Last updated January 17, 2017

USS Benham Association Reunion News

The 24th annual reunion of the USS Benham Association was held at the Park Point Marina Inn in Duluth, MN. The response was good with 14 Benham Salts attending and a total of 28 including family members. Everyone enjoyed a bus tour of Duluth on Monday morning. On Tuesday we all got our sea legs reconditioned on a Great Lakes tug and ice breaker which provided a Harbor Tour. Wednesday a Tour of the North Shore, Silver Bay Iron Ore mining, Split Rock Lighthouse, Gooseberry Falls, and Grandma's Pies was on the agenda. Thursday we were again on the harbor aboard another boat for a rather enjoyable dinner cruise. What was interesting to see were the very large Great Lakes freighter boats carefully working their way through the canal and lifted bridge that separated our hotel from the mainland of Duluth. As one might expect several of us could be found sitting in our cars waiting for one of these Freighters to pass through the canal.

The 23rd annual reunion of the USS Benham Association was held at the DoubleTree by Hilton Norfolk Airport in Norfolk, VA, September 8-13, 2015. The response was good with 16 Benham Salts attending and a total of 38 including all family members. On Wednesday, Sep 9, a tour of Norfolk City, Chrysler Museum of Art, Glass Blowing Exhibition, MacArthur Center for lunch on your own, MacArthur Memorial and Doumarís Drive Inn (with free ice cream!). On Thursday a bus tour to Williamsburg, VA and then on Friday a tour of the Nauticus Naval Museum, Spirit of Norfolk Harbor Cruise with Buffet Lunch and then a tour of the Battleship Wisconsin. Upon our return to the Doubletree Hotel we were greeted by the full staff of the hotel waving flags and "Welcoming us Home" singing the Star Spangled Banner and God Bless America (No dry eyes after that one!). On Saturday the annual business meeting was held, followed by a social hour and Set Sail Dinner. Two Speakers were on board, one now a bona fide member of the Benham Salts. John Hebbe spoke about his flight off the USS Saratoga with immediate crashing into the Mediterranean Sea and scary rescue by the USS Benham crew. He drank coffee on the ship and was on board for several hours until the hostage amount of ice cream was delivered. Allen Efraimson was the official speaker to address our reunion.

The 22nd annual reunion of the USS Benham Association was held at the Grand Plaza Hotel in Branson, MO October 7 thru 12, 2014. We had 45 attending our Set Sail Banquet and enjoying the years and passing events. The Tuesday afternoon "Welcome Buffet" was enjoyed by all. Wednesday the Salts & Wives enjoyed a tour of the Titanic Museum. Thursday all shipmates and wives reported on aboard a Mississippi River Boat for a cruise, show and dinner. The entertainment continued on Friday morning as we attended the Brett Family Celebrate show and followed that up with lunch and a tour of the Veterans Museum. On Saturday the annual business meeting was held, followed by a social hour and Set Sail Dinner. As done in the past entertainment was provided by some fine local talent.

Back Row: Bob Schultz, Bob Cornthwaite, Dave Hanner, John Bowerman, Ed Pelton, Jim (Doc) Dougherty, Max Adkinson, Dave Rippl, Clyde Yarnell

Front Row: Bob Studzinski, Buster Craven, Dan Williamson, Jon Surprise, Skip Mandernach, Ike Eisenhauer, Erv Matulka, Marty Cosgrove

Back Row: Theresa Shultz, Marjorie Schumacher, Mary Hanner, Gail Bowerman, Jean Pelton, "B" Dougherty, Bidil Adkison, Fran Rippl, Bertie Yarnell

Front Row: Wreatha Studzinski, Rose Craven, Diane Williamson, Maxine Surprise, Adria Mandernach, Susan Eisenhauer, Joann Matulka, Mary Cosgrove, Jackie Pribila

The 21st annual reunion of the USS Benhm Association was held at the all-suite Diamond-Head Beach on Fort Myers Beach, Florida Sep 24-28, 2013. We had 53 attendees, and by all accounts, all had a good time. We had a "Welcome Buffet" Tuesday evening in the hospitality suite to kick things off. Wednesday morning we boarded a refurbished San Francisco cable car for a local orientation tour, stopping at the "Mound House" which is built atop a Calusa Indian mound and is the oldest structure on the island. The tour continued to adjacent San Carlos Island where the shrimo fleet ties up and the Key West high-speed ferry departs.

