by George Williams
The red carpet treatment that men of four destroyers received while making a recent goodwill cruise to Sydney, Australia, will remind old timers of the "good old days"-when Australia was no less than a second home to American men of all services-and will cause the younger salts to wonder just why Uncle Sam hadn't dispatched them as goodwill ambassadors to the continent-down-under more often.
Only 50 of the 1000 Destroyer Division 171 sailors who made this first goodwill trip to Australia in two years had been there previously, but most of the newcomers took little time in agreeing with their predecessors that Australians are "the friendliest people in the world."
Providing enough men to fill all the invitations extended proved to be the most difficult job the ship's staffs encountered during the entire trip After preparing a social calendar before arrival, USS Gregory (DD-802), Porterfield (DD-682), Halsey Powell (DD-686) and Marshall (DD-676) were no more than moored before they were deluged with additional invitations.
"After all," explained one lady, "we don't get to see them very often and we like to show them a good time while they're here." The rest of the populace seemed to agree with her.
The government cooperated by offering free transportation on public conveyances and an American uniform was an admission ticket to Randwick races, Taronga Zoological Gardens, or the mammoth annual Agricultural Society Show.
While the Navymen were making a tour of Sydney and the surrounding countryside, weighted down with cameras and usually escorted by one or more volunteer Aussie guides, approximately 30,000 Sydney citizens streamed across the brows of the four wa
rships to get a close-up view of American sea power. Open house was held each afternoon during the five-day visit and 10,000 people toured the vessels in one day.
Although they were guests for the day, the people of Sydney couldn't forget their role as hosts and many more personal invitations were offered to the sailors. They were eager to have the Americans join them for dinners, shows, parties and drives.
Among many of the visitors were Australian sailors who boarded the Yank ships to exchange shop talk with the men of the San Diego-based destroyers. Sailors of HMS Penguin, Local Training and Sub Depot, feted petty officers with a luncheon and tour of the depot's facilities.
Even men on duty were taken care of when a group of entertainers came aboard the flagship Gregory one evening and presented a variety revue for the duty-bound sailors of the Division.
As the men of DesDiv 171 prepared to get underway following less than a week of good times, a large group of Aussies was on hand to bid the visitors farewell-and many of the U.S. travelers had made definite plans to return.
-Dale Lytton, JO2, USN