A village in central New York state and the scene of one of the bloodiest battles of the Revolutionary War. During the Saratoga campaign in the summer of 1777, a British force invested Fort Stanwix in central New York, intending to seize control of the Mowhawk Valley and guard the left flank of the British advance on Albany. On 4 August 1777, a relief column of some 800 Tryon County militiamen and 40 Oneida warriors under Brigadier General Nicholas Herkimer and Chief Skenandoah set out from Fort Dayton, some forty miles to the east. Two days later, as the Tryon militia entered the marshy ravine of Oriskany Creek, a smaller force of Tories, Mohawks and Senecas under Sir John Johnson, Col. John Butler and Chief Joseph Brant ambushed the patriot militia. Initially thrown into disorder and suffering heavy losses, Herkimers' force regrouped on higher ground and fought a bitter six hour battle against the Loyalists, marked by hand-to-hand combat with bayonets and tomahawks. Losses at Oriskany were severe and both sides withdrew, with American losses amounting to half the original force, including General Herkimer who died of his wounds a week later. Although the patriots did not then relieve Fort Stanwix, a second expedition forced the British force to lift the siege and retreat to Canada, contributing to British General John Burgoyne's defeat at Saratoga in October.
USS Oriskany (CV/CVA-34), nicknamed Mighty O, The O-boat, and Toasted O, was an Essex-class aircraft carrier of the United States Navy, named for the Revolutionary War Battle of Oriskany. She served in Korea and Vietnam, and was finally sunk in the Gulf of Mexico in 2006 to serve as an artificial reef and a diving site.Oriskany alight.
Fire broke out on the hangar deck of the ship. Six A-1s and seven A-4s were on the flight deck having been readied for a night strike, but bad weather had postponed the launch. The ordnance on the aircraft had to be downloaded and stored until morning. The ordnance included magnesium parachute flares. As the flares were being stowed in a temporary storage compartment, one of the flares ignited due to Faulty Desing. Flames and toxic fumes spread rapidly throughout the ship. A total of 36 officers and 8 sailors were killed in the fire, including 24 aviators of CVW-16. Three A-4s were damaged and one A-4E (151075) and two UH-2s (149774/150183) were destroyed.
The carrier was on station the morning of 27 October 1966 when a fire erupted on the starboard side of the ship's forward hangar bay and raced through five decks, killing 44 men. Many who lost their lives were veteran combat pilots who had flown raids over Vietnam a few hours earlier. Oriskany had been put in danger when a magnesium parachute flare exploded in the forward flare locker of Hangar Bay 1, beneath the carrier's flight deck. Subsequent investigation showed the flare functioned as designed and the cause of the fire was user error. A seaman threw the ignited flare back into the weapons locker where the flares were kept for storage, instead of throwing it over the side into the water; this allowed the entire storage locker to ignite and caused horrific damage. Some of her crewmen jettisoned heavy bombs which lay within reach of the flames, while others wheeled planes out of danger, rescued pilots, and helped quell the blaze throughout the next three hours. Medical assistance was rushed to the carrier from sister aircraft carriers Constellation (CV-64) and Franklin D. Roosevelt (CV-42). Later investigation by Captain Iarrobino of the Oriskany and analysis by the Naval Ammunition Depot in Crane, Indiana, showed that one in every thousand flares could ignite accidentally if jarred. Five crew members were court-martialed as a result of the incident but were acquitted. After this incident and others, the flare design used by the Navy was changed to a safer design immune to accidental ignition, and crews were increased to stabilize numbers so all activities could be properly supervised.
Oriskany steamed to Subic Bay 28 October, where victims of the fire were transferred to waiting aircraft for transportation to the United States. A week later, the carrier departed for San Diego, arriving 16 November. San Francisco Bay Naval Shipyard completed repairs 23 March 1967 and Oriskany, with Carrier Air Wing 16 embarked, underwent training. She then stood out of San Francisco Bay 16 June to take station in waters off Vietnam. Designated flagship of Carrier Division 9 in Subic Bay 9 July, she commenced "Yankee Station" operations 14 July. While on the line, 26 July, she provided medical assistance to the fire-ravaged attack carrier Forrestal.