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Naval History and Heritage Command

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Benfold (DDG-65)


Edward Clyde Benfold, born on 15 January 1931 at Staten Island, N.Y., to Edward and Glenys Benfold, graduated from Audubon High School, N.J., and enlisted in the United States Navy in 1949 at Philadelphia, Pa. He had recruit training at the Naval Training Center, Great Lakes, Ill., and upon completing his instruction there in December 1949, attended the basic course at the Hospital Corps School at Great Lakes. He was then assigned to the Naval Hospital, Newport, R.I., advancing to Hospitalman 3rd Class on 12 August 1950 and then studying a four month course in neuropsychiatric nursing technic at the Naval Hospital, Philadelphia, graduating with the designation of Neuropsychiatry Technician. He continued to serve at Philadelphia until June 1951, when he was transferred to the Field Medical Service School at Camp Lejeune, N.C. Benfold married Dorothy A. Groff on 9 June 1951, and their union produced a son, Edward J. Designated Medical Field Technician the following July, Benfold was ordered to duty with the Fleet Marine Force, Ground, Pacific.

Benfold returned to the United States in June 1952, for a month’s duty at the Marine Barracks, Camp Pendleton, Calif., and on 21 July 1952, rejoined the Fleet Marine Force, deploying with Company E, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, First Marine Division during the Korean War. The enemy fired heavy artillery and mortar barrages, and then a communist force estimated at a battalion in strength launched a massive assault on Benfold’s company on the night of 5 September 1952. The young Hospitalman 3rd Class bravely moved from position to position in the face of intense fire, treating wounded men and lending words of encouragement. Leaving the shelter of his sheltered position to treat the wounded when the enemy troops attacked both the front and the rear of the platoon area in which he worked, Benfold moved forward to an exposed ridge line where he observed two Marines in a large crater. As he approached the two men to determine their condition, an enemy soldier threw two grenades into the crater while two other communist soldiers charged the position. Picking up a grenade in each hand, Benfold leaped out of the crater and hurled himself against the onrushing enemy troops, pushing the grenades against their chests and killing both attackers. Mortally wounded while carrying out this heroic act, Benfold courageously saved the lives of both of the Marines. He received the Medal of Honor and Purple Heart posthumously, and was buried in Beverly National Cemetery, N.J.

The first U.S. Navy ship named Benfold.

For the ship's Command Operations Reports see (

(DDG-65: displacement 8,960; length 505'; beam 66'; draft 32'; speed 30+ knots; complement 356; armament 1 5-inch, 2 Mk 41 Vertical Launch System (VLS) for BGM-109 Tomahawks, RIM-156 SM-2MR Standards, and RUM-139 VL-ASROC Antisubmarine Rockets, 8 RGM-84 Harpoons (2 Mk 141 launchers), 2 Mk 15 Close In Weapon Systems (CIWS), 4 .50 caliber machine guns, and 6 Mk 32 torpedo tubes, aircraft operate (but not embark) 1 Sikorsky SH-60B Light Airborne Multi-Purpose System (LAMPS) Mk III Seahawk; class Arleigh Burke)

Benfold (DDG-65) was laid down on 27 September 1993 at Pascagoula, Miss., by Ingalls Shipbuilding Division, Litton Industries; launched on 12 November 1994; sponsored by Mrs. Dorothy A. Waida, widow of the late HN3 Benfold; and commissioned on 30 March 1996 at San Diego, Calif., Cmdr. Mark E. Ferguson III in command.

Benfold (DDG-65) Ship's Seal.
Benfold (DDG-65) Ship's Seal.


The Aegis shield symbolizes Benfold’s ability to conduct operations in multi-threat environments. Dark blue and gold are the colors traditionally associated with the Navy; red is emblematic of valor and sacrifice. The lion embodies valor and strength, symbolizing HN3 Benfold’s courage and gallantry. The escutcheon bears a red cross, alluding to Benfold’s medical service and personal sacrifice in saving the lives of others. A background of red above blue in the manner of a Taeguk underscores his service during the Korean War. The black pellets symbolize the heavy artillery and mortar barrages during his heroic action.


The reversed star, in medium blue and white, denotes the Medal of Honor, which Benfold received posthumously for his spirit of self-sacrifice and extraordinary heroism. The crossed Navy sword and Marine Mameluke signify cooperation and strength; the Mameluke signifies Benfold’s service with the First Marine Division in Korea.


The halberds symbolize vigilance, resolve and battle preparedness while suggesting Benfold’s vertical launch firepower.

The ship makes speed at sea. (Naval History and Heritage Command)
The ship makes speed at sea. (Benfold DDG-65) Command History Report Collection, Ships History, Naval History and Heritage Command)

A magnitude 9.0 earthquake occurred off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, on 26 December 2004, triggering a tsunami across the Indian Ocean littoral that killed more than 230,000 people. Combined Support Force 536 coordinated Operation Unified Assistance, multinational relief efforts. United States naval forces often reached disaster zones before aid agencies, and aircraft delivered supplies and emergency responders to otherwise inaccessible inland areas. Benfold had deployed with the Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) Carrier Strike Group to the Western Pacific, and she came about from Hong Kong in company with aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln and guided missile cruiser Shiloh (CG-67) and steamed to Indonesian waters.

