MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCBD) – After 75 years, veterans who once served aboard the USS Yorktown met once again on the now-docked ship for a memorial service to honor their service.
The sounds of remembrance filled the USS Yorktown on Friday as the ship was reunited with its crew. A memorial service was held to honor the 95 veterans who passed this year and remember the history of the ship.
“It just brings back a ton of memories,” said Robert Peterson, USS Yorktown Veteran 1959-1962. “Still smells the same.”
“Back then I was a lost kid,” said Paul Noetling, USS Yorktown 1965 – 1969. “Eighteen years old and didn’t know anything, and when I saw this ship, it was the biggest thing that I’ve ever seen in my life.”
“We got a lot of stories,” said Donald Heck, 1964.
And as those who served return, veteran Paul Noetling said it gets emotional walking back into the ship with his family.
“I’ve had my wife here; I’ve had my children here and stuff like that before. But as my wife and I went around the ship, I took down a couple of chains and go back. I said, ‘This is where I used to hang out,’” he said with a laugh. “So, it does get emotional because it’s past. Your history, stuff like that, that you’re reliving again.”
Noetling served an important role as the bell toll for Friday morning’s memorial.
This was one of the many ceremonial events to honor those who have passed. And after a reading of their names and the bell toll, families of those lost were presented flags and wreaths to remember.
Then came the playing of Amazing Grace along with a rifle volley and the casting of flowers.
While not everyone in the crowd was a veteran, everyone came to remember.
“It means a lot to them to be able to come back. And in this case, we have children, we have grandchildren – because the men who served want to show them where they slept and what they did on the ship because it was an important time in their life. Most of these crewmembers were probably on the ship for two to four years, maybe, at a time,” said Ron Meacham, USS Yorktown 1968.
The community will have the chance to speak to veterans who once served on this ship during a formal meet and greet on Saturday from 10:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m.