Memorial Day is not just a day to remember those military members who were lost in combat. There are many members of our military who are lost in peacetime, and their sacrifice is not diminished by the fact that we are not involved in hostilities. This Memorial Day, I choose to honor a man who was lost in a peacetime training accident when a rogue wave struck the ship that I was serving on, late one night in 1989 off the coast of Florida.

Three men went overboard when a wave struck the lowered aircraft elevator at 0115 in the morning. They were all wearing float coats. One was quickly found by his survival strobe. The second was found when a smoke float being dropped from a helicopter to mark the position of the first man fell on top of him. The third was never found, despite the fact that we searched for him for 24 hours. His body was never recovered. Airman Craig Harris gave his life that dark night in October. I honor his sacrifice, for the life he gave in support of this nation.


Skinnedknuckles · May 29, 2023 at 9:35 am

Thank you for reminding us all of this. I still remember and mourn the loss of two aviators in our squadron who were lost while training for shipboard landings the week after I got the the squadron. I never got to know them but I felt their loss then and to this day. It brought home the seriousness of what we were doing every day.

I also feel the loss of every veteran, whether peacefully when their time comes or tragically when they can no longer face what they saw in their service.

Every veteran who has passed should be remembered this day.

Henry · May 29, 2023 at 9:58 am

Thank you for remembering Airman Harris. A little detail can be found here:

“Three sailors were moving missiles and aircraft gear from the flight deck to the hangar deck of the Eisenhower about 1:15 a.m. yesterday when the men and their thousands of pounds of equipment were swept into the sea by a massive wave, naval authorities said. Officials said the elevator — a huge lift on the exterior of the ship that moves between the hangar deck and the flight deck — had been lowered to the hangar deck entrance about 20 feet to 24 feet above the waterline when the mishap occurred. The ship reported rain and seas of 4 feet to 8 feet, a Navy official said. The wave would have been unusually large to sweep over the elevator and carry the men and heavy equipment into the ocean. Navy officials yesterday speculated that the wave swelled dramatically in size as it hit the bow and bounced along the hull of the gigantic ship. The Navy has ordered an investigation. The missing sailor was identified as aviation ordnance airman Craig A. Harris of Uniontown, Pa. Searchers gave up the hunt for him late last night.”


Bo Weevil · May 29, 2023 at 10:12 am

The town where my brother lives has HQ cloth posters with photo of veterans of all wars who served on the street light poles, up for the entire month and beyond.
The replacements of the Fundamental Transformation don’t care but I was checking them out while at stop lights and it is only 30 mph for the main street.
I will go check on Pineland buddy who was injured in Sandbox One or Iraq 91.

Bear Claw · May 29, 2023 at 11:26 am

May God bless all who served keep and comfort them may his grace and mercy be upon them, may his love abide in their hearts and minds that they shall have peace, especially those who showed the greatest love of all

E M Johnson · May 29, 2023 at 8:49 pm

mother nature invented FAFO many sailors have made their way to Davey Jones locker. We had a wave break over the bow of the Carl Vinson. Man overboard was called from the resulting cluster fuck of bodies getting washed down the deck while into and under the A/C on deck. Petty Officer Steinle had his neck broke and ear dangling by a piece of skin. Don’t think he was ever the same.

Paulb · May 30, 2023 at 3:26 am

I think it’s good to hear stories like this, of vets who’s passing wasn’t remembered as heroic, but who suffered tragedy by the nature of their work.
There are particular trouble spots where rogue waves form, and IDGAF if NOAA disagrees. George’s Bank, Straits of FL, Old Bahama Channel Straits of Juan De Fuca and Cape Disappointment come to mind. Mostly because that’s where I’ve experienced them.
One happier story on a hard subject: after a nice day in FL turned bad when we all got washed down the deck 100 or so feet after burying the bow, The Eggplant got his forever nickname. The unfortunate soul managed to hit a stanchion with his legs spread when we got washed aft, and his testicles stopped him short. He didn’t make his next watch, and when I went to check on him, he asked me to look and see if everything looked normal downstairs or if he should seek help, as he wasn’t sure. He was not OK. The swelling and bruising left him with what looked exactly like an eggplant hanging. “It’s a little swollen, man, but just to be safe, maybe go see the mate for an ice pack or something.” As soon as he left, I called the chief mate, who was the medical PIC. “You ain’t had lunch yet have you? Try not to wince when you see what’s coming.”

Aesop · May 30, 2023 at 6:41 am

The fallen don’t require combat to qualify.

Two guys who died asleep in their GP tent when a couple of drunken base assholes stole a 5-ton truck and went midnight joy-riding into Tent City are just as dead.

An RTO who was walking through a paddy in Korea on exercise when his 25′ antenna found a sagging power line overhead.

Six guys who died there out of twelve infected with the same hemorrhagic fever that’s been killing troops in Korea since the 1800s.

Four guys who went out for a flight on a Huey during a Cold War Westpac cruise, who just never came back. No Mayday, no warning, no nothing. Just…gone. Here at breakfast, gone by noon chow. Forever.

A Pfc killed because some @$$hole in his platoon brought a “dud” LAW rocket from 29 Palms back to the barracks in North Carolina, and dropped it in the squadbay, blowing away an innocent bystander because of Private Halfwit’s stupidity.

“Peacetime” and “non-combat” are anything but.

Fallen is fallen.

    John · May 31, 2023 at 8:41 pm

    Though fortunate enough to have served in peacetime, yet knowing service members that died during that time (two traffic guards getting hit and killed while the unit was transitioning out of the desert and across the highway back into Fort Bliss at night) I’m also reminded of those that died serving the country out of uniform. After the army I worked as a commercial diver in the oil patch of the Gulf of Mexico. The number of guys we killed in order to provide energy to this nation was staggering.

unknownsailor · June 3, 2023 at 2:41 am

Through my 20 year career over 4 different carriers, only one man died while I was onboard. Aboard USS George Washington a blue shirt driving a spotting dolly in Hanger Bay 1 died when the propeller of a buddy store mounted to the wing of an S-3 hit him in the back of the neck.
In 2000, right before I checked into NAS Whidbey Island shore duty, another blue shirt died when she had a seizure while driving a tow tractor. She drove right into the side of an EA-6B, bent her over backwards in the seat.

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