57 years ago today a fire broke out in one of the operational buildings killing twelve United States military personnel. Most of the deaths occurred because the men were unable to escape through a locked exit and were overcome by the smoke.
Although the official investigation listed faulty electrical circuitry as the cause of the fire, some eyewitness accounts attributed it to failure in a recently-installed incinerator, used for destruction of classified material, which had been improperly vented through the wall and subsequently caused the wall to ignite.
Below are the names of the 12 men who lost their life during the tunnel fire:
CTSA Roger “W” Alex, USN
CTSA William E. Briley, USN
CTSN Wilford D. Cordell, USN
CTSN Dennis E. Etzwieler, USN
CT3 Archie R. Garofalo, USN
CTSA John D. House, USN
LCPL Richard E. McKnown, USMC
LTjg Ernest D. Moody, USN
SGT Paul C. Rodrigues, USMC
CT3 Wayne E. Tower, USN
CTSN James K. Whitman, USNCT3 Gregory S. Williams, USN
Sayonara is not goodbye, but the promise of meeting again.
24 September 2022 at 14:49
Mario, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate all of your posts, especially those relating to Kamiseya. I have been in contact with Fred Ames who apparently was one of the individuals who saved my life that terrible night by extricating me from that building when I was down on the deck overcome by carbon monoxide. As I have mentioned in previous posts, I was the operations watch officer on duty that night and probably know more about the cause of the fire than anyone. I saw most of those heroic men shortly before they died, was pulled out of the building and taken to the hospital with severe carbon monoxide poisoning, identified Sgt Rodrigues in the hospital morgue and was a key witness at the subsequent Court of Inquiry. By the way, those men did not die because of a locked or blocked exit. Most of them died because they were overcome by carbon monoxide while trying to fight a fire that we couldn’t see. When I last saw them they were manning a fire hose in the immediate vicinity of the main entrance (and exit) of the building and the entrance was open and unguarded. We simply were not knowledgeable of the existence of the huge amounts of carbon monoxide in a burning building. As I have previously stated, I would welcome any inquiries of which I might be helpful. Please contact me at:
659 General Leroy Manor Rd.
Morrisonville, NY 12962
tel: (518) 563-3956
LikeLiked by 1 person
24 September 2022 at 15:32
Semper Fi, Colonel Miner! One’s duty never ends when he or she continues having the attitude to serve. Thank you for your service to the Marine Corps and to our country.
The Kamiseya fire was a tragedy. A terrible loss of lives of American service members.
25 September 2022 at 03:50
I worked in the front part of the building and always thought the entire building was a hazard. Rooms were accessed off the main hallway. We’re alarms sounded or not?
25 September 2022 at 22:38
I was there and knew them well. They never should have entered that building.
26 September 2022 at 06:01
Although I did not know any of the deceased shipmates personally, the shock and sorrow was felt
throughout the NSG. I had just returned to my permanent dusta NSGA London from a TAD Det on
USS TRINGA (ASR-16) 18 days before the fire at Kamiseya and everyone of our connnected stations
(even the Army and Air Force ones) commented about how shocked their personnel were. I helped
fight a fire in the PCRS at Sidi Yahia in 1972. Luckily, noone was hurt in that one and no equipment
was damaged. The fire at Sidi was (supposedly) caused by a cigarette discarded in an ash tray.
Thank you, Mario.
26 September 2022 at 16:31
I Was there. Vivid memory.
26 September 2022 at 16:35
I was there. Still a vivid memory. There was another fire on base after the tunnel fire
26 September 2022 at 18:53
Yes, I was there, too. And I was back on duty as OWO when the other fire occurred again in the middle of the night. This time it was the Officers Club and it was completely destroyed. Fortunately for me, it didn’t have anything to do with operations so I was completely out of it. Thank God.