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Sailors to the end : the deadly fire on the…
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Sailors to the end : the deadly fire on the USS Forrestal and the heroes… (2002 original; edició 2002)

de Gregory A. Freeman

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In the tradition of New York Times bestsellers In Harm's Way and The Terrible Hours comes a mesmerizing, high-adrenaline account of the heroic sailors who survived one of the worst accidents in U.S. naval history. Sailors to the End tells the dramatic and until now forgotten story of the 1967 fire on board the USS Forrestal during its time at Yankee Station off the coast of Vietnam. The aircraft carrier, the mightiest of the U.S. fleet, was preparing to launch attacks into North Vietnam when one of its jets accidentally fired a rocket across the flight deck and into an aircraft occupied by pilot John McCain. A huge fire ensued, and McCain barely escaped before a 1,000-pound bomb on his plane exploded, causing a chain reaction with other bombs on surrounding planes. The crew struggled for days to extinguish the fires, the five thousand men on board experiencing different kinds of hell -- some trapped in damaged compartments waiting to die, some battling rivers of flaming jet fuel in order to rescue their buddies. Almost all of them were innocent eighteen- and nineteen-year-olds, but in an instant they were thrust into a tragedy that nearly destroyed the ship and took the lives of 134 men. Written with the intensity and excitement of a thriller, and based on never-before-disclosed information and extensive interviews with the fire's survivors, here is the first full, minute-by-minute account of the disaster. Told through the stories of a dozen sailors, including John Beling, the carrier's beloved captain who was made a scapegoat for the disaster, Sailors to the End follows the Forrestal from its home in Norfolk, Virginia, through its mission in Vietnam. Focusing on the fateful fire and its aftermath, this book provides a gripping tale of heartache and heroism as young men find themselves trapped on a burning ship with bombs exploding all around them. Sailors to the End also corrects the official view of the fire, providing evidence that the U.S. government compromised the ship's safety by insisting on increased bombing despite the shortage of reliable weapons. For thirty-five years, the terrible loss of life has been blamed on the sailors themselves, but this meticulously documented history shows that they were truly the victims and heroes, deserving recognition for their efforts during a sweeping tragedy that until now has been only a footnote in history. Gregory A. Freeman dramatically brings this story to life, creating a work that is both riveting and moving.… (més)
Membre:SeanScott
Títol:Sailors to the end : the deadly fire on the USS Forrestal and the heroes who fought it
Autors:Gregory A. Freeman
Informació:New York : William Morrow, c2002.
Col·leccions:La teva biblioteca
Valoració:
Etiquetes:No n'hi ha cap

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Sailors to the End : The Deadly Fire on the USS Forrestal and the Heroes Who Fought It de Gregory A. Freeman (2002)

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Very readable telling of fire aboard the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal during the Vietnam War. The book describes the Forrestal, background of some of her crew; how the fire started: from a WWII-era bomb the ship was carrying; the selflessness of the crew in extinguishing the spreading fire and the severe injuries many of the men sustained. Afterwards followed an investigation into the whole affair, with lessons learned. Many of the tiny details escaped me, but I did get the gist of the whole disaster. ( )
  janerawoof | Jun 16, 2020 |
The story of John McCain and the tragic fire on board the Forrestal. The author provides lots of interesting detail on the hazards of working on a carrier. Falling overboard was one of the most feared and could happen easily. One had to be always on the alert and totally aware of the surroundings. Fatigue and heat made this difficult. Sailors working in unbearably hot conditions for 12 hours at a stretch could be blown overboard by an errant jet blast, or run down by a tractor that got away when the deck shifted before it could be chocked down properly.

I did not realize there was a severe shortage of bombs for the crews flying over Vietnam. Despite assurances of McNamara and the President, crews were leaving with the wrong ordnance and ⅓ the normal bomb loads because there were not enough ordnance. There was so much bombing going on, the supply line could not keep up. Officers were told to lie about the situation and about their bombing success or lack thereof.

The shortage of ordnance meant that the Services were scrounging everywhere for bombs and the load that was delivered to the Forrestal just before the accident had their ordnance officer very upset. They were old 1000 lb. Comp B bombs dating from 1935 which had been stored in the jungles of the Philippines. Unlike the newer , more stable bombs, these became much more unstable and even more explosive over time as the ingredients began to deteriorate. Not to mention they had to be “banded” in order to hang beneath the newer planes. He was worried that any vibration, even one from the catapult as the plane was shot off the deck, might set one of them off unleashing a terrible series of explosions. The officer refused to store them with the other bombs and insisted they be moved on the flight deck where they could be loaded quickly on to the planes scheduled for a big mission the next day. The captain was informed of the danger but refused to let the ordnance officer chuck them overboard since they had no replacements.

The fire on the Oriskany had pointed up serious deficiencies in training and the way emergencies were handled. In that case safety procedures had been short-circuited in order to move planes faster off the deck. Magnesium flares were stored in the wrong locker in order to make them more accessible for loading on the planes and a sailor's failure to properly handle the accident after ignition of a flare made a dangerous situation disastrous. Failure to communicate decisions and the desire to get planes into the air as fast as possible were major factors in the Forrestal accident. Two separate groups made adjustments to safety procedures, each assuming that their early removal of two separate devices designed to prevent the accidental firing of a missile, would be prevented by the other’s safety mechanism. Independent of each other, both devices were disarmed making an accident almost inevitable.

