Norfolk, Va. (WTKR) – Survivors of a deadly 1967 fire on board the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal gathered in Norfolk Friday for an annual memorial ceremony.
On July 29, 1967, the Forrestal was off the coast of Vietnam for combat operations, when a fire on the flight deck began igniting bombs on board.
A rocket had misfired, striking a fuel tank on one of the planes.
Future senator John McCain barely escaped his aircraft on the flight deck ahead of the explosions.
By the time the fire was under control, 134 men had lost their lives, dozens more had been injured and the Forrestal had suffered major damage.
“For 36 hours, there was a possibility for that thing to sink,” explained survivor Allen Page. “One more bomb, deep in that ship and it would’ve sunk. There’s no way they could’ve stopped it.”
During a ceremony at the Farrier Fire Fighting Facility at Surface Warfare Officers School in Norfolk, the names of each of the 134 men who died were played aloud, honoring a tradition that they never be forgotten.
“The 134 men that morning that gave their lives, they gave their lives to save their shipmates,” explained survivor Walter Stinner. “They’ll never be forgotten. Not by me, not by our crew, never.”