We Remember – The USS Forrestal

Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund
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Dear Supporter,

On July 29, 1967 a devastating fire occurred aboard the USS Forrestal claiming the lives of 134 Sailors and Marines, and injuring 161 others. At 10:50am, during preparations for the second strike of the day, an unguided “Zuni” rocket was accidentally fired due to an electrical power surge.
The resulting events were devastating.
The rocket flew across the flight deck, striking a wing-mounted external fuel tank on a Douglas A-4 Skyhawk waiting to launch. The warhead’s safety mechanism prevented it from detonating, but the impact tore the tank off the wing and ignited the spray of escaping fuel. Instantaneously, an out-of-control fire erupted aboard the flight deck of the USS Forrestal. Other external fuel tanks overheated and ruptured, releasing more jet fuel to feed the flames that continued to spread, and leaving pilots in their aircraft with the options of being incinerated in their cockpits or running through the flames to escape.
One and a half minutes after the fire began a “Comp. B” bomb, overheated by the fire, exploded destroying more aircraft and spraying the deck and sailors with shrapnel and burning jet fuel – in turn causing more bombs to detonate and spilling more fuel on the deck. In all, nine bomb explosions occurred aboard the USS Forrestal flight deck that day.
The 134 crew members that died in the USS Forrestal Fire are listed on panel 24E of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. And, 131 pictures have been collected to be on display in the Education Center to be built adjacent to The Wall.

We need your help finding the remaining three photos:

Blakely Irving Davis Jr. of Bradenton, FL

James Lee Townsend of Indianapolis, IN

John Francis Snow of Rouse Port, NY

To learn how to submit photos, please click here.


Jan C. Scruggs
Founder and President

P.S. Will you consider making a donation in honor of these brave individuals? You’re gift will help tell their stories and share their great legacy.  

Established in 1979, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund is dedicated to preserving the legacy of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., and promoting healing and educating about the impact of the Vietnam War. Authorized by Congress, its most recent initiative is building The Education Center at The Wall, an underground facility near the Memorial that is designed to add faces to all the names on The Wall and tell their stories to future generations. Other Memorial Fund initiatives include educational programs for students and teachers, and a traveling Wall replica.
Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund | 2600 Virginia Avenue, NW Suite 104 | Washington, D.C. 20037