Yorktown Stories

By Art Francis This piece is a composition based on information received from Dan Bernath, Steven Butler, Neil O’Connor, Dave Garrison, and the Department of the Navy, Naval Safety Center, Norfolk, VA. Wandering through the Hospitality Room and mingling with attendees at the various functions during an annual Reunion of the Yorktown Association is a terrific way to learn unique and little-known facts about the ship. For instance, at a recent Reunion, I happened to overhear a couple of the fellows talking about their mid-60s WestPac when the ship was handling Agent Orange for application by helicopter. Another overheard discussion involved an incident during 1969 while the ship was at sea in the North Atlantic on her last cruise. It never ceases to amaze how a crisis or event of some order can befall one division or part of the ship and it not become common knowledge. More amazing is ...
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A story told by Ben Couillard: I remember that when I was 16, 17 and 18 years old, I was serving aboard the USS Yorktown CV10 as a member of the Flight Deck fire crew. We were returning to Pearl Harbor, HI after participating in the invasion of Tarawa and adjacent islands in the Marshalls and Gilberts in the latter part of Dec. 1943. I remember that fire crew members Kirby, Stewart, Williams, Lippencott and I were sitting at the fire station. We were discussing recent events, like the ship’s guns shooting down our first Japanese plane-that was later referred to as the ‘Flaming Kate.’ Or maybe we were discussing the night the USS Liscome Bay plane landed on our flight deck and it jumped the last barrier and crashed into planes that had just landed, resulting in a fire and explosions that left several dead and wounded. We were ...
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Written by William (Willie) Lagarde. When Yorktown pulled into Bremerton, Washington in Sep 1944 I was looking forward to my first leave in twenty months. I was happy to see USS Dale as one of the three destroyers that escorted us in from the fleet because one of my back home buddies, Lutchie Wieland ,was a crew member. I was even happier to learn his leave would start the same day as mine and we would be going home together. My mother had recently been transferred to Washington D.C. which meant I would have to go there as well as New Orleans where I had enlisted. The way things worked out I would have to go to New Orleans first. Lutchie and I boarded the train to New Orleans together. The train ride would be an ordeal. The car we were in was an old one which meant we would ...
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Among the many exotic ports most American Sailors visit when doing a WESTPAC – Western Pacific – deployment is Hong Kong. Sailors usually also enjoy memorable port visits to Singapore, Japan and the Philippines and sometimes on the way home, Australia. But the one thing most remembered about the WESTPAC port visits was a lady in Hong Kong named Mary Soo who ran a thriving business with younger women. There are no official records available but it is believed that she, already at an old age, opened shop with her girls prior to World War II and continued until her death in the late 1970’s. I did not have personal contact with Mary Soo but soon learned about her after my ship, the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown, arrived in Hong Kong in 1968. Her work force of young women cleaned and painted our ship from the water line to the ...
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1958-59 Far East Cruise By Terry G. Fritz. Ed’s Note: This is the third part of a multi-part piece written by Terry G. Fritz covering his experiences on the 1958 – 1959 WESTPAC. We went back to Pearl Harbor to get rid of the O.R.I. team and have a little celebration. This was on a Friday. Monday we got underway for the Far East. Yokosuka would be our next stop. On the way there, we had to cross the 180th Meridian or halfway around the world. I think we moved up a day doing this, I can’t remember. All I know is we made many time changes during the cruise, both forward and backward. Approaching Japan, I remember sitting on a port side divot near the metal shop off of Hangar Bay 3. I was just enjoying a smoke; the air was cool and damp and had that normal ocean fragrance ...
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