Thursday was a tour of the Edison-Ford Winter Estates. Edison built a home and laboratory in the late 1800's, long before it was fashionable to "winter" in Florida. His friend, Henry Ford, later purchased an adjacent cottage which has been added to the estate. Our private tour guide, the spouse of Jon Surprise, works part time at the Estates and gave a very interesting dialog.

Friday we toured Sanibel Island, home and vacation spot for many rich and famous, the Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge welcome center, where we were briefed by a Ranger and spent time studying exhibits of wildlife, the local habitat and history of the Wildlife Protection program. We also visited the Center for Rehabilition of Wildlife (CROW) where all manner of wildlife are rescued, rehabilitated and returned to the wild. (and they never get a bill!)

The "Set Sail" banquet was a great sucess. The food and service provided was excellant along with the after-diner entertainment by the "Calendar Girls" dance troupe who performed to raise money for "Paws for Patriots", an organization that trains and provides service dogs to disabled veterans. Yes, they brought along two dogs to show us. Our banquet ended with an auction and the bulk of the money raised was turned over to the Calendar Girls for the Paws for Patriots organization.

Attending our "Set Sail" banquet was Walter Randell, a WWII Vet and Benham Plank Owner. Sadly, he was unable to stay long enough to be included in our group photo.

Row 3 L-R Harold Mackay, John Bowerman, Fernando Byrne, Hank Schwietering, Bob Strange, Bob Cornthwaite, Dave Rippl, Ed Pelton

Row 2 L-R Bob Schultz, Irving Corkett, Robert Studzinski, Clude Yarnell, Daniel Williamson, Irv Matulka, Buster Craven

Front Row L-R Doug Heim, Martin Katz, Martin Cosgrove, Dick Spangler, Skip Mandernach, Rocco Surace, Bob Eisenhauer, Jim Morris, Donald Boissel, Jon Sprise

Standing L-R Sandy Katz, Fran Rippl, Margaret Spangler, Carmen Byrne, Loreta Strange, Rose Anne Craven, Adria Ann Mandernach, Diane Williamson, Donna Cataldo, Jackie Pribila

Seated L-R Terry Schhultz, Kitty Heim, Mary Cosgrove, Wreatha Studzinski, Susan Eisenhauer, Betty Yarnell, Jean Pelton, Virginia Mackey, Joann Matulka, Maxine Surprise

The 20th annual reunion of the USS Benham Association was held Oct 23-27, 2012 in New Orleans, LA. What didn't we do in New Orleans? We had a fabulous tour of the city, seeing their Churches, above ground everlasting resting places. We toured areas of the city damaged and being rebuilt from hurricanes, We saw the beautiful historic district mansions, the French Quarter and Mardi Gras floats! We took a boat tour into the swamps and saw alligators swimming all around while the Tour Guide would throw them marshmallow bait to eat! The Tour Guide even passed a baby alligator around for everyone to hold and gingerly pass to the next person. (I noticed not many held him/her too long.) We visited the World War II Museum, viewing pictures and historical writings where some of our shipmates fought. Brought our younger shipmates up on History that many lived through but were too young to be directly involved. We renewed friendships, enjoying the New Orleans food, and card sharks in the Hospitality Suite were an everyday occurrence. Many thanks to Bob & Susan Eisenhauer for the excellent job of organizing this reunion.

Standing L-R John Bowerman, Fernando Byrne, Don Boisel, David Rippl, Marty Cosgrove, Dave Hanner, Murray Wilensky, Max Adkison, Clyde Yarnell, Bob Schultz, James (Doc) Dougherty, Irv Corkett, Irv Matulka, Ed Pelton

Sitting L-R Jon Surprise, Harold (Skip) Mandernach, Bob Eisenhauer, Robert Cornwhwaite, Buster Craven

Standing L-R Maxine Surprise, Carmen Byrne, Joann Matulka, Gail Bowerman, Mary Ann Hanner, Jean Pelton, Fran Rippl, Joanna Uden, Jackie Pribila, Bodil (BO) Adkison, Adrian Mandernach, Theresa Schultz, Susan Eisenhauer, Debbie Boisel Rigjero, "B" Dougherty, Lorette Wilensky, Rose Ann Craven

