When you think of those who gave their life for their country during World War II, those who died at the hands of the Axis powers usually come to mind. This is not necessarily the case for those who gave their lives for the war effort on the homefront.
This month’s veteran spotlight focuses on one of those who did- Lorene Bennett Chandler.
Lorene Bennett was born in Bellevue to farmer Harry Bennett and his wife Elizabeth. She had one younger sister, Marilyn. Like so many other men of his generation, Lorene’s father was a World War I veteran. After graduating high school, Lorene attended the University of Nebraska. In June of 1943 Lorene wed Lawrence Chandler at the old Bellevue Presbyterian Church. Lawrence, was an ensign in the Navy and stationed in Washington D.C. About five months after their wedding, Lorene joined her husband.
A few months after arriving in Washington D.C., Lorene had settled into her new life. Her husband was working in the code breaking division of Naval Intelligence. She found work supporting the war effort too at the Bureau of Standard’s lab conducting experiments to create a new type of aviation fuel- a commodity hard to come by. Just two weeks after her work began, on March 5, 1944, a horrible accident occurred in the lab. An explosion hurled her through the second story window of the lab. In addition to the injuries sustained from the fall, she was severely burned. One lab worker broke his leg while three others were also burned. Lorene passed a couple of days later. She was laid to rest at the Bellevue Cemetery in Bellevue, Nebraska.