Harrison, William Henry, III, SA

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Last Rank
Seaman Apprentice
Last Primary NEC
SA-0000-Seaman Apprentice
Last Rating/NEC Group
Seaman Apprentice
Primary Unit
1972-1972, SA-0000, USS Newport News (CA-148)
Service Years
1971 - 1972

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

Home State
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Richard Carmichael, RMCS to remember Harrison, William Henry, III, SA.

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Casualty Info
Home Town
Clifton Forge, VA
Last Address
Clifton Forge, VA

Casualty Date
Oct 01, 1972
Hostile, Died
Vietnam, North (Vietnam)
Vietnam War
Location of Interment
Alleghany Memorial Park - Low Moor, Virginia
Wall/Plot Coordinates
01W 077

 Official Badges 

 Unofficial Badges 

 Military Associations and Other Affiliations
Vietnam Veterans MemorialUnited States Navy Memorial The National Gold Star Family Registry
  2013, Vietnam Veterans Memorial [Verified] - Assoc. Page
  2013, United States Navy Memorial [Verified] - Assoc. Page
  2013, The National Gold Star Family Registry

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 Unit Assignments/ Advancement Schools
USS Newport News (CA-148)
  1972-1972, SA-0000, USS Newport News (CA-148)
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1972-1972 Yankee Station, North Vietnam
  1972-1972 Vietnam War/Vietnam Cease-fire Campaign (72-73)/Battle of Haiphong Harbor
 Other News, Events and Photographs
  Jul 09, 2012, General Photos
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
On October 1, 1972, an explosion aboard the USS NEWPORT NEWS killed 20 of our shipmates. This young man was one of the twenty dead. The full memorial is on the USS NEWPORT NEWS site. USS NEWPORT NEWS (CA-148) was a heavy cruiser, with a main armament of nine 8-inch naval rifles mounted in three triple turrets and a secondary armament of twelve 5" rifles in six twin turrets. Commissioned on 29 January 1949, she served three tours in Vietnam and participated in cruiser raids on Haiphong, Than Hoa, and Vinh in North Vietnam, as well as numerous other naval gunfire missions both north and south of the DMZ. At 0100 01 Oct 1972, while conducting a gunfire mission, an 8-inch projectile in the bore of the center gun of Turret Two exploded prematurely, setting off several powder casings in the powder hoists. The explosion resulted in the death of 20 men and injury to 36 others. Quick and efficient action by the repair parties concerned confined the damage to the inside of the turret and its barbette. The cause of the explosion was subsequently determined to be a faulty auxiliary detonating fuse. The USS NEWPORT NEWS departed the gun line for the Cubi Point Naval Station, Philippines, where temporary repairs were made to Turret Two. She returned to the South China Sea and recommenced naval gunfire missions on 21 Oct 1972, completing two additional gunline periods before returning to Norfolk (VA) on 24 December 1972. USS NEWPORT NEWS was decommissioned on 27 July 1975.
I knew both Joseph Grisafi and William Harrison whom both were killed in the Turret 2 explosion.  Us three were all SN in 7th division together.  My memory is not that good anymore from back then, but Joe and William were exceptional sailors.  The NN was down in the Carribean , I can't remember the exact dates, but we had gone to places such as Trinidad Tabago, Cartahenga, Caracass and of course San Juan.  When the ship was down there, the Weapons department passed the word to all deck divisions, that they needed Gunners mate strikers.  Bill, Joe and I decided together that we would be gunners mates.  We had reported to the weapons department, and they proceeded to show us the 3'' , 5'' and 8'' gun systems.

Also Weps interviewed our divisional CPO to ask what kind of workers we were.  We all got high recommendations.  Bill and Joe decided they wanted to work on the 8" gun systems, so they were sent to 2nd division.  I decided to go into the 5" gun system, so I was sent to 5th.  We were very good friends, after we split up, I saw less and less of them.  We would see each other occasionally, but when we were over in west pac, we were always working or at GQ, or on Condition III watch.

I do remember William was a squared away sailor, his uniform was always very neat, and he was easy to talk to.  He had a good sense of humor too ! My memory is fading a bit with Joe, I am having a hard time remembering exact details.  I do know that a strange thing did occur.  I live in Akron Ohio.  After the explosion, and the bodies were shipped back home, I got a letter from my uncle who lives in Springfield, Pa.  In his letter, he said that Joe Grisaffi parents had gone to the same parish as them, and that is where they had Mass of Christian burial at my uncles church.

To this day, I feel very fortunate.  If i had gone into the 8" gun system with Bill and Joe, well, who knows?  I guess the Lord had other plans for me.  I was in 5th div and i knew Louis Sansone too.  He was assigned to mt.55 where he worked.  I was not close with Louis, but there was a gunners mate named Fred Blind GMG3, who was very close to him.  I think Fred now lives in Hollywood Fla.  I remember the day Louis fell over the side.  I did not see it, but we had to go to quarters at foul weather parade.  That is when we knew right away that it was Louis.


Bob Little
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