Honoring a Legend
By Dick Mills
I almost didn’t get to attend the Memorial Service for Walter Cronkite. I organize a fishing trip every year for a retirees group that is planned months and months in advance and it just so happened it was planned for that same day – September 9. There was no way I could miss the fishing trip due to the fact that I organize it, so I have to be there to count heads and take care of the other details.
The truth is I was hoping for some bad weather to come along and cancel the fishing trip and thanks to a small-craft warning Tuesday morning, the trip was canceled by the Captain of the boat and I was able to attend the amazing tribute to Walter Cronkite at Avery Fisher Hall.
To me, it meant a lot because at my age we grew up with Walter Cronkite’s newscasts. I remember watching and listening to Mr. Cronkite when Kennedy was assassinated and the space program accident and of course Vietnam. He was a person that you could always trust. He would report the news as he saw it and he saw it correctly most of the time. It was an honor for me to be at his Memorial and meet his family who are all wonderful people.
Not only did we get to be there, but we were asked to participate by presenting Mr. Cronkite’s children with an American Flag that flew at half-mast on the Intrepid the day he died along with a special microphone, modeled after the one Mr. Cronkite used on air, made out of original Intrepid Flight Deck wood. The artist, Scott Keon, did an amazing job carving the microphone and it looked great. We could tell the family really appreciated it as well.
All 10 of the Former Crew Members who were there that day were so honored with the speech given by Intrepid Museum President Bill White. He did such a wonderful job and I told him afterwards that standing on a stage with two presidents and all these luminaries in the audience applauding us, really made my day, month and year.
I ran the elevator on the Intrepid from 1960-62 and to me that was a pretty insignificant job compared to what some of the other fellows did on the ship during the war. So just to be up there on that stage, where we felt like we were the ones being honored by these dignitaries and two Presidents was an incredible feeling and I’ll never forget it.