July 29, 1967. 134 men died aboard USS FORRESTAL (CV 59) in the waters off Vietnam when a Zuni rocket inadvertently launched from an aircraft on the flight deck and hit an A-6 preparing to launch, starting an inferno that engulfed the port side of the ship. It was the worst loss of life aboard a Navy vessel since WWII.
Fire fighting crews rushed to the fire, but perished as bombs exploded in the extreme heat of the flames. Others took their places and kept fighting. Some Sailors were trapped and perished below deck, unable to escape.
But the crew showed its mettle that day, and within an hour the fire on the flight deck was under control. It took another sixteen to put out all the flames below deck.
FORRESTAL, after serving only a few days on Yankee station, eventually returned to the East Coast for repairs. She never returned to see action in Vietnam, but stayed in service until September 11, 1993.
The Forrestal Association is one of the most active ship alumni organizations around. Every year its members commemorate those who served and lost their lives aboard their proud ship.
All of them are our heroes of the week.