Sitting L-R Patti Pribila-Kercell, Mary Cosgrov, Bertie Yarnell, Peggy Corkett

The 19th annual reunion of the USS Benham Association was held in Pheonix, AZ, November 1st thru November 5th 2011. The gathering was at the Marriott Mesa, 200 N Centennil Way, Mesa, Arizona, 85201. The Hospitality Suite provided a great place for everyone to socialize! A bus tour of the Zelma Basha Salmeri Gallery provided a truly interesting view of western art and collectables. Then on to the Queen Creek Olive Mill where we learned all about Virgin Olive oil and enjoyed lunch. On Friday a second bus tour to the historic Apache Trail and Superstition Mountains. The lunch that day was at the Tortilla Flat restuarant and was followed by a cruise on a beautiful desert lake. We had a great view of wild mountain goats searching for food along the hills of the lake! Saturday evening the Set Sail Dinner was held and socializing was enjoyed by all.

Standing L-R: 1-James "Doc" Doughery, 2-Donald Gaudette, 3-Bob Schultz, 4-Max Adkison, 5-Erv Matulka, 6-David Rippl, 7-Buster Craven, 8-Ed Pelton, 9-Ted Chaney, 10-Cecil Crabb, 11-Donald Boissel, 12-Robert Cornthwaite

Front Row L-R: 1-John Bowerman, 2-Jon Surprise, 3-Daniel Williamson, 4-Jimmie Schumacher, 5-Richard Spangler, 6-Robert Eisenhauer, 7-Martin Cosgroveont

Standing L-R: 1-"B" Dougherty, 2-Frances Rippl, 3-Barbara Gaudette, 4-Susan Eisenhauer, 5-Jackie Pribila, 6-Jean Pelton, 7-Marjorie Schumacher, 8-Bodil Adkinson, 9-Rachel Crabb, 10-Beth Boissel, 11-Diane Williamson

Front L-R: 1-Terry Schultz, 2-Joann Matulka, 3-Maxine Surprise, 4-Mary Cosgrove, 5-Gail Bowerman, 6-Margaret Spangler, 7-Rose Ann Craven

The 18th annual reunion of the USS Benham Association was held in Deerfield, IL during the week of September 14th thru 18th, 2010. A "Well Done" is due Wreatha & Bob Studinski for hosting the Benham reunion in the Chicago area. Thirty shipmates were signed up for a total of 69 attendees, but Max Atkison and Gene Byland had to cancel because of family health problems. But we had two WW2 veterans joined us. Dave recalled being aboard in Tokyo Bay during the Japanese surrender. He showed pictures from the USS Missouri during that event. Chuck Meredith, a vigorous 90 year old, was a plank owner at the USS Benham launching in 1943 and served during the Iwo, Tinian and Guam actions, leaving in 1945.

On Wednesday we had a bus tour to Chicago with Bob, a retired school teacher as our guide. We got a sample of the Chicago traffic and got off the expressway on the north side going by Wrigley Field, the home of those "lovable losers", the Chicago Cubs. Downtown we stopped for a walking tour of Millennium Park - the Water Wall and the Cloud Gate (da Bean). Lunch was on Chicago´s greatest tourist attraction - Navy Pier. After lunch we had an Architectural and History cruise down the Chicago River viewing the great Chicago skyscrapers. We finished with a trip down Michigan Avenue, the Magnificent Mile.

Thursday was our free day. Some visited the nearby Chicago Botanical Gardens, others Northbrook an upscale mall. Jackie Pribila and her family took a train downtown and hiked all over downtown from Michigan Avenue to the Willis Tower. Some of her family braved the scary Willis Tower ledge, a transparent box projecting from the tower about 100 stories above the street.

On Friday we witnessed the graduation of 716 recruits from the Great Lakes Naval Recruit Training Command. After lunch in the former Officer´s Club, the Port of Call, we were invited to a Prisoner of War and Missing in Action Observance, a very touching ceremony. The Emcee recalled the history of the USS Benham. Kevin Hermening, the youngest of the Americans held for 444 days at the US Embassy in Iran from 1979 to 1981 gave a talk. Afterwards we were warmly greeted by the base force from enlisted men through the base Commander. Doug Heim and Chuck Meredith were given the Commanding Officer´s commemorative coin.

