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Yarn Exchange to hold special Memorial Day performance

The U.S.S. Forrestral.


On July 29, 1967, a fire broke out on the U.S.S. Forrestral, an aircraft carrier stationed in the Gulf of Tonkin, and engaged in combat in Vietnam.

A Zuni rocket discharged on deck, setting off a chain reaction of explosions, happening so fast there was no time to clear all of the aircraft from the deck. Incoming pilot, the future Senator John McCain, was able to fly his aircraft off the deck. But 134 service members lost their lives in the tragedy, and another 161 were wounded.

This story is recalled by Preston Hurlburt, who was in the radio room at the time of the first explosions and unaware of the carnage above, but in looming danger as the vessel became engulfed in flames.

This Memorial Day, May 28, the Jonesborough Yarn Exchange Radio Show will perform stories that honor the men and women who served in our armed forces and made the ultimate sacrifice.

Stories will also be shared from their family members and those they served with–people who were left behind to carry on their memories.

Joining the cast this month will be fan-favorites Freddie Vanderford and Brandon Turner from Buffalo, South Carolina, bringing their famous Piedmont Blues. Vanderford, who was inducted in the South Carolina Folk Life Hall of Fame for his contribution to Piedmont Blues Harmonica, has become a frequent music guest of the Yarn Exchange Radio Show, electrifying audiences with his unique talent he learned as an apprentice with Blues harpist Peg-Leg Sam Jackson.

Tickets for this event are $5 and on sale now at the Historic Visitors Center by calling 423-753-1010. Tickets are also available online at This production is sponsored by Ballad Health and the Tennessee Arts Commission through Jonesborough’s Mary B. Martin Program for the Arts at the McKinney Center.