Yorktown Stories

Many of our members are the legacy of a sailor that served aboard the USS Yorktown. Their children join in patriotism, but more importantly, in honor of their father, grandfather, whatever the case may be. Recently, we have had the privilege of welcoming another generation of USS Yorktown CV-10 Association members. Through our new Facebook Group, we were able to connect with Dawn Henderson. Her father served on the ship in 1963-1966. Dawn was so invested and excited for the opportunity to honor her fathers service. The following are a few words from Dawn herself about growing up, her father’s service, and what made her join the membership for herself and even for her two brothers! We are so thankful that you have joined our association Dawn! FOLLOWING THE LEGACY OF OUR DAD, ROBERT HENDERSON,US NAVY & VIETNAM VETERAN, 1963-1966 Growing up, I don’t remember my Dad talking too much ...
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This Story goes back over 50 years to the fall of 1961. I was on my third and final Far East cruise aboard the USS Yorktown. I was assigned to V-6 Division upon arrival at the Yorktown from boot camp in Chicago. You might say I had good timing. V-6 Division took care of all the rolling stock assigned to the ship, from the “Tilley” (crash crane) down to the small APU’s (Aux. power units) and – everything in between. We also took care of the AT and AE shops which include the operation of the aircraft starter jeeps on the flight deck. We also ran the metal shop and EBU (engine buildup). V-6 Division also ran the parachute and survival equipment shops. We supplied the office personnel for the Air Department Office, which included the phone-talkers for primary fly up in the island. The SPN-12 tracking gear to record ...
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At the October 2015 Reunion of the Association, I enjoyed a long visit with Donald R. Heck and this is his story. Donald served aboard Yorktown as an AMS3 with a detachment from HU-1 as the ship worked up and deployed for the 1964-1965 WestPac. HU-1 was a utility helicopter squadron that provided small detachments to carriers of the Pacific fleet.  Don went aboard with his detachment, which consisted of three helos and some thirty officers and enlisted personnel, in June 1964. Aboard Yorktown, the HU-1 helos flew search and rescue, plane guard, and utility missions. Page 274 of the 64-65 Yorktown cruise book contains a full page shot of HU-1 helo number 40 on a utility run with a torpedo being transported on a sling. On Essex class carriers space was always at a premium and creature comforts very sparse. The HU-1 detachment enlisted men, except for the unit ...
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The following is from “ALL HANDS” of January 1967 and is reprinted with permission from that magazine. Paddle Landings Took Skill For nearly six decades, Navy pilots have progressed through various stages of carrier landings ranging from the seat-of-the-pants methods to the fully automatic landings now becoming operational. (Remember this article was written in 1967.) Antisubmarine Squadron 22 claims for herself (and other units of her air group) the distinction of being the last group of Navy fliers to make paddle landings – a skill which became archaic when USS Lake Champlain (CVS 39), the last of the straight-deck carriers, was decommissioned. The paddle method of landing has played an important role in aviation history, and the squadron’s pride in the skill it required is indeed justified. Paddle landings under the guidance of the Landing Signal Officer – patron saint of all naval aviators – were characteristic of straight-deck carriers ...
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Every old sailor is familiar with the “Magic Carpet” business at the end of World War II when personnel were ferried back to the States from both Europe and the Pacific. As early as 1943, the Pentagon began contingency planning for returning millions of personnel from overseas whenever victory was won. It was an enormous task, sardonically cited by cartoonist Bill Mauldin who showed the everyman GIs Willie and Joe sulking at an embarkation port: “I don’t remember no delays getting us over here.” The first “Magic Carpet” ships left Europe in June 1945, barely a month after VE Day. With the Navy fully committed to the Pacific, most of the shipping came from the Merchant Marine or the U.S. Army, carrying some 430,000 men to the East Coast per month. Fleet aircraft carriers were popular Magic Carpet rides, as they could accommodate 3,000 or more returnees. The brand new ...
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By Lorena R. Farrar In August 1955, my soon-to-be husband, Ted W. Farrar, was unexpectedly transferred from the Air Traffic Control School at the U. S. Naval Air Station in Olathe, KS (my hometown) to the USS Yorktown CVA-10, which was in dry dock in Bremerton, WA. On arrival, he questioned why he was being sent to an aircraft carrier, and was promptly informed that he had better be a baseball pitcher! It seems they they were involved in the Washington state amateur baseball tournament, and they needed a pitcher! Fortunately, even though he had never pitched baseball anywhere since joining the Navy, he was a pitcher. And so, since they were in the tournament, they would not let him have leave to come marry me; so after the tournament was over, (the Yorktown team took third place), I caught a train out of Kansas City and spent 2 days ...
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Written by Clement D. St. Louis, AGC, USN (Ret.) OA Division CPO on 10/03/1969. As I recall vividly, I had been on liberty overnight in Amsterdam and ran out of funds to continue on liberty so I took the train back to Rotterdam and Yorktown to get some more money to continue on liberty that evening. I had made a long distance phone call to my new lady friend (who became my wife in 1970) in Long Beach while in Amsterdam and my funds had become depleted. Soon after boarding ship in late afternoon I heard the message over the PA system to “Set the Special Sea Detail”. I realized this meant we were about to leave port and 2/3 of the crew was ashore on liberty. I was the Chief Aerographer’s Mate in the OA Division (The Weather Office on the 07 level) and realized I had better get ...
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The best part of our Association Member group so far has been getting to see everyone interact and tell their stories. Since the group started, Phil Elsner has been such an enthusiastic and highly involved group member. Curious about his story, and what drives his love for the ship, we talked with him about his time in the Navy and on board the USS Yorktown. We asked Phil what made him want to join the U.S. Military, to which he told us that as a kid he had a dream that he was in the Navy. He thinks it may have come from watching the show, “Victory at Sea,” for so many years. Later in life, at the age of 21, it was 1964 and he was walking into Coney Island. There was a big draft going on and looking across the street he saw the enlisting booth for the ...
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By Steven R. Butler When the Yorktown left Norfolk in September 1969, I was on leave from my previous duty station. It wasn’t until I arrived at Norfolk in mid-September that I learned the ship had already departed for a 3-month cruise. After spending a miserable three weeks in the transient barracks in Norfolk and a further (and much more enjoyable) week in London (during which time I met my future wife), I did not join my squadron, VS-24, aboard the Yorktown, until Thursday, 16 October 1969. On Saturday, 18 October, one of the fellows I knew from my week in London, Greg Westphal, asked if I wanted to accompany him and one or two other guys to Amsterdam for the day if I didn’t have duty. As it turned out I didn’t, so off we went. We started out by taking an R.E.T. tram or bus from the pier ...
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Based on the experiences of Melvin Bien and Art Francis I received a note from Melvin Bien shortly before Christmas 2015. In the note Melvin related the story of a submarine that Yorktown chased on the way to Pearl Harbor in January of 1968, and when one sailor tells a story it reminds every sailor within earshot of something with a connection. As Melvin relates, the Yorktown left Long Beach for WestPac 68 on the morning of December 28, 1967. I don’t know how many sailors missed the ship’s movement or how they caught up to us, but we had a few chipping paint and laying carpet in the Career Counselor’s Office as “extra military instruction” for returning late from Christmas leave. But back to the connection with Melvin’s story about the sub chase. By Christmas I had been aboard nearly four months. I had become acquainted with a fellow ...
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