WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- As the Gravely commissioning fast approaches, sailors serving on the destroyer got a glimpse into the past.
Generations of sailors got the chance to mingle and share war stories this afternoon, as crew members from the Gravely had lunch with area veterans.
During a lunch hosted by the Veterans of Foreign Wars, sailors young and old compared military life. They found both similarities and differences.
Ninety-year-old Bill Hendley began his navy career in 1937. A lot has changed since then
"My youngest son is 65 years old," he said. "When I look at these boys, they all look like babies."
Over a meal of hamburgers and hot dogs veterans and sailors talked about how life has changed as a shipmate over the years.
"We get to learn about how the Navy was 40, 50 years ago and compare it to how it is today" Gravely crew member Jeremiah Wheeler said.
The veterans see many differences.
"The uniforms changed a lot since I was in, and the ratings structure. They combined a lot of them. They don't have a lot of them I used to know," veteran Harold Hicks said.
Nearly 300 sailors will serve on the the newest and most modern destroyer in the Navy fleet. One sailor says it wouldn't exist without a little bit of help from past shipmates
"I got to tour the USS North Carolina yesterday," the Gravely's Robert Wilder said. "It's kinda like stepping way back in time, but a lot of the things on that ship are still used today. What they paved the way for, obviously it still works. It's a great product.">
Hendley said he could not believe how different ships are today compared to when he served.
"They are so much more advanced," he said. "They would put our ships to shame back in those days."
Though generations separate the sailors, there is at least one thing they definitely have in common: their love of country.
"A great camaraderie between us all even if it is different branches that are here," Wilder said. "We all serve together in one shape or form. Red, white and blue. That's all that matters."
WWAY will have special live coverage of the USS Gravely Friday at 5:30 p.m. Then be sure to watch the ship's commissioning live Saturday at 11 a.m. We'll also have a special wrap-up Sunday at 5:30 p.m. on WWAY and again Monday at 7 p.m. on RTV 3.2.