The Ship That Would Not Die….

As we move further and further away from World War 2 —there are fewer and fewer people who remember some of the tremendous sacrifices that were made at the time in the name of freedom.

A few weeks back, EYE wrote a post that included the mention of a relative who was lost in the waning days of that war when he and over 700 others died following an attack on the aircraft carrier USS Franklin.

The piece struck a chord with Richard Don Simms—and he called me from Texas to talk about the Franklin.

In 1945, Richard was a 7-year-old boy, proud of his dad Omer who was serving aboard the U-S-S Franklin.

On the 19th of March 1945, the Franklin was attacked by a single Japanese plane—which dropped 2 bombs on the carrier—doing the worst possible damage..

One bomb struck the flight deck penetrating to the hangar deck… The resulting explosion and fire engulfed the second and third decks, knocking out the combat information center … The second bomb hit aft, also penetrating deep into two decks exploding ammunition, bombs and rockets.

In that below deck inferno—scores of men died or were trapped. Among the trapped—Omer Dee Simms.

Survivors told the tale of Omer Simms taking more than an hour to lead a party of trapped men through the dark, burning, badly listing wreckage below decks until they found a hatch.

They later recalled how Omer forced the hatch open, and let others go before him to safety.

Omer Dee Simms never joined his escaping shipmates—he died when a Napalm bomb exploded.

He was one of 724 men killed that day. 265 others were wounded.

These days, Richard is quite well known in the Dallas area for his comedic banjo act—and the 70-year-old occupies some of his time every week playing his Banjo for the troops at the local USO….

The man who lost his father on the Franklin, sees the face of his dad in each and every soldier he plays for— as he honors the memory of Omer Dee Simms.


Among the moments captured by newsreels and combat photographers on the Franklin that day was is this one— which shows a Chaplain giving the Last Rites to a sailor.

When they people saw the newsreel back home at the time—or viewed that photo—they believed that young sailor was among those lost that terrible day.

Robert Blanchard was the man in that picture. He didn’t die. He survived and went on live a full life after he war.

Here’s his story of the attack and how he survived—in his own words…

Vodpod videos no longer available.


By all rights the Franklin should have sunk that day.

It took on so much water it was listing 13 degrees.

It was heavily damaged internally. A majority of its crew were killed or injured.

But the tenacity of the Franklin’s remaining crew refused to let the ship die.

She eventually made it back to the Brooklyn navy yard where she was repaired—but never saw action again.

And now, close to 70 years after the Franklin was hit, the remembrances of it grow fainter and fainter as those who lived that history pass from the scene.

Now, new generations must learn the story—or the ship that wouldn’t die, surely will.


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