- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 4, 2006

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Don Ziglar, a helmsman aboard the Virginia-built USS Yorktown during World War II who returned to the ship to share his war stories, died March 1. He was 81.

Mr. Ziglar began volunteering in 1994 at the Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum in Mount Pleasant, recounting the history of its centerpiece aircraft carrier. Many documentaries and articles about the ship featured Mr. Ziglar, museum spokesman Jim McElroy said.

“He was our living history museum,” said David Burnette, executive director of the Patriots Point Development Authority, which manages the museum. “He was quite a character, in every way.”

Mr. Ziglar suffered from congestive heart failure and macular degeneration of his retina. Legally blind, he walked with a cane. But Mr. Ziglar continued to enlighten visitors until the day he died, when he told North Charleston Elementary School students what it was like to steer the big ship, Mr. McElroy said.

Mr. Ziglar told visitors about a kamikaze attack and a bomb dropped by a Japanese plane that exploded near where he stood and killed one of his buddies. He remembered the sounds of battle being so loud, the captain had to bang on his shoulders to indicate which direction the boat should go.

“He told stories like that, and it would just put you there,” Mr. McElroy said.

Mr. Ziglar, a Kentucky native, enlisted in the Navy in 1942 at 18 and soon was assigned to the new aircraft carrier built in Newport News, Va.

Known as the “the Fighting Lady,” the USS Yorktown was named for a ship that sank during the Battle of Midway in June 1942. The new Yorktown launched in January 1943 and received 11 battle stars for its World War II service. The ship was decommissioned in 1970.

After World War II, Mr. Ziglar was a lawyer for 44 years in Campbell County, Ky., before being elected magistrate. He served on the bench for 12 years, then moved to Charleston in 1994.

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