This week the first of the Navy’s super aircraft carriers, the USS Forrestal, will be cut up for scrap metal. For one local former sailor who served on the massive ship, it’s a day of sadness and memories.
For Richard Tedrow of Carlisle, it seems like just yesterday.
The year was 1967. Tedrow was on board the USS Forrestal. At 1063 feet in length, the Forrestal was the first of her kind in terms of size and capabilities. But on July 29th, while moored off the coast of Vietnam, something went horribly wrong. A rocket from a jet fighter misfired, hitting another plane causing a massive fire. Tedrow ran to the flight deck.
“(I) got into hanger bay one, and then hanger bay two and the first bomb went off, which was a thousand pound, and knocked me down,” Tedrow recalls.
“I don’t know how long I laid there a little bit dazed. Got up and started up after and boom I was down again. It was explosions, and seeing people being dragged down dead or hurt bad. It was just chaotic.”
When the smoke cleared, 134 servicemen had been killed and another 161 injured.
This week in her final journal, the USS Forrestal was towed to a Texas scrapyard. The government sold her for one penny. For Tedrow, that’s hard to see.
“There were some that were hoping it would break loose and sink,” Tedrow says. “ It seems like a more fitting burial.”
The Navy says it considered making the ship into a museum, but didn’t get any viable offers.