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A-4 Skyhawk Crash
Photo Location: So. China Sea 
Posted By: Dewman, 05-30-2018, 12:50 PM

These were taken with the still camera mounted on top of the video camera that was located in the "Greenhouse," a small sponson deck on the 07 level above the flight deck. We videotaped each launch and recovery and in the event that there was an "incident," we would hold down the red button on the control arm and the still camera would automatically begin shooting 3 frames a second. Unfortunately, the pilot did not survive. The plane was never recovered. This was taken early on in the Vietnam conflict, in late 1966 while I was aboard the USS Ticonderoga, CVA 14.

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05-30-2018, 03:05 PM   #2
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Thanks for sharing. Brings back a lot of memories.
05-30-2018, 03:32 PM   #3
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A good series
05-30-2018, 06:54 PM   #4
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Great series Dewman, along with a very good narrative. Now what causes an incident such as this one? The nose gear is down, so it must not have been a landing gear issue, or maybe it was.

Laters,

Tony

05-31-2018, 07:19 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Tonytee Quote
Great series Dewman, along with a very good narrative. Now what causes an incident such as this one? The nose gear is down, so it must not have been a landing gear issue, or maybe it was.

Laters,

Tony

Tony, if you'll notice in the first photo, the dents in the under wing fuel tanks. Also, notice the white caps present on the ocean. The ship was pitching up and down during this time and the pilots would actually try to compensate for this pitching before touching down. This pilot misjudged the pitching and hit a part of the flight deck at the very aft end known as the "round down." He hit that portion, far short of where he intended to land and ruptured the fuel tanks and the fuel exploded when he hit the deck. It all happened so fast, but luckily, I managed to hit the "red button" in time to catch the sequence. I could tell that he was coming in way too low and had a feeling that it wasn't going to end well.


The emotions when something like this happens is difficult to explain, knowing that one of your fellow warriors just met his fate, right before your eyes. I was about 20 years old at the time and it shook me to my core. Even now, some 50+ years later, I still relive them every time I look at these shots. I wish I knew his name. He and the plane were never recovered.... one of seven pilots we lost on that deployment. The last crash took out our entire landing light system and we had to return stateside to Bremmerton, Washington and spent about 4 months in drydock where they replaced the entire wooden flight deck and installed a new landing light system.
05-31-2018, 07:23 AM   #6
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Watching someone's death is not appealing to me...
05-31-2018, 01:20 PM - 1 Like   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by mee Quote
Watching someone's death is not appealing to me...
True, but part of Dewman's job was to make sure that the incident was captured. I have seen videos of aircraft hitting the round down before and it is not pretty.
05-31-2018, 01:58 PM - 3 Likes   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by SSGGeezer Quote
True, but part of Dewman's job was to make sure that the incident was captured. I have seen videos of aircraft hitting the round down before and it is not pretty.

Tom, I gave it a lot of thought before posting those photos for fear that some might find it offensive. If that is the case, I sincerely apologize.... but, it was part of the life you and I and many other vets lived. It was an extremely sad event..... one of many I was exposed to and some were far more gruesome than what is shown there. As a Navy combat photographer, you're called on to take photos of things that are more than most people can imagine. I won't go into details, but it's things that I relive in my dreams on a regular basis.... and it's been that way for over 50 years. Until you've been there, you can't possibly imagine the horrors of war. I'm still trying to make sense of it all.

05-31-2018, 05:02 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by SSGGeezer Quote
True, but part of Dewman's job was to make sure that the incident was captured. I have seen videos of aircraft hitting the round down before and it is not pretty.

There is an often comedic internet saying of 'you cannot unseen it', but I think it applies to things like this too.



But yes I've seen horrible footage too and, despite it being old footage, it can really stick with you.. ingrained in your brain.



QuoteOriginally posted by Dewman Quote
Tom, I gave it a lot of thought before posting those photos for fear that some might find it offensive. If that is the case, I sincerely apologize.... but, it was part of the life you and I and many other vets lived. It was an extremely sad event..... one of many I was exposed to and some were far more gruesome than what is shown there. As a Navy combat photographer, you're called on to take photos of things that are more than most people can imagine. I won't go into details, but it's things that I relive in my dreams on a regular basis.... and it's been that way for over 50 years. Until you've been there, you can't possibly imagine the horrors of war. I'm still trying to make sense of it all.

I felt grim images like this in this setting not quite fitting for the serious, somber content presented (between photographs of flowers, animals, cars, and babies). That said, there is value in showing the cost of war (and the reasons to try to avoid it) as well as the sacrifices made....



Yet just as you relive awful moments you saw first hand, I don't want to 'relive' these awful moments now too.



As a young kid way back, I figured the ships (esp carriers) were out of harms way... but no.. lots of things happened. Photographs such as these document this well. My (now late) grandfather opted to share stories of him growing up or the time after the wars (WWII, Korea, Vietnam)... I think there was a chunk of time missing in his stories on purpose. My dad mostly shared the fun stories of his time a sea (or crude sailor jokes..).. I thought that odd before discovering this was pretty common back then to avoid discussing the dark stuff with family... but I think I understand why now.
05-31-2018, 05:53 PM - 1 Like   #10
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Naval aviation is a risky business even today...
Thank you for sharing some of your experiences from the past.
05-31-2018, 08:54 PM   #11
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