William John Shields

Aviation Structural Mechanic 3rd Class
United States Navy
16 July 1945 - 29 July 1967
Philadelphia, PA
Panel 24E Line 043


W J Shields

National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for William John Shields

15 Jan 1999

My Mom's brother was killed on the USS Forrestal. I was only one year old when he died.

I am looking for anybody that served with my Uncle Bill so I can learn a little more about what he was like.

Please type in the word Billy Shields in the subject field for any replies.

Bill's nephew,
Tony Janczewski

The photos and following article is taken from The Philadelphia Daily News, special supplement entitled 'SIX HUNDRED AND THIRTY,' October 26, 1987.

Shields centered his life on his niece and nephew, his mother said, and went out of his way to help everyone. "If he saw people coming down the street with packages, he would help them in the house," she recalled. He loved the Jersey shore, and drove there on weekends in his car, which he had nicknamed "Baby," until he enlisted in the Navy in September 1965. The 22-year-old Dobbins Vocational High School graduate, an aviation structural mechanic third class, was assigned to Fighter Squadron 11 and worked on mechanical and hydraulic systems. He died on July 29, 1967, as a result of a fire and explosions aboard the giant aircraft carrier USS Forrestal in the Gulf of Tonkin. Wayne H. Ott, another Philadelphia veteran, also died in the accident, which took 10 (sic) lives. Shields' survivors included his mother.

From a native Philadelphian and Marine,
Jim McIlhenney

The Incident


On 29 July 1967 the USS FORRESTAL was conducting combat operations off the coast of North Vietnam in the Gulf of Tonkin. The ship was preparing to launch an ALPHA strike when a major fire broke out among the crowded aircraft on her deck, resulting in a series of 500 and 1000 pound bomb explosions. Thirteen hours later, the fires were extinguished - and 135 men were dead or dying, with hundreds more injured.

Petty Officer William John Shields was one of the 135.

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Channing Prothro, former CAP Marine
Last updated 08/10/2009