Capt. Samuel Mowad, Dental Corps, is retired now, a successful career as a Navy dentist in his wake. Yet the memories of what happened to him and his ship more than 35 years ago is still something he talks about, with the hope that sharing his experiences will help prepare others.
Mowad was a young lieutenant aboard the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal (CV 59) on July 29, 1967, when a stray Zuni rocket from an F-4 Phantom, triggered by stray voltage, set off a chain of events that left 134 dead and more than 300 injured.
The deadly chain reaction began when the rocket hit a parked and armed A-4 Skyhawk (piloted by a young Lt. John S. McCain), rupturing its fuel tanks and feeding fires that enveloped planes parked on deck. The impact also sent a 1,000-pound bomb into the fire, which "cooked off" and killed the flight deck chief and the first wave of trained fire fighters.