Forrest V. Lewis, of Syracuse, was named the Kosciusko County Veteran of the Month at the county commissioners meeting Tuesday morning.

Lewis, who celebrated his 96th birthday on Saturday, enlisted in the Navy during World War II, signing on in November 1942. He completed basic training, then went to the Naval Air Technical Training Center for Mechanics in Chicago.

He was aboard for the commissioning and was a member of the first crew on the USS Yorktown. After a shakedown cruise to South America, the Yorktown joined forces  with the 7th Fleet for air support in the Pacific Ocean during World War II.





Lewis was on board the Yorktown for 18 major engagements, and the crew earned a Presidential Unit Citation. He was assigned to the flight and hangar decks, in the V1T Division, spotting planes for take-off and maintaining them when they returned. He appears in archive film footage on the flight deck during operations.

After two years, Lewis rotated back to the U.S. and was stationed at an air base in Groten, Conn. He trained future air groups to the fleet until his honorable discharge in March 1946.

After a year farming in Illinois, Lewis and his family moved to Ossian in 1948. There, Lewis bought and operated a small grocery store. He also met his wife, Sarah Jane, who lived near the store.

The couple went to Charlestown, S.C., in 1983, where the Yorktown has been decommissioned and turned in to a museum.

Lewis owned and operated a service station in Ossian for 35 years, before moving to Syracuse in 1984. Both Lewis and his wife worked at Custom Services until 2005 when they retired.

Today, Lewis continues to live in Syracuse, going for a walk nearly every day and sporting either an American flag lapel pin, a Navy shirt or his USS Yorktown hat.