North High School Wall of Honor
Dennis Michael Barton
Class of June, 1954
1954: Dennis Michael Barton
Research done by Claradell Shedd, Class of 1953.
Dennis Michael Barton

Denny graduated in the June, 1954 North High class. He joined the Naval Reserve while in college at the University of Iowa. His service number was 635744. Denny's next of kin was listed as Mr. and Mrs. Joseph E. Barton, 1083 22nd Street, Des Moines, IA.

Dennis Michael Barton
Year   Rank   Status
June, 1954   Graduated   Graduated from North High School, Des Moines, IA.
1954-1955 x Iowa State Teachers College Seal x Iowa State Teachers College, Cedar Falls, IA;
Member of Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity
1955-1956 x Employed x Camelback Inn, Phoenix, AZ
1956-1959 x University of Iowa logo x University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA. Joined Naval Reserve. Graduated, Liberal Arts, 1959. Commissioned as Lt. j.g.. Denny in Iowa Memorial Union Dedication
Summer, 1959 x Leisure x Spent summer at Clear Lake with Dick Riley, etc.
June, 1960 x Training x Basic Training as Lt. j.g. at Jacksonville Naval Air Station. Received wings. Still single while at Jacksonville Air Station.
date x Family x Married Lori (Laurie?) Barton while at Cecil Field, Jacksonville, FL
1960-? x Training x Pensacola Naval Air Station as a flight instructor
date x Stationed x Note from Denny's brother, Joe: USS Roosevelt, DDG-80. Check the appropriate name for this vessel, since DDG-80 was not commissioned until 1996.
June, 1967
x Enroute x Via USS Forrestal, CVA-59, departed Norfolk, VA to Brazil, Africa, the Philippines. Dennis was Engineer Equipment Officer.
July 29, 1967 x Deceased x At sea. USS Forrestal, CVA-59
July 27, 2007 x Memorial x USS Forrestal 40th Memorial Ceremony, Norfolk, VA
USS Roosevelt (DDG-80)
Checking out this entry.

McDonnell Douglas A-4E Skyhawk
The Douglas A-4 Skyhawk is a carrier-capable attack aircraft developed for the United States Navy and United States Marine Corps. The delta winged, single-engined Skyhawk was designed and produced by Douglas Aircraft Company, and later by McDonnell Douglas. It was originally designated the A4D under the U.S. Navy's pre-1962 designation system.

The Skyhawk is a light-weight aircraft with a maximum takeoff weight of 24,500 pounds (11,100 kg) and has a top speed of more than 600 miles per hour (970 km/h). The aircraft's five hardpoints support a variety of missiles, bombs and other munitions and was capable of delivering nuclear weapons using a low altitude bombing system and a "loft" delivery technique. The A-4 was originally powered by the Wright J65 turbojet engine; from the A-4E onwards, the Pratt & Whitney J52 was used.

Skyhawks played key roles in the Vietnam War, the Yom Kippur War, and the Falklands War. Fifty years after the aircraft's first flight, some of the nearly 3,000 produced remain in service with several air arms around the world.

Attack Squadron VA-46 or ATKRON 46
Attack Squadron 46 (VA-46 or ATKRON 46) was an attack squadron of the United States Navy that was active during the Cold War. VA-46 was deactivated as part of the post-Cold War drawdown of forces on 30 June 1991.

On 25 July 1967 the Clansmen took part in their first combat operations during the Vietnam War flying from the USS Forrestal in Yankee Station. A few days later on July 29, while aircraft were being prepared for the second launch of the day against targets in North Vietnam, a fire broke out on the flight deck of the Forrestal. Flames engulfed the fantail and spread below decks, touching off bombs and ammunition. Heroic efforts by VA-46 personnel, along with other members of Carrier Air Wing 17 and ship's company, brought the fires under control. Damage to the carrier and aircraft was severe, and the casualty count included 134 dead and 62 injured. The squadron lost seven A-4E Skyhawks during the fire.

USS Forrestal (CVA-59)
The 1967 USS Forrestal fire was a devastating fire and series of chain-reaction explosions on 29 July 1967 that killed 134 sailors and injured 161 on the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal (CVA-59), after an electrical anomaly discharged a Zuni rocket on the flight deck. Forrestal was engaged in combat operations in the Gulf of Tonkin during the Vietnam War at the time, and the damage exceeded US$72 million (equivalent to $509 million today) not including damage to aircraft. Future United States Senator John McCain was among the survivors.

