April 19th, 2005, 06:32 AM
I had been planning to write an article for our local newspaper since it keeps forgetting. I thought I'd contact our local TV news service since they keep forgetting. Then I realized that perhaps it's best forgotten...
4/19 is a dubious day at best throughout the late 20th century.
4/19 was the day the ATF attacked and burned the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas.
4/19 was the day of the Oklahoma City Federal Building bombing.
4/19 was the day Turret Two exploded aboard USS Iowa, killing 47.
It's been 16 years to the day since I carried my best friend Dave Hanson out of the mess that used to be a gun turret. The old "Big Stick" sits silently awaiting her fate as the powers that be decide whether to make her a museum or razor blades. She rests in San Francisco while that red-tape battle rages. I've kept track of old shipmates I knew and cared about from Iowa, not one reenlisted beyond 4 years after the explosion. Our old CO, Captain Moosally, has a nice cushy office job as a Vice President over some stuff with General Dynamics. Last year I got curious and called his office, only to get brushed off by his secretary until I proved beyond a shadow of doubt that I wasn't the media but was indeed a former crewmember. Even then he would only speak to me by telephone, not email. I suppose this was to prevent anything written from getting to the media.
The movie they made about it - "A glimpse of hell" was a joke. Only about 1/10th of the story they told was accurate, and the names of major players other than the Lt and CPO in question so grossly inaccurate it wasn't even funny, it was sick-making. The book wasn't much better, giving light to Dan Rather's investigative interviews for 60 minutes. Maybe it's me, but those were my friends who burned and drowned down there, both by accident and by design to save the rest of us. I don't much like their memories being dragged through the muck just to sell a few tickets, and damn sure don't like the idea of the story being so sensationalized... but then again...
on 4/22/1989 we returned to Norfolk Virginia. Then President George Bush (senior) flew in for a memorial service. All the crew was invited. We were told special seating had been arranged for us in a hangar about a half mile down the road from where Iowa was berthed. All hands not on duty put on their dress whites and black armbands and walked that half mile to pay tribute to their fallen comerades. We got to stand in the back of the crowd because the media and VIP's all wanted the good seating. About the only thing I can say that does credit to this is that the families of the deceased at least got to sit down, but only if there were 2 or less family members. The rest stood with us, at the back of the hangar, where George and his entourage looked like ants. He promised us he would find out what happened that day. He never truly did.
The Navy Investigative Service wanted a scapegoat. They wanted to blame Kendall Truitt and Clayton Hartwig for the explosion. Thankfully Kendall had sense enough to get a good lawyer, and Clayton's sister Kathy wouldn't stand for it either. Much sensationalism and hype ensued.
We all knew it was the powder. Now that it's beyond 15 years after the fact I can tell you that. How could it not be the powder? The previous summer Iowa was in drydock in Portsmouth Va. The policy there is any drydocked ship must be free of any ordinance. They floated the black powder that charged the mighty 16 inch guns in an unventilated barge out in the middle of Portsmouth Harbor. Hmm... Let's ask you chemistry-oriented folks this one...even those not so oriented in chemistry can probably figure it out.... What happens when you put a shitload of gunpowder in a steel barge with zero ventilation out in the summer sun?
During the initial investigation Captain Moosally called us all screw ups and unqualified. He later rescinded this before a Congressional hearing. The truth of the matter is that all the hang-fires and misfires from all three turrets were due to bad powder... This very same powder that had been manufactured during the Korean war, then floated in that very same barge that previous summer.
After much investigation, Sandia labs proved that under the right conditions, the Iowa's powder *would* explode spontaneously, even if properly handled, granting Truitt and Hartwig a full stay of scapegoatism, and forcing the Navy to admit that it could've been the powder. To this day the investigation remains inconclusive, and George Bush senior failed to keep his promise.
For those of you who would like to see pictures of the Iowa, find out more about her and the men who crewed her through the years, and hear some of the stories from the turret 2 survivors, I invite you to this link:
I remember turret two. Even if the media forgets, even if the world forgot, I by God remember. I don't think I could ever forget.
Even a broken watch is correct twice a day.
Which coder said that nobody could outcode Microsoft in their own OS? Write a bit and make a fortune!
April 19th, 2005, 09:24 PM
There were a few things I was going to post but the words just didn't seem right. What happened to your friends was terrible, those that died, those that had their names dragged through the mud and those like you with things etched in their brains that we only see in movies.
Good luck today and raise one for the boys.
\"You got a mouth like an outboard motor..all the time putt putt putt\" - Foghorn Leghorn
April 19th, 2005, 09:55 PM
For anyone interested...here is the forum specifically for this event...
USS IOWA Turret #2 Explosion Discussion Board
April 21st, 2005, 12:19 AM
No, not forgotten,..........................Imho, best kept in memory by those too whom it actually means something.
Then I realized that perhaps it's best forgotten...
That is what counts, not some media circus. I do hope you understand where i'm coming from.
What happens if a big asteroid hits the Earth? Judging from realistic simulations involving a sledge hammer and a common laboratory frog, we can assume it will be pretty bad. - Dave Barry