the author of “Sailors To The End: The Deadly Fire on the USS Forrestal and the Heroes Who Fought It” joins The Housing Hour this week to discuss the 50th Anniversary of the deadly explosions and fire that occurred on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal on July 29, 1967.
Gregory Freeman explains the series of catastrophic events that caused a Zuni rocket to mistakenly fire and cut through John McClain’s plane spilling hundreds of gallons of highly volatile jet fuel on the flight deck and dislodging one of his 1000 pound, WWII era, bombs. The result was nine horrific explosions and raging fires that killed 134 men and wounded hundreds of others.
Gregory A. Freeman
Gregory A. Freeman is an award-winning writer with more than 25 years experience in journalism and nonfiction. Known for writing narrative nonfiction that makes a true story read like a gripping, fast paced novel, Freeman’s latest work is The Gathering Wind: Hurricane Sandy, the Sailing Ship Bounty, and a Courageous Rescue at Sea, released October 29, 2013, by New American Library, an imprint of Penguin Books. This book tells the story of the tall sailing Bounty, which was lost off the coast of North Carolina during Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. Answering many of the questions prompted by that terrible loss, The Gathering Wind is a compelling drama about the crew, the Coast Guard rescuers, and the investigations that followed.
Freeman’s earlier book The Last Mission of the Wham Bam Boys tells the story of a World War II bomber crew that is shot down over Germany and then lynched by local townspeople, leading to the first war crimes trial after the conflict ended. Kirkus Reviews called it “A chilling tale” and “a riveting narrative.”
Freeman published Troubled Water: Race, Mutiny and Bravery on the USS Kitty Hawk in September 2009, also with Palgrave Macmillan. Troubled Water tells a little known story of a race riot on the carrier Kitty Hawk in 1972, focusing on the two senior officers who will determine whether this already tragic episode ends peacefully or spirals down into one of the darkest moments in Navy history. Just prior to that, Freeman co-authored a book with Col. Larry C. James, the U.S. Army psychologist who was sent to stop the abuse at the notorious military prison in Abu Ghraib, Iraq. Fixing Hell: An Army Psychologist Confronts Evil at Abu Ghraib , released in August 2008, tells the harrowing tale of a man struggling to be both a military officer and a medical professional, while also revealing previously unknown details about the prison scandal and how the system was improved.
Prior to Fixing Hell, Freeman’s most recent book was The Forgotten 500: The Untold Story of the Men Who Risked All for the Greatest Rescue Mission of World War II. Like his other books, The Forgotten 500 reads like a fast-paced novel but tells a fascinating true story — this time, the amazing rescue of airmen trapped behind enemy lines in Nazi-occupied Europe.
Critics hailed Freeman’s recent book, Sailors to the End: The Deadly Fire on the USS Forrestal and the Heroes Who Fought It, published by William Morrow, as an example of master storytelling. In Sailors to the End, Freeman tells the story of the young men aboard an aircraft carrier in 1967, following their life-and-death struggles through an accidental fire that threatens to destroy the world’s most powerful ship.
Freeman also wrote Lay This Body Down: The 1921 Murders of Eleven Plantation Slaves. In this true story, Freeman paints a vivid picture of a plantation run with slave labor 56 years after the Civil War. Prior to Fixing Hell, Freeman’s most recent book was The Forgotten 500: The Untold Story of the Men Who Risked All for the Greatest Rescue Mission of World War II. Like his other books, The Forgotten 500 reads like a fast-paced novel but tells a fascinating true story — this time, the amazing rescue of airmen trapped behind enemy lines in Nazi-occupied Europe. Freeman has now released an E-chapter addition to book entitled Red Tails: The Tuskegee Airmen and Operation Halyard.
Freeman’s work also appears in Reader’s Digest, Rolling Stone, World War II, American History, and many other publications.
Freeman’s books are scrupulously researched and entirely factual, yet they read more like novels because he weaves the personal stories of his subjects into a compelling narrative. For the book about the aircraft carrier, Freeman spent two years interviewing surviving crew members and poring through Navy records, including some the Navy did not want to release. Through his contacts in the Navy, he was able to visit an active duty aircraft carrier at sea for first-hand research.
Freeman has won more than a dozen awards for his writing, including the coveted Sigma Delta Chi Award for Excellence from the Society of Professional Journalists — twice in five years. He received his degree from the University of Georgia in Athens, worked for The Associated Press in Atlanta, and spent several years as executive editor of a publishing company. He then became a freelance writer and continues to to write for a number of publications.
Freeman is represented by Mel Berger of the William Morris Agency in New York. He lives in Roswell, Georgia, with his wife Caroline.