Friday, July 29, 2011

Mini-Review of "Sailors to the End" by Gregory A. Freeman

I first learned of the tragic fire aboard the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal from my friend, Mark Dahl. Mark was a Top Gun instructor pilot, and he now uses the lessons learned from the Forrestal disaster to teach many leadership principles. One point that he makes very poignantly is that through the mechanism of thorough training, the U.S. Navy is able to take a group of raw recruits - teenagers who might otherwise struggle to get our "Super Size it" order correct at McDonald's - and turn them into a team of young men who would risk their lives to fight a fire that threatened to sink America's most powerful warship.

In his classic 2002 book about the deadly fire, Gregory a. Freeman does an excellent job of telling the story of the Forrestal, its crew and the events that led up to and followed the fire that was triggered by the accidental firing of a missile that created a fireball in the aircraft being piloted by future U.S. Senator John McCain.

"Sailors to the End" is an important addition to our understanding of what life aboard an aircraft carrier is like - in calm seas or in the midst of a general quarters emergency.

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