Here are home movies taken during the 1966 WestPac cruise aboard the USS Oriskany by Scott Duennes. He was an ADJ-2 attached to Helicopter Sq. HC-1.

Here is Scott's story in his own words:

"I vividly recall the first time I was assigned to the flight deck as the ship took up Dixie Station off South Vietnam for landing a chopper at NIGHT. No moon, pitch black ...thank God the old salt leading the way, PO 1st Class, Jack Conklin,...telling me to grab on to the back of his belt and go where he goes..and suddenly the chopper is right over our heads and we are using the wands to guide his landing. Never got used to night ops on the flight deck!"

"I was onboard less than 2 months when CPO Delaney (20 plus years of service) asked if I was going to take the test for 2nd Class PO. (here we go again).  Not eligible,with less than the 3 yrs. required , "go ahead and take the test ....it will be good practice for the next time." Took the test, two weeks later, PROMOTED to ADJ-2nd Class Petty Officer! Who am I to argue with the wisdom United States Navy? It did create a few ...OK more than a few, awkward moments as I was put in charge of a group of E-4's and E-3's, some of which actually knew what they were doing. Our best mechanic was an E-4 with 14 years of service.....just could not behave himself on shore and kept getting Busted down in rank. I was also designated PLANE CAPTAIN for one of our choppers so I had the opportunity to join the flight crew."

"WEST PAC CRUISE- Sailing into Hawaii just at dawn was a beautiful site from the flight deck. I had a Super 8 movie camera, small in size so I had it with me alot of the time I spent on the flight deck with a lot of pics of beautiful sunsets and sunrises with ships in the foreground. Here is a list of some of the specific shots I put together and have on VHS tape. Most are films taken on the flight deck or from a HC-1. Helicopter. Don't have specific dates..."

Here is the "shot list" of scenes in his video. Below that, his story aboard the Oriskany continues. The video is approx. 26 minutes long so you may want to note the time at the bottom of the video in case you want to stop and resume later.

1. Safe Return of a pilot shot down and rescued. Scott believes he's either Lt. Rick Adams, LCDR.James A.Smith,(lost in the FIRE).....or Tom Tucker shot down in Haiphong Harbor, August, 31,66' supposedly rescued by HS-6 #53 callsign.....Indian Gal.  (If anyone can positively ID the pilot, drop me an email so I can make the correction).
2. Launch of A-1 Spad
3. Sunset Silhouette of a Destroyer Escort (Tin Can)
4. Admiral Changes his Flag Ship to Uss Oriskany with shots of FDR and the Constellation.
5. Landing of HC-1 Chopper with a malfunctioning "Drup Stop" ......manually using a broom stick to knock it in place.
6. Shots of Water Spouts
7. Shot of flight deck Helo crew folding blades of Helo (in fast forward speed)
8. Helo flight to drop mail down the wire to crew of destroyer escort (hopefully no "Dear John Letters......)
9. Helo fly by of the USS Constellation. The pilot was Lt. Josh Blakey, 26 yr.old, from ALABAMA...and my first "Selfie".

10. SEPT. 17,1966 The RESCUE OF THE "AUGUST MOON " CREW, (shots of helo hovering over fan tail of ship....lifting crewmembers up hoist....dropping off to nearby island ) ALSO INCLUDES SHOTS OF APPROACHING THE DOWNED HELO ON THE REEF AND A QUICK PIC OF ONE OF THE PILOTS (film ends....as rescue of our own men began)

11. Rescue of "Man Overboard" Starboard Side.....shot from Flight Deck (if I recall correctly ...he jumped overboard hoping for a Section 8)
12. Shots of our one of our flight crews and especially Lt. Josh Blakey.....best helo pilot on the ship! (Lost in the Fire)
13. Flight deck shots of welcoming "Big Brass onboard" Admiral Sharp, Sec. of Defense, McNamara
14. Recovering of F-8 Crusaders
15. Shots of refueling our Destroyer Escorts, USS Black #666 and the USS Gurke #78.  "Their crews were THE REAL SAILORS, especially during Underway Replenishment."
16. Return to Home Port, North Island, San Diego.

