More on Sydney

29 April 1967
Bennington bound for
Sydney Australia

Bennington bound for Sydney Australia

From Bill Copeland

When you ask a sailor, or marine, where he's been, he will say many exotic ports, Hong Kong, Honolulu, Japan, Thailand, Singapore, Long Beach, California and a few more. But when you ask him where he always wanted to go, the answer is always the same.


During my first Western Pacific cruise in 1964 I always heard, we are going to Australia, and we didn't.

My next West Pac, in 1965, I always heard we are going to Australia, and we didn't.

In July 1966, I was getting out, and I was told, extend for the cruise, this time we really are going to Australia .

Yeah, right.

So I didn't ( extend ) and yes, the Bennington did go to Australia.

Actually Bennington went to Australia twice, in 1957 and again in 1967.
Each time the story was always the same ........................

Paradise !
women, women and more women !
Parents would drive up to the ship and pick up sailors ( and marines ) to introduce them to their daughters.

Every time I go to a reunion Tom Ganse always says
" Remember Australia ?
Ohhh! Thats right, you didn't go. "

Now, Commander Rowley is doing it ......
" Bill remember Australia,
Ohhhh! You didn't go. "

The nice guy that he is, he keeps on telling me stories, so I will know what I missed.


Send in your stories, too, whether from 1957 or 1967 and they will be posted on the web site.

Lonnie Whittaker
ETR-3 OE Div.
Oct. 1964 - Dec. 1966


Tales from the wardroom, with Commander Rowley ( )
From Bill Copeland

Early during our 1966-67 WestPac cruise a rumor started circulating that we were scheduled to visit Sydney Australia. Actually, Sydney wasn't on our schedule at all. Who knows where the rumor started for sure, but I have a notion it might have been launched as a result of a discussion at the daily Department Head Meeting which took place each afternoon in the XO's cabin before dinner. I distinctly remember the subject coming up and there being enthusiastic agreement that a port visit to Sydney surely would be a great way to end the cruise. Someone even suggested that we start a rumor that it was going to happen, because that was often a good way to make something happen.

So we did. At least some of us did.

Who knows where it started or how it actually happened, but sure enough the rumor soon swept through the ship, and undoubtedly it reached the ears of RADM Pete Aurand, our task group commander. Hell, he was an original thinker and might have even had it in mind all along and already been working on it.

Anyway, sure enough, part way through the cruise an official change in our schedule was announced which added a week long visit to Sydney during "Coral Sea Week" in May of 1967.

Few of us will ever forget it.

First a word about "Coral Sea Week". Early in WWII Winston Churchill had pretty well stripped Australia of it's armed forces, ordering them up to the Mediterranean to fight against Rommel's drive to seize the Suez Canal. Australia was left virtually defenseless against the Japanese who were moving southward at an amazing pace. Within less than 18 months after Pearl Harbor they had overrun Thailand, Burma, the Mayala penninsula and Singapore, the Philippines, the Dutch East Indies, Borneo, the Solomon Islands, and most of New Guinea, the last island before Australia.

Early in May of 1942, Japan was mobilized and poised to capture Port Moresby on New Guinea's southern coast, the last stop before Australia. Two U.S. Carriers which had escaped destruction at Pearl Harbor intercepted the Japanese invasion fleet under the command of Admiral Yamamoto and stopped them cold in the Battle of the Coral Sea, May 7-8, 1942. This battle cost us the USS LEXINGTON, but the U.S. Navy stopped the Japanese advance towards Australia, and less than 30 days later, on June 4-5th we turned the tide of the war by knocking out the Imperial Navy in the Battle of Midway

Grateful Australians had never forgotten that it was the U.S. Navy which saved their hide at the Battle of the Coral Sea.

Now the USS BENNINGTON was going to Sydney to represent the U.S. Navy at their 25th anniversary commemoration of this historical event.

Be interesting to hear some recollections of others about our Battle of the Coral Sea 25th Anniversary visit to Sydney.

