Gila County








POSTED ON 3.27.2020
POSTED BY: Lucy Micik

Thank You

Dear SN James Lee, Thank you for your service as a Seaman on the USS ORISKANY. Saying thank you isn't enough, but it is from the heart. Happy Spring! For many of us, we have begun Lent. The time passes quickly. Please watch over America, it stills needs your strength, courage, guidance and faithfulness. Rest in peace with the angels.
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POSTED ON 8.19.2017

Casualty at Sea

On October 26, 1966, there was a flare fire aboard the aircraft carrier USS Oriskany operating in the Gulf of Tonkin off the coast of Vietnam. Two sailors were re-stowing unexpended MK-24 Mod 3 flares when one was accidentally dropped. The igniter had not been reset to SAFE. As it fell, the safety lanyard was inadvertently pulled, actuating the flare. For reasons known only to him, one of the sailors picked up the armed flare, threw it into the magazine locker, and closed the door. Some 2.75-inch rocket warheads loaded with Composition B were stowed in the locker. Shortly after the flare ignited in the locker, the intense heat caused a 2.75 rocket warhead in the locker to detonate, sending fire and smoke into the hangar bay. This was followed by a second warhead explosion that spread fire throughout the entire hangar deck and in the forward portion of the ship. Finally, heat caused a liquid oxygen tank to explode. Before the fires were completely under control, 44 sailors had died (43 from asphyxiation and one from burns) and 156 had been injured. Beside the material damage to the ship, two helicopters and an A-4E aircraft were destroyed and three A-4E aircraft were damaged. The estimated cost of the material damage was $11 million. The following officers and men of Oriskany died in or as a result of the fires: CDR Jack H. Harris, CDR Richard E. Donahue, CDR Harry W. Juntilla (DOW 10/31/66), LCDR William J. Garrity Jr., LCDR Walter F. Merrick, LCDR Omar R. Ford, LT Frank M. Gardner, LTJG Dewey L. Alexander, LTJG Ramon A. Copple, LTJG James B. Hudis, LTJG James A. Kelly Jr., LTJG Franklin M. Tunick, BM3 Donald W. Shanks, BM3 Alvin M. Shifflett Jr., SN Robert L. Dyke, SN James K. Gray, SN James A. Lee, FN William Walling, AA Greg E. Hart, CDR Rodney B. Carter, LT Lloyd P. Hyde, LTJG William R. Clements, CDR George K. Farris, LCDR James A. Smith, LT John F. Francis, CDR John J. Nussbaumer, AZAN David A. Liste, LCDR Clement J. Morisette, LT Clarence D. Miller, LTJG Thomas E. Spitzer, ENS Ronald E. Tardio, CDR Clyde R. Welch, LCDR Daniel L. Strong, LTJG James L. Brewer, LTJG William A. Johnson, LCDR Norman S. Levy, LTJG Cody A. Balisteri, LTJG William G. McWilliams III, ENS Charles W. Boggs, LT Josslyn F. Blakely Jr., LT Julian D. Hammond Jr., LTJG Gerald W. Siebe, LTJG James R. Welsh, and ENS Daniel O. Kern. [Taken from insensitivemunitions.org and virtualwall.org]
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POSTED ON 10.13.2013
POSTED BY: Curt Carter

Remembering An American Hero

Dear SN James Andrew Lee, sir

As an American, I would like to thank you for your service and for your sacrifice made on behalf of our wonderful country. The youth of today could gain much by learning of heroes such as yourself, men and women whose courage and heart can never be questioned.

May God allow you to read this, and may He allow me to someday shake your hand when I get to Heaven to personally thank you. May he also allow my father to find you and shake your hand now to say thank you; for America, and for those who love you.

With respect, and the best salute a civilian can muster for you, Sir

Curt Carter
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POSTED ON 4.18.2012
POSTED BY: Robert Sage

We Remember

James is buried at Pinal Cemetery, Central Heights, Gila County,AZ.
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POSTED ON 12.12.2011
POSTED BY: Leonard

