Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The U.S.S. Forestall Fire

Since the recent passing of Arizona US Senator John McCain, there have been many posts expressing sympathy, but also many posts expressing dislike toward the now deceased Senator.  But regardless of how you feel about him, lying about a dead man (or lying about anyone, for that matter) is just not acceptable, in my opinion. So allow me to jump on the band-wagon and chime in as well.

First of all: I do not care for the vast majority of John McCain's politics and policies and never have.  Being a staunch conservative, I always felt that the man's ideas were at times too liberal for him to even be considered a Republican.

Having said that, I am going to absolutely scream if I see one more person post on social media that fairy tale about how John McCain single-handedly started the fire on the USS Forrestal by "wet starting" his A-4 Skyhawk.  That just is NOT how this accident happened.  

The fire started as a result of a Zuni rocket being inadvertently fired from an F-4.  The rocket fired because of an electrical surge, and also because of possible failure of (or lack of) proper arming practices by the aircrew and ordies (see paragraphs 3. and 7. in the document below).  An immense conflagration followed due to jet fuel everywhere, and other ordnance exploding.

By perpetuating that false story, the people doing so are doing a severe injustice to the men who died in that fire and the lessons learned in their blood.  Those lessons affected me personally.  The very lessons learned from that accident governed the procedures my integrated weapons teams had to adhere to when we worked on avionics and weapons systems on fighter aircraft.  The other big takeaway for us was in how I and all of my fellow flight deck crewmen were trained to fight flight deck fires and perform shipboard damage control.  The lesson about telling pilots not to wet start jet engines was not mentioned to us.

So for the people who like to perpetuate these ridiculous and false stories: stop it!  Stories like this, while sounding dramatic and "fun" to tell, are simply not true.  It is a severe dishonor to the men who died, and to the men who fought the fires on that ship.

If you see these stories on social media, first read the now declassified JAG findings and then tell whoever is posting it to do some homework and stop posting incorrect information!

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