MEMROIES OF USS BENNINGTON - John A Savard
A few memories that I have of the time spent with the USS Bennington. It was so long ago, I hope I am accurate.
I joined up in my Senior year of High School in May '42 in Laconia NH and was sworn in July 8 '42 at Boston and went directly to Newport RI Boot Camp for 6 weeks (The summer of '42 the period was shortened to 6 weeks, by fall it went to 10 then 12 weeks.) From there I went to Wentworth Institute in Boston for 16 weeks of Machinist Mate School and then 6 weeks at the York Ice Machinery School in York PA.( I met Mary Ann and we were married in Sept. of '46 and I moved to York and have lived there until today.) After that I was assigned to the Princeton and Com. and went on her shake down then was sent to the Charger, a training carrier in the Chesapeake Bay for about 6 weeks. Back to Philly to Com. and shake down of the San Jacinto.
Next it was to Brooklyn Navy yard in Mar of '44 to be with the Bennington. I stayed with her till I was discharged Jan 1'46. Shortly after Com. we went over to Bayonne NJ and into dry dock. While in the Dock a hurricane came thru and caused considerable concern wreather the Dry Dock should be flooded or take our chances as is. It was not flooded and worked out OK. I was to have had liberty that evening and had planed to go to Philly to give Mary Ann her engagement ring, she was at the U of P Nursing school. The next day was the other watches time off. It wasn't till the third day that I could go to Philly. In Philly the storm hadn't been reported so she was not aware why I hadn't shown up. It worked out quite well.
When we docked at Cristobal Panama, 1/2 the crew had liberty. While on liberty the Hancock, a sister ship docked ahead of the Bennington. When the crew returned those that had been celebrating to much didn't notice that another ship was there and tried to go aboard. It took some explaining to some of the men, no real damage came out of the mistake.
After the typhoon in June '45 we went into Leyte Bay for repairs. While there some large bearings caught up with us. They were to replace some under sized ones that had been used because of short supply of the large ones. This went in to the gear boxes that raised and lowered the radio antennas on the the edge of the flight deck. To work on them a cargo net was strung under the edge of the flight deck and we crawled out and worked over head. A number of wrenches were lost but while reinstalling the bearing a large bearing cap was drooped and went to the bottom of Leyte bay. The machine shop spent the whole night shaping another. We didn't win any medals from this experience.
For a 19 or 20 year old you wouldn't have wanted to miss but one time around was enough.
John A Savard