Saturday we held our annual meeting at the Embassy Suites. Jim Buclous resigned the presidency due to health problems. Erv Matulka resigned the Vice Presidency and was elected President. Ed Pelton agreed to assume the Vice Presidency for one year. Jon Surprise was re-elected Treasurer. Bob Eisenhower told of the preparations for the Nov 1-5 2011 reunion in Phoenix Arizona. San Francisco was tentatively selected for 2012 depending upon costs. Mary Hanrahan is trying to obtain a location at a reasonable price. If any of you shipmates feel your town would be a good location for a reunion please contact Erv Matulka at or 2725 Co. Road D, Valparaiso NE 68085, phone: 402 784 2171.

Before the farewell dinner at the Embassy Suites, we were entertained by a 16 piece band from Great Lakes Naval Training Station. Bob Studinski lead an auction like a professional. All in all, it was a great reunion. Reported by Marty Cosgrove

The 17th annual reunion of the USS Benham Association was held at the Town & Country Convention Center in Charleston, South Carolina on November 3rd through 7th, 2009. All former shipmates of the USS Benham were welcomed to join the USS Benham Association and enjoy the comradship of all their shipmates for several days of good fellowship! (Spouses were welcomed as well!)

Photos courtesy Fernado Byrne, Engineering Officer, BAP Villar (More coming as we're rebuilding our WEB page, be patient.)

The 16th annual reunion of the USS Benham Association was held in Buffalo, NY September 9-13, 2008. On the 9th we held registration and enjoyed an evening of friendship and bull sessions. On Wednesday we toured the city and Naval Park, then had lunch on board the cruiser USS Little Rock. Thursday a bus took us to the Power Vista, Niagra Falls and finally the Seneca Indian Casino. Saturday we held our Annual Meeting and Farewell Dinner. Dave and Mary Ann Hanner deserve a special "Thanks" for hosting a wonderful reunion.

Photo courtesy Bob Eisenhauer

The 15th annual reunion of the USS Benham Association was held in Portland, Oregon on September 27-29, 2007 at the Red Lion Hotel Portland-Convention Center. This year's attendance included 16 Shipmates and 21 guests for a total attendance of 37. On September 27th we took a bus tour of Mt. Hood, which reaches a height of 9000 ft. Thursday evening we enjoyed a Greek Dinner and a belly dancer for entertainment. On Friday we enoyed another bus tour along the coast of the Pacific Ocean and also visited a cheese factory. Saturday morning we enjoyed a bus tour of the "City of Roses", Portland, Oregon. The Annual meeting of the Benham Salts commenced at 2:00pm on Saturday. It was decided to extend reunions one day and thus start the Buffalo reunion on Tuesday. Captain Tim Myers, retired, spoke of the plans for the City of Portland. He was born in Pennsylvania and now makes Portland his home. Our thanks to Bob "Ike" Eisenhauer and his wife Susan for being wonderful Host and Hostess. Thanks also to Tommy and Pat Townsend for helping. Thanks to Erv and JoAnn Matulka and his committee, Jackie Pribila, who is the editor of our newsletter, and her son Paul who did much of the heavy work around the Hospitality room. Thanks also to Doc & "B" Dougherty, Dave & Fran Rippl and Gen Buclous.

Photo courtesy Bob Eisenhauer

The 14th annual reunion of the USS Benham Association was held in Omaha, Nebraska September 20 thru 23, 2006.

For the Tuesday early arrivals, all were invited by Ervin and Joann Matulka to their home for drinks and Omaha Steak dinner.

Wednesday, September 19, was registration and in the evening a Welcome to Omaha reception took place. An Omaha prime rib dinner was enjoyed by all. Later in the evening a "Sh-- on your Neighbor" card game was enjoyed by a group of people.

Thursday, September 21, the bus loaded about 9:00am for a trip to the SAC Museum. Thursday evening the bus loaded and headed for the Chuck Wagon Steak dinner on the Ranch. After the bus unloaded the rains came. We were served another steak dinner (What would you expect in Omaha!). After dinner we were entertained with Western Music by Jim & Jeanne Martin, six time National Yodeling Champions.

Friday, September 22, a group enjoyed the Henry Doorley Zoo. The remainder of the day was free for folks to tour and enjoy Omaha.

