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  • Imagine cruising along aboard a ship. Everything is normal one minute, lots of activity, many of the crew are working, some are sleeping, morning routines are being carried out...then, suddenly, with a series of explosions, all are plunged into the horrors of a shipboard fire the next.

    In the blink of an eye, your whole world has turned upside down! All of your senses quickly become focused on two burning goals – first, getting yourself to safety, and second, battling the blaze so it doesn’t consume the entire ship. These two goals will usually be in conflict with each other. It’s a tough decision - not unlike decisions one faces in a combat situation.

    The awful fire onboard the USS Forrestal on July 29th, 1967, took the lives of 134 sailors and injured 161 more. It began with a faulty switch, an old bomb, and a freak mishap, which led to nine major explosions of old thousand pound bombs sitting under planes all over the flight deck within minutes. The raging fire consumed the flight deck and quickly took the lives of many of the initial fire-fighting crew there.

    It then spread down through gaping holes in the flight deck created by the explosions, following a trail of JP-5 jet fuel that flowed down into the berthing compartments below, killing and severely injuring many more sailors there.

    It took the courageous crew of the Forrestal more than 15 hours to completely extinguish this monster of a shipboard blaze, leaving many of the survivors haunted for years by the sheer horrors of that day...some still are. It was undeniably the worst Naval disaster since World War II. It happened on just the ship’s 5th day in the war zone, Yankee Station in the Gulf of Tonkin, just off the coast of Viet Nam. The ship limped home for repair, and never saw any more combat action for the rest of that war. Some would say that it had seen enough.
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