‘Living history’: Intrepid celebrates 75th anniversary

MANHATTAN -- Hundreds of former crew members returned to the USS Intrepid Thursday in honor of the World War II ship's 75th anniversary.

"I look at different parts on the ship where I worked, like, I'm just looking at the No. 2 elevator over there and I remember the night we were up there with sledge hammers trying to get the locks out so we could lower the elevator," said Paul Alvord, a former crew member on the USS Intrepid. "So there's a million stories and it's very special, just a very, very special time."

Alvord served on the ship from 1964 until 1968. He said matter when a veteran served or what their role was, there's common bond between all the sailors who came aboard.

"When you go on board the ship, there's guys that been there that take you under their wing. There's a certain attitude and that attitude prevails from World War II," he said.

Tom Barrow's father Jimmy was one of the sailors that helped form the can-do attitude on board during the war, which is why he wanted to be a part of the ceremony for the 75th anniversary.

"This is about my father. His life is the Navy," Barrow said. "When the kamikaze hit the carrier, my dad was on the steps over there walking up. There was two other sailors in front of him. They were killed; he was wounded."

After the Intrepid was decommissioned in 1974, Ken Fisher's uncle Zachary saved the ship from the scrap heap.

"Attack after attack, injury after injury, this great ship always returned to service better than before," Fisher, the Intrepid Museum co-chairman, said.

In 1982, the USS Intrepid reopened as the Intrepid Sea Air and Space Museum. But Fisher said none of it would have been possible without the crew members that kept the "Fighting I" afloat.

"Remember that we are standing here today on your shoulders, just as we stand upon the shoulders of the 270 brave souls who paid the ultimate sacrifice either on this ship or in the skies above it," he said.

Those who are still around say they can't think of a better way to honor their brothers in arms than knowing that their memory will live on and inspire future generations who come aboard the museum.

"Having the school kids come here is very special," Alvord said. "And I'm sure a lot of those kids will grow up and want to be in the Navy and they'll want to be on a bird farm. We love the bird farm."

Bird farm is Navy slang for an aircraft carrier like the Intrepid.