Quantcast

USS Forrestal survivors speak of losing shipmates and the price - abc27 WHTM

USS Forrestal survivors speak of losing shipmates and the price of freedom

Posted: Updated:
  • Let's Go PlacesMore>>

  • Perry County Church Given New Life

    Perry County Church Given New Life

    Perry County Church Given New Life

    Tuesday, August 19 2014 11:02 AM EDT2014-08-19 15:02:59 GMT
    A big reason why Darlene Barrick fought to save the Mahanoy Union Church from bulldozers lies in the small cemetery next to it."This is Ulysses Grant Baker. My grandfather Baker," said Barrick, pointing to one of several headstones in the church cemetery with direct family ties. "He helped build the church."At another stone she added, "This is my Uncle Albert who fought in World War One."Since closing in the early 1960's, the church suffered heavily from neglect and vandalism. But stepping in...More >>
    A big reason why Darlene Barrick fought to save the Mahanoy Union Church from bulldozers lies in the small cemetery next to it."This is Ulysses Grant Baker. My grandfather Baker," said Barrick, pointing to one of several headstones in the church cemetery with direct family ties. "He helped build the church."At another stone she added, "This is my Uncle Albert who fought in World War One."Since closing in the early 1960's, the church suffered heavily from neglect and vandalism. But stepping in...More >>
  • Chancel Makeover Marks Dillsburg Church Centennial

    Chancel Makeover Marks Dillsburg Church Centennial

    Chancel Makeover Marks Dillsburg Church Centennial

    Friday, August 15 2014 9:17 AM EDT2014-08-15 13:17:26 GMT
    St. Paul's Lutheran Church is an easily recognized landmark of downtown Dillsburg, standing high on a hill, with large stain glass windows and an adjacent prayer garden.But it's inside the church where a remodeling project marks the celebration of the building's 100th anniversary.The most noticeable change is the altar area, now several feet wider, and easier to access.Pastor Lois Van Orden says the centennial seemed like the perfect time to modernize the chancel and choir area."The thing tha...More >>
    St. Paul's Lutheran Church is an easily recognized landmark of downtown Dillsburg, standing high on a hill, with large stain glass windows and an adjacent prayer garden.But it's inside the church where a remodeling project marks the celebration of the building's 100th anniversary.The most noticeable change is the altar area, now several feet wider, and easier to access.Pastor Lois Van Orden says the centennial seemed like the perfect time to modernize the chancel and choir area."The thing tha...More >>
  • Union County Museum Honors Buggy Makers

    Union County Museum Honors Buggy Makers

    Union County Museum Honors Buggy Makers

    Tuesday, August 12 2014 9:35 AM EDT2014-08-12 13:35:19 GMT
    The Buggy Museum in Mifflinburg is a tribute to a transportation industry that once thrived in the heart of Union county."They think they're coming to learn about one buggy maker," said museum executive director Bronwen Sanders, "when, in fact, we actually had 90 buggy makers in town."A visit there is a unique look at carriage making, housed in the refurbished buildings where William Heiss, his family and a handful of workers once turned out much in demand buggies, carriages and sleighs."Peop...More >>
    The Buggy Museum in Mifflinburg is a tribute to a transportation industry that once thrived in the heart of Union county."They think they're coming to learn about one buggy maker," said museum executive director Bronwen Sanders, "when, in fact, we actually had 90 buggy makers in town."A visit there is a unique look at carriage making, housed in the refurbished buildings where William Heiss, his family and a handful of workers once turned out much in demand buggies, carriages and sleighs."Peop...More >>

This Sunday marks the 45th anniversary of the fire aboard the USS Forrestal. It was a freak accident that killed 134 U.S. sailors.

The disaster was caught on film but survivors wonder why this tragedy isn't well known.

"Fire, Fire, Fire. Fire on the flight deck. All hands to battle quarters," says a voice on the tape from that day.

 Midstate radio personality Dan Steele was on the Forrestal that day. 

"You could tell by the timbre of his voice, by the tone of his announcement that this was serious," said Steele.

Only moments into one of the deadliest catastrophes in U.S. Naval history, Steele knew many of his shipmates were dead - and that his ship was in trouble.

"This is early in the fire. You can see most of the flames are intact," said Steele as he shows photos of that day.

An accidentally fired rocket triggered a chain reaction of explosions and a fire that threatened the survival of the USS Forrestal and its crew of 5,500.

"At that particular moment in time, the entire crew became men because of what we had to do," Steele said. 

Far below the flight deck,  Newville resident Don Ridgely struggled against knee-buckling concussions to keep the ship's engines powered with steam.

"I turned into a real man after this," Ridgely said. 

Much has been written about the fire and there are memorials for the 134 men who died. But many survivors worry that Americans don't truly appreciate what happened 45 years ago off the coast of North Vietnam. 

"I don't really think that people have any idea of the Forrestal's tragedy," said Ridgely. 

Amidst tears, Steele recalls that fateful day.

"We had a ship to save and we did. You do what you have to do. And we did," he said. "I wish everyone watching this would understand the price we pay for freedom."

As his men worked to save the ship, the voice of the Forrestal captain came across the loudspeaker. 

"Men of Forrestal. This is the Captain," he said. "There are no words that say what comes from our heart tonight. And yet, we must try."

The USS Forrestal spent a year in repairs and then served the navy for another 25. This fall, the ship is set to be scrapped.

This weekend, the ship's crew will reunite in Washington, D.C. and dedicate a memorial to the fallen sailors. The memorial will be placed at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall.

For part one of this story, click here.

Powered by WorldNow