U.S. Navy grants 100th birthday wish of Winter Park WWII vet, Navy widow

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — When Winter Park resident and World War II veteran Ima Black requested a helicopter ride for her 100th birthday, The United States Navy was happy to oblige.

PHOTOS: U.S. Navy grants 100th birthday wish of Winter Park WWII vet, Navy widow

In 1942, Black joined WAVES, the Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Services unit of the military, established that year.

READ: Navy commissions destroyer named for Winter Park veteran

Unlike the Women’s Auxiliary Corps, WAVES was not considered an auxiliary unit and accorded members a status comparable to that of male reservists.

What a day ⭐️⭐️⭐️ During her 100th birthday celebration with USS Delbert D. Black - DDG 119‘s chief’s mess, Mrs. Ima...

Posted by Naval Station Mayport on Wednesday, July 21, 2021

It was during her time in WAVES that Black met her future husband, then Master Chief Gunner Delbert Black.

Delbert Black would go on to become the Navy’s first Master Chief Petty Officer and was honored in 2017 with a Navy destroyer named for him, christened by his widow Ima.

It’s that long history with the Navy that led the current Executive Officer of the USS Delbert Black to visit Ima on her 100th birthday and ask if there was anything they could do for her.

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Black’s first two requests for a submarine ride and a flight with the Blue Angels weren’t doable.

Finally, she said she’d love a ride in a Navy helicopter.

“That we can do,” the officer replied, and Ima’s wish was granted.

Black took off Wednesday on board a Sea Hawk helicopter assigned to the “Airwolves” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 40.

The flight took Black over Naval Station Mayport, over the destroyer named for her late husband, and around downtown Jacksonville.

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She finished the day with a visit to the USS Delbert Black where she was presented with a framed photo by the ship’s crew.

Black is herself an honorary Master Chief Petty Officer and ship sponsor for the USS Delbert Black.