Death On The Flight Deck

My first time off the coast of Nam was December 1965 during the monsoon season and it rained everyday we were on the line. We were off the coast of South Vietnam on Dixie Station and I was about to experience sometime that I can describe to you in detail today. It was night and raining like hell and I could feel the rain running down my neck as I leaned backwards into the wind. The ship was being tossed around quite a bit and how they could even fly in this crap I`ll never know. I have always told people that navy pilots are a different breed of man, to take off is one thing but to land they had the balls of an elephant. Trying to land on a moving ship in good weather is hard to land at night during a storm is the most dangerous thing any man and now women can possibly do.
I remember hearing a loud noise coming from the back of the ship and then I saw it, an A-4 Skyhawk upside down about to crash on the flight deck. For over 45 years I remember seeing this plane crash and a ball of fire sliding across the flight deck right towards me. In 2011 This moment in time grew to hard to remember and I attended therapy in Waco Tx. for 6 weeks with a shrink one on one for 2 to 3 hours 2 to 3 times a week. At first we started with being on the flight deck and it was raining. We did this over and over and over for about 2 hours. He kept asking me what did I see, what else do you see, what do you hear and who did I see until I finally ran to escape the flaming aircraft.
  I remember seeing the island and I remember Tiny who was about 6`6" tall, he was the petty officer in charge of directing aircraft, I could now see how big the ball of fire was. It reached up to about the 07 deck or between 60 and 70 feet above the flight deck and was coming at me as I stood frozen watching this ball of fire getting closer. before my brain finally got thru to my feet and I ran. About half way thru the therapy we changed up and started the instant before the plane actually hit. I started to remember planes parked along the port side of the ship back aft and seeing the A-4 just a foot or two off the flight deck then the explosion.
   He must have come in too low and hit the rear of the flight deck and turning upside down before crashing. I could see where the plane looked bent where it must have hit and then the explosion. The shrink never stopped asking what do you see, what do you hear, what do you feel, what else do you see and I could see everything, hear the metal of the plane screeching across the flight deck. I could see the nose of the plane and the number of the plane along with parts of I believe were the landing gear. Then I felt the heat getting closer to me and putting my hands out to stop it before I started to run. The shrink asked me why did I put my hands out and I did not remember saying that but he showed me how I had my arms outstretched in front of me. One more time we went thru it and then I remembered putting my hands out to stop the plane from hitting me.
   That is when I realized how close that plane came to killing me that night on the flight deck, mere feet away from dying. They never did find the pilot but I heard rumors they found his helmet in the catwalk. In actual time this took maybe 5 to 10 seconds at the most and I can still see every detail like it was last night.
Pmacphoto Pmacphoto
70+, M
2 Responses Jan 18, 2013

I can't even imagine that. It must have been horrific and just as bad to remember, especially so clearly, as clear as the night it happened. Glad you made it through and are here today to share the storey. Thanks.

The therapist and I were able to take this traumatic event and move it to just a memory although every once in awhile it pops its ugly head up. Thank you

Gives me night sweat chills. But damn good story that has to be a load off your mind. That's why I started writing in 1980. And still do. Thanks for sharing photo.