Forrestal had departed Norfolk, Virginia in early June 1967. Upon completion of the required inspections for the upcoming WESTPAC Cruise, she then went on to Brazil for a show of force. She then set sail around the horn of Africa, and went on to dock for a short while at Leyte Pier at N.A.S. Cubi Point in the Philippine Islands before sailing to "Yankee Station" in the Gulf of Tonkin on 25 July. For four days in the gulf, aircraft of Attack Carrier Air Wing 17 flew about 150 missions against targets in North Vietnam.

By 1967, the ongoing naval bombing campaign from Yankee Station represented by far the most intense and sustained air attack operation in the navy's history, with monthly demand for general purpose bombs ("iron bombs") greatly exceeding new production. The on-hand supply of bombs had dwindled throughout 1966 and become critically low by 1967, particularly the new 1000-lb. Mark 83, which the navy greatly favored for its power-to-size ratio: a carrier-launched A4 Skyhawk, the navy's standard ground attack aircraft of the period, could carry either a single 2000-lb. bomb, or two 1000-lb. bombs, with the ability to strike two separate hardened targets in a single sortie being seen as more desirable in most circumstances. Until 1971, the US Air Force's primary ground attack aircraft in Vietnam was the much heavier land-based F-105 Thunderchief which could carry 2 2,000-lb. M118 bombs and 4 750-lb. M117 bombs (both of which had large stockpiles available) simultaneously on a single sortie, and thus did not need to rely as heavily on the limited supply of 1000-lb. bombs the way the navy did.

In training, the damage control team specializing in on-deck firefighting for Forrestal (Damage Control Team #8, led by Chief Petty Officer Gerald Farrier) had been shown films of navy ordnance tests demonstrating how a 1000-lb bomb could be directly exposed to a jet fuel fire for full 10 minutes and still be extinguished and cooled without an explosive cook off. However, these tests were conducted using the new Mark 83 1000 lb bombs which featured relatively stable Composition H6 explosive filler and thicker, heat-resistant cases compared to their predecessors; H6, which is still used in many types of naval ordnance due to its relative insensitivity to heat, shock and electricity, is also designed to deflagrate instead of detonate when it reaches its ignition point in a fire, either melting the case and producing no explosion at all or at most a subsonic low order detonation at a fraction of its normal power.

The day before the accident (28 July), the Forrestal was resupplied with ordnance from the ammunition ship USS Diamond Head. The load included 16 1000-lb. AN-M65A1 "fat boy" bombs (so nicknamed because of their short, rotund shape), which the Diamond Head had picked up from the Subic Bay Naval Base and were intended for the next day's second bombing sortie. The batch of AN-M65A1 "fat boys" the Forrestal received were surplus from World War II, having spent roughly three decades exposed to the heat and humidity of the Philippine jungles while improperly stored in open-air Quonset huts at a disused ammunition dump on the periphery of Subic Bay Naval Base. Unlike the thick-cased Mark 83 bombs filled with Composition H6, the AN-M65A1 bombs were thin-skinned and filled with Composition B, an older explosive with greater shock and heat sensitivity; Composition B also had the dangerous tendency to become more powerful (up to 50% by weight) and more sensitive if it was old or improperly stored. The Forrestal's ordnance handlers had never even seen an AN-M65A1 before, and to their shock the bombs delivered from the Diamond Head were in terrible condition; coated with "decades of accumulated rust and grime" and still in their original packing crates (now moldy and rotten), some were stamped with production dates as early as 1935. Most worryingly of all, several bombs were seen to be leaking liquid paraffin phlegmatizing agent from their seams, an unmistakably dangerous sign the bomb's explosive filler had degenerated with excessive age and exposure to heat and moisture.

According to A-4 Skyhawk pilot Lieutenant Rocky Pratt, the concern and objection induced in the Forrestal's ordnance handlers was striking, with many afraid to even handle the bombs; one officer wondered out loud if they would even survive the shock of a catapult assisted launch without spontaneously detonating, and others suggested they immediately jettison them into the sea. Since no one wanted to be responsible for scrubbing the next day's missions, the decision was made by the Forrestal's ordnance officers to report the situation up the chain of command to Captain John Beling and inform him the bombs were, in their assessment, an imminent danger to the ship and should not be kept on board.

Faced with this, but still needing 1000-lb. bombs for the next day's missions, Beling demanded the Diamond Head take the AN-M65A1s back in exchange for new Mark 83s, but was told by the Diamond Head that they had none available to give him. The AN-M65A1 bombs had been returned to service specifically because there were not enough Mark 83s to go around. According to one crew-member on the Diamond Head, when they had arrived at Subic Bay to pick up their load of ordnance for the carriers, the base personnel who had prepared the AN-M65A1 bombs for transfer assumed the Diamond Head had been ordered to dump them at sea on the way back to Yankee Station; when notified that the bombs were actually destined for active service in the carrier fleet, the commanding officer of the naval ordnance detachment at Subic Bay was so shocked he initially refused the transfer, believing a paperwork mistake must have been made. At risk of delaying the Diamond Head's departure, he refused to sign the transfer forms until receiving written orders from CINCPAC on the teletype explicitly absolving his detachment of responsibility for their terrible condition.

