October 25, 2017
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) today announced that last night the Senate unanimously passed a resolution honoring the Sailors and Marines of the USS Forrestal, an aircraft carrier that caught fire following a series of ammunition explosions on July 29, 1967 while in the Gulf of Tonkin during the Vietnam War. The fire claimed the lives of 134 servicemembers and injured 161 others. Among the survivors was now-Senator John McCain (R-AZ). Senator King joined a bipartisan group of his colleagues to introduce the resolution in July.
“The Sailors and Marines aboard the USS Forrestal should be recognized and honored for their service in the Gulf of Tonkin, and must not be forgotten,” said Senator King. “They made enormous sacrifices and assumed incredible risk to fight the fire and try to save their fellow servicemembers. I am proud to recognize their bravery, including that of my friend John McCain, a man who has shown true honor and courage during his lifetime of service.”
Senator King introduced this resolution along with Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA), Jack Reed (D-RI), James Inhofe (R-OK), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Tim Kaine (D-VA), David Perdue (R-GA), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Gary Peters (D-MI), and Luther Strange (R-AL) during the week of the 50th anniversary of the fire in July.
The USS Forrestal resolution can be read HERE, and the full text is available below:
Recognizing the Sailors and Marines who sacrificed their lives for ship and shipmates while fighting the devastating 1967 fire onboard USS Forrestal and, during the week of the 50th anniversary of the tragic event, commemorating the efforts of those who survived.
Whereas, in 1967, the ongoing naval bombing campaign against North Vietnam from Yankee Station in the Gulf of Tonkin was the most intense and sustained air attack operation in the history of the United States Navy;
Whereas, in June 1967, USS Forrestal and Carrier Air Wing Seventeen departed Norfolk, Virginia, for duty in the Gulf of Tonkin;
Whereas, on July 28, 1967, during an underway replenishment, the crew of USS Forrestal reluctantly onloaded volatile bombs that were not intended for carrier use in order to meet the combat requirements for strikes the next day;
Whereas, despite safety precautions taken by the crew, a devastating fire erupted on USS Forrestal after— (1) an electrical surge in a parked aircraft caused the aircraft to fire a Zuni rocket that ruptured a fuel tank on another aircraft; and (2) the burning fuel ignited a chain reaction of 9 bomb explosions on the flight deck;
Whereas the explosions destroyed multiple aircraft and tore massive holes in the armored flight deck of USS Forrestal, and burning fuel dripped into the living quarters of the crew and the below-decks aircraft hangar;
Whereas, for 18 hours, Sailors and Marines on USS Forrestal, assisted by others from accompanying destroyers, fought to bring the fire under control while hospital corpsmen navigated the mangled flight deck and tended to the wounded; and
Whereas, the fire onboard USS Forrestal ultimately— (1) left 134 men dead and 161 men severely injured; (2) destroyed more than 21 aircraft; and (3) caused USS Forrestal to terminate its support to the fight in Vietnam and return to Norfolk, Virginia, for repairs: Now, therefore, be it 1 Resolved, That the Senate—
(1) recognizes that— (A) if not for the heroic actions of the crew 3 of USS Forrestal, the consequences of the fire 4 would have been far more devastating to the 5 Sailors and Marines onboard and the aircraft 6 carrier itself; and 7 (B) the selfless sacrifices of those who 8 came to the rescue of fellow shipmates and USS 9 Forrestal represent, and are consistent with, the 10 highest traditions of the United States Navy; 11
(2) commemorates the 50th anniversary of the 12 USS Forrestal fire; and 13
(3) expresses gratitude to the Sailors and Ma- 14 rines who served aboard USS Forrestal for their 15 faithful service.