Garza, Ramon, AO3

Fallen
 
 Service Photo   Service Details
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Last Rank
Petty Officer Third Class
Last Primary NEC
AO-0000-Aviation Ordnanceman
Last Rating/NEC Group
Aviation Ordnanceman
Primary Unit
1967-1967, COMNAVAIRLANT/Commander Carrier Air Wing 17 (CVW-17)
Service Years
1966 - 1967
Official/Unofficial US Navy Certificates
Order of the Golden Dragon
Panama Canal
AO-Aviation Ordnanceman

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

7 kb

Home State
Texas
Texas
Year of Birth
1946
 
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Rufus McKibben (Mac), AO3 to remember Garza, Ramon, AO3.

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

Casualty Date
Jul 29, 1967
 
Cause
Non Hostile- Died Other Causes
Reason
Other Accident
Location
Vietnam, North (Vietnam)
Conflict
Vietnam War
Location of Interment
San Jose Catholic Cemetery - Mission, Texas
Wall/Plot Coordinates
24E 024

 Official Badges 




 Unofficial Badges 

Gulf of Tonkin Yacht Club Order of the Golden Dragon


 Military Association Memberships
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
  2012, Vietnam Veterans Memorial [Verified] - Assoc. Page

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 Ribbon Bar

 
 Duty Stations
USS Forrestal (CV-59)VF-74 BedevilersCOMNAVAIRLANT/Commander Carrier Air Wing 17 (CVW-17)
  1967-1967, USS Forrestal (CV-59)
  1967-1967, VF-74 Bedevilers
  1967-1967, COMNAVAIRLANT/Commander Carrier Air Wing 17 (CVW-17)
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1964-1973 Yankee Station, North Vietnam
  1967-1967 Vietnam War/Counteroffensive Phase III Campaign (67-68)/USS Forrestal (CVA-59) Fire
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity

 USS FORRESTAL (CVA-59)

USS FORRESTAL (CVA-59)

When placed in commission on 01 October 1955, USS FORRESTAL was the first of the "super-carriers" and the largest warship ever constructed. She displaced almost 80,000 tons and was 1,076 feet long and 129 feet in beam at the waterline. When her air wing was embarked she had a complement of over 5,000 sailors and Marines, and her "main battery" consisted of 80 to 100 aircraft of various types. She was a formidable weapon of war.

FORRESTAL was home-ported on the East Coast and spent the first twelve years of her commissioned life serving with the 2nd and 6th Fleets. She departed Norfolk (Virginia) on 6 June 1967 for her first deployment to Vietnam with Carrier Air Wing 17 and about 80 aircraft embarked:

  • Attack Squadrons 46 and 106 with 24 A-4E SKYHAWK light bombers
  • Attack Squadron 65 with 12 A-6A INTRUDER all-weather bombers
  • Fighter Squadrons 11 and 74 with 24 F-4B PHANTOM fighter-bombers
  • Heavy Reconnaissance Squadron 11 (RVAH-11) with 6 RA-5C VIGILANTE recon aircraft
  • Airborne Early Warning Squadron 123 (VAW-123) with four HAWKEYE airborne control aircraft
  • Det 59, Heavy Attack Squadron 10 (VAH-10) with four KA-3B SKYWARRIOR tankers
  • Det 59, Helicopter Squadron 2 (HC-2), with several UH-2A SEASPRITE utility and ASW helicopters
  • A VAP-61 detachment of RA-3B SKYWARRIOR intelligence collection aircraft
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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