With orders to conduct strike missions over North Vietnam the next day and no replacement bombs available, Captain Beling reluctantly concluded he had no choice but to accept the AN-M65A1 bombs in their current condition. In one concession to the demands of the ordnance handlers, Beling did agree to store all 16 bombs alone on deck in the "bomb farm" area between the starboard rail and the carrier's island until they were loaded for the next day's missions; standard procedure would have been to store them in the ship's magazine with the other bombs (where an accidental detonation could easily destroy the entire ship).

Fire[edit]At about 10:50 (local time) on 29 July, while preparations for the second strike of the day were being made, an unguided 5.0 in (127.0 mm) Mk-32 "Zuni" rocket, one of four contained in a LAU-10 underwing rocket pod mounted on an F-4B Phantom II, accidentally fired due to an electrical power surge during the switch from external power to internal power. The surge originated from the fact that high winds had blown free the safety pin, which would have prevented the fail surge, as well as a decision to plug in the "pigtail" system early to increase the number of takeoffs from the carrier (see below).

A drawing of the stern of Forrestal showing the spotting of aircraft at the time (below). Likely source of the Zuni was F-4 No. 110. White's and McCain's aircraft (A-4s No. 405 and 416, respectively) are in the right hand circle.The rocket flew across the flight deck, striking a wing-mounted external fuel tank on an A-4E Skyhawk awaiting launch, aircraft No. 405, piloted by Lieutenant Commander Fred D. White.The Zuni Rocket's warhead safety mechanism prevented it from detonating, but the impact tore the tank off the wing and ignited the resulting spray of escaping JP-5 fuel, causing an instantaneous conflagration. Within seconds, other external fuel tanks on White's aircraft overheated and ruptured, releasing more jet fuel to feed the flames, which began spreading along the flight deck.

The impact of the Zuni had also dislodged two of the 1000-lb AN-M65 bombs, which fell to the deck and lay in the pool of burning fuel between White and McCain's aircraft. Damage Control Team #8 swung into action immediately, and Chief Gerald Farrier, recognizing the risk and without benefit of protective clothing, immediately smothered the bombs with a PKP fire extinguisher in an effort to knock down the fuel fire long enough to allow the pilots to escape. The pilots, still strapped into their aircraft, were immediately aware that a disaster was unfolding, but only some were able to escape in time. Lieutenant Commander John McCain, pilot of A-4 Skyhawk side No. 416 next to White's was among the first to notice the flames and escaped by scrambling down the nose of his A-4 and jumping off the refueling probe shortly before the explosions began.

Damage Control Team #8 had been assured of a 10 minute window in which to extinguish the fire and prevent the bombs from detonating, but the Composition B bombs proved to be just as unstable as the ordnance crews had initially feared; after only slightly more than 1 minute, despite Chief Farrier's constant efforts to cool the bombs, the casing of one suddenly split open and began to glow cherry red. The chief, recognizing a lethal cook-off was imminent, shouted for his team to withdraw, but the bomb detonated seconds later – a mere one minute and 36 seconds after the start of the fire.

The detonation destroyed White and McCain's aircraft (along with their remaining fuel and armament), blew a crater in the armored flight deck, and sprayed the deck and crew with bomb fragments and burning fuel. Damage Control Team #8 took the brunt of the initial blast; Chief Farrier and all but three of his men were killed instantly; the survivors were critically injured. Lieutenant Commander White had managed to escape his burning aircraft but was unable to get far enough away in time; White was killed along with the firefighters in the first bomb explosion. In the tightly packed formation on the deck, the two nearest A-4s to White and McCain's (both fully fueled and bomb-laden) were heavily damaged and began to burn, causing the fire to spread and more bombs to quickly cook off.

Lieutenant Commander Herbert A. Hope of VA-46 (and operations officer of CVW-17) was far enough away to survive the first explosion, and managed to escape by jumping out of the cockpit of his Skyhawk and rolling off the flight deck and into the starboard man-overboard net. Making his way down below to the hangar deck, he took command of a firefighting team. "The port quarter of the flight deck where I was", he recalled, "is no longer there." Two other pilots (Lieutenant Dennis M. Barton and Lieutenant Commander Gerry L. Stark) were also killed by explosions during this period, while the rest were able to escape their aircraft and get below.

