Prepare for SHOW OF FORCE
Hi Joe -
I was on board Bennington during that emergency get under way fiasco on New Year's Eve 1961.
I had the duty that day and when we got orders to get the ship out of port asap, there was a notice put out immediately to all personnel ashore.
The ship was in Subic Bay in the Phillipines at the time and due to being New Year's Eve, the skipper had authorized a skeleton crew to be on baord and on duty, etc.
Needless to say it was a major fiasco to get as many crewmembers back to the ship before we pulled away from the dock.
It is my understanding that we actually got under way using only one boiler room that night.
I stood near the afterbrow and watched as sailor after sailor came staggering up the gangway to get aboad.
Some were being literally "dragged" by SPs or by their shipmates as many had been at the Sky Club and in the bars in town celebrating the new year.
We spent the next few days highlining men from several other ships in our task force back to their respective ships, and our own crewmembers who didn't make it back to the Bennington before she steamed out.
They had climbed aboard any ship they could get on just so as not to be counted as awol, etc.
We were at GQ for several days and even tho we had our 5/38s locked and loaded, we were under strick orders not to fire unless fired upon, which we fortunately were not.
I can tell you one thing for certain, every man in G Division, as well as every man on board, was ready and willing to go into battle had we been so ordered.
I was proud be a Bennington crewmember during that time and will never forget those few days that started out 1962.
There are several crewmembers listed on the crews list on our website, from all different divisions, that were on board during this time.
Each one I'm sure, can tell his own story about this New Year's Eve that I personally will never forget.
One other thing that may have been part of this same operation was the contingent of "unmarked" US Marines that came aboard Bennington during this time, and who were flown off the ship to undertake a highly secret operation that we were told didn't exist.
All we knew was that they were going somewhere the US was not supposed to be and that many of them may not come back.
Needless to say the rumormill aboard Bennington was at an all time high over that event.
I hope this is of assistance to Dave Dwiggens and anyone else gathering information about Bennington's participation in this operation.
Terry Oquinn GM2
G Division - 1959 -1963