South Dakota man speaks of time on U.S.S. Wasp during Korean War

Veterans Voices

SIOUX CITY (KCAU9) — Wally Davis is a South Dakota man who served in the Navy working as an aviation hydraulic specialist during the Korean War.

“It was a long time ago, but it was fun and it was exciting,” said U.S. Navy veteran Wally Davis.

Wally Davis spends his days at the Sanford Care Center in Vermillion, just miles from where he grew up in Elk Point seventy years ago, Davis was aboard the Navy’s U.S.S. Wasp, an aircraft carrier for Grumman F9F-Cougar fighter planes. Before boarding the Wasp, Davis spent two years in advanced training in San Diego, learning to become an aviation hydraulic specialist.

“Every jet had about twenty hydraulic cylinders that operated the flaps on the wings and the landing gear and the hood on the aircraft and all that stuff. And we had to keep them up in number one shape all the time,” said Davis.

But when Wally wasn’t working on the planes, he got to test them in the sky once in a while too.

“If you got in x amount of flight hours, you got extra pay for it. Plus you got to fly around some so it was interesting.”

Davis said his crew was in charge of several planes all while touring around Japan and the South China Sea while fighter pilots used the aircraft frequently for sorties during the later stages of the Korean War. Davis spoke on how important the hydraulics were to the operations of the aircraft.

“Cables go across the flight deck and when they come in, they come in on the flight deck and drop down and the tail hook on the aircraft caught that cable and that’s how they landed.”

Wally said he learned a lot about himself during his five years of service while becoming a second class petty officer.

“I like the Navy. They’re very strict and everything but you had a lot of pride and it was fun.”

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