Explosion 26 May, 1954
"Jim Howell" [email@example.com]
Sun, 3 Jul 2011 11:39:27 -0500
That awful day - May 1954
You may certainly use my e-mail.
I am proud to be a contributor to the history of a glorious warship.
My name is Jim Howell, 79 years of age.
I remember vividly that day the carrier Bennington's catapulp exploded.
I was a patient at the Newport Naval Hospital.
I was an AT3, and had been transferred to that hospital several weeks prior to the explosion.
At the time, I was ambulatory, and when the word got to us of the situation, many wards had to be made ready for the casualties.
Anyone who could walk, even with crutches, as I was, was ordered to assist by carrying the stretchers from the helicopters into the hospital.
It was a very emotional job, but everyone that I saw was up to the task.
I'm not sure how many men we carried in that day , but it was significant.
I believe we filled up at least three wards.
Most of the men I saw were close to death.
Their skin was just hanging off of their bodies from the terrible burns.
Some died within hours, some several days later, and a few lucky ones survived.
They were put on stretchers that could be turned over from time to time to allow their bodies to be exposed to the air.
I felt so sorry for those brave men.
They were in such pain.
I believe some of them wanted to die, rather than live.
For the rest of my life, I will never forget that day.
May GOD have mercy on their souls