 
Scott's story continues:

"My memories of October 26,1966 FIRE ON THE USS ORISKANY-"

"That morning I was on the flight deck just forward of #1 Elevator with two members of our deck crew preparing to launch Helo 51.....call sign Angel -51 that would be launched and assume Angel position off the Starboard side for the morning launch. The deck was loaded with planes that were loaded with bombs schedule for a morning launch with targets over North Vietnam. Wearing head and ear protection, I did not hear the explosion but saw thick white smoke pouring out of the forward starboard side well below the flight deck. I signaled the Helo pilot to hold position as I ran to the edge of the flight deck. "

"At first I couldn't see much because of the intense smoke....then the flames became visible and at the same time the AIR BOSS gave the command to shut down all aircraft and he continued to scream that command. I gave the signal to cut engines/power to our Helo but the pilot Lt. Commander Barck kept shaking his head..... Negative! Negative! And he gave me the signal to Pull Chocks......(away from the landing gear wheels). So caught in the middle between the Air Boss and my C.O. ......I signal the crew to pull chocks and get clear."

"Before I could give the green flag to launch, sailors and officers were emerging from the side of the ship and trying desperately to get up on the flight deck. I had to push and shove people to the deck so the helo could have a chance to launch especially as the ship was being turned out of the wind hoping to push the smoke Aft. The helo was able to launch. (found out later that the CO and pilot was thinking that they would be more of a help if they were in the air and ready to rescue anyone who ended up in the water. I think the number was 5 or 6 people picked up that morning......some chose to jump over the side rather than burn to death. I believe he dropped some folks off on the FDR or Constellation."
 
"I maintained my position on the flight deck as sailors dragged fire hoses across the deck and directed people escaping to the flight deck from both side of the forward section of the ship. I directed the landing of a helo from the"Connie" that flew in doctors, corpsmen and Chaplins from the other ships. Stretchers handled by 4 young men moved as fast as they could bring victims of the fire to a location passed the island."

"I had the thought that this was "SERIOUS SHIT"......but a ship this big certainly wouldn't sink! I'm sure I wasn't the only one. "

"About 4 hours after the fire started I made my way down to the hanger deck where our helicopters were parked and our Maintenance space was located on the port side of the hanger bay just aft of the #1 elevator. Everything was pretty much destroyed and both of our two remaining helos were melted down to a pile less than 2/3 feet high. They were shoved off the ship thru the open door on the port side just below the Angle Deck topside. "

"Everyone and everybody did what they could to start cleaning up the sections of the hanger bay. Bodies were still being carried thru the hanger bay to someplace aft. We started to get unconfirmed reports of who was missing. Hours later we heard that we lost 5 of our 8 helo pilots. No enlisted men."

"No one seemed to be able to absorb and react to the reality of that news. I just remember feeling guilty for not feeling anything. Numbness would be a good word. Traumatic Shock would be another. Two of the surviving pilots were in the helo we launch from the flight deck, the other was in a space which he was able to escape from. "

"I don't have much memory of our two day sail into Subic Bay......remember being on the flight deck watching the transfer of the deceased from the ship onto the pier of Cubi Pt. NAS into the back of a C-130 transport plane. To make matters worst for me......my older brother Terry Duennes, a navy photographer was on the dock......not knowing if I was in one of the body bags being lowered off the ship. I could see him but had no means to communicate with him as all the crew were to remain on board until the transfer of all the deceased was completed. We finally connected once I explained my situation to the OOD and I was granted permission to go ashore early."

"I don't recall much about the sail back home except for joining most of the ships crew on the flight deck for a memorial service for all that lost their lives in the Fire and especially a Burial At Sea Ceremony for Lt. Cmr. Omar Ford.  Over the next 50 plus years....everytime I hear "TAPS" .....it takes me back to that day."

 "It was nice to see a lot of people and even a small Navy band playing to welcome us home. I Reported back to NAS Ream Field, and booked a flight home to Cincinnati. I wanted to get home but I did not have the opportunity to attend any of the services for the men we lost. The lack of closure stayed with me for a very long time. It helped to finally visit the Vietnam Wall in D.C. back in the early 90's and I attended theReunion of he Crew and AirWing on 40th Anniv. of the Fire On The USS Oriskany in San Diego 2006. Mostly officers of the ship's company and a few Airedales such as myself. "

Scott's video is dedicated to the pilots of HC-1 that didn't make it home, 5 out of the 8 pilots of his squadron. They were:

Ensign James Kern

LT John Hammond

LTjg Josh Blakely

LT Jim Walsh

and

LT Charles Woodley