Bill Copeland


April 1967
Bennington in Sydney, Australia Harbor

Bennington in Sydney, Australia Harbor


Tales from the wardroom, continued :
From Bill Copeland

In May of 1967, USS BENNINGTON was sent to Sydney Australia to represent the U.S. Navy at the 25th Anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea, the event which stopped the Japanese just short of Australia.
What a welcome we got!

It was probably our 2nd or 3rd day in port, and Commander E. R. "Red" Holland, the Chief Engineer, and I were standing on the Quarterdeck just about the time liberty was declared. Red was a quiet softspoken guy, a "Mustang" who had worked his way up from the enlisted ranks.

Crew members who had left the ship via the after brow were walking forward past the quarterdeck on their way into town, and a surprising number already had a pretty Australian lass at their side. Among them was a black sailor strolling happily along with not one but TWO beautiful caucasian gals, one on each arm. Naturally, our eyes were drawn to this trio.

Red observed this rather unusual scene, shook his head, and through clenched teeth growled, "No goddam American sailor deserves to be treated like that!"

Lance Corporal J.M. "Mike" Parr of the Marine Detachment was a squared-away impressive-looking "Gung Ho" Marine, which was probably why he was assigned as the Captain's Orderly during much of the 66-67 WestPac cruise. Mike was also a devout Mormon who neither drank nor smoked nor swore.......which did set him somewhat apart. He was also engaged to be married in the Mormon Temple when the cruise was over, which required that both he and his bride must be morally clean and chaste.

To their credit, some married Marines actually preferred to go ashore with Mike as they knew that he would protect them from temptation and deliver them from evil.
So Mike often found himself as a moral "designated driver".

Our last weekend in Sydney, Mike and a fellow Marine were walking in downtown Sydney when a passing sedan stopped and it's occupants asked if they could show the troopers the town. Such a welcome invitation was not unusual, and they hopped in. Their hosts were a husband and wife with two lovely teenage daughters. They took the two Marines on a great tour of the Sydney area and, upon learning that Mike and his buddy had a "48 hour pass" and were free until Monday, they invited them to stay as their guests for the weekend.

Mike and his friend were happy to oblige and when they got to their hosts' spacious home on the outskirts of Sydney at the end of a great day they were each provided with a comfortable guest room for the night.

It was well past midnite when Mike was awakened to find one of the teenage daughters crawling into his bed. Terrified, he whispered, "What are you doing? Get out of here! Your parents will kill me!"

"Oh, no", came the whispered reply as she snuggled closer. "Mums and Pop would luv to have me married to a handsome Yank Marine."

Mike immediately slid out of the far side of the bed, grabbed his uniform and gear, fled the house in his skivvies, dressed on the lawn and hiked for 4 hours towards the lights of the city and found his way back to the ship.

I heard this story from this ashen-faced still-in-shock Jar Head minutes after his return. I have absolutely no doubt it is true. Mike was married in a Mormon Temple a couple months after the cruise was over.

Some guys really got tested in the Viet Nam war!


From Stu Hirschfield,( )
CVS 20

Stu is the guy who reported aboard and took Bill Copeland's place on the flight deck, so he could go home after being extended 15 months.

Bill and Lonnie...
Here's my Australia story (you know the port you missed as I JUST came aboard!)...
The first day in port there were 5000 women at dockside....
Girls as far as the eye could see,and,I had the duty!...
Couldn't do anything but watch as guys left with girls they never met arm in arm....

The next day I went to town and as soon as I was there a beautiful gal walks right up and says "Yank... want to come and spend the night at my house!"

I SWEAR...well to shorten the stoy she lived in a suburb called Dundas about an hour train ride away and when we got there....
and she didn’t tell me....her mother, father, younger brother and two little sisters and her grandfather...were all waiting!....
They sent her to bring home a yank!...after dinner her mother asked for my home phone and address and I thought that was strange ...
but an hour later she hands me the phone and my MOTHER was on it...
she had called her and said I was there and would I like to speak to her!..

For the rest of the week I was treated like family and we had stayed in touch until they had passed away about 5 yrs ago... 1985 they made an around the world trip and of course I treated them like royalty for the time they were in Los Angeles where I lived at the time...
When I asked why they treated me so special....
They informed me of the brave sailors who protected their homefront and every Battle of Coral Sea Week.....
They made a yank their son.....
and I always called them my Aussie family.....

