WWII vet celebrates 100th birthday by flying in helicopter around ship named after husband

Posted at 1:54 PM, Jul 29, 2021

A World War II veteran celebrated her 100th birthday in style last week.

Ima Black said she wanted to fly around in a helicopter to mark her century on Earth, and the U.S. Navy made it happen.

“How many 100-year-olds do you hear going out in a helicopter flight?” asked Ima Black in an interview with WJXT.

Black enlisted in the Navy under the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service program during World War II. She served as a seaman first class storekeeper, according to Naval Station Mayport.

For 50 years, she was married to Delbert D. Black, a Pearl Harbor survivor who went on to become the highest-ranking enlisted man in the Navy. He served as the first enlisted representative to the Chief of Naval Operations.

To honor the legacy of Black’s husband who passed away in 2000, the Navy named a destroyer after him, the USS Delbert D. Black.

During her birthday helicopter ride, Black was able to fly around her husband’s namesake ship, where the crew celebrated her.

“It was exhilarating. I felt like I was going to heaven,” said Black. “I was looking for my husband, but I guess I didn't go up high enough to see him.”

Afterward, the Navy says Black wasn’t ready to call it a day and she asked if she could see downtown Jacksonville as well. The crew obliged.

"It was an honor to fly Ms. Black and show her the city of Jacksonville from the sky and what we, what we get to see every day. She got a great view because it's the seat that provides the best view out the cabin side door,” the helicopter pilot told WJXT.

At the end of Black's day at Mayport, the Navy says its crew presented her with a medallion honoring her service in World War II.