WWII veteran celebrates 100th birthday with helicopter ride at Naval Station Mayport

MAYPORT, Fla. – It’s a very happy birthday for a Jacksonville-area woman, who’s celebrating a century of life. And Naval Station Mayport made sure she was flying high at 100!

“How many 100-year-olds do you hear about going up in a helicopter flying?” asked Ima Black, a World War II veteran.

Amber Eich, Black’s great-niece, loved seeing her great-aunt fly for her 100th birthday.

“Unreal. I couldn’t do it. I’m a little scared of heights. She’s an amazing woman. She’s not scared of anything,” Eich said.

Black got the chance to fly with Mayport HSM 40, the Airwolves.

“It was exhilarating. I felt like I was going to Heaven,” she laughed. “I was looking for my husband, but I guess I didn’t go up high enough to see him.”

Black told the USS Delbert D. Black -- her late husband’s namesake ship -- that she wanted to ride in the helicopter for her 100th birthday. The ship made it happen, working with the Airwolves to fulfill the wishes of the Navy widow.

She was piloted around the Mayport area and over her late husband’s ship before being presented with a medallion honoring her service in WWII.

Black’s late husband was a survivor of Pearl Harbor. He was the highest ranking enlisted man in the Navy, and the two were married for 50 years before he died in 2000.