NORFOLK-- The Navy community gathered Friday morning to remember those killed when fire broke out on USS Forrestal.
On June 6, 1967, Forrestal left Norfolk on her first combat deployment, preparing for duty in the Vietnam War. On the morning of July 29, a Zuni rocket accidentally fired from an F-4 Phantom parked on the starboard side of the flight deck aft of the island. That set off a series of explosions and fires that killed 134 sailors, injured 64 others and destroyed 21 aircraft.
Chief Aviation Boatswain's Mate Handler Gerald W. Farrier died saving others. He grabbed a portable fire extinguisher and unloaded it on the nearest burning aircraft loaded with bombs. One bomb exploded, killing him. The Navy says his heroic actions and valiant leadership inspired other crewmembers battling the inferno.
At the 10:30 a.m. ceremony at the firefighting school named for him, the Farrier Fire Fighting Facility at Norfolk International Terminals, Naval Air Force Atlantic Commanding Officer RADM Ted Branch said the sailors who fought the fire that day were heroic and saved the ship .
There was a FA-18 flyover by VFA-106, Naval Air Station Oceana and a bell ringing ceremony to remember those died that day.