Memorial Day and survive | computer skeptic


POOF! One of the many perks of my job meet amazing people. Recently, I had the honor of meeting a man who was part of a forgotten part of our nation’s history. Allow me to introduce my new favorite client, Mr. Fred Rodgers. Mr. Fred (AKA “Trouble” according to his church insiders) needed a little help switching from an old tablet to a new one that would handle his online banking. I pointed him to a nice little tablet from a local store and helped him set it up. I got to know Fred a bit and he shared a horrible story.

In 1969, Fred was enjoying a quiet morning deep in the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise about 75 miles off the coast of Hawaii. Fred had left San Francisco 17 days prior after marrying the love of his life, Shirley. This eighth incarnation of Enterprise was the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. She first set sail in 1961 and was retired from service in 2012. She was our nation’s oldest combat vessel. Another Enterprise is under construction but won’t depart until 2028. The Enterprise spacecraft won’t be released for another 250 years.

Fred’s job was to make sure the ship’s engines were running while several of his shipmates were on the flight deck preparing for a readiness inspection. The readiness inspection required all aircraft to be refueled, equipped with bombs and rockets, and generally combat ready. Fred was in front of his locker when a huge “Booosh!” (Fred’s words) rocked the huge ship. It was the start of 10 minutes of terror that Fred would never forget.

On the upper deck of the aircraft carrier, a device called a “Huffer” (a portable jet engine) was used to start an aircraft’s engines. Unfortunately, the Huffer’s exhaust was directed at a rocket mounted on the belly of an F-4 Phantom jet plane. The rocket exploded, which punctured the jet’s fuel tanks, causing the fire to spread rapidly to other rockets. These exploded, puncturing the flight deck, which spilled kerosene into the lower level filled with sailors.

The fires soon reached a large bomb mounted on one of the jets which blasted an 8ft wide hole in the deck and ignited fuel which had seeped into the lower level still filled with sailors. The fires then reached a rack containing 3 more large bombs which exploded and ignited a 6,000 gallon fuel tank on the upper deck resulting in a massive fireball which ignited everything it touched. A total of 18 explosions occurred in less than 10 minutes.

The ship survived but the disaster claimed 27 lives, injured 314 sailors and destroyed 15 aircraft. Last January 14 marked the 53rd anniversary of this event and nobody, including me, did not even know it. So please take a moment to remember the 27 we lost that day and the Freds of the world who survived history and still live with it every day.

Jim Fisher owns Excel Computer Services in Florence. Join it at


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