On May 21, the USS Hornet Museum’s Living Ship Day will honor highly decorated Navy pilot, Lt. William Sharp, for his heroism after surviving being shot down during the Vietnam War. The presentation will be at 1:00 PM at the museum.
A California central valley native, Sharp will receive a USS Hornet Museum Heroism Award for his service during the Vietnam War. Sharp is a distinguished combat pilot and the recipient of the Navy Distinguished Flying Cross, 12 Air Medals, Purple Heart, and the Navy Commendation with Combat V (valor) Medal. His flight records include piloting Vought F-8 Crusaders and Grumman F-11 Tiger during the1960’s. Sharp will present his memories about serving in Vietnam, as a member of Squadron VF-191 and his courageous tale of survival after being shot down and ejecting over the Tonkin Gulf of North Vietnam.
Lt. William Sharp: William grew up in Dinuba, California and entered the Naval Aviation Officer Candidate School after graduating from Fresno State University in 1963. He received advanced flight training in the F-11 Tiger and received his Navy pilot wings in 1964. He flew the F-8 Crusader in Vietnam. During the Vietnam War Air Group 19 was stationed onboard aircraft carriers USS Bon Homme Richard(CVA-31) and USS Ticonderoga (CVA-14). On November 18, 1965, he was shot down on a mission over North Vietnam. He had just turned 26 years old when his aircraft was hit by enemy fire forcing Sharp to eject from his aircraft into the Tonkin Gulf. Sharp was then captured by two North Vietnamese fishermen aboard a sampan. He successfully escaped while other US aircraft protected him during his rescue. He will recount this heroic tale during his presentation.
Original footage of the ejection can be viewed at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?
Later in his civilian life, Sharp became a commercial airline pilot for United Airlines and received the San Francisco Captain of the year award in 1999. While at United Airlines, he flew the Boeing 777 around the world. William is currently a docent at the USS Hornet Museum in Alameda, California.
Living Ship Day aboard the Hornet offers something for everyone and are held on the third Saturday of most months. The museum comes to life as an operating aircraft carrier with flight simulations between 11 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. as aircraft are lifted to the flight deck and placed into launch position. Visitors can meet former crew, sit in the cockpit of a fighter jet, and enjoy the sights and sounds of naval aviation. There will also be a Big Band performance at 11 a.m. Normal museum hours and admission prices apply.