A Hazardous Workplace/Intrepid Animated Oral History: David Benedict Transcript

David Benedict: I grew up on a Mohawk Indian Reservation in northern New York. They say, per capita, we have the highest participation in military service. Maybe because we like to fight, I don’t know. I served on the Intrepid from October ‘58 until July 1961.

So when I checked in, “You’re going to B-Division.” “Ok, fine. What’s B-Division?” “Boilers, down below.” Well, when you get down into that space, there are two boilers. And they’re probably 8 to 10 feet high. It’s hot. 120, 140 degrees, pretty much normal.

All that steam we made went to the catapults, went to main propulsion, steam to the kitchens, to the laundry. Steam went everywhere.

In April 1961, the main feed pump that feeds the water to the boilers, the shaft broke on it and we had a major steam casualty in the number two fire room. Tiles on the decks were popping off. It was that hot.

That’s when I heard a cry for help. So I said, “What’s your location? Where’s help needed?” He said, “The admin office.” So I told the other guys, “I’m going after him.” So I did, I crawled over there, and I got in there, and I found him, dragged him out, and that’s when I got burned on my ear and the side of my face and neck.

I had steam inhalation, but I recovered. I went back to work the next day. We just know what has to be done. ‘Cause without each other, there would be no Intrepid.