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USS Forrestal Association to mark 10th annual gathering at Massachusetts cemetery

Crew members fight fires and explosions on the deck of the USS Forrestal in the Gulf of Tonkin on July 29, 1967. McCain was nearly killed when a rocket from an F-4 Phantom was accidentally launched across the supercarrier's deck and struck a plane near McCain's A-4E Skyhawk. The conflagration took place as heavily armed and fueled aircraft were being prepared for combat missions over North Vietnam. Hundreds were injured and 134 sailors died.

U.S. NAVY

By THE REPUBLICAN NEWSROOM | MassLive.com (Springfield, Mass.) | Published: October 22, 2019

AGAWAM, Mass. (Tribune News Service) — The USS Forrestal Association will hold it’s annual Veterans Day ceremony on Saturday, Nov. 2, at Massachusetts Veterans Memorial Cemetery.

This will be the 10th year the gathering has taken place at the Agawam cemetery, where members pay tribute to those who served aboard USS Forrestal, and all veterans.

In 2007, an application was submitted and approved for the placement of the USS Forrestal Monument on the Memorial Path in Massachusetts Veterans Memorial Cemetery. It was dedicated on Navy Day, Oct. 13, 2007.

Named after James V. Forrestal, the first secretary of defense, the ship was designed and built from 1951 to 1954 and was commissioned in October 1955.

Designated as CVA 59, the Forrestal was much larger then the Essex and Midway class carriers of World War II.

The Forrestal made 21 major deployments to the Mediterranean Sea, the Indian Ocean, the China Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean. It sailed more than 400,000 miles and logged more then 376,500 catapult launches and arrested landings. Some 100,000 men and women have served aboard Forrestal.

Its darkest day came on July 29, 1967, while serving off the coast of North Vietnam. An accidental missile launch caused several fires and explosions that rocked the giant carrier. It took the crew 22 hours to save the ship.

The cost was high: 134 sailors were killed and an additional 64 were injured seriously. Twenty-one aircraft were destroyed and another 36 were damaged. The fire left the aft portion of the ship warped and buckled, putting it out of action for a year.

The Forrestal was decommissioned on Sept. 11, 1993, after 38 years of service.

USS Forrestal Association membership is open to those who served in some capacity aboard the Forrestal.

For information on joining, contact Membership Chairman Laslie “Jim” Stewart at 215-943-7627 or forrestal.cva59@verizon.net.

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