Chatelain, Ray Augustine, SN

Fallen
 
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Last Rank
Seaman
Last Primary NEC
SN-0000-Seaman
Last Rating/NEC Group
Seaman
Primary Unit
1966-1967, SN-0000, USS Forrestal (CV-59)
Service Years
1965 - 1967
SN-Seaman

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

25 kb

Home State
Texas
Texas
Year of Birth
1946
 
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Tommy Burgdorf (Birddog), FC2 to remember Chatelain, Ray Augustine, SN.

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Casualty Info
Home Town
Tenaha, TX
Last Address
Tenaha, TX

Casualty Date
Jul 30, 1967
 
Cause
Non Hostile- Died Other Causes
Reason
Other Accident
Location
Tonkin Gulf
Conflict
Vietnam War
Location of Interment
Longstreet Memorial Cemetery - Longstreet, Louisiana
Wall/Plot Coordinates
24E 050

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Vietnam Veterans MemorialUnited States Navy Memorial The National Gold Star Family Registry
  2012, Vietnam Veterans Memorial [Verified] - Assoc. Page
  2016, United States Navy Memorial - Assoc. Page
  2016, The National Gold Star Family Registry

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 Duty Stations
USS Forrestal (CV-59)
  1966-1967, SN-0000, USS Forrestal (CV-59)
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1966-1967 Vietnam War
  1967-1967 Vietnam War/Counteroffensive Phase III Campaign (67-68)/USS Forrestal (CVA-59) Fire
 Other News, Events and Photographs
 
  Mar 14, 2016, General Photos3
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
FORRESTAL arrived on Yankee Station in the Gulf of Tonkin on 25 July and immediately began combat operations. The first four days were routine; the fifth day, 29 July, was not.
The ship was preparing to launch a major strike and many fully fueled and armed aircraft were parked about the deck. At 10:52 AM a 5" ZUNI rocket accidentally fired from an F-4 Phantom parked on the starboard side of the ship and pointed inboard. The rocket impacted an armed A-4 Skyhawk (piloted by then-LCDR, now Senator, John McCain) parked on the port side.

The rocket's impact dislodged and ruptured the Skyhawk's 400-gallon external fuel tank and ignited the jet fuel which poured out. A 1000-pound bomb also fell to the deck, into the spreading pool of flaming jet fuel. Within 90 seconds the bomb "cooked off" and detonated. That explosion resulted in a chain reaction as the closely-packed aircraft were first engulfed in and then contributed to a massive fire with repeated high-order bomb detonations. The ship's "plat" cameras, mounted on the island and embedded in the deck itself, provided ample video coverage of the initial accident and the subsequent catastrophe.

The first responders were Repair Party 8, led by Chief Petty Officer Gerald Farrier, who can be seen in the plat tapes running toward McCain's Skyhawk immediately after the rocket strike. The fuel tank had already ruptured and burning fuel was spreading around the aircraft. Chief Farrier had, as his weapon against this blaze, a hand-held fire extinguisher. He had not yet reached the Skyhawk when the first detonation occurred . . . he simply disappeared in the blast. A number of air- and deck crew were trapped in the inferno; many died there, while others were able to escape to the deck-edge catwalks.

Outside the rapidly spreading fire, the flight deck crew immediately began an effort to contain the blaze. The on-deck firefighting crews rallied after the first explosion and attacked the fire, only to disappear in the second, and larger, round of explosions. The plat tapes show the decimated firefighters recruiting help from anyone in the vicinity, and these make-shift crews once again pressed into the growing inferno. The third round of detonations cleared the deck of men and fire-fighting gear, but within a minute more crewmen from the forward deck and below-deck areas had reconstituted fire-fighting teams and were working their way aft.
  
Over a dozen 1,000 and 500 pound bombs detonated within the first few minutes of the fire, punching holes through the 3" armor plating of the flight deck. Flaming fuel poured through those holes, into the working and berthing spaces on the O-3 level, then down into the aft hangar bay. Numerous smaller explosions occurred as lesser weapons, ranging from the Skyhawk's cannon ammunition to 5" rocket warheads, detonated.

Although it was 13 hours and more before the last fire was extinguished, FORRESTAL's crew did put it out ... but at the cost of 135 dead and hundreds more injured. FORRESTAL left Yankee Station under her own power, steaming to Subic Bay for temporary repairs before returning to Norfolk on 15 September 1967.
   
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