Sailors to the End: The Deadly Fire on the USS Forrestal and the Heroes Who Fought It

Sailors to the End: The Deadly Fire on the USS Forrestal and the Heroes Who Fought It

by Gregory A. Freeman
4.6 22

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Sailors to the End 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just recently learned about the tragic fire on the USS Forrestal, which occured in 1967. After doing some research I discovered Gregory Freeman's book on the Forrestal and thought it was an excellent read. Freeman provides background on the ship, its crew, and the alignment of a whole host of circumstances that opened the door for the tragic fire. This book is both engrossing and very sad, as the author explains the complexities of serving on the ship, the backdrop of the Vietnam War, and the fact that decisions made by higher-ups and politicians cost so many young men their lives. He also touches on Sen. John McCain, who was nearly trapped in his plane when the fire broke out. I highly reccommend the book and wish more people knew about these brave men who served their country with honor.
Anonymous 9 months ago
Riveting account of a horrific event.
Anonymous 12 months ago
Was on Forrestal during the fire. I was in A-5 division (machine shop).
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Definitely worth reading. Also very sad so many lives were lost.
sainthelenaislandman More than 1 year ago
Superbly researched and told, this story is a gory reminder of the crucial nature of safety training and procedures. It is also a glowing reminder of the stellar quality of our naval personnel over the years. After what amounted to questionable safety protocol combined with freak electrical conditions on a parked aircraft and the acquisition of disastrously unstable WWII-era ordinance, a horrendous fire broke out. Containing that fire and tending to the scores of critically injured sailors brought out the best in the crew. This is ultimately their story of valor but one with broad implications for any organization dealing with potentially deadly materials under stressful conditions. Very highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Being an ex Navy carrier pilot, I looked forward to reading this book. It became quickly clear however that the author didn't research the facts. I couldn't get past the section where the author described carrier landings and take offs. Down right false statements and simplified layman comments. Rubbish. Should have had someone who knows what they're talking about proof the book. Credability lost. Couldn't continue the read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As part of navy boot camp I was required to watch the footage of the Forrestal fire, it scared me to death. Years later I ended up serving aboard her for 2 years. I remember walking past the memorial plaques in the hanger bay dedicated to those that perished. There is no plaque to remember those that saved the ship and fought to save their fellow shipmates, "Sailors To The End" is their plaque. This is a forgotten piece of naval history, my thanks to the author for not letting it stay that way. I have met many of the men who's stories are told in the book including the captain, I'm glad to see they will not be forgotten. Good book, worth reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
mystirie More than 1 year ago
I bought this book because my husband was on the Forrestal and would never talk about what happened, however he would answer direct questions about the experience. So I used it as a tool to learn what happened and to get him to talk about it at least in short conversations.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
sometimes parts were slow, byt this was a great read, wish it had been longer.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I LOVE reading these types of books. I have read numerous books about different WW2 naval incidents and felt it was time to broaden my horizons a bit. Reading a story that took place during Vietnam really was touching. I was born shortly after that era and know a lot of people who served, both in the jungle and on these ships. It really makes me appreciate these people even more!
Guest More than 1 year ago
My father was a witness to the Forrestal disaster July 29, 1967, so I was familiar with the event long before this book was written. On occasions where I'd discussed the tragedy with friends who had served in the Navy, I had been told of the firefighting training films they'd been shown where the instructor would ridicule the sailors who so bravely endeavored to save their ship, pointing out everything that, according to them, they'd done wrong. Nothing could be further from the truth. As we read through the pages of Sailors to the End, we experience the fire through the eyes of a select number of individuals, who represent a fraction of the men who are haunted to this day by the events they witnessed, including the deaths of shipmates and friends, and the injuries they suffered. The author also provides some background on each of these sailors so that they become more real and human to us, rather than just a cast of characters in a history text. We learn that the catastrophe was not due to their incompetence, but old, faulty ammunition left over from World War II that exploded prematurely and wiped out the Forrestal's firefighting teams mere minutes after the fire started. Personally speaking, this book provided a perspective of the disaster that my father had not, and probably could not have, expressed to me. Freeman does an excellent job of relating the emotions