Nine bomb explosions eventually occurred on the flight deck, eight caused by the AN-M56 Composition B bombs cooking off under the heat of the fuel fires and the ninth occurring as a sympathetic detonation between an AN-M56 and a newer 500 lb M117 H6 bomb that it was lying next to on the deck. The other Composition H6-based bombs performed as designed and either burned on the deck or were jettisoned, but did not detonate under the heat of the fires.

The explosions (several of which were estimated to up to 50% more powerful than a standard 1000 lb bomb due to the unintentionally-enhanced power of the badly degraded Composition B) tore large holes in the armored flight deck, causing flaming jet fuel to drain into the interior of the ship, including the living quarters directly underneath the flight deck, and the below-decks aircraft hangar.

Sailors and marines controlled the flight deck fires by 1215, and continued to clear smoke and to cool hot steel on the 02 and 03 levels until all fires were under control by 1342. The fire was not declared defeated until 0400 the next morning, due to additional flare-ups.

Throughout the day the ship’s medical staff worked in dangerous conditions to assist their comrades. HM2 Paul Streetman, one of 38 corpsmen assigned to the carrier, spent over 11 hours on the mangled flight deck tending to his shipmates. The large number of casualties quickly overwhelmed the ship’s sick bay staff, and the Forrestal was escorted by USS Henry W. Tucker to rendezvous with hospital ship USS Repose at 2054, allowing the crew to begin transferring the dead and wounded at 2253.
Links regarding USS Forrestal (CVA-59) fire:
utube video of incident (poor quality):
Note: At Denny's memorial held in Des Moines, his widow told Dick Riley that Denny had been able to evacuate his pilot's position, but his navigator could not free himself because his cockpit's hood was jammed. Denny went to rescue his navigator. They both perished.
Note from USS Forrestal historian: Denny did successfully exit aircraft #410, an A-4E Skyhawk. He was seen running away from his aircraft heading forward on the flight deck when the first 1,000 lb. bomb exploded, killing Denny. The A-4E Skyhawk did not have a navigator, so perhaps Denny was attempting to rescue a navigator from another aircraft. Other aircraft models on the flight deck included the F-4B Phantom which accommodated a navigator.
Receiving memorial programs from the 2002,2007,2012 ceremonies held at the Vietnam Memorial Wall. Those programs will be incorporated into Denny's page upon receipt.

USS Forrestal, CVA-59
June, 1967: USS Forrestal, CVA-59, approximately 1-2 months before fatal fire
USS Forrestal Plane Placement
10:50AM; July 29, 1967 Configuration
July 29, 1967 July 29, 1967
July 29, 1967. Denny was in cockpit of No. 410 (A-4E Skyhawk) at end of carrier (shown in diagram above)
Zuni rocket discharged in No. 110 next to Denny's plane
July 29, 1967. Denny was in cockpit of No. 410 at end of carrier (shown in photo above)
Denny's plane? No. 410
Left: John McCain's A-4E Skyhawk. Plane at stern end of carrier (shown in diagram above right)
July 27, 2007; 40th Memorial of USS Forrestal Mishap
July 27, 2007: 40th Memorial of Forrestal Mishap, Norfolk, VA
Denny is colored photo behind gentleman in white sailor uniform
Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery
Eighteen of the crew were eventually buried at
Arlington National Cemetery;
they are buried beneath the memorial that appears above.
Virtual Wall website:
(Panel 25E, Line 14 at Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C.)
Memorial held 29 July 2012 at Vietnam Wall
Dennis Michael Barton
VA-46 Attack Squadron; CVW-17; Task Force 77
United States Navy

US Navy Seal

Navy Officer Cap Device

Cecil Field, Jacksonville, FL

Naval Air Station, Pensacola, FL

Naval Air Station; Jacksonville, FL

Navy Aviator's Wings

Lieutenant, US Navy

1954: Dennis Michael Barton

Lt. Dennis Michael Barton

Attack Squadron VA-46

Task Force 77; Vietnam

7th Fleet

USS Forrestal CVA-59

National Defense Medal; Vietnam Service Medal with gold star attachment; Vietnam Campaign Medal

National Defense Medal;
Vietnam Service Medal with star attachment;
Vietnam Campaign Medal

(1) Information was obtained from the Records on Military Personnel Who Died, were Missing in Action, or Prisoners of War as a result of the Vietnam War. This document can be found online at the National Archives and Records Administration at

(2) The comprehensive list of names from North High's 1893-2018 graduation classes are from Claradell Shedd's North Des Moines High School website. The names of North High School graduates can be found online at: Dennis Michael Barton's 1954 class page is:
1959 University of Iowa Graduation
04/22/14. Died 07/29/67.
Music: "Anchors Aweigh"
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