Watertown Navy veteran visits ship after 70 years

Updated: Apr. 14, 2021 at 1:33 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - A Watertown Navy veteran recently had the opportunity to revisit the ship he once called home.

Though he is now in his 90′s, memories of faces and places were brought to life once again.

“I look back on my time in the Navy and I really enjoyed it. I met a lot of nice friends. Quite a few of them are gone now, and it’s pretty hard to talk about it,” said Luke Mallan, getting teary-eyed at the thought.

He joined the Navy in 1950, and jokes that he was a late bloomer.

“I was 22 years old. A lot of the men were younger than I was. They were 18, 19, 20. I was kinda the old geezer in boot camp,” he said.

He calls his time in the Navy “the happy days” - something he was recently able to relive when he visited his old ship, the USS Wisconsin in Virginia.

“The main deck looked just the same. All the mounts and everything looked the same,” said Mallan.

His youngest daughter, Fran Sausville, was the one to drive him down last week. She said it was a sentimental experience.

“He just sat there and stared at the ship for a really long time and he kept saying, ‘I can’t believe it’s her. I can’t believe it’s the Wiscy.’ That part was very emotional for me, and then when we walked on the ship, there were several people who stopped and said ‘veteran coming aboard’ and saluted him. I could tell it was definitely very moving for him,” she said.

“Brought back old memories. I met a lot of nice young guys and we had some good times together,” said Mallan.

Being on the ship after 70 years apart also jogged Petty Officer Mallan’s memory of his youth.

“We were in a very cramped compartment, it was 15-25 guys in a very small area, but we all got along good. And the chow was excellent! I had pie and cake. In December of 1953 we spent Christmas in Hong Kong Harbor, which was quite an experience,” he said.

Mallan served on the USS Wisconsin until 1954. Then he served in the reserves until his retirement.

He says walking the Wiscy’s deck again was more like a walk down memory lane.

“A lot of good memories on that ship,” he said.

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