AIMM Mission

To commemorate America's rich naval and maritime heritage through the preservation and exhibition of historic naval vessels with an emphasis on the era of World War II through the present.

Scrapbook of LCDR Ken Brown - Rescue of Bullfrog 28

Razorback regularly conducted anti-submarine warfare, or ASW training, acting as a "target" for U.S. Navy ships and aircraft.

On the morning of August 8th, 1967, Razorback was playing the role of "target" for Bullfrog 28, an S-2E Tracker aircraft from VS-41, or Anti-Submarine Squadron 41 (the Shamrocks) off the coast of San Diego, CA. A second aircraft, Abilene 18 (also an S-2 Tracker, but from VS-38 (the Fighting Red Griffins)) was also conducting training in the area, but at a higher altitude.

At 1:55 a.m., after completing one exercise and while preparing for a second, the sonar operators on Razorback reported picking up the sounds of practice depth charges exploding when none had been scheduled to be used. When Razorback was unable to contact Bullfrog 28 on the radio, she quickly surfaced. Unfortunately, Razorback's worst fears were realized - Bullfrog 28 had crashed. Razorback immediately began searching for survivors.

The sky was overcast, creating extremely dark conditions on the surface and making the search difficult. Despite this, Razorback quickly located a small life raft with a survivor from the crashed airplane in it. A second survivor was in the water, clinging to the raft. While manuevering for a rescue, the men aboard Razorback determined that man in the water was having difficulty staying afloat. Razorback crewman Torpedoman Seaman (SS) Grover Clevenger, volunteered to dive into the extremely cold (48 degree), oily, debris-filled water to help him.

TMSN Clevenger, with a nylon recovery line attached to his waist, quickly swam to the life raft and secured the man in the water. The men on Razorback's deck, using the nylon line attached to TMSN Clevenger, pulled the three men and the raft alongside the submarine.

The two survivors, Aviation Ordnanceman Second Class (AW) Gary L. Giggey and Aviation Machinist's Mate First Class (AW) Gord C. Willison, were then lifted to Razorback's deck and then carried down into the forward torpedo room for treatment of their injuries by Razorback's corpsman, HM1(SS) Linehan. Razorback searched for the other two men who had been aboard Bullfrog 28, the pilot LT John F. Lampey and the co-pilot, LCDR Thomas R. Riley while awaiting daylight (and the arrival of a rescue helicopter), but no trace of the men could be found.

It was ultimately decided that, rather than transferring the two men up to the helicopter, that the onboard doctor would transfer down to Razorback, to assist in treating the men while Razorback returned to port. At 6:50 a.m., LT Robert L. Fassett embarked aboard Razorback and, after examining the two survivors, agreed they should stay aboard.

At 7:01, Razorback left the area for San Diego, while aircrft from VS-41 and VS-38 continued to search for the two missing men and were joined in the search by the destroyer USS Brooke (DEG-1) and a P-5 Marlin seaplane. Razorback arrived in San Diego at 5:20 p.m. and the two survivors from Bullfrog 28 were taken to a Naval Hospital by ambulance.

Unfortunately, the two pilots were killed in the crash.

The following are photographs related to the rescue of Bullfrog 28:

S-2_Tracker_(Tailhook Association) (16K)

S-2E Tracker ASW Aircraft from VS-41, "The Shamrocks". This aircraft was probably known as Bullfrog 22. Image copyright and courtesy of the Tailhook Association and used with their kind permission. 2005-7-1_(207) (21K)

The rubber life raft from Bullfrog 28 on Razorback's forward deck.

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One of the survivors being treated in Razorback's forward torpedo room.

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LT Robert L. Fassett being lowered down to Razorback from an SH-3 Sea King helicopter to examine the two suvivors.

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One of the survivors being transferred ashore.

After the rescue, Razorback's crew pulled a small prank on VS-41, stealing the squadron's banner, thus continuing a long tradition of naval pranks. The primary complaint that VS-41 had was that the Razorback team violated a couple of the informal rules of banner stealing - they had sent a sober man to steal the banner and they had used the beauty of the Razorback wives and girlfriends to distract the men standing watch (colusion with the enemy with the intent to deceive). The CO of VS-41 informed LCDR Brown in an official letter (Classified Pretty Low) that he intended to file a formal complaint with the Board of the "Better Banner Stealing Business Bureau (BBSBB)...

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Photographs of the pilfered banner aboard Razorback. LCDR Brown and the other officers don't seem to concerned about any action the BBSBB might take...

Razorback received several letters of commendation and appreciation from naval authorities. Seaman Clevenger received the Navy Commendation Medal and Petty Officer Linehan received the Navy Achievment Medal for their participation in the rescue and subsequent treatement of the survivors.

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The two sailors with their awards. (By the time the awards were presented, Petty Officer Linehan had been promoted to Chief Petty Officer.)