98-year-old Navy Veteran served as a cadet navigation instructor in WWII

Local News

LUBBOCK, Texas — Alice Starnes is a World War II veteran who traded her early twenties in to serve as a navigation instructor for the Navy, leading to a legacy that still continues in her family today.

At just 20-years-old she volunteered for the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service, a branch of the Navy established in 1941, and left her little ranch in North Dakota to attend boot camp in Manhattan.

“We went to school to learn how to be navigation instructors,” said Starnes. “It was a Link Trainer, a modified airplane cockpit [flown] by instruments.”

Her daughter, Beth Starnes-Mosele, said her mother was taught to navigate by the stars, which is something she passed down when they were younger.

“[As] part of their training, they would go out on the tarmac at night and he would show them all the constellations in the Northern Hemisphere,” said Mosele. “She taught us the constellations when we were little. My parents were really good about teaching us about the world.”

After two or three months, Starnes’ group was transferred to Pensacola, Florida. There they began training young cadets who would eventually fly missions over Europe and the Pacific.

“I was looking at my log book the other day and there are over 500 pilots who went through my little instrument training session” said Starnes.

Transferring once more, she met a registered minister working for the Navy.

“I met Chaplain Starnes and we sort of connected,” said Starnes. “After his year [in the Navy] was over, we were married in 1946 in December.”

They went on to have three children of their own. Their son went on to serve as a commander in the Navy, and one of their granddaughters enlisted in the Navy Entertainment Program. It’s a legacy their family is passing down through the generations.

“My parents lived the example, my mother lived the example,” said Mosele. “She’s a phenomenal woman and her heritage and service to our country is honored today by all of us.”

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