CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- By definition a hero is a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.
Bill Watkinson can put a check mark next to all of that.
He defended this country and is making sure we never forget.
Most know the U.S.S Yorktown as a museum, a ship with a rich history, a place to honor and remember those who died defending this nation.
For Bill Watkinson “the fighting lady” as it is known means a bit more as we walked through its hallways. It was a trip back in time.
Watkinson knows what he is talking about except for the jets. The navy veteran has flown every plane you see on the Yorktown defending our country in the process during World War II and some of his combat missions began and ended on the Yorktown flight deck over 70 years ago.
When the war ended as the Japanese signed a formal surrender in September of 1945 aboard the U.S.S Missouri in Tokyo Bay, Watkinson was there patrolling overhead.
Most of his life, Watkinson spent in the air with the Navy during World War II as an instructor during the Korean War, then with a major airline for 35 years.
Now to the delight of many, life brings him back to the Yorktown several times a year where he re-lives his experiences from so many years ago.
You can usually find him sitting on the bench named in his honor.
Nowadays Watkinson says one of his favorite things is seeing the school buses full of children coming aboard so they can experience history first hand
At 96 years old Watkinson is still young at heart.
He splits his time between Charleston and his home in New Jersey.
When asked why he still comes down here so often he said to spend more time with his girlfriend.