Departing USS Bennington for the LAST time
George Mattimoe

Aloha nui loa---

Sorry Lonnie, one of my fondest and sadest memories took place on your cut-off date November 7, 1946. After securing The “Great Ship,” I submitted the inventory list of the remaining classified APS-4 and IFF units to the division officer, a real neat guy, shouldered my white sea bag and headed for the hangar deck, where all those with the necessary number of points were mustering to load into a waiting bus that would take us to Camp Shoemaker for separation.

I was a bit surprised to see our unit commander ( a Lt. jg.) and a real jerk, ordering our whole unit, those being discharged and those staying on, to fall in at attention, apart from the other soon to be discharged personnel. Being the tallest at 6’5” I was number one. So everyone lined-up on me. The Lt. jg, proceeded to deliver a dissertation on how much he appreciated our efforts to, (1) “assist him in accomplishing the designated mission of our unit, and (2) the subsequent recognition that removed him from an ensign to the officer rank of Lieutenant junior grade.”

He looked at me and said something to the effect that, how come you have your gear? You’re not getting out--because I’ve filed papers declaring you a “military necessity”. You will be with us for at least another 90 days. And, that is extendable depending upon the needs of the Navy.”

I remember well, his perplexed look resulting from my smiling, while quietly thanking my friend and shipmate, the Chief Yeoman in the Air Office, who knew everything about everybody, good or bad, and who personally typed and hand delivered a note to Commander Colestock (SP?) Air Officer, who rejected the request for military retention, but didn’t bother to advise the Lt.Jg.

The Lt. jg. said he wanted to shake the hand of every man that served under him and stuck out his paw, to me. To this day I do not regret my reaction. I put the envelope containing my orders in his hand. He reacted like someone had caught him in an earth shaking lie. Mistake! Mistake! was all he said. I retrieved my orders, saluted the uniform, for which I still have undying respect, did not shake his hand, did an about face and walked over and handed the orders to the JOOD, who handed them to the JOD, who for the first time in four years addressed me, “Mister, we are sorry to lose you,” I turned saluted the Ensign flying from her stern, and for the first time requested permission to leave ( not just go ashore) the U.S.S. BENNINGTON CV-20. Permission granted, I don’t recall whether my tears were an expression of compassion or happiness, either way I had a lot of company on the bus.

Me ke aloha pumehana

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