When he looks back on his time in the service, 93-year-old World War II veteran Wendell Wise Mayes Jr. shares a simple truth.
“The Navy changed me from a shallow 18-year-old teenager to a mature 22-year-old adult,” Mayes said.
Mayes, a radar technician who served in the Pacific on the battle-worn aircraft carrier Yorktown, had survived a typhoon that sank three destroyers. Then, just 12 days after Mayes left the Yorktown to go home in March 1945, a bomb from a Japanese plane plunged through the deck and exploded, sending shrapnel into the radar repair room where Mayes would have been working. Two radar techs were killed in the blast.
“I came back with no injury whatsoever,” Mayes said. “Now, somebody was looking after me.”