On 1 January 2005, four Sikorsky SH-60B Seahawks from Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron Light (HSL) 47 and some SH-60Fs and HH-60Hs of Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron (HS) 2, embarked on board Abraham Lincoln, began to ferry supplies from collection points in Sumatra to victims. Despite the health hazards posed by the collapse of services and unsanitary conditions, more than 300 Benfold crewmembers volunteered to help the victims of the tragedy. Helicopters flew Humanitarian Aid Relief Teams of eight sailors from Benfold into Sultan Iskandar Muda Air Force Base near Banda Aceh each day, where the sailors toiled alongside international and military relief workers to unload humanitarian supplies from trucks and waiting helicopters that delivered aid to survivors in remote locations. Although several of the ships could support helicopter refueling, Benfold proved a popular refueling choice among aircrew because she operated close inshore while facilitating an embarked Naval Oceanographic Office hydrographic survey team engaged in remapping the waters affected by the tsunami. On average, the ship transferred about 155 gallons of fuel a day, accounting for more 14,500 gallons total.

Reinforcements at times included amphibious assault ships Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) and Essex (LHD-2), Lockheed P-3C Orions of Patrol Squadrons (VPs) 4 and 8, Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 30, Helicopter Combat Support Squadron (HC) 11, four Sikorsky MH-53E Sea Dragons from Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron (HM) 15 Detachment 2, six Boeing Vertol CH-46E Sea Knights from Okinawa, two MH-60Ss from HC-5, embarked on board Military Sealift Command-manned combat store ship USNS Niagara Falls (T-AFS-3), Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron (VMGR) 352, and a USCG Lockheed HC-130H Hercules. Despite earthquake aftershocks those aircraft flew 1,747 missions, transported 3,043 passengers, and delivered 5.92 million-pounds of supplies to people in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. On 3 February, Abraham Lincoln came about from Indonesian waters, and 11 days later the force ceased relief operations.

Subsequent to Benfold’s participation in Unified Assistance, the guided missile destroyer participated in relief efforts closer to home when Santa Ana winds drove 23 wild fires across 12 southern Californian counties on 22 October 2007. Benfold joined other ships battling the infernos and evacuating people including aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan (CVN-76), amphibious assault ships Boxer (LHD-4), Precommissioning Unit Makin Island (LHD-8), and Peleliu (LHD-5), amphibious transport dock Cleveland (LPD-7), guided missile cruiser Cape St. George (CG-71), guided missile frigates Thach (FFG-43) and Vandegrift (FFG-48). In addition, Marines evacuated more than 40 aircraft from Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., and all the armed forces aided civilian firefighters. Commander Maritime Strike Wing Pacific established the Helicopter Coordination Center at Naval Air Station (NAS) North Island, Calif. The center coordinated aircraft including a P-3C Orion from VP-46, Sikorsky MH-60S Seahawks from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadrons (HSCs) 3 and 85, SH-60Fs from HSs 4 and 6, SH-60Bs from HSL-45, USMC CH-46E Sea Knights and CH-53E Super Stallions from Camp Pendleton and Miramar, and a Bell UH-1N Iroquois from NAS Fallon, Nev. Other facilities including NAS North Island accommodated evacuees. The responders contained the fires by 3 November.

Benfold took part in the Theater Ballistic Missile Defense Program during the 21st century. She detected and tracked multiple target missiles during Stellar Daggers, a multi-threat exercise in the eastern Pacific, 24-26 March 2009. The Third Fleet oversaw command and control while Benfold tested her Aegis system’s ability to engage multiple missiles on 26 March. The destroyer fired a Standard SM-2 Block IIIA surface-to-air missile that intercepted and splashed a cruise missile target, and simultaneously launched a modified SM-2 Block IV that shot down an incoming short range ballistic missile (SRBM) target. The event marked the first time that the fleet successfully tested the Aegis system’s ability to intercept both an SRBM in its terminal phase and a low-altitude cruise missile at the same time.

Home Port Assignments


San Diego, Calif.

30 March 1996 – present

Squadron Assignments


Destroyer Squadron 21

30 March 1996 – c. 2000

Destroyer Squadron 7

c. 2000 - present

Commanding Officers

Date Assumed Command

Cmdr. Mark E. Ferguson III

30 March 1996

Cmdr. D. Michael Abrashoff

20 June 1997

Cmdr. Thomas H. Copeman

21 January 2000

Cmdr. Adam S. Levitt

21 August 2001

Cmdr. Charles R. Hill

15 March 2002

Cmdr. Michael M. Gilday

24 April 2003 (Sea Swap)

Cmdr. Donald G. Hornbeck

29 August 2003

Major Overseas Deployments (or deployments away from home port for more than two months)

Date of Departure

Return Date

Detachments On Board

Area of Operation

14 August 1997

19 February 1998


Arabian Gulf

18 June 1999

17 December 1999


Pacific/Arabian Gulf

13 March 2001

15 September 2001


Arabian Gulf

Unit Awards Received

Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal

1 October 1997 – 7 January 1998

Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal

26 August 1999 – 30 September 1999

Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal

1 July 2001 – 6 August 2001

Navy Unit Commendation

1 October 1997 – 30 April 1998

Navy “E” Ribbon

1 January – 31 December 1997

Navy “E” Ribbon

1 January – 31 December 1999

Command Histories Submitted


Detailed history under construction.

Robert J. Cressman and Mark L. Evans

Published: Wed Jun 24 14:38:09 EDT 2015