The author does a very good job of conveying the horror faced by the sailors as the old bombs blew up, often blowing a hole through several decks down below the waterline and leaving a river of flaming fuel cascading down through passageways. It’s an amazing wonder the ship was saved even if an ungodly mess. Captain Beling, falling into a state of unreality after the fires had been brought under control, the entire aft section of the ship a mess with fires reigniting on a regular basis, 134 dead sailors, the flight deck a shambles, tried to insist that with some minor repairs the ship could be back in action over Vietnam at “80%” capacity. He even thought he could launch a couple of A-6’s off the forward catapult as they steamed into Norfolk for repairs. Fortunately, the Navy’s Admiral conducting an investigation into the fire put the kibosh on that idea very quickly. The author provides generally a favorable view of Beling. I was dismayed, however, as usual, by Belin's platitudinous speech to the crew after the fire “thanking God for sparing the ship, yada yada yada, right after that same God had just killed, in the most horrible fashion possible, 134 of their shipmates, and disfigured hundreds more. But I guess that’s typical of lala land.

Freeman quotes extensively from Beling’s testimony at the board of inquiry. He noted that the Navy had never published any kind of official training review detailing lessons learned on the Oriskany and Beling had to make 3,000 copies of an article for distribution to his crew from Reader’s Digest about the fire on the Oriskany as part of his own training efforts. There were actually few planes carrying rockets on the Forrestal and he used his degree in aeronautical engineering to, in hindsight, show the flaws in the safety mechanism on the launch circuit of the Zuni rockets. The pigtails should never have been plugged in (engaging the firing mechanism) until after the plane was on internal voltage and after being checked for stray voltage on internal power. But ultimately, he insisted the fire from the rocket strike on the plane could have been put out if they had the full three minutes available before cook-off on the modern bombs. The old 1,000 lb bombs blew up in just half that time killing most of the fire-fighting crew instantly and blowing holes in the flight deck permitting rivers of burning fuel to flow into the crew berthing spaces.

Moving account of a tragedy that should never have happened. I would hope that lessons were learned from it. Freeman nicely mixes personal accounts with detailed information on the workings of the ship and crew to create a real page-turner.

There is a good Youtube video that intersperses actual footage of the missile and bomb detonation with some re-creation of events and the investigation (one discrepancy: the video says 7 bombs exploded, the book reports nine.) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iK7RGpSlJ7Y&feature=related ( )
  ecw0647 | Sep 30, 2013 |
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It is more useful to watch a man in times of
peril, and in adversity to discern what kind of
man he is; for then at last words of truth are
drawn from the depths of his heart.

-Lucretiu
99-55 B.C.
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This book is dedicated to the 134 men who died on the
Forrestal on July 29, 1967, and all the others on board
that day who witnessed the tragedy of men dying young.
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Bob Shelton was still troubled by the nightmare when he reached the bridge of the aircaft carrier.
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In the tradition of New York Times bestsellers In Harm's Way and The Terrible Hours comes a mesmerizing, high-adrenaline account of the heroic sailors who survived one of the worst accidents in U.S. naval history. Sailors to the End tells the dramatic and until now forgotten story of the 1967 fire on board the USS Forrestal during its time at Yankee Station off the coast of Vietnam. The aircraft carrier, the mightiest of the U.S. fleet, was preparing to launch attacks into North Vietnam when one of its jets accidentally fired a rocket across the flight deck and into an aircraft occupied by pilot John McCain. A huge fire ensued, and McCain barely escaped before a 1,000-pound bomb on his plane exploded, causing a chain reaction with other bombs on surrounding planes. The crew struggled for days to extinguish the fires, the five thousand men on board experiencing different kinds of hell -- some trapped in damaged compartments waiting to die, some battling rivers of flaming jet fuel in order to rescue their buddies. Almost all of them were innocent eighteen- and nineteen-year-olds, but in an instant they were thrust into a tragedy that nearly destroyed the ship and took the lives of 134 men. Written with the intensity and excitement of a thriller, and based on never-before-disclosed information and extensive interviews with the fire's survivors, here is the first full, minute-by-minute account of the disaster. Told through the stories of a dozen sailors, including John Beling, the carrier's beloved captain who was made a scapegoat for the disaster, Sailors to the End follows the Forrestal from its home in Norfolk, Virginia, through its mission in Vietnam. Focusing on the fateful fire and its aftermath, this book provides a gripping tale of heartache and heroism as young men find themselves trapped on a burning ship with bombs exploding all around them. Sailors to the End also corrects the official view of the fire, providing evidence that the U.S. government compromised the ship's safety by insisting on increased bombing despite the shortage of reliable weapons. For thirty-five years, the terrible loss of life has been blamed on the sailors themselves, but this meticulously documented history shows that they were truly the victims and heroes, deserving recognition for their efforts during a sweeping tragedy that until now has been only a footnote in history. Gregory A. Freeman dramatically brings this story to life, creating a work that is both riveting and moving.

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