funds I might have.  I'm working for pay here so I have money to buy things I can.  It isn't so bad under the circumstances and I am happy as could be expected.

"I made a broadcast in Java in October 1942.  I hope you have heard it.  I also wrote letters assuring you I am alive and well.

"I would like you to communicate with James Durgan of Anamosa, IA., and give my regards. Well I guess you all know how much I want to be home and I'm sure it won't be long so until then I'll say goodbye and lots of love to all.  This is Ben G. Hopkins of U. S. Navy signing off."

The telegram was signed Gullion, Provost Marshal General.

James Durgan, mentioned in the broadcast, was a close pal of Bennie's aboard the Marblehead.  Mrs. Hopkins has a picture of them together, however until this message she had no idea where Durgan's home was.  They attempted a telephone message to Anamosa Friday evening but found the Durgan's had no phone.  Durgan was signalman 2/c on the Marblehead and Ben was Signalman Striker.

Broadcast made in Java in October, 1942, did not reach this country until just before Christmas last year.  Mrs. Hopkins believes this week's broadcast was made about Christmas time.  She has hopes that by this time some of her letters, which have been mailed regularly since the first broadcast, have reached her son.  Of his mail only one postcard has reached his mother.  It came October 29, 1943.

While visiting the sets of "The Story of Dr. Wassell" in Hollywood last fall Mrs. Hopkins had a chance to talk with Melvin R. Francis, who knew Bennie on the Marblehead and is taking his own part in the picture which is the story of the Marblehead's injured crew.  He said Bennie was in the truck with the men who were being evacuated from the hospital at Tjilatjap, Java, by Dr. Wassell.  When they had gone some distance they stopped and Ben got out to try to relieve his suffering.  He fainted away so was put on the hospital truck and sent back.  Unknown to the doctor and the other men the section in which the hospital stood had already been occupied by Japanese.  Bennie's burns were severe on his right arm and across his back.  Blood transfusions had already been given him at the hospital and his buddies thought he would not live long.

In the moving picture story, which was written weeks before word came through that Ben was still alive, Dennie (the name adopted for the character of Bennie) was left with a machine gun and killed.  At the end of the picture Cecil B. DeMille explains that Bennie is alive and well.  The picture has not yet been released.  Mrs. Hopkins has a picture of herself taken on the set with DeMille and it is autographed, "To Mrs. Benjamin Hopkins, Sr., the mother of a hero, with appreciation.  Cecil B. DeMille."

Lowell Hopkins, younger brother of Bennie, left three weeks ago for boot training at Farragut.  Sterling, who returned from California for induction, was not accepted and left for California last Sunday.  He will visit his sisters, Mrs. C. B. Smith and Mrs. Virgil Kline, before starting work.

Also in Saturday's mail were a number of letters from others who heard Bennie's broadcast.  They came from Palm Springs, Merced, Sacramento, San Francisco and San Luis Obispo, California, and from Nampa, Idaho.  Mrs. Hopkins marveled that so many who heard the broadcast would be so kind as to sit down immediately and write telling her.

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