and experiences of those who were directly involved in the disaster. What was even more poignant to me after finishing Sailors to the End was its featured program on BookTV where several of the Forrestal sailors discussed in the book took the podium and talked about what they had gone through. Unfortunately, BookTV's website only has a two month archive of their featured programs, but if you're able to access a recording of the broadcast, I highly recommend watching it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a Forrestal survivor, it is refreshing to read accurate information. Much has been said and recorded on "supposed documentaries" over the years, but Gregory Freeman's book is the most accurate report I've found. It is like being there again, yet it is done in a tasteful way that does not cheapen the memory of those men who died valiantly in this terrible disaster. I salute Mr. Freeman and and thank him for setting the record straight once and for all. It may not matter to a lot of people, but it matters to me and to every other man who was there.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was aboard the Forrestal on that warm late July day just off the coast of North Vietnam. As a witness to the carnage on the flightdeck, I was struck by the courage of all the crew. Self sacrifice and was not an order it was everyone's goal. Nine one thousand pound bombs sank most World War Two carriers. If not for the crew of Forrestal, that was about to be our fate. To answer an earlier review comment, the course of the WestPac cruise was; South from Norfolk Virginia, crossing the equator June 19, 1967. A three day port of call in Rio de Janeiro, then South East to the "Cape of Good Hope off the coast of the South Africa. Finally, North east through the Indian Ocean to Subic Bay Philippine Islands.
Guest More than 1 year ago
OUTSTANDING ACCOUNT OF THE EVENTS OF JULY 29,1967. MUST READING FOR ANYONE WHO EVER SERVED ON A AIRCRAFT CARRIER AND FOR THOSE WHO NEVER DID!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was so glad to see this little-known story told in a manner befitting the heroic actions of the dedicated crew of the USS Forrestal. As a parent of three in the military (two on flattops) this book is a bit difficult to read, as the author re-enacts the fire with vivid detail. It is a story of boys forced to become men in an instant, and shows that more than just those that died lost their lives that fateful day. This book is truly a story of ordinary men performing extraordinary deeds. While in many ways the truth of what happened that day is still 'too little, too late', I was mesmerized to see the story unfold via the eyes of the sailors that lived through this horror. It is a shame our gov't insists on finding scapegoats when they should be recognizing heroes. I know it cannot bring back anyone's son, but my daughters have a better chance of being safe because of some of the lessons learned that day, too. Oh, and I'm confused by the reviewer's complaint about editing - to go around the Cape of Good Hope, one must sail around South America. If you like non-fiction/historical reads, I'd give the book 4 1/2 stars.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Everyday I go to work in uniform, I wear a belt buckle depicting the USS FORRESTAL. Even when the usual, disrespectful comment is 'Oh, you served on the forest fire?' I wear the buckle with great pride. As a single sailor, she was my home for the majority of the three years I was assigned to her as part of the ship's company. Several years later, I was honored to return to her for one more cruise as part of the airwing. So, why the background? Well, I wanted to provide a context for my comments, and relay to the reader my commitment to this ship and its memory. Given my experience with the ship, I read the book with great interest, and I enjoyed the book very much. Even with my personal knowledge about what took place aboard FORRESTAL years before I sailed aboard her, the book filled in a tremendous amount of detailed information in a format that was enjoyable and easy to read. I also believe the author did a very good job of explaining the complexities of a Navy aircraft and Navy terminology, in a manner that nearly anyone could understand. However, the discovery of the simpliest error, makes me wonder about other inaccuracies or mistakes the author may have made. I am specifically referring to the route the FORRESTAL took to get to Yankee Station off of Vietnam. By the time I reached page 65, I noticed there were three places where the author made references to how the ship got to the Pacific Ocean, and those statements conflict each other (see pages 9, 59 & 65). Page 59 reads, 'The FORRESTAL sailed around the Cape of Good Hope at the tip of Africa.' Six pages later the author writes, 'On the voyage around South America, he (the Captain) and Rowland stepped up the routine drills and exercises.' I believe the former is correct, but I don't know for sure. If possible, I would give the book three-and-a-half stars.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My husband was on the Forrestal 3 different times. This is not an accurate account of the fire. He was there! He knows what happened and he lost many friends. It was a terrible fire. We also have the film from the Navy files and the one from the Discovery Fire. It could have been a good book but he should have contacted more sailors that fought the fire. My husband used to have nightmares..he would wake me up fighting the fire in his sleep. Maybe one day we will write our own book concerning the Navy and the Forrestal fire.