Saturday, September 23, Ollie the Trolley took the group on a tour of Boys Town. Upon returning to the hotel, our 14th Annual Business meeting took place in the Council Bluffs Room. Our guest speaker, Shane Osborne, spoke at the meeting because he had another commitment later that day. Shane also served in the Navy. Upon resumption of the meeting there was a discussion of the 2008 reunion to be held in Buffalo NY and hosted by Dave Hanner with Jim Buclous helping him. Everyone was reminded that next years reunion will be held in Portland Oregon. Jim Buclous was re-elected as President and Jon Surprise was re-elected as Treasurer. The Set Sail Banquet was held in the Blue Room of the hotel. We had continuous entertainment for an hour by Julie Anderson accompanied by Brian Bottsford on keyboard. After dinner there was a raffle of an array of wood work items made and donated by Bob Strange and other items the committee provided. The THROW that was donated back to the Association last year was raffled off again this year and was won by Jackie Pribila. The annual "Sh-- on your Neighbor" card game tournament took place shortly after the dinner was done. We had about 30 to 35 people that participated. The tournament was won by Ed Pelton and Doc Dougherty presented him with this year's trophy.

A total of 61 people attended this reunion, 26 members and 35 guests. Erv and Joann put a lot of time and effort into this reunion. The Embassy Suites staff supported the reunion and provided wonderful hospitality. Our thanks to Ervin and Joann Matulka for a job well done.

The 13th annual reunion of the USS Benham Association was held in Baton Rouge, LA November 9-13, 2005.

Members started to arrive Monday evening the 7th and had dinner at Schuck's restaurant, located near the Sheraton Hotel where the reunion was being held. Tuesday preparations were underway getting the hospitality room shipshape for the opening on Wednesday the 9th. On Wednesday the hospitality room opened and welcomed arriving shipmates. Sandwiches, snacks and favorite drinks were enjoyed along with the renewal of friendships and talk of events and adventures.

Thursday, the 10th, the tour bus was loaded and we were taken to St. Francisville, Port Hudson State Historical Site, and the Audubon State Historical site. The narrator for the tour was Debra White, knowledgeable in local facts. A buffet lunch was provided at D'Johns restaurant.

Thursday evening a number of the shipmates and family members chose to sleep aboard the USS Kidd. The adventure of a life for some of the young "recruits"! Others stayed at the hotel where a presentation about Herbs was attended by some of the Ladies and the not so adventurous shipmates.

Friday morning the entire crew was piped aboard the USS Kidd (DD796 for a day!). A bagpiper was in our midst for a Memorial service along with a firing of the 5 inch gun three times. Don Boisell led us in prayer and there were comments from our reunion coordinator, Bob Studzinski, and President, Jim "Buck" Buclous. Our members were invited to attend a memorial service in the city of Baton Rouge. We were recognized by the Mayor of Baton Rouge, Melvin "Kip" Holden, and invited to attend a luncheon hosted by the city. Shipmates were given "liberty" for the afternoon to tour and shop.

Saturday, the 12th, we left the hotel for the Cajun Pride Swamp Tour. We boarded a boat and taken into the swamp where we observed the Guide feed some alligators. A Cajun lunch was served along with a cake decorated with a picture of the USS Benham.

Later in the day the annual meeting was held and in the evening the Set Sail Dinner took place in the banquet room of the hotel. Our guest speaker was Maury Drummond, Director of the USS Kidd. Following his speech was a comedian presenting hilarious Cajun jokes

The 12th annual reunion of the USS Benham Association was held in Philadelphia, PA on October 7-11, 2004 at the Sheraton Society Hill Hotel.

Tom & Marge Piacentino and Jim & Cher Gaverone, reunion coordinators, served fine Philadelphia style food. Roast Beef, hot roast pork, hoagies and of course Philadelphia pretzels were served on the first day of the gathering! (I wonder if they bought the pretzels at the stop lights on Broad Street.) On Thursday many walked to Penn’s Landing where we boarded the Spirit of Philadelphia and took a cruise up and down the Delaware River, past the old Navy shipyard where the USS Benham visited in the past and also got a good look at the USS New Jersey permanently moored on the Jersey side of the river. After the cruise busses took us for a tour of the city. On Friday we filled a bus and headed to Atlantic City for a buffet lunch and a chance to help the local economy (or Donald Trump!) by gambling. Saturday morning we held a service at the Korean War Memorial honoring our deceased members and those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country. At the business meeting a vote was held to move the 2005 reunion to Baton Rouge, LA due to the high costs in the Chicago area. Erv Matulka was also gracious to accept the challenge of holding the reunion in Omaha, Nebraska in 2006. Dick Giacin motioned to retain the existing President and Treasurer for the next two years. Jin Buclous and Doug Heim accepted the assignment. Sunday was a free day and shipmates and family enjoyed visiting and touring Philadelphia. Sunday evening the Set Sail Dinner enjoyed the Benjamin Franklin as the Guest Speaker. Plans should be getting underway for the reunion in Baton Rouge, LA.

