Bambo Jr, Gregory, CAPT

Line Officer
 
 Service Photo   Service Details
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Current Service Status
USN Veteran
Current/Last Rank
Captain
Current/Last Primary NEC
131X-Unrestricted Line Officer - Pilot
Current/Last Rating/NEC Group
Line Officer
Primary Unit
1973-1975, VAK-208 The Jockeys
Service Years
1954 - 1975
Captain
Captain

 Official Badges 

US Navy Retired 20


 Unofficial Badges 

US Navy Honorable Discharge Order of the Golden Shellback Gulf of Tonkin Yacht Club


 Military Association Memberships
Tailhook AssociationA-3 Skywarrior AssociationPost 112
  1957, Tailhook Association
  1995, A-3 Skywarrior Association [Verified]
  2007, American Legion, Post 112 (Member) (Salt Lake City , Utah) [Verified] - Chap. Page


 Additional Information
What are you doing now:
Retired to a life of skiing in the winter, playing golf the other seasons and tinkering with my old car.
   
Other Comments:


The supercarrier USS Forrestal (CV-59), formerly AVT-59 and CVA-59, was named after former Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal and was the lead ship of her class of aircraft carriers. The other carriers of her class were the Saratoga (CV-60), USS Ranger and USS Independence. She was the largest aircraft carrier since Shinano of World War II vintage, and the first to specifically support jet aircraft. The ship was affectionately called "The FID", because James Forrestal was the first ever Secretary of Defense, FID standing for "First In Defense". This is also the slogan on the ship's insignia and patch. She was also informally known in the fleet as the "Zippo" and "Forrest Fire" or "Firestal" because of a number of highly publicized fires onboard.

Forrestal was launched 11 December 1954 by Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Co., Newport News, Virginia, sponsored by Josephine Forrestal, widow of Secretary Forrestal; and commissioned 1 October 1955, Captain R. L. Johnson in command.


USS Forrestal

   
Comments/Citation


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. 



 Afterwards, starboard quarter looking forward

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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 Ribbon Bar
Naval Aviator Wings
Command at Sea

 
 Enlisted/Officer Basic Training
Click here to see Training
  1955, Recruit Training (San Diego, CA), 2971
 Duty Stations
Professional Schools and CoursesNaval Aviation Preflight Indoctrination (API), NAS Pensacola, FLVS-37 SawbucksVS-41 Shamrocks
USS Midway (CVA-41)VAH-10 VikingsVAK-308 The GriffinsVAK-208 The Jockeys
  1955-1956, (ET) Electronics Technician A School
  1956-1957, Naval Aviation Preflight Indoctrination (API), NAS Pensacola, FL
  1957-1961, 131X, VS-37 Sawbucks
  1961-1963, 131X, VS-41 Shamrocks
  1963-1965, 131X, USS Midway (CVA-41)
  1965-1968, VAH-10 Vikings
  1970-1972, VAK-308 The Griffins
  1970-1973, 131X, VAK-308 The Griffins
  1973-1975, VAK-208 The Jockeys
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1964-1972 Yankee Station, North Vietnam
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