The FORRESTAL had not been on station off the coast of Vietnam very long. The date was July 29, 1967. I was an E-6 Aviation Machinist's Mate (ADJ-1) assigned to a Heavy Attack Squadron. I had just got up to the flight deck and I walked up forward to look around. It looked like a routine day - nothing out of the ordinary. We were all looking forward to a long hard day of flight operations. I always liked to walk around to get some fresh air and gather my thoughts before I started work. If it had happened a few minutes later, I would have been back there near where the first explosion occurred. I stood there, just looking out in front of the ship. I had only been there for a few minutes when I heard a loud pop behind me - on the after part of the flight deck. When I turned to look, all I saw was this huge cloud of black smoke. It looked like the whole back end of the ship had blown up. I was frozen in shock for a few seconds and then I started running back there. People were running around everywhere. We could feel the intense heat and hear the awful noises coming from the fire. It was like some kind of monster was loose back there. There was another explosion and I was knocked down. I don't think I was knocked out but I was dazed for a few minutes and then I lost all track of time. There were guys running out of that smoke cloud and by then I could see the flames. Some of the guys were actually on fire. It was one of the most horrible sights I ever saw. We did what we had to do, or at least - what we thought we should be doing. I didn't try to get on one of the fire hoses - there seemed to be enough people out there manning the fire hoses already. It was just one explosion after another - I remember seeing several guys on a fire hose just disappear in one of those explosions  - they were just gone, then the smoke and fire took over the space where they had been a few seconds earlier. There was a strange vibration and the whole ship was shuddering. I hate to repeat myself but it was like some kind of terrible monster had been set loose and was trying to tear the ship apart. I worked with several of the other sailors trying to get rid of some of the ordnance that was laying around everywhere up there on the flight deck, so it would not be involved in the fire and explode. I saw a couple of skinny kids dragging a 500 pound bomb around like it weighed nothing - so they could roll it over the side. I saw a guy lying down on the catwalk off the angle deck. He was not moving and we could tell that he was in bad shape. I went with this young kid to pick him up, to get him out of there before the fire got to him. When I grabbed his arm, the skin came off the bone - that is how bad he was burned. I will never forget that. Of course - he was dead. It went on and on. It went on for hours. We have been criticized for the way the fire was handled. But I saw some very brave people in action that day - most of them just young kids. It didn't matter whether you were a high ranking officer or the lowest ranking airman - we all worked alongside each other to put the fires out and rescue other people. If you have a major fire on an aircraft carrier there is no place to go and you can't run away.  I still have nightmares about it.