To the editor,

On October 26, 1966, while I was the communications officer on patrol along the South Vietnamese coast, I received word through classified communications that the carrier USS Oriskany had caught fire in an ordnance locker and 44 men were killed, many while fighting the fire.

Later, an official report stated that many had died due to the beards they’d been permitted to wear (it was the ‘60s) which allowed the deadly smoke to leak through their oxygen breathing masks now loosely sealed due to the beards.

Rules have reasons and consequences. The rules were tightened after the Oriskany disaster which seems to be the only, tragic, option for us humans after dealing with an avoidable disaster.

Have we reached that point now with 3,000 of our citizens dying daily?

We are at war now with a deadly virus. Tell the state and feds to make mask wearing mandatory. Remember the Oriskany!

Shep Abbott


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