Time stands still when a World War II veteran steps onto the decks of the Fighting Lady.We were blessed, today, to take Bryce Thornton of the Army’s 104th Infantry Division on a special tour of the ship. As it happens, Pat Waters (grandson of General Patton) was here for a meeting and able to speak to him as well. Mr. Thornton (age 97) was 19 when he stepped onto the shores of Utah Beach in July 1944 as an ordnance specialist. His job after the invasion of Normandy was to clear mines and booby traps ahead of troop movements. He was at the Battle of the Bulge. Out of 36 men in his platoon, 5 made it out of the war alive and not wounded. “I’m just glad to have made it out okay,” he said. He remarked on how cold it was in Europe during winter. He’d heard of a guy’s feet freezing to the mud in a foxhole in Holland.We couldn’t help asking Mr. Thornton his secret to longevity (we could barely keep up with him on the gallery deck). He said it’s important to stay active. He cuts the grass and cleans house, among other things. His other words of wisdom for the rest of us came from his own father, “try to look at the positive,” he said, “we focus on the negative too often.”
The US Coast Guard this month has requested that Patriots Point Development Authority register the USS Yorktown as a Permanently Moored Vessel. This certification will mean that the Coast Guard would not need to inspect the Yorktown, since it was removed from navigation years ago. Of course, it has been common knowledge that the Yorktown is permanently moored, but the formal paperwork was apparently not completed with the Coast Guard.
Examples of PMVs like the Yorktown include showboats, theaters, hotels, gaming sites, restaurants, museums, and business offices on a barge.
On Monday, July 11th, SC Governor Henry McMaster announced his intention for “a complete remediation and removal of hazardous materials from the hull of the USS Yorktown, including hundreds of thousands of gallons of old petroleum, polluted ballast waters, and polychlorinated biphenyl compounds, or PCBs that were not removed from the ship’s 428 vessel tanks and compartments by the Navy.” First steps will be a cost study.
McMaster requested the funds for the project during his address to the state assembly in January as part of a $300 million budget recommended for the Office of Resilience for environmental mitigation and remediation. The budget also includes projects like reconstruction after natural disasters.
Yorktown Day commemorates the victory of General George Washington’s Allied American and French troops over Lord Cornwallis’ troops at Yorktown on October 19, 1781. This victory essentially ended the American Revolution and paved the way for our freedom from Great Britain.
Yorktown Day 2022 occurs on Wednesday, October 19 in historic Yorktown, Virginia. The agenda for the 18th and 19th day events has not yet been completed. However, past festivities have included wreath-laying ceremonies at the graves of French and American heroes, a patriotic parade down Main Street, and a formal ceremony celebrating the American and French alliance.
Crew, families, and friends of the USS Yorktown CV-5 Association, USS Yorktown CV-10 Association and USS Yorktown CG-48 Association would be most welcomed guests at Yorktown Day 2022. During our nation’s history, five Navy ships have been named USS Yorktown after the Battle of Yorktown. Crews from these ships have valiantly protected our freedoms for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Your legacy lives on in Yorktown and across the nation. Come to Yorktown Day 2022 and celebrate the history of your ship’s’ namesake battle!
We would like to have a group of USS Yorktown CV-10 Association members attend and participate if possible. If you are interested in attending the Yorktown Day Celebration, please let me know and I will keep you informed of future details.
Ron Meacham (C 484-888-1958) or firstname.lastname@example.org
USS Yorktown CV-10 Association: Past Chairman – Event Coordinator
1922 – 2022
William T. Watkinson Jr. (Bill) passed away peacefully at home, surrounded by family on Wednesday, May 25, 2022. Born on January 23, 1922 in Blawnox, PA, he was predeceased by his wife of 65 years, Gladys, and by Peter Moyer for whom he was a guardian. He is survived by three sons, Tom, Ted (Ed) and Drew, all of the Hunterdon County area, four grandchildren, Chad, Rachel, Kevin and Garrett, two great-grandchildren, Connor and Harper, and a sister, Dottie Schalin.
As a young boy, his family relocated to Maplewood, NJ, where he attended Columbia High School, graduating in 1941. He then enrolled at Bucknell University as an Electrical Engineer in Lewisburg, PA.
While sitting in the living room of his fraternity at Bucknell, having his first date with his wife to be, listening to the radio, they both learned of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Later in 1942, Bill enlisted in the US Navy and was trained to be a fighter pilot. He first became a test pilot, flying every single engine fighter plane built for the US Navy. He later became a decorated carrier night fighter pilot with over 67 combat operations, seeing action in the Pacific from the battle for Okinawa until the end of the war. His last mission was to fly patrol over the Japanese surrender signing on the USS Missouri.
After the war Bill continued at Bucknell. In 1946, he married Gladys and started a family. He graduated from Bucknell in 1948.
In 1950, Bill joined Eastern Airlines and flew with them until he retired in 1982. During his career at Eastern he flew every type airplane that Eastern had, from the DC-3 through the Lockheed 1011. His aviation career was interrupted by the Korean conflict, when he was recalled back to active duty as a fighter pilot instructor at the US Naval Air Station in Pensacola, FL for a year and a half.
After the Korean conflict, he and his family returned to Chatham, NJ, where he continued his career with Eastern Airlines.
In 1960, Bill and Gladys purchased the family farm in Raritan Township, NJ, where he spent the rest of his life. During his time on the farm, he raised chickens, sheep, beef cattle, horses, homing pigeons, honey bees and crops.
Bill was active in the Hunterdon Harmonizers, Hunterdon County homing pigeon club, the Quiet Birdmen, the Tailhook Association, the Haflinger Association and the USS Yorktown Association. Upon the passing of his wife, Gladys, he continued his aviation career as a seasonal volunteer museum docent at the USS Yorktown, his carrier in WWII and now a museum in Charleston, SC. He provided education about all the aircraft, taking special pride in showing and educating visitors about the F6F Hellcat, which he flew off the Yorktown in WWII.
Funeral services will be held Friday, June 3, 2022, at 11:00 AM in the Flemington Presbyterian Church, 10 East Main Street, Flemington, NJ followed by interment in Prospect Hill Cemetery, Capner Street, Flemington, NJ. Calling hours will be Thursday, June 2, 2022, 6:00 PM-8:00 PM at the Holcombe-Fisher Funeral Home, 147 Main Street, Flemington, NJ, and Friday, from 10:00 AM-until the time of the service at the church.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Hunterdon Health Care Foundation, attention to the Gladys Benfield Watkinson Scholarship for Nursing Education, 9100 Wescott Drive, Suite 202, Flemington, NJ 08822.
For further information or to send an online condolence, please visit www.holcombefisher.com.
Our Next Reunion: October 5 – 7, 2023
Grab the family! Call your shipmates! Plan to gather again in the fall of 2023. It’s only the best time to be in Charleston, afterall. The flowers are blooming, the humidity is low, and the temps are just right for exploring our favorite aircraft carrier.
Be on the look out for more information in the coming months.