Benedetto, William R. 1928-

views updated

Benedetto, William R. 1928-


Born May 11, 1928, in Chisholm, ME; son of Fiorindo (a laborer) and Erminia (a homemaker) Benedetto; married Barbara A. Sherlock, (a legal assistant), September 4, 1948; children: Cheryl Ann Pataki, Liana M. Martin, Valerie Koepnick, William, Jr. Ethnicity: "Italian." Education: Portland State University (Portland, ME), P.S., 1977; University of Oregon Law School, J.D., 1980. Hobbies and other interests: Golf, reading, chess.


Home—Wilsonville, OR. Agent—Agnes Birnbaum, Bleecker Street Associates, 532 LaGuardia Place, No. 617, New York, NY 10012. E-mail—[email protected]


Attorney and author. U.S. Coast Guard, 1946-70, attained rank of chief warrant officer-4 (CWO-4); called to Oregon state bar, 1981; trial lawyer until 2001. Member of Washington County Civil Service Commission; member of Volunteer Lawyers Project.


American Bar Association.

Awards, Honors

U.S. Coast Guard Letter of Appreciation, 1974, for lifesaving work during Hurricane Betsy; U.S. Maritime Literature Award, 2006, for Sailing into the Abyss.


Sailing into the Abyss: A True Story of Extreme Heroism on the High Seas (military history), foreword by Howard V. Thorsen, Citadel Press (New York, NY), 2005.

Contributor to periodicals, including Harper's and USCG Magazine.


William R. Benedetto told SATA: "I always had a hankering to put words to paper, to string along syllables in a rhythmic fashion, and, ultimately, to convey information to others in an interesting fashion. But life intervened.

"I was a latecomer. My first career consisted of surviving childhood—hard work in a crowded family left emotionally and financially adrift by the untimely death of Dad during the Great Depression. The Coast Guard provided a challenging welcome mat for a second career spanning twenty-eight years. Then came the mind blower: college. Thirteen years of part-and full-time studies resulted in a law degree, and a third chapter in life as a lawyer. With my wife, Barbara, as my legal assistant—she had joined me in attending college—we opened a ‘Grandma and Grandpa’ law office in the Portland area.

"Twenty years of considerable excitement and great challenges elapsed before I decided to exorcise that itch to write. The subject: the unique true story of a merchant ship carrying bombs to Vietnam in 1969—the bombs broke out of their containers and eventually roamed free inside the vessel—one I had heard about during my sailing days.

"Digging into government documents and newspaper clippings, tracking down survivors, and doing general research about everything connected with ships and sailing, with emphasis on the SS Badger State and the U.S. Merchant Marine generally, consumed a year or two. Finally, the writing and the countless revisions occupying my time seven days a week on occasion; obtaining an agent; and then her success in obtaining a national publisher, all resulting in the magic moment of national publication.

"And so the journey continues with research about another sea story looming ahead. A final phase to this challenging life? I don't foreclose any options. The sky is truly the limit in this incredible country, and there may yet be new dragons to slay out there!"

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, March 15, 2005, Frieda Murray, review of Sailing into the Abyss: A True Story of Extreme Heroism on the High Seas, p. 1260.

Publishers Weekly, December 20, 2004, review of Sailing into the Abyss, p. 43.

Sea Power, September, 2005, David W. Munns, review of Sailing into the Abyss, p. 57.


William R. Benedetto Home Page, (June 1, 2007).

About this article

Benedetto, William R. 1928-

Updated About content Print Article