The 11th annual reunion of the USS Benham Association was held  October 22, 23, 24, 25 & 26, 2003 in San Diego, California. 

Registration and welcome was on Wednesday.  Dick Spangler and his wife, Margaret, manned the registration desk in the lobby of the Hilton for most of the afternoon, and later was moved to the Sausalito Room of the hotel where we had our hospitality room.  Shipmates gathered,  talked about old times and renewed friendships. 

On Thursday about half of us went to the San Diego Zoo and the other half toured a light cruiser that was in the harbor at the time.  The bus picked up both groups and we to the Pepper Grove Park and enjoyed a box lunch. Everyone was on their own that evening. On Friday the bus picked us up and we headed south of the border, to Tijuana, Mexico. There the crew enjoyed liberty and was on their own to shop and barter with the various vendors along their main thoroughfare, Revolution Ave. The tour company recommended a nice restaurant where we had lunch. Everyone was on their own Friday evening. Saturday morning we loaded the bus for a tour of the city of San Diego. We toured the world famous Coronado Hotel (very beautiful), Balboa Park, the Gaslamp Quarter, and the Seaport Village, where there are various little shops for souvenirs and restaurants. From the Seaport Village we went to the Bali Hi restaurant, for lunch. After lunch, we went to the Rosecrans National Cemetery on Point Loma where approximately 85,000 are buried. The San Diego bay on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other provide a beautiful and tranquil scene. We had a brief memorial service with some comments from some of the members. When we finished there wasn't a dry eye around. We boarded the bus and headed back to the hotel. At about 3:00 our business meeting commenced. We deleted the articles in our by-laws that were advertised in the Benham Salts regarding the election of officers. Officers who are elected can continue their term as long as they wish, unless someone else wants to run against them. We also added to our executive board, all past presidents. Since there was no election, the President asked for a site for the 2005 reunion, which would be held in the Central part of the country. There were no volunteers. The President had spoken to Bob Studzinski, of Illinois, who couldn't be at the reunion, and he agreed to take on a 2005 reunion in Chicago. Later in the evening we assembled in the banquet room and a photographer took some pictures. We had some cocktails and dinner was served. Lt Bill Benham was our guest speaker. Some door prizes were passed out and that ended our evening. Dick, Margaret Spangler and their son Mike did the bulk of the work for this reunion, and they deserve a lot of credit and thanks. They did an outstanding job.

The 10th annual reunion of the USS Benham Association was held on October 11, 12 & 13, 2002 in Mobile, AL at the Adams Mark Hotel. There were 33 members in the photo at this reunion.

Fred Heferly and Ed Pelton did a fine job of setting up this reunion. Friday was registration and Hospitality Room bull sessions. Saturday we boarded Motor Coaches and toured Dauphin Island Estuarium and a beautiful view of the Gulf of Mexico. Saturday night was a free night for groups to get together. On Sunday we toured Mobile and then progressed to the USS Alabama and Battleship Park. Lunch was served aboard the Battleship. After lunch we toured LST 325 recently returned from Greece by a crew of WWII veterans. Sunday evening was the annual business meeting where our new leader for the Association, Jim "Buck" Buclous, was elected. Don Boisell, who was the Chaplain, gave up the job because of ill health. With the agreement of the Executive Board we appointed Bob Enlow as our new Chaplain. The 2004 reunion will be held in Philadelphia. A committee to undertake that job was set up. The speaker at the diner was Captain Hal Pierce, who was instrumental in bringing the LST 325 back from Crete, Greece. On Monday those who were left in Mobile took a tour of the Bellingrath Gardens in the area of Mobile.

The 9th annual reunion of the USS Benham Association was held on November 9, 10 & 11, 2001 at the Tremont Suites Hotel in Baltimore, MD.  Forty-nine shipmates were in attendance with spouses, family and friends.

Friday evening many of the shipmates gathered at Baltimore's Harbor Place and enjoyed a Social hour and dinner at Philip's Crab House. 

