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Old 07-31-2008, 11:33 AM
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Back in my Marine Corps days I was an aircraft ordnance technician. This meant I loaded the bombs and missiles on the airplanes and also maintained the ordnance control systems. I had never loaded or armed a particular model of missile, but one day while on deployment to Yuma they wanted me to load it on an A-4, and then arm it. I told the warrant officer in charge that I wasn't comfortable but he told me to use the checklist and "get it done". So I did. However I did one thing out of sequence and when the pilot attempted to fire the missile the rocket motor didn't fire but the guidance unit (powered by a gas-grain generator) did fire up. The guidance unit was destroyed. This was about $100,000 in damage.

The airplane landed with the missile still on the rack. The warrant officer called me to the flight line and asked me to step through what I did. He immediately saw what I did wrong and all I could see was my sergeant's stripes going away. But he said "you told me you didn't know about this piece of ordnance. I guess you were right." That was the last I heard about it.

I followed the rules and sent up the warning flag, so I didn't get blamed. I don't know the full story, but find it hard to believe a sailor would be in a hazardous area who didn't normally work there - and would therefore know the rules about smoking.

The Navy has a bad history with carrier fires. The Forrestal (aka the Firestall), the Oriskany, the Enterprise, they all had deadly fires as the result of either poor procedures, poor designs, or inattention to detail.
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