USS Yorktown turns 70, former crew members attend celebration

USS Yorktown turns 70, former crew members attend celebration

MOUNT PLEASANT, SC - A birthday bash for "The Fighting Lady." The USS Yorktown turned 70. The celebration kicked off with open cockpit Sunday and a meet and greet with former crew members.

Patriotic music and tunes from the 1940's echoed through the ship.

Former crew member Bill Watkinson said, "It's good to be here."

He and fellow former crew members reminisced about the time they served on the aircraft carrier.

Watkinson said, "Probably have tears in my eyes. It's the end of an era, not to many of us left that were in World War II."

91 year old Watkinson, a pilot most of his life, flew nearly every type of single engine airplane while in the Navy. On a mission during WWII his plane was hit and half of a wheel was blown off.

Watkinson said, "The battleship told me my airplane was not good enough to land on a carrier and to put it on the sea."

Watkinson said he'll never forget when the Yorktown showed up allowing him to make a safe landing on the ship, but there's something else he remembers most about his time on the Yorktown.

"It's the people there, they were all good and they were for the pilots," said Watkinson.

The oldest aircraft carrier museum in the nation, the Yorktown has seen its fair share of action on sea.

"There was slight movement, not much," said original crew member Reverend Harold Syfrett.

He spoke of the time the ship was bombed.

"It was a frightful experience," said Syfrett.

Having set sail on the ship's first voyage in 1943, Reverend Syfrett was also here the day it arrived at Patriots Point in 1975.

Syfrett said, "It's hard for me to believe that I came aboard this ship 70 years ago. Although I'll be 90 years old in November, it has been amazing. The Yorktown has been part of my life."

Syfrett said whenever he sees the Yorktown; he remembers his time served on the ship.

"I look out and say there's my lady, she's a proud old girl. She was known as the "Lucky Y" and we still think she's lucky," said Syfrett.

The "Lucky Y" and "The Fighting Lady," fitting nicknames for the aircraft carrier celebrating 70 years.

Those in attendance were also treated to live music performances and were able to dance on the flight deck to music from the World War II era.

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