nd.gov - The Official Portal for North Dakota State Government
North Dakota: Legendary. Follow the trail of legends

Lt. Junior Grade Thomas Edmund Spitzer - Fallen

Thomas Edmund Spitzer
Baldwin, ND
County: Burleigh
Vietnam - Fallen
Date of Loss: October 26, 1966 / Age: 25
Branch of Service: Navy

In, Tonkin Gulf, NORTH VIETNAM

At 0728 26 October fire broke out in a forward magazine and raged through 5 decks, claiming the lives of 44 sailors. Many of those killed were veteran combat pilots who, a few hours earlier, had flown on raids over Vietnam. Serious damage to the carrier ended ORISKANY's WestPac deployment and following limited repairs in Subic Bay (RP) she returned to San Diego on 03 Nov 1966.

The fire started when a magnesium flare ignited in a ready ammo locker near frame 44 in the forward section of the ship. Shipboard fires are not uncommon, and ORISKANY's crew responded promptly and properly to this one. However, the primary firefighting tool available in the magazine area was an inexhaustable supply of salt water - but water alone cannot extinguish magnesium fires. The heat of the flare ignited other ordnance, including 5" ZUNI rocket warheads. 

Buried at Baldwin Cemetery - Baldwin, North Dakota