OCTOBER 31, 1965

Subject: A feast I'll never forget!
From: Kurt S. Smith
Date: 2/1/2009 1:46 PM

To All Hands-

When I was just a young sprite, my family took me along for an "Open House" of the U.S.S. Bennington, moored outside of Long Beach, California harbor after her tour of Vietnam.
I think we could all say we were excited to board the landing craft we had only seen in movies for the ride out of the harbor to this HUGE ship, so much like a floating city.
We explored beam to beam, stem to stern, bilge to mast & were just amazed the whole time.
It was also intriguing how, while we were on the fantail, a 200-foot tall wall of fog moving in still seemed dwarfed by this mighty ship.
We watched, entranced, as several tiny sailboats far in the distance, disappeared into the fog.
As we continued our tour of this ship, a voice (he knows who he is) advised all those aboard that the incoming wall of fog made the harbor-crossing in the landing craft too dangerous.
So we were all "invited" (some 700 of us) to a sumptuous feast in the galley at our dear Uncle Sam's expense while we waited out the "lifting of the fog".
It was just like home, in that we each had to wait our turn, & the advice of the moment, like usual, was, "Take all you want, but eat what you take".
We had our choice of steak, chicken, or fish, as the larder had been re-stocked on arrival at port.
It was beyond belief that a floating ship could rise to challenge of some 700 unexpected "guests"! As I've re-told this story many times in my life, the usual response is disbelief.
And that's O.K. with me, as I'm certain this ship and her crew have provided many surprises in history.
Then we repaired to the "rec room" -- two full basketball courts with a half court at each end, so actually, six groups could play "horse" at once.
My elementary school had but one, and it was outdoors!
Well, the world's finest navy had retracted the hoops & set up two movie screens, one at each end of this great room.
It was the first time in my life I'd seen two screens in one room!
I dozed off watching some cartoon, but, sleepy-eyed, re-boarded the landing craft at about 2100 hours for the ride back to dry land & the hour-long ride back to home sweet home.
Thanks to all hands for a memory I don't care to lose!
This is one of the many reasons I have no problems paying my taxes - it is a privilege to have been an unexpected unexpected guest of the U.S.S. Bennington!

Kurt S. Smith


Do you have an idea of what the year was?
Lonnie Whittaker

G'Mornin', Lonnie-

I only recall that it was Oct 31st as my brother's stack of newspapers to be delivered next day had been "egged" as we were not at home to secure them & attend the door as usual-
still put no damper on my memories of the day - and dinner and a movie on Uncle Sam's nickel! -
I was/am hoping someone will be able to provide your answer to me as well!
The bettter placed question might be "What year did the USS Bennington return from Vietnam" or
"How many times did USS Bennington come to Long Beach California after a tour of Vietnam?"



It looks like it could only have been 1965 to have just returned from Vietnam and be available on Oct. 31 for an "Open House".
1968 is the next closest with return to Long Beach Nov. 7.
All other years of return to Long Beach from Vietnam would not have had the ship available for an "Open House" on Oct. 31.
Lonnie Whittaker

Ahoy Lonnie!

-Had to be '65 as the Oct 31st memory is quite clear-
and the later date shows arrival after 10/31...
I very much appreciate your responses as my "original thank you card"
must have been eaten by harbor seals! ;)



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