I was out for a walk during a cool afternoon in February, 2009, and had a lovely encounter with a neighbor. As he was getting out of his car in the driveway, I said “Hello”, which I do to anyone who looks like they might respond, and he said “Hi kid!”
I hadn’t heard that for a while (probably since the last time I was in home with my now 100 year-old+ parents), and knew immediately that I was in for something interesting.
Turns out his name was Tom Dell, said he was 85 years old, joined the Navy when he was 18, and had flown fighter jets off the USS Lexington (CV-2) in WWII. The Lexington (CV-2) was the 4th US naval vessel to bear the name, and went down in 1942 in the Battle of Coral Sea. Its successor, the USS Lexington (Essex-class) was originally named the “Cabot”, but changed to the “Lexington” in honor of its fallen predecessor.
Tom said he mainly flew Corsairs (single engine props), and once had to ditch in the Pacific after being hit. He lost his raft, but deployed his red dye packet. Another returning fighter radioed his position and he was rescued.
Tom was a very engaging guy who talked my ear off. I loved it! He still sails, and said a few years ago single handedly sailed from Florida to Nassau! He also drives both a Chevy SUV with a killer sound system and a BMW.
Tom said that his godfather was “a Halsey”. During further conversation, he implied that his godfather was “the Halsey”. I let it go at that.
Great guy, Tom!
“You don’t stop laughing because you grow old. You grow old because you stop laughing.”