Saturday morning buses were loaded for a trip to Washington, DC where we toured the Korean War Memorial, the Viet Nam Memorial and then stopped at the Navy Memorial Plaza for a Moment of Silence for our departed shipmates and to admire the plaza dedicated to all sailors. We then went into the Navy Memorial and watched their movie, "AT SEA". The movie provided and opportunity for us "Old Salts" to see how the modern navy communicates and performs with computers and modern technology many of the tasks we did by hand. Several hours were left open for everyone to enjoy a leisure lunch and to tour museums of their choice. Saturday evening was "liberty in Baltimore."

Sunday morning the buses were again loaded, this time we shipped out for Annapolis. First stop was at the Lawyers Plaza designed by and with sculptures by Antonio Mendez. Then to the Maryland State House where George Washington resigned his Commission as Commander of the Continental Army. There was a short talk on the history of the Maryland State house and self guided tour. This was followed by a brunch buffet at the "Treaty of Paris" restaurant in Annapolis. Time was allowed for those interested to visit the Naval Academy or to browse the Annapolis harbor and shops.

Upon our return to Baltimore a short business meeting was held. The location for the 2003 reunion was selected from recommendations by the crew. San Diego will be the reunion city for 2003.

The evening was topped off with an enjoyable Set Sail Dinner. Antonio Mendez was the guest speaker and spoke about the sculptures we had seen at The Navy Memorial Plaza, Lawyers Square in Annapolis and other sculptures he has been commissioned to do.

The 8th annual reunion of the USS Benham was held on September 1-3, 2000 in Seattle, WA at the Cavanaugh Hotel. A boat ride excursion to Tillicum Village for a salmon bake and show was enjoyed by all on Friday evening. Saturday morning a choice of tours was offered. A total of 38 Benham men and ladies visited the Everett Naval Station and the USS DAVID R. RAY (DD 971), while others toured Seattle.

The Everett Naval Base was established in April 1994 and is home for the carrier USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN, three destroyers and three frigates. The Base is the most modern base in the U.S. Navy containing private sleeping rooms and recreation areas. Some expressed that if it were this good 50 years ago, they probably would not hesitate to reenlist. The USS DAVID R. RAY was commissioned in 1977 and is powered by 4 gas turbines that can drive the ship at a speed of 32.5 knots. (I remember the speed run from Newport to New York on the Benham when we did better than 32.5 knots!) The USS DAVID R. RAY has a length of 529 feet and a beam of 55 feet. She is manned by 19 officers and 315 enlisted. The missile launching capabilities are 8 Harpoons and 8 Tomahawks. There are two 5-inch 54 cal positioned fore and aft. Onboard are two 20-mm Phalanx milt barrel guns. The fantail has a helicopter landing pad and a room to dock and store the helicopter while underway. Some commented that the size of this ship was more like a light cruiser than a destroyer! She's a ship well equipped for modern navy warfare. To view some interesting photos and historical information about the USS David R Ray go to:

Sunday found all the "Salts" and spouses on Puget Sound taking a boat tour and enjoying a luncheon buffet and show.

Following the business meeting in the late afternoon a social and buffet was enjoyed by all. Rear Admiral Herb Bridge (ret) gave a short talk after the dinner.

The officers elected for the year 2000-2001 are:

Captain Allan Cooke, Pres Emeritus
Dr. Jim Dougherty "Doc", President
Max Adkison, Vice President
Steve Hanrahan, Secretary
Doug Heim, Treasure
Don Boissel, Chaplin
Dick Spangler, Editor (Benham Salts)

The 2002 reunion will be held in Mobile, AL October 11,12 & 13

The 7th annual reunion of the USS Benham DD796 was held at the Saint Anthony Hotel in San Antonio, Texas on Nov 4-6, 1999. The members were greeted at a gala reception buffet in the Peacock Alley Room of the historic hotel on Thursday evening. The buffet included many delicious southwestern style foods. A hospitality room was available in the hotel with coffee in the mornings Forty-two members were in attendance.

Friday morning most of the members enjoyed an organized tour of the Spanish Missions, Cathedral , Buckhorn Museum and Salon and the shops of the Market Square. Friday afternoon, evening and Saturday morning were left unscheduled so that everyone could enjoy the sights of San Antonio, the Alamo and the famous River Walk area.

