On Saturday 28 July, 2007 at 10:52 am, at the East Knoll of the
Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC,
The USS FORRESTAL Association will conduct the
FORTIETH MEMORIAL CEREMONY
To honor our 134 shipmates who perished on 29 July 1967 during the worst
U. S. Naval disaster since World War Two while USS FORRESTAL CVA-59 was conducting combat operations in the
Gulf of Tonkin off the coast of North Vietnam.
This will be a Traditional Naval Memorial Ceremony
Naval Honor Guard
Flags of the Fallen FORRESTAL Crewmembers
Parade of Colors, Invocation, Reading of Names Bell Ceremony, Benediction,
Wreath Laying at Panel 24E, Echo Taps.
Guest Speaker to be announced.
Later that same day at 3:00 pm Saturday 28 July 2007
Another Ceremony will be conducted at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA
At Section 46, Grave 556-7-8 to honor those eighteen FORRESTAL Shipmates of the FORRESTAL Fire whose names appear on this gravestone.
ALL ARE WELCOME
Point of contact
Kenneth V. Killmeyer, Historian
USS FORRESTAL Association, Inc.
703-435-2814 Home Kenfidhist@aol.com 571-220-2809 cell
See photographs below from previous ceremonies.
FORRESTAL Fire as viewed from 30 miles away
FORRESTAL Fire as viewed from Flight Deck
The tragic fire began with the accidental launching of a Zuni rocket from a F-4B Phantom aircraft.
This rocket launch was not the result or error on the part of the crew. The rocket streaked across the flight deck and
struck the external fuel tank of an A-4E Skyhawk aircraft, spilling volatile aviation fuel across the flight deck.
Within five seconds the fuel ignited, spreading under other aircraft loaded with ordnance and fueled for the second
launch of that morning. Huge clouds of black smoke billowed three hundred feet into the air. Scores of flight deck
personnel rushed to contain the spread of the flames from reaching thirteen adjoining aircraft all loaded with
ordnance. In one minute and thirty-four seconds after the fire started, the first 1000 lb. Bomb exploded. Flying
shrapnel tore into other aircraft, ruptured more fuel tanks, and spread lakes of flaming aviation fuel over the deck.
In a period of four minutes, seven major high order explosions shook the entire ship ripping seven huge holes
through the thick armored steel flight deck with some reaching through the ship to the water line. Countless high
and low order detonations continued. Some 40,000 gallons of jet plane fuel leaking from punctured aircraft fuel
tanks, spread into holes ripped through the deck, spreading flames to many compartments far below the flight deck.
Courageous fire fighting teams, officers, and enlisted men were knocked down, injured, or killed by the series of
explosions. Rockets, missiles, and 20 mm shells shot across the flight deck, and ejection seats fired into the air.
Twelve minutes after the last major explosion, but with minor explosions continuing, flight deck directors moved
aircraft from near the island super structure while fire fighting teams kept the fire from advancing farther forward.
Aircraft, some still in flames, were jettisoned in an effort to keep the fire from spreading. Fires continued out of
control in the after part of the ship far into the night. Finally the fire was extinguished at 0400, 30 July 1967.
Heroic crewmembers risked life and limb to battle the blaze, rescue fellow crewmembers and save their ship.
The crew of over 5,000 men saved their ship. One Hundred Thirty-four crewmembers made the supreme
sacrifice. One hundred sixty-one men were injured with sixty-four personnel sustaining severe injuries.
President Lyndon B. Johnson sent Commanding Officer Captain John K. Beling the following
I want you and the men of your command to know that the thoughts of the American people
are with you at this tragic time. We feel a great sense of personnel loss.
The devotion to duty and courage of your men have not gone unnoticed. The sacrifices
they have made shall not be in vain.
LCDR Herbert A. Hope USN, Operations Officer of Carrier Air Wing Seventeen was quoted by LIFE Magazine.
"In 5 Minutes Everyone On This Ship Became A Man"
Kenneth V. Killmeyer, Historian, USS FORRESTAL Association, Inc.
Aboard 29 July 1967
Kenfidhist@aol.com (703) 435-2813 Home (571) 220-2809 Cell
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