LTjg William J. Foley, 1952-54
LTjg Robert F. Pickens, 1952-54
LTJG William J. Foley, 1952-54
Fri, 29 Jun 2001 18:08:36 EDT
In trying to correct the information on Ltjg William J. Foley (listed as W.J. Foley, Ltjg, 1954-1954, record number 331 AND record # 1057 under "The Crew" on the website), I'm not sure that I followed directions correctly. Mr. Foley and my dad, Robert F. Pickens (Ltjg., 1952-54) were roommates. Both were junior officers at the time of the recommissioning on 13 Nov. 1952, and both survived both the boiler explosion and catapult explosion. They remained close and kept in touch until Mr. Foley's untimely death in the tractor accident in late July or August of 1982.
We believe W.J. Foley's listing as one of those who were injured in the catapult explosion may have been a clerical error. (Perhaps the person injured was Patrick Foley or a T.J. Foley, who is listed in the 1953-54 cruise book as an SN). Dad and W.J. Foley were scheduled to have been moved into one of the officer's rooms in the part of the ship that was damaged in the explosion the end of May, but had not yet moved as of 26 May 1954. At the time of the explosion, both Dad and Mr. Foley went to their stations. Dad's assignment was M division and Main Engines; Foley was assigned R division and another duty (I saw it in Dad's duty roster of 1 May 1954 last weekend, but failed to jot it down in my notes). Since Chief Engineer LCDR Paul E. Fournier had been killed in the explosion and some of the officers were missing at that point or trapped in other areas of the ship, Dad was trying to help get the ship back into port and was in contact with Captain Raborn as they evaluated how to get the ship back into port quickly and also launch the aircraft and make room on the flight deck so that incoming helicopters could land and take the most critically wounded back to port. Foley called up to say that Lt. J.C. Valek, the Main Prop Assistant, had had his shirt burned off but was unhurt and was on his way up which would relieve Dad to go back to his station. Both Dad and Foley had to undergo the weekly checks at the hospital for a time (Dad had had to fight his way to his station without his OBA) to be sure they were all right. (I'm sure I don't have all the details of this story exactly right as my father related it to me on June 25, 2001 while telling my 6-year-old son about the Bennington, but I wanted you to know the gist of the story, as Dad was pretty sure that Foley's listing was an error unless the injury listing came from damage discovered after Foley left the ship in August 1954).
Thank you for your website! It is absolutely incredible. Dad has not yet seen it since he does not have a computer, but I have visited it dozens of times since discovering it a couple of weeks ago. To read the accounts of the explosion and realize what my father went through, and to see the photos has been a remarkable experience. I have learned so much about the history of this great ship. Dad has begun talking about his experiences again and telling my sons and I about them when we visited him last weekend, and my mother and I are encouraging him to submit some of them to the "Time Line--Crew Stories" when he does get to visit the website. THANK YOU SO MUCH--
Barbara Pickens Foster