Widow Celebrates 100th Birthday With Helicopter Ride Around Ship Named After Her Husband
The crew cheered Ima Black from below.
A helicopter ride wasn't Ima Black's first choice for her 100th birthday celebration, but the Navy said a flight with the Blue Angels was too dangerous. That's also what they said about a submarine ride (her other suggestion), The Florida Times-Union reports.
But being the widow of the Navy's first Master Chief Petty Officer comes with some sway. So last week, two months after she turned 100, Ima was treated to a helicopter ride around her husband's namesake ship, the USS Delbert D. Black where it's docked at Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville, Florida. The crew hailed her from the destroyer's topside.
"She wasn't ready to call it a day and asked if she could see downtown Jacksonville. Commodore and CO obliged, of course," the station wrote on Facebook alongside photos of Ima's one-of-a-kind celebration.
"I felt like I was going to heaven," she told The Florida Times-Union afterward. "But it wasn't quite high enough to see my husband."
Ima, who served during World War II in the Navy WAVES as a seaman first class storekeeper, is the widow of the Delbert Black, the first enlisted representative to the Chief of Naval Operations and a survivor of the Pearl Harbor attack.
The couple was married for 50 years. Ima has continued to support the Navy in the years since her husband's death in 2000.
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"It was fun for all of us," Cmdr. Justin Banz, one of the pilots on the helicopter, told The Florida Times-Union."What a treat, especially for the command—the opportunity to see some living history here and not only that, but to recognize her and bring some history back to the command."
Marilyn Kendall, Ima's personal assistant, told the paper that the centenarian wasn't the least bit afraid before the helicopter flight. "She said, 'I'm 100 years old. I can do whatever I want.'"
Happy birthday, Miss Ima!