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Old 05-26-2018, 04:11 PM
 
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October 1990 the USS Iwo Jima LPH-2 had a steam leak that killed ten engineers. Arab yard workers put black oxide brass nuts on a main steam valve bonnet (over 600 psi and over 800 degree steam). As the ship was pulling out from Bahrain the nuts gave way and the nearly 200 lb bonnet was thrown across the boiler room. This 2 & 1/2 story boiler room was filled with this superheated steam in about two seconds. The pressures were so great the walls and ceiling bowed outward from the boiler room before snapping back into shape. Six were killed instantly. Four got out alive but slowly died from having inhaled the superheated steam. Because of the complexity of the boiler room, their buddies were ordered to dress out in fire fighting gear to recover the bodies. The eyes were still open and the skin was coming off onto the hands of those lifting them. About a week later I received orders to the ship. Nearly a month after the accident I arrived on my first ship after a 12 hour flight. First night trying to sleep was the first time I heard men screaming in terror from the nightmares. Two of the guys were eventually taken away for psychological problems. I don’t know what those guys were like before the accident but those who were there all said none were the same. To make their stress worse, while dealing with the loss of their buddies they were all questioned by NIS (now called NCIS) from the Captain down to the lowly E-3. They wanted to be sure this wasn’t a sabotage by someone who didn’t want to go to war. What it did was put everyone on edge. This caused fights (verbal and sometimes physical). A year later I could see a huge difference in our chief (E-7). He went from the angriest jerk I ever met to a cool boss.

Some military lives aren’t lost in combat or war.
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