UNADILLA — A Unadilla man plans to travel to Charleston this weekend to see the ship he served on during World War II. Charles Speight told us how the upcoming ceremony will bring back memories of a world at war.
Charles Speight is 96 years old, but he was drafted into the Navy at 21 to work as a fighter pilot. Speight remembers very clearly his time he worked fighting for his country during World War II.
"I was on the Lexington first and it got hit by a Japanese bomb, then we got transferred to the Yorktown after the Iwo Jima invasion," Speight said
Speight said in March 1945, he started serving on the U.S.S. Yorktown as part of the United States mission against Japan during World War II. Speight said being in the middle of Pacific, he and the other pilots had one common goal.
"Being their among the other flyers and being out there doing what we need to do and defeat the Japanese," Speight said.
Now, the Yorktown is a public museum on the Charleston Harbor, and Speight is visiting to celebrate its 75 years in service. The ship will be rechristened Sunday by the granddaughter of first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who first christened the ship during WWII. Speight said he is looking forward to seeing the ship and remembering the memorable moments onboard and in the air.
"You would wiggle your aileron, and I would wiggle and they didn't shoot, and I looked over there to see what was wrong, and they shot it when my head was turned, and I couldn't get my head turned back around," Speight said.
Speight said seeing the Yorktown will not only bring back memories, but also remind him of the U.S. success during the war.
"It just runs through your mind, the times you took off of there, and the times that you came back, and the success that the Navy had out there at that time," Speight said.
More than 16 million Americans served during World War II. Last year, the Department of Veterans Affairs said just over half a million were still alive.