A fabricated story blames the fluke 1967 plane carrier fire ~ above the negligence of then-Navy bomber pilot and future United says Senator man McCain.

You are watching: Did mccain start the forrestal fire

Published24 October 2017

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A catastrophic fire aboard the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal in 1967 that eliminated 134 sailors and injured 161 was led to by reckless habits on the component of then-Navy pilot john McCain.

Beginning in respectable 2017 and well into the fall, a series of pro-Trump fake news internet sites take it aim at the call of Trump management critic Sen. Man McCain (R-Ariz.) through regurgitating an old, fabricated account that what resulted in a catastrophic fire plank the plane carrier USS Forrestal in 1967. The naval disaster killed 134 sailors and injured 161—one that those survivors to be McCain himself, who sustained minor injuries.

The internet sites, number of of which also defamed McCain as having been “a ‘rat’ or ‘stoolie’” during his five-and-a-half years of bondage as a POW in north Vietnam, laid out details explain McCain was “personally responsible” because that the deadly conflagration on the deck the the Forrestal.

For example, Liberty now (LibertyInfo.net) reported on 18 October 2017:

The navy released man McCain’s armed forces record ~ a freedom of information Act request from the connected Press. The document is pack with information on McCain’s medals and also commendations but small else. The one point that the McCain project does not want to watch released is the record of McCain’s antics on board the USS Forestal in 1967. McCain to be personally responsible because that the deadliest fire in the history of the us Navy. The catastrophe, v 27 dead and also over 100 hurt trumps McCain’s record as a sinner of war in north Vietnam.

WMR has learned additional details concerning the deadly fire board the marine aircraft carrier, the USS Forrestal, top top July 19, 1967 in the Gulf that Tonkin. The extr details point to then-Lt. Commander john McCain playing more of a function in triggering the fire and explosions than previously reported.

WMR has actually been notified that crewmen aboard the Forrestal have listed additional information about the Forrestal incident. That is thought by plenty of crewmen and also those who have investigated the situation that McCain intentionally “wet-started” his A-4E come shake increase the male in the aircraft behind his A-4. “Wet-starts”, done either deliberately or accidentally, shooting a big flame from the tail that the aircraft.

In McCain’s case, the “wet-start” reportedly “cooked off” and also launched the Zuni rocket native the behind F-4 that touched turn off the explosions and also massive fire. The F-4 pilot to be reportedly eliminated in the conflagration. “Wet starting” was supposedly a typical practice amongst young “hot-dog” pilots.

Copied word-for-word indigenous a blog short article originally published in 2008, the message is an unholy mixture of inaccuracies and also outright lies. Because that starters, the linked Press’ FOIA the the short article references in reality revealed a slew the the military’s height awards and also commendations. The short article also asserts the “27 died” in the fire (there to be 134 fatalities, in allude of fact) and that the incident arisen on 19 July 1967 (it in reality took place on 29 July). It additional asserts the eyewitnesses and also investigators evinced the id that the explosion and also fire were brought about by McCain showing off by “wet-starting” his A-4 Skyhawk aircraft. (In pilot lingo, “wet-starting” a jet engine describes flooding its combustion chamber v extra fuel prior to ignition, i beg your pardon usually results in a according to bang and/or plume of flame on start-up.)

There are no eyewitness account in the main record supporting that version of events, however. Follow to the U.S. Navy’s exhaustive investigation right into the incident, the findings of which space summarized below in one excerpt indigenous an short article by command Hank Stewart, USN (Ret.), a marine engineer, the fire was actually brought about by the accidental firing of an Mk-32 “Zuni” rocket together a an outcome of an electrical power surge throughout preparations because that a strike against a target in phibìc Vietnam: 

Several of the planes started their engines in preparation for launching. Without warning, a rocket to be accidentally fired native an F-4 Phantom jet fighter. The rocket struck and also ripped open an A-4 Skyhawk on the other side the the trip deck. The rocket passed through the plane without exploding and also hit the ocean. However, several hundred gallons that jet fuel poured indigenous the Skyhawk’s bag fuel tank and was ignited by burning rocket fuel left on the trip deck. Burn fuel was spread out by the heavy winds throughout the trip deck and covered several an ext planes. Within seconds, this aircraft started burning, and the fire continued to spread. The ship instantly sounded general quarters (sending the crew come their battle stations), and an announcement informed the crew that the fire on the trip deck. The warm of the fire exploded a bomb on the flight deck around 90 seconds after the fire began, and a 2nd bomb explosive a few seconds later. This explosions severely damaged the carrier and killed several seafarers on the trip deck. The fuel tanks of other planes ruptured, adding to the soot of the blaze. The exploding bombs likewise created several holes in the flight deck, spilling burning jet fuel into the delivery and permitting fire and smoke to spread out inside the ship.

Forrestal’s crew battled and also eventually turn off the fire, with assistance from various other Navy ships in the area. It took more than 24 hrs to extinguish the fires listed below the trip deck. The losses caused by this incident were high and also included 134 Sailors killed by the fire, and also 161 injured. Much more than 20 aircraft were destroyed. The damages forced Forrestal come suspend combat operations and also conduct momentary repairs in the Philippines before returning to the U.S. For permanent repair. Repairs to the delivery cost around $72 million (equal to more than $528 million in 2017 dollars), and took about two year to complete.

A harrowing, 18-minute documentary created by the U.S. Navy has actual footage of the fire:


U.S. Marine investigators discovered that the transport personnel to be inadequately trained or equipped to cope through such one emergency in ~ the time, oversights i beg your pardon have due to the fact that been repair with improved vessel design, damage control procedures, and equipment.

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As McCain psychic the occurrence in his 1999 book Faith of mine Fathers, the accidentally-launched Zuni missile fight his own plane, “tearing the open, igniting two hundred gallons that fuel that spilled ~ above the deck, and knocking two of mine bombs to the deck,” despite the official Navy account said that the hit a surrounding Skyhawk piloted by Lt. Cdr. Fred White rather (some resources speculate the it may have struck both plane simultaneously). In any case, as the explosions and also fire spread, McCain aided dispose of several bombs end the next of the vessel before receiving clinical treatment, he composed in his book. That praised what he explained as the “heroics” of his other crewmen, whom he thought saved the Forrestal native sinking.

John McCain retirement from the U.S. Navy v the rank of captain in 1981. Among his many commendations to be a Distinguished Flying cross noting his “exceptional courage, superb airmanship, and total devotion to duty” during a battle raid over Hanoi in 1967, and also a Legion the Merit v Combat “V” compensation “for exceptionally meritorious command in the performance of impressive services to the federal government of the United says while interned as a prisoner of battle in phibìc Vietnam from October 1967 come March 1973.” 

On 28 July 2017, McCain tweeted a video about the Forrestal fire come commemorate the fiftieth anniversary the the catastrophe:

On the 50th anniversary the the USS Forrestal fire, us honor the brave American heroes who perished that dark work https://t.co/inuuPN1jzZ pic.twitter.com/S8kEFi9cEo