CORNELIUS – To the sounds of “God Bless America” coming from a boom box Monday, Aug. 1, Fred Kirchner sent the USS Forrestal II on its maiden voyage. For Kirchner, it was a momentous occasion, culminating more than 40 years of work.
The USS Forrestal II is a radio-controlled, 5-foot replica of the famous U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Forrestal. To commemorate the moment, guests gathered at Jetton Park at 11 a.m. with doughnuts and mimosas. Among those invited were 125 members of The Southenders men’s club.
Though the date for its launch was chosen randomly, it coincidentally held special meaning.
“August 1 has always been a special day for me,” Kirchner said. It was the day he and his wife arrived in Cornelius and the anniversary of the famous fire aboard the USS Forrestal that killed 134 people.
Before launching his ship, Kirchner took the megaphone for a quick speech and recognized all sailors present, thanked volunteers and gave a few facts about the USS Forrestal. Finally, he christened his ship with champagne.
With a crowd of onlookers, on and offshore, the USS Forrestal II took a quick trip around the cove before its captain maneuvered the ship safely to shore.