Joseph Pfeiffer

Boiler Explosion
F9F Down the Elevator
Catapult Explosion

Bennington stories
Joseph Pfeiffer
Thu, 2 Apr 2009 00:22:40 -0400 (EDT)

I have visited this site many times over the last several years and I don't know why I never wrote before.
My name is Joseph W. Pfeiffer and I was on the ship from 29 Sept.1952 to 27 May 1954.
Then stationed at Q. P. R.I.Naval Base till I was discharge in July.

I was an AN assigned to the V1 Division and in Rep8, crash and rescue on the flight deck,
I wore the hot suite during flight operations.
I have read the stories over and over again about the March 9 1953 F9F crash,
April 27 1953 Boiler and 26 May 1954 Catapult stories.

The F9F story as I recall it is pretty much on the money.
I was on the flight deck and saw the plane come in.
As I remember, and I could be wrong,
the plane came in hot and broke part of the tail hook off.
you can still see most of it in the pictures, bounced into the air and was airborne as
it flew through the eleven foot nylon barricade, bounced again and went down the pit.
I ran up the deck, down a port side ladder to the hanger deck and
a medical core man and I went in and got the pilot out.
Those guys on the hanger deck were great,
they did save the ship from some serious harm.

The April 27th 1953 Boiler explosion.
I was standing on the foreword mess deck when it seemed there was a rush of air and noise.
We all ran like hell as the steam came up from the boiler room.
One of my buddies got caught in the scullery and was
burned quite bad from the steam.

The funny part was, years later I met and became friends with a man named Harry Beeby.
He was a catapult expert with the Philadelphia Navy Yard and was one of the
investigators in the May 26 1954 catapult explosion.
Harry was the Fire Chief of a small town in NJ called Runnemede where I lived and worked for
many years till I moved to FL in 1993.

Now years later I married in May 1957 and had three children,
Debra born May 26 1958, the anniversary of the catapult explosion,
Joseph born August 16 1959, the anniversary of the battle of Bennington Vt
and lastly, a son Michael born 29 Sept. 1961, the anniversary date of when I reported to the ship.

During my time on the ship I witnessed just about every major happening or in some way
was part of it.
During my time on the ship we, unfortunately, lost around 130 men.
Years later, here in Fl, a paper was doing a story about military heroes and they wanted input.
I wrote them about this period of time and stated there are men like this who where unrecognised heroes.
They did a story that included men like these guys, that gave there lives.
A man living in our town read the story and we met one day.
He was a photographer from Q. P. RI N Base and it was his assignment to
photograph the damage from the May 26 1954 explosion.
It was hard to lose shipmates and friends but I grew up real fast during those two years.
I learned a lot and I saw some of the world.
I just hope some day to be able to make it to one of the reunions.
Thanks for letting me share my little story with you.

Joseph W. Pfeiffer


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