Thursday, September 5, 2013
In honor of S.C. Aviation Week, Patriots Point is recognizing long-time volunteer Bill Cart, a former World War II, Marine Corps Dauntless and Corsair pilot. Cart, a Charleston native and resident of Mount Pleasant, left The Citadel his sophomore year in 1942 to join the V-7 Navy program, which made him an aviation cadet. Cart went on to the Marine Corps where he flew the SBD Dauntless Dive Bomber and then the Corsair.
When Cart left the Marine Corps, he didn’t walk away from his love of aviation. He spent years selling aircraft in Greenville, then moved back to Charleston where he chose to volunteer at Patriots Point and teach visitors about aviation and its role in history.
“It brings back a lot of memories and I enjoy the people who come on the ship who are inquisitive about World War II, Cart said.
At 91-years-old, Cart volunteers on the USS Yorktown twice a week and has been giving his time there since 2000.
“I’ll be here until the good Lord calls me,” Cart said.
Cart is especially attached to the Corsair, which visitors can see on the Yorktown. He enjoys telling about its characteristics and often describes it as solid and stable, “but tricky to fly.” Through his time studying, flying, selling and later explaining aircraft, Cart admits he’s grown emotionally attached to aviation.
“It’s because I learned a lot and I saw a lot of accidents,” he said. “You learn to participate in any kind of action in this airplane (Corsair) because you know that you’ve got a better aircraft than the other guy does so it gives you a leg up.”
Patriots Point Executive Director Mac Burdette believes having the knowledge and charisma of Cart onboard the Yorktown is far more valuable than any static display.
“When our visitors can meet the folks who fought the fight, hear their stories and ask questions, they walk away thankful and inspired,” Burdette said. “Bill Cart brings history to life, and his passion is contagious. When you stand beside Bill you know you are walking in the steps of a real hero,” he said.