USS Bennington (CV/CVA/CVS-20) was one of 24 Essex-class aircraft carriers built during World War II for the United States Navy. The ship was the second US Navy ship to bear the name, and was named for the Revolutionary War Battle of Bennington (Vermont). Bennington was commissioned in August 1944, and served in several of the later campaigns in the Pacific Theater of Operations, earning three battle stars. Decommissioned shortly after the end of the war, she was modernized and recommissioned in the early 1950s as an attack carrier (CVA), and then eventually became an Antisubmarine Aircraft Carrier (CVS). In her second career, she spent most of her time in the Pacific, earning five battle stars for action during the Vietnam War. She served as the recovery ship for the Apollo 4 space mission.
On 15 December, Bennington got underway from New York and transited the Panama Canal on the 21st. The carrier arrived at Pearl Harbor on 8 January 1945 and then proceeded to Ulithi Atoll, Caroline Islands, where she joined Task Group 58.1 on 8 February. Operating out of Ulithi, she took part in the strikes against the Japanese home islands (16 February-17 February and 25 February), Volcano Islands (18 February–4 March), Okinawa (1 March), and the raids in support of the Okinawa campaign (18 March–11 June). On 7 April, Bennington's planes participated in the attacks on the Japanese task force moving through the East China Sea toward Okinawa, which resulted in the sinking of the battleship Yamato, light cruiser Yahagi, and four destroyers. On 5 June, the carrier was damaged by a typhoon off Okinawa and retired to Leyte for repairs, arriving on 12 June. Her repairs completed, Bennington left Leyte on 1 July, and from 10 July–15 August took part in the aerial raids on the Japanese home islands.
She continued operations in the western Pacific, supporting the occupation of Japan until 21 October. On 2 September, her planes participated in the mass flight over Missouri and Tokyo during the surrender ceremonies. Bennington arrived at San Francisco on 7 November, and early in March 1946 transited the Panama Canal en route to Norfolk, Virginia. Following pre-inactivation overhaul, she went out of commission in reserve at Norfolk on 8 November 1946.