WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Born in Iola, Kansas, during the Great Depression, the farthest Harry Frischenmeyer had traveled as a boy was to El Dorado, only about 80 miles away from Iola. That is until he served in the Korean War.

After graduating from high school in 1948, Frischenmeyer decided to join the Navy. Unfortunately, the decision to do so would take him far from home.

“For a kid from Iola who just barely got out of high school, it was one of the best things that ever happened to me,” said Friscenmeyer, a Korean War veteran.

Friscenmeyer went to boot camp in San Diego, becoming a navy electrician. Six months later, he was deployed to his first ship in San Francisco.

“I couldn’t believe the thing would move,” said Friscenmeyer when he recalled seeing the Valley Forge for the first time. “But that, that was my first love, the Valley Forge, that was, that was a good ship.”

The USS Valley Forge was an Essex-class aircraft carrier, one of the last of its kind built.

“And they made, they started building those in World War II. They built 24 of ’em,” said Friscenmeyer. “It’s two feet shy of three football fields long.”

Friscenmeyer can still remember his time on the ship.

“And the first morning, I got up, and I looked out, and I couldn’t see anything but water. It was an awakening,” said Friscenmeyer.

It was an awakening that would prepare him for the dangers lying ahead.

“I’d seen, been in some storms, typhoons, and the deck, the flight deck was 90 feet high, the flight deck itself was 888 feet, and I’ve actually seen waves break over the top of that,” said Friscenmeyer. “And you pray to God.”

Frischenmeyer was initially assigned to the first engine room deep in the heart of the ship.

“You’re sitting down there, and the bilge water is right underneath you,” said Friscenmeyer. ” … and you’re thinking, you know what, the edge of the water is up there.”

Being in that part of the ship, Frischenmeyer had many thoughts.

“I’d seen World War II movies, where torpedoes and the water coming in, that stuff crosses your mind.”

Eventually, Frischenmeyer was transferred to the flight deck, where he would attend to the electrical circuits.

“As an electrician, mine was to make sure that the searchlight worked.”

While Frischenmeyer was aboard, Hollywood stars and heads of states would tour the ship.

“Took celebrities out at different times; one of them was the Shah of Iran,” said Frischenmeyer.

Before he would head to a base in Yokosuka, Japan, the Valley Forge would anchor in Pearl Harbor, a day Frischenmeyer says will stick with him forever.

“We anchored right behind the Arizona battleship,” said Frischenmeyer. “It meant something, but it means more to me now than it did then.”

After stops in Guam and Japan, the Valley Forge anchored in Hong Kong. But, unbeknown to Frischenmeyer, he was about to be thrust into the start of the Korean War.

“And the shore patrol come around and told us, says, get back to your ship, get back to your ship now,” said Frischenmeyer. ” … and we found out that the North Koreans were pushing the South Koreans south, and so the next morning, we up anchored …”

Frischenmeyer was in task force 77.5

The Valley Forge deployed to relieve another task force in the Korean theater in May of 1950. A month later, the ship began launching its first aircraft strikes.

“My general quarters was on a searchlight, and there it was right out in the open, and I didn’t, we didn’t know what to expect,” said Frischenmeyer.

Dozens of airplanes would launch every hour and a half, twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week.

“I seen a lot of airplanes come in shot up,” said Frischenmeyer. “We had, we did have one come in and, and crashed at the end of the ship, and the oxygen tank … it caught fire, we had a heck of a fire.”

Some planes never even made it into the sky.

“Sometimes the jets were heavier, and the steam catapults we had were designed for propeller-driven airplanes, and if you didn’t have quite enough steam, I’ve seen ’em shoot into water,” said Frischenmeyer.

All the while, Frischenmeyer would tend to his searchlight. It was a guide for hundreds of pilots, yet despite his heroic actions, he says those who fought from the air were the real heroes.

“I just was more impressed with the air groups, the pilots and everything because those guys take off, and they may or may not come back,” said Frischenmeyer.

Frischenmeyer says he would go on to serve three years, four months, 15 days and five minutes in the Navy.

He was later transfected to the USS Antietam after a second tour on the Valley Forge.

Frischenmeyer’s first love, the Valley Forge, is only a memory now as the ship would later be sold for scrap in 1970.