My friend, Jim

Hi, My name is Leonard Raines, JO2 (ret) 1965 - 1969, and I served with one of my best friends, James A. Lee, on 'The Rock' otherwise known as Kodiak, Alaska in 65-66. Man, he was tall! I was 6'5' back then and he was a good head taller than me. Before he got his orders for the 'Big O,' (the aircraft carrier Oriskany) our small group of friends had some great times in Alaska. We were all outdoorsmen, members of the Navy's Ski Patrol, and we went hunting, fishing, skiing, mountain climbing...you name it.
We had some really good nights out freezing our rear ends off on some moonlit beach on a 'grunion' hunt.
We started a fire in an old, rusty 55-gallon barrel to keep warm and to cook the grunion while we downed one 'Oly' (Olympia Beer) after another.
None of us were of age to drink then but, we would troop up the frozen path leading to the EM Club at nights and they would serve us anyway. Not one of us ever got too out of hand with it, but; I remember waking up on one Sunday morning when the thought of runny eggs and eating nearly made me puke in my rack. Man, what a hangover!
Jim was a great guy and friend. Like I said tall, gangly, with his thin, sharp frame. He wore big, black, thick glasses that the Navy issued then (I had a pair, too). Also, he had thick, black hair that he combed back into a perfect, military appearance. Why bother. No one could see the top of his head anyway.
Jim and I worked together in the PAO (Public Affairs Office) where we published the base newspaper, The Kodiak Bear, together. . I wrote a weekly humor article called
'The Bear Facts' in which I awarded the 'J.J. Moon Award of The Weak' to the person or persons that did the dumbest thing of the week. My 'awards' got me called up to the base commander a couple of times. That's another story, though.
He had worked in the office longer and was senior to me by one rank. When I came on board he was the editor and I was his assistant more or less. I don't know if he had already attended 'A' school for Photo - Journalists at Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis. It was run by the Defense Department. He served as editor right up until he got orders his for the Oriskany. It was September of 1966. The word was that one of us would get the orders. And, since I was a journalist striker and he was already rated, the thought was that I might be the one to go since he was needed more on Kodiak. At least that's what our PAO, Ltjg Daniel Ruck, said. But, James had served a full tour and was ready to go. He was eager to carry out his orders.
The rest is history as they say. I remember when we got the news that he was killed. We were all in our quarters in the early evening as I recall. A marine guard brought us a roster of the dead and injured. We were shocked senseless when we saw his name on the print out.
The words were so brief, short, and final. He had only been in our happy company just a few weeks before. It was a wakeup call for me. I understood in that quick moment the horrible cost of war and the indiscriminate power of fate.
After James left I became editor and with my own skills and the lessons he taught me I, too, became a rated seaman journalist. I went on to the Defense Information School at Ft. Benjamin Harrison where I graduated and earned my crow before going to the fleet.
Things didn't quite go the way I had planned, too. I loved my job and had wanted to make a career of it when I was hurt performing my duties as a photojournalist. Now I am a 100 service-connected-disabled, permanent and total veteran. I spent over a year in 1968-1969 in the Philadelphia Naval Hospital. Now, I run around in a camo-colored wheelchair the VA issued to me. There’s fate, again.
I think of Jim often since a photograph of the two of us hangs in a special frame on my wall. Within the frame is a rubbing of his name that I gathered from one of my earliest visits to the Wall in Washington. Also in the frame is a picture of his name on the wall.
The photograph of us is just an old fading polaroid from back in the day. We were in the chaplain's office where we use to gather. Prophetic in that frozen image is a clock and calendar behind us. They tell me that our time on this earth is short. We can never really know what path we take and how long the journey will last. The polaroid is fading but not my memories of Jim and that long ago day when we were both still young and the clock and calendar stopped for one brief, happy moment in our lives.
Remember always - Freedom isn't Free.

Requiem for A Day In May

Copyright 1998 by Leonard Raines

Oh, the drums will roll and
the bugles sound and the
march of boots will hit the ground
as the stars and stripes stand
in the wind by the grave stones
of the long-dead men.

Can you hear them answer
as the roll is called as the
company forms in the ghostly hall?
yes many a man stands
proud and tall in the memories
of his brothers all.

Now the rifles crack their sharp salute
and taps is played for death’s rebuke.
Let the chaplain pray
of the dead’s repute
for the dead are gone and
their voices mute.

So comes this day but once each year,
this holiday
so strange and queer.
When only few the voices hear
of men who died in duty dear
in sacrifice for all those here.

Now the barbeque it rules the day
when business stops and families play
on their weekend getaways with laughter,
smiles and holiday.
They seldom think, or stop and say,
“We owe a debt that we must pay.”

So, the drums will roll and
the bugles sound and the
march of boots will hit the ground
as the stars and stripes stand
in the wind by the grave stones
of the long-dead men.

And if you should listen on this day
that glories in the month of May
you’ll hear their gentle voices say,
“In God, we are alive today...
fear not for we have led the way...
this was a price we gladly paid.”

Can you hear them answer
as the roll is called as the
company forms in the ghostly hall?
Yes many a man stands
proud and tall in the memories
of his brothers all.
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