The USS Forest Fire

The USS Forrestal (CV-59) will forever be known as “The Forest Fire” because of events on 29 July 1967.

A drawing of the stern of Forrestal showing the spotting of aircraft at the time. Likely source of the Zuni was F-4 No. 110. White’s and McCain’s aircraft (A-4s No. 405 and 416, respectively) are in the right-hand circle.


PO2 Marvin J Adkins, VF-11 SN Everett A Allen, CVA-59 PO3 Gary J Ardeneaux, VF-11
PO1 Toney A Barnett, VF-74 LT Dennis M Barton, VA-46 PO2 Robert L Bennett, VF-11
PO2 Mark R Bishop, VF-11, SN James L Blaskis, CVA-59, AA William V Brindle, VF-74
PO3 Bobby J Brown, VF-11, PO1 Jerry D Byars, VF-11, PO3 Francis Campeau, VF-11
PO3 Jack M Carlan, VF-74 , AN Daniel G Cavazos, VF-74, SN Ray A Chatelain, CVA-59 *
AN Richard D Clendenen, VF-11, SN William D Collins, VF-11 , AN Robert B Cotten, VF-11
PO2 James L Crenshaw, VF-74  PO2 Mario C Crugnola, VF-74 AN Robert J Davies, VF-74
PO2 Thomas J Dawson, VA-65, PO3 Jerold V Despard, VF-11 , PO3 Edward R Dorsey, HS-2
PO3 Joseph G Dugas, VF-11, PO3 Paul A Dupere, VF-74, SN John S Duplaga, VF-11
SN Kenneth Dyke, CVA-59, PO1 Walter T Eads, VF-74, PO2 James A Earick, VA-106
PO2 John T Edwards, VF-11, CPO Gerald W Farrier, CVA-59, FN Kenneth L Fasth, CVA-59
PO1 John J Fiedler, VF-74, AN Russell L Fike, VF-74, PO1 Harold Fontenot, VA-106
AN Johnnie L Frazier, HS-2 , AN Gerald G Fredrickson, CVA-59, PO1 Herbert A Frye, VF-74
AN Ramon Garza, VF-74, LT Robert E Geller, VA-65, PO3 Richard H Gibson, CVA-59
AN Lawrence J Gilbert, VF-74 , PO3 William T Gilroy, VF-11,PO3 Larry E Grace, VF-74
PO3 Russell A Grazier, VF-74,PO3 Charles C Gregory, VF-74,SN William C Hartgen, CVA-59
AN Robert L Hasz, CVA-59,AN Richard A Hatcher, VA-46,AN William K Hinckley, VF-11
PO2 Stephen L Hock, CVA-59,PO3 Larry D Holley, VF-11 ,PO2 Calvin D Howison, VF-11
AA Philip L Hudson, CVA-59 * AO3 Julius B Hughes, VF-11,WO Donald N Hugo, CVA-59
AN Ralph W Jacobs, VF-74,PO3 Donald W Jedlicka, VF-11,AN William B Justin, CVA-59
AN Thomas M Kane, VF-74,AN Charles D Kieser, VF-74,AN Joseph Kosik, VF-11
PO3 Edward L La Barr, VF-11,SN Wade A Lannom, VF-11,AN William Lee, CVA-59
PO2 Robert C Leonberg, CVA-59 ,AN John T Lilla, VF-11, PO3 Arnold E Lohse, VF-11
AN Charles E Long, VF-11,PO2 William E Lowe, VF-11 ,PO3 Kenneth W Lozier, VF-11
PO3 James S Mac Vickar, VF-74 ,AN Ralph E Manning, CVA-59,PO2 Earle E Mc Auliffe, VF-74
AN Brian D Mc Conahay, VF-74,PO1 George C Mc Donald, VF-74 ,PO2 Frank C Mc Nelis, VF-11
PO3 William V Mc Quade, VF-11,AN Alan R Metz, VA-106,AN George D Miller, VF-74
AN Edward A Mindyas, VF-74,PO3 Hubert H Morgan, VF-11,PO3 Leroy Moser, VF-11
AN James E Neumeyer, VF-74,PO3 Gary E Newby, VF-11,AA James E Newkirk, VF-11
FN Ronald R Ogrinc, CVA-59,AN Thomas D Ott, VA-46 ,AN Wayne H Ott, VF-74
CPO Richard L Owens, VA-46,PO3 Richard T Pinta, VF-11,PO2 Raymond N Plesh, VA-106
AN John C Pody, VA-46,PO2 Ernest E Polston, VF-11 ,AN Douglas A Postt, VF-74
PO3 Robert M Priviech, VF-11,PO3 John M Pruner, VF-11,PO3 Robert A Rhuda, VF-74
AN Charles R Rich, VA-106,PO3 Jerry P Rodgers, VF-11,PO2 Dale R Ross, VF-11
AN James M Runnels, VF-11,AN Harvey D Scofield, VF-11,PO2 Joseph C Shartzer, VA-65
PO3 William J Shields, VF-11,PO3 Richard M Sietz, CVA-59,AN David W Smith, VF-11
SN Richard T Smith, VF-74,PO2 John F Snow, VF-74,PO1 John C Spiess, VF-74
SN Nelson E Spitler, CVA-59,PO3 Johnny W Spivey, VF-74,LCDR Gerry L Stark, VA-46
AN Walter E Steele, CVA-59,PO2 Wendell W Stewart, VA-106 *,AA Robert A Stickler, VF-74
AN Kenneth D Strain, CVA-59,PO2 Robert H Swain, CVA-59,AN Delton E Terry, VF-11
PO3 Norman A Thomas, CVA-59,PO1 William F Thompson, VF-74 PO3 Richard J Vallone, VF-11
AN Robert J Velasquez, CVA-59 AN Juan A Velez, VA-106 AN George E Wall, VA-106
AN Harold D Watkins, VA-46 AA Gregory L Webb, VF-74 PO3 Gerald A Wehde, VA-65
PO3 Judson A Wells, VF-11 PO3 Richard L Wescott, VF-11 AA Edward J Wessels, VF-74
LCDR Fred D White, VA-46AN Kerry D Wisdom, VF-74 AN Robert L Zwerlein, VA-46 *




The exhaust heat (about 850°F) from an aircraft engine-starting unit (an MD-3A “Huffer”) was inadvertently directed onto a pod containing four 5-inch ZUNI rockets hanging under the wing of an F-4J aircraft. The heat caused one or more of the warheads to detonate in the pod. Each warhead contained about 15 pounds of Composition B. Unlike the accident aboard the USS FORRESTAL (CVA-59) in July 1967, the ZUNI rockets did not launch and strike another aircraft on the flight deck. Rather, the trigger event here was the “cook-off” of the Composition B explosive charge in the warhead.




On 26 October 1966, there was an aircraft flare fire aboard the aircraft carrier USS ORISKANY operating in the Gulf of Tonkin in Southeast Asia. Two sailors were re-stowing unexpended MK-24 Mod 3 Flares when one was accidentally dropped. The igniter had not been reset to SAFE. As it dropped, the safety lanyard was inadvertently pulled. This actuated the flare. For reasons known only to him, one of the sailors picked up the armed flare, threw it into the magazine locker, and closed the door. Some 2.75-inch rocket warheads loaded with Composition B were stowed in that locker.



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