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Shelton had access to this small joy, because sheer luck and a few innate skills had resulted in his assignment to a group of sailors who worked on the bridge, standing within feet of the captain in -the big control center that rose over the flight deck, the panoramic windows providing a bird's-eye view of everything happening on the flight deck and the world beyond. Shelton didn't work there every day, sometimes rotating through a few other assignments, but even if he wasn't working a shift on the bridge, no one minded if he hung around one of the nearby break areas for a cup of coffee and some conversation.

On this morning in late July , Shelton was arriving even earlier than he had to. He wanted to take some time to relax before reporting to duty as quartermaster of the bridge, keeping detailed records of every order given and nearly everything that happened.

It could be a demanding job if a lot was going on, so he liked to relax a bit first. And besides, he couldn't sleep after that nightmare. Shelton was still a little shaken by it. The whole experience just seemed so unusual. Shelton wasn't the type to have nightmares; he couldn't even remember the last time he'd had one, and he rarely remembered any dreams when he woke up.

He wasn't worried or upset about anything, so he was surprised by how much it had grabbed him. The experience was so bad that when he awoke, panicked and breathing like a racehorse, it took Shelton a minute to realize it was only a nightmare. The images were too vivid, the sense of horror too real.

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Shelton had sprung up and sat on the edge of his bunk, waiting for his heart to slow down, wiping the sweat from his face. He was glad to be awake. He was glad to see that everything was okay, and yet, he couldn't get past the feeling that something wasn't. Shelton had lain back in his bunk, wide awake and still energized from the nightmare. With the rustling and snoring of his crewmates in the background, Shelton's mind kept flashing with images from the nightmare.

There were great bursts of light, loud noises, and fire. Nothing was clear, but he did see fire. More than anything else, though, there was a terrible sense of fear and dread.

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

Shelton realized he would never get back to sleep, and he wasn't sure he wanted to anyway. After lying in his bunk for a while, wide awake, he got up and dressed. He was assigned to work on the bridge that day, so he had to put on the crisp white uniform instead of the denim work clothes he might wear to other assignments.


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On the way out of his sleeping area, he passed by his buddy James Blaskis, who was sound asleep just a few bunks away from his Sailors to the End. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Documentary: USS Forrestal Aircraft Carrier Disaster

All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Forecast: The combination of McCain, Vietnam, fire fighting and excellent storytelling give this genre book an excellent chance of breaking out.


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Morrow's national print and broadcast campaign includes a city radio campaign, and Freeman's former AP status should be a draw for potential interviewers. View Full Version of PW.

This Week on The Housing Hour: Remembering The USS Forrestal

Show other formats. Discover what to read next. A huge fire ensued, and McCain barely escaped before a 1,pound bomb on his plane exploded, causing a chain reaction with other bombs on surrounding planes. The crew struggled for days to extinguish the fires, the five thousand men on board experiencing different kinds of hell - some trapped in damaged compartments waiting to die, some battling rivers of flaming jet fuel in order to rescue their buddies.

Almost all of them were innocent eighteen- and nineteen-year-olds, but in an instant they were thrust into a tragedy that nearly destroyed the ship and took the lives of men. Excitement of a thriller Written with the intensity and excitement of a thriller, and based on never-before-disclosed information and extensive interviews with the fire's survivors, here is the first full, minute-by-minute account of the disaster.