A WEEK ON BENNINGTON
Officer's Country vs Crew's Country
Re: 1944 - A Week Aboard USS Bennington
"Nelson Futch" [NelsonFutch@comcast.net]
Thu, 12 Jun 2008 12:39:49 -0400
"Lonnie Whittaker" [email@example.com]
All this nostalgia forced me to dig-out my log/diary to review my reportage for the period through shakedown, when these reporters would have been aboard.
As an airdale (AOM) we had been training with the Dive Bomber squadron (SB2Cs) in Wildwood, NJ and then for the summer in Oceana, VA.
We reported on Sept. 17, 1944 -- as plankowners -- to the ship which had moved from Brooklyn Navy Yard to a dock in Bayonne, NJ for loading of supplies.
On 9/24 we were underway for Norfolk, with the air group coming aboard on the 28th operating strictly in Chesapeake Bay.
We left on 10/16 for actual shakedown.
The writer fails to mention that on 10/20, a fighter plane failed to pull out of his dive on a practice sled we towed -- and was the first plane we "lost."
(He probably wasn't permitted to report this bit of "bad news.")
The incident involving the SP2C that went into the drink on take-off occurred on 10/29.
We returned to Norfolk on 11/16 -- and finally left Bayonne for the Panama Canal on 12/15.
Seen from the Admiral's quarters, the Wardroom and Readyrooms, he makes life aboard appear almost glamorous.
25 years later in 1969, I at last experienced that lifestyle -- as a member/guest on a SecNav cruise on the Bon Homme Richard from San Diego to Hawaii -- having dinner with the Captain and lunch with the Admiral aboard.
The ship was returning to Vietnam -- and we got the kind of treatment this group of reporters received on shakedown!
Indeed, it's "different" when you travel in "officer country."
(All of this is in the interest of accuracy in journalism!)