On Saturday the annual business meeting was held. The officers elected for the coming year are:

Captain Allan Cooke, Pres Emeritus
Dr. Jim Dougherty "Doc", President
Max Adkison, Vice President
Steve Hanrahan, Secretary
Doug Heim, Treasure
Don Boissel, Chaplin
Dick Spangler, Editor (Benham Salts)

Special Thanks were given to John Sharpe who set up the WEB page and managed it until now. John Bowerman,, has agreed to take over the WEB page for the Association.

Baltimore, Maryland was selected by vote as reunion site for the year 2001.

The meeting was adjourned with special thanks to Sid Kuykendall for his three years as President and for his work in organizing the San Antonio reunion.

Saturday evening the crewmembers and wives went by bus to an area Ranch where we were entertained "Texas Style" with a hayride, music and delicious southwestern barbecue. Commander Alf Klaveness spoke about his experiences on the USS Benham during WWII, including a vivid description of the typhoon of 18 December 1944, which the Benham survived while three other tin cans capsized and sunk.


The 6th annual reunion of the USS Benham DD796 was held in Braintree, MA at the Sheraton Tara Hotel, 3-5 Sep 1998. Grayline's seven hour "The Total Experience" tour of Boston was held on Friday. The highlight of the reunion was a tour of the destroyer USS Cassin Young, DD 793 on Saturday morning in nearby Charleston Navy Shipyard. A banquet was held on Saturday evening.

The 5th annual reunion of the USS Benham DD796 was held in Las Vegas, NV. at the Riviera Hotel on 16-18 October 1997. Tours of Las Vegas, Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon and other locations were available. The banquet was held on Saturday evening at the Circus Circus. The Speaker was Captain Ralph E. Wilson, jr who was Executive Officer of the Benham during the 1957 -1959 time frame.

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The 4th annual reunion of the USS Benham DD796 was held in St Louis, MO at the Regal Riverfront Hotel on 17-19 October 1996. Thursday evening diner was at THE ADMIRAL, a dockside river boat. A five hour Grand Tour of St. Louis on Friday familiarized all with St. Louis. Our membership goal of 100 by reunion time was exceeded by five. The Speaker was a Master Chief currently in the Navy accompanied with a Navy Honor Guard.

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The 3rd annual reunion of the USS Benham DD796 was held in Savannah, Georgia at the Marriott Riverfront Hotel on 19-21 October 1995. Thirty-six Benham shipmates and their wives or friends attended. There were plenty of "Bull Sessions" and two main highlights: lunch at Mrs. Wilkes' Boarding House and the Saturday evening banquet. The banquet agenda included greetings from Capt. Cook read by Ed Bennett, a group sing along led by Margaret Spangler at the piano, and an address by Commander Stephan Nimitz (grand nephew of Admiral Nimitz). He commands the USS Moosbrugger (DD 980) that is partly crewed by women. The creation of a chaplain position in our By-laws was approved and Don Boissel graciously agreed to be the Association Chaplain.


The 2nd annual reunion of the USS Benham DD796 was held in the fall of 1994 at the Concord Inn in the Catskill Mountains of New York. The high point was the presence of Captain Albert Cook and his wife, Velda. The Association By-laws are complete and will be effective on March 1, 1995.

The first officers of the Association were elected.
President - Dick Spangler
Vice President - Jack Lawson
Secretary - Ed Bennett
Treeasurer - Paul Girard

The 1st reunion of the USS Benham DD796 was held in Providence, RI. in the fall of 1993. Through Ed Bennett's hard work and determination in locating people there were approximately 17 or 18 crew members present. The Marriott Hotel in Providence RI provided the setting and folks generally enjoyed a "Bull Session" as they caught up and remembered events on board the Benham. Out of the bull sessions did come an agreement to form an association and elect officers the coming year. We have the Association today because of Ed's early work and the expenditure of his personal time and money in locating shipmates.
The Plank Owners for the Benham Association are CAPT Allen P. Cook, Edward Bennett, Donald Boissel, William Downing, Art Flanagan, Richard Giacin, Paul Girard, Clovis Haley, Adyth Kerr, Jack Lawson, Norman McDonald, John Parrette, Norman Roton, Hank Schwietering, David Slater, Dick Spangler, Rocco Surace, Thomas Swift, Jessie Thompson, Thomas Townsend. Thanks to you shipmates great friendships are being renewed.
(If anyone has more information on this reunion please send it to