With a publishing history that stretches back to 1927, some history told within the pages of Flying Magazine is bound to repeat itself. Reflecting on the October 1944 issue of Flying, which featured naval aviation at war, Edward Sarkisian retells his account of his father, Ed Sarkisian, who was onboard the USS Yorktown as it served as the subject for the issue's cover photo. Sixty years later, Sarkisian and others reunited to recreate the photograph. Here, Edward shares with us that experience, as well as the rich history behind it.
That is my dad on the cover of Flying Magazine's October 1944 issue, on the third deck toward the left margin, with both of his arms extended down over the railing. He's standing next to Navy Boatswain's Mate Jesse Bradley, who jokingly referred to my dad's station as the "Official Loafing Position."
My dad spotted the issue of Flying Magazine while walking the streets of San Francisco during the later portions of '44 while his aircraft carrier, the USS Yorktown (CV-10), was getting hull repairs in port. He served as part of the Marine Detachment onboard the Yorktown and is a plank owner — one of the original crewmembers of the ship since commissioning in April 1943. His duties included manning the 20MM anti-aircraft batteries, bugler, as well as Marine Orderly for the commanding officer of the Yorktown and several distinguished high-ranking naval officers.
I've gone to many of the Yorktown reunions over the years. It became part of my family's routine and a means of getting away for vacation. Years ago the USS Yorktown was saved from the scrap yards, which consumed so many other retired ships. The USS Yorktown was blessed to escape that fate and is now the centerpiece of the Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum in Charleston, South Carolina.
Grace Sarkisian, Ed Sarkisian, Jesse Bradley and his son Craig at the 2003 USS Yorktown reunion in Charleston, South Carolina.
Approximately 10 years ago, Jesse Bradley and my father were both at a USS Yorktown reunion reunion, where they recreated the Flying cover that showed the Yorktown in action some 60 years earlier. I stood on the deck and took a photo of the two of them on the same position they stood on October 1943 when they watched from the second deck the aircraft below preparing to make the attacks on Wake Island in the Pacific. This was one of the first attacks the Yorktown made during WWII. You can see my dad's arms hanging over the second deck railing; Jesse Bradley once again teasingly called this the "Official Loafing Position."
Sixty years later, Ed Sarkisian and Jesse Bradley recreate the 1944 Flying cover onboard the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown during the October 2003 ship reunion.
To say it's a privilege to attend these reunions is honestly somewhat of an understatement. As I took that photo, I observed the quiet camaraderie that has continued amongst shipmates for decades. It's a brethrenship that cannot be explained. There they stood, in that same place, years ago, not knowing that snapshot would become a piece of front-cover history in journalism.
Jesse Bradley (right) stands with Ed Sarkisian on the same signal bridge of the Yorktown where they were 60 years ago.