Help Us Find This Sailor

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 10:50 a.m., during preparations for the second strike of the day, an unguided “Zuni” rocket was accidentally fired due to an electrical power surge.

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.

Last year we told you that we still needed three photos of those killed that day to be displayed in the Eduction Center at The Wall. Since then, we collected two more and now only need one. Help us find the photo of John Francis Snow of Rouse Port, NY so that his face will be visible next to his fellow shipmates when displayed in the Education Center.

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