84-year-old American Navy Hero Reunites with Historic USS Nautilus Crew

60th reunion of “Operation Sunshine”


Wish: attend the USS Nautilus 60th anniversary Reunion
Residence: Brookdale Grants Pass Springs senior living community
Date Granted: Wednesday, August 1, 2018
Wish location: Groton, CT

Groton, CT, United States – Wish of a Lifetime was honored to send 84-year-old Navy veteran Charles Parshall to the 60th reunion of the USS Nautilus – the first vessel to successfully voyage beneath the North Pole. Charles is one of the few surviving crew members, and on August 1, 2018, he reunited with his brothers in arms to celebrate this momentous U.S. achievement and their incredible service.

Fresh out of Navy Nuclear Power School, 24-year-old Charles Parshall found himself on the crew of the world’s first operational nuclear-powered submarine, the USS Nautilus. In August 1958, he and his fellow crew members embarked on a top secret mission that would eventually make the history books.

The mission – “Operation Sunshine” – marked the first successful submarine voyage beneath the North Pole. Prior to mission departure, Charles recalled that the captain forbid them from writing anymore letters and gave them the option to leave, though no one knew what the mission was until a day into the voyage.

After more than a week under the ice, the USS Nautilus emerged victorious between Iceland and Greenland. President Eisenhower was immediately notified, and the crew members were hailed as American heroes.

“As we entered New York Harbor, they had fireboats throwing water in the air and a ticker tape parade down 5th avenue,” Charles recalled, “{we} had lunch at the top of the Empire State Building.”

Fresh out of Navy Nuclear Power School, 24-year-old Charles Parshall found himself on the crew of the world’s first operational nuclear-powered submarine

Charles was the son of a World War II Navy veteran, and he enlisted in the Navy just 12 days after his 17th birthday. He served for 20 years, achieved the rank of E8-Senior Chief Electrician and became the only American to ever qualify for all 3 nuclear prototypes.

Though his health is failing, 84-year-old Charles was thrilled to attend the 60th reunion of “Operation Sunshine” with the remaining members of the USS Nautilus crew. Thanks to Wish of a Lifetime, Charles will be able to relive the excitement of the mission and reconnect with his old crew once more.

“I gave the best years of my life to service. I cannot explains the emotion I feel,” Charles explained, “The camaraderie between the crew that went under the Pole, and the Nautilus members that served after is so strong.”

Charles enjoyed his reunion with the members of the Nautilus crew in Groton, CT, where the submarine has been preserved as a museum ship.

For more information on this story or to schedule an interview, please contact Victoria Loeser at 720-253-1800.

About Wish of a Lifetime
Wish of a Lifetime™ fosters respect and appreciation for deserving seniors by fulfilling their life-enriching Wishes. Wish of a Lifetime was founded in 2008 by local-to-Colorado celebrity Jeremy Bloom, in living honor of his grandmother. The organization aims to create a positive shift in the way society views and values aging by sharing the stories of its inspiring Wish recipients with those of all generations. To learn more about the organization or to help fulfill a senior’s Wish visit www.wishofalifetime.org.

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