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Local Korean War Naval Aviator reunites with his combat fighter plane

Charles Obie O'Brien.jpg
Posted at 3:53 PM, Oct 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-24 22:30:00-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - It was a reunion decades in the making.

On Sunday local pilot and veteran, Charles "Obie" O'Brien, was reunited with the plane that he flew in combat during the Korean War.

The reconciliation happened at the Military Aviation Museum in Virginia Beach where Obie volunteered for many years.

"I'm very proud of the airplane and I'm fairly proud of myself," he said. "I didn't cry, but I had some emotion about seeing the airplane that I flew as a young man and it's still here, it's shiny, it looks like it's brand new."

Known to many as the "Corsair Guy," 93-year-old Obie was assigned to a Corsair Squadron on the USS Lake Champlain and then the USS Boxer, flying 24 missions over Korea.

At the end of his deployment, he was then asked to fly the Corsair to its next assignment.

"I flew it over to Port Lyautey in French Morocco. I didn't think I'd ever see that airplane again," he said.

That was the last Obie saw of the plane for nearly 50 years. Following its time in the military, Obie's Corsair was sold and eventually acquired by the American Honor Foundation. They wanted to honor Obie and his VF-44 Squadron-mates in a big way.

"If I'm a hero then so was every other pilot in the squadron because we all did the same thing," Obie said.

They repainted the Corsair to represent how it looked in the Korean War when Obie was in the cockpit, but they also added his name to the side.

"It's like hope for the future and what I'm particularly proud of is my name under the cockpit Lieutenant Junior Grade O’Brien, 1953."

The plane will now head back down to Florida, but it was the day that Obie won’t soon forget.