James Edward Neumeyer

James Edward Neumeyer was born 15-MAR 1945 in Belleville IL.   His father was Edward F. Neumeyer (1905-1985) His mother was Pearl Marie Horn Neumeyer (1912-2002).  James had no siblings.  James attended Belleville Township High School in Belleville Illinois.  In school, he participated in Sea Scouts, Track, and football.  James Edward enlisted in the Navy in 30-JAN 1964.  He most recently was stationed at Oceania Beach Virginia before his assignment to the U.S.S Forrestal (CVA/CV-59).   He attained the rank of Navy Airman First Class.

James was assigned to the flight deck on the Forrestal.  On 29-JULY 1967, the Forrestal suffered a catastrophic fire during flight operations while on Yankee Station off the coast of Vietnam. Yankee Station (officially Point Yankee) was a fixed coordinate off the coast of Vietnam where U.S. Navy aircraft carriers and support ships loitered in open waters over a nine-year period during the Vietnam War.  The Forrestal had been in the Gulf of Tonkin for just four days.

Wracked by eight high-order explosions of thin-shelled Korean War era bombs and several smaller weapons explosions, the world’s first supercarrier was mere minutes away from the bottom of the Gulf of Tonkin. The explosions of the large, old weapons blew holes in the armored flight deck above spaces primarily set aside for crew berthing. Flaming and unburned fuel, water, and foam cascaded down into the compartments. Battling the fires below deck was more difficult than that topside with the confined spaces, little light, thick black smoke, and toxic fumes. Although the fire on the flight deck was controlled within an hour, fires below deck raged until 0400 the next morning.

The fire claimed 134 sailors and airmen including James Edward Neuman.  James was initially listed as missing, but his body was later recovered.  He was posthumously awarded a Purple Heart.  Another 161 were seriously injured or burned. Of those who died, 50 died where they slept. Many more were wounded but did not report their injuries because of the severity of those of their shipmates.

James Edward Neumann is buried at Valhalla Gardens of Memory and Mausoleum in Belleville Illinois.

Many sailors gave their lives trying to save shipmates.  If not for the heroic actions of the crew, many more lives would have been lost.  They were sailors to the end.  Their stories can be found on this website.



Please contact the St. Charles County Veterans Museum Oral History project at sccvetsmuseum@gmail.com or call 636-294-2657 for more information and lets’ talk. We want to hear from you because we know…Every Veteran has a story.