Their name was Bert and Nola Trendle...
Bless them for making a young man feel so special for the first time in his life...

Stu Hirschfield


From Tom Ganse ( )

As we arrived I was on sea and anchor detail in a gun director.
We were to help guide the ship into port.
It was a long way in and I was lucky because we had binoculars and high power optics.
Well many small boats came out to meet us.
Good looking round eye women all over the place.

What a treat and we were not up to the pier.
Sydney set up a group of phone lines and people would call in.
The people would invite guys out to dinner with their daughters.

I met Tiffany the second day and we went everywhere together. She paid for me to get a guy to take my duty.
On my way to her house I stopped in a bar. It was 15-20 minutes till the bus came by. I met a cop a former RAF pilot and a car salesman and my money was not good. After a few hours these guys put me on the bus and told the driver where I was going. The driver stopped in front of the house went to the house and got Tiffany.

We paid for nothing at all for eight days.

When we left women climbed over a 20 ft. fence to get on the pier. After some were hurt the gate was opened.
The entire pier was full of women, guys would roll a white hat and the women would fight over them on the pier.
I loved it and remember it well today as I did then.

Tom Ganse


From “DC” Dwayne Carroll ( )

Bill and Lonnie,
I see we have some conflicting reports about australia so I will set the story straight as no doubt I am probably the only truthful sailor that ever sailed on the bennington.

I was the ships barber and the barbers were known for their truthfulness and stopping all rumors before they could get started. As I remember we arrived in sydney early on a sunday morning, no one was there to meet us as we pulled in a wee bit earlier than was expected. As I recall there were very few people on the pier other than the dock workers who tied us up. We left the ship walked toward kings crossing were we saw one lonely cab driver about 9 a.m. We hopped into the cab and he told us that it was reported in the local paper that we were to pull in on monday morning that was why we had no reception. He took us to an R.S.L. CLUB (Returning service men league) like our V.F.W. but much nicer. There we had a couple of drinks played some pool then began our adventure in sydney.

It is true it did seem that there where many young lady's looking for an opportunity to be seen with a sailor. The young lady that I hooked up with told me that there really are not 3 women to every man, it only appears that way because the women their were intrigued with americans because we had had different priorities than aussies. She told me that an australian man's priorities were horse racing first, rugby second, drinking third and then some where down the line women came into play. She then told me that the reason they liked american men so well was that our first priorities where the right ones WOMEN FIRST.

I could go on for hours talking about australia but do not want to bore every one. Now when we left sydney there where a lot of women on the pier. I would be hard pressed to say thousands but if any one disputes this I do have super 8 movies of the ladies waving good by to us as we left port. If memory serves me right we left 3 bennington sailors in australia.

I will dig out the old movies and if things go right I will bring them to the reunion in san diego.

Dwayne Carroll


Hey Bill and Lonnie,
I remember the Australia stop very vividly.
It was one of the best places we visited on the '67 West Pac Tour.
On the first day out, we met some girls who invited us to go to a Melodrama that weekend. They said bring anyone you want to, because the manager of the Melodrama said any US Navy Sailors would get in free.
Well, I managed to round up about 7 enlisted fellows, and a couple of officers. As you can see by the picture, we had a marvelous time.

I'm in the upper left hand corner, with the cute Australian chic. Her name was Barb.
One of the actors, who is on the left in the picture with the bartender outfit and handlebar mustache, invited me and my buddies to spend the weekend at his house. He happened to live on the bay, had a boat, and we spent the weekend swimming, water-skiing, and having a grand time. His name was Jacko, and we corresponded for several years after that. I saw him later in a couple of movies, playing bit parts.
Anyway, do you recognize anyone in the picture?
If any of you guys remember this Kodak moment, I would love to hear from you. I do remember two of my buddies here were Arthur Malone, and Roger Koch.
I believe they were Dental Assistants.

Thanks for the memories,

Jerry Hampton, YN3
USS Bennington, CVS-20 (1966-68)



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