Lt. Walter G. Offerman died May 22, 1961. There was an explosion in the starboard wheel well of RF-8A, BU NO 146839, as it was catapulted from the port cat. aboard the USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVA-42) while operating in the Mediterannean. Offerman made a sucessful ejection and landed safely in the water on the starboard side of the ship. For some reason Lt. Offerman was unable to get himself free from his 'chute and he was dragged under and perished.
His loss was a sad one for the detachment. I know this info is factual because I was the maintence P.O. for the detachment and was on the flight deck and observed the event.
Richard Gregory AEC USN RET
True peace only comes when Jesus resides in your heart.
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Lt. Offerman's Pilot History
Lt. Offerman entered Flight Training in February 1953, flying the SNJ. He was designated a Naval Aviator circa August 1954. In advanced training he flew the F9F-2.
Contributed by Capt. P. J. Smith USN (ret)
In September 1954 Lt. Offerman reported to VF-143 and deployed on a West Pac cruise in the USS Phil Sea. He flew the F6F and later the F9F-6 jet fighter accumulating 300 accident-free hours and 81 carrier landings.
In Jan. 1956 he was transferred to Saufley Field as a Flight Instructor in the SNJ and later the T34 and T28 (accumulating 1,353 flight hours).
In Feb. 1959 he flew SNB and T28 for flight time while attending Photo School for five-months. During this period he also flew F9F-6P and F9F-8P photo reconnaissance jets.
In Aug. 1959 Lt Offerman reported to the F8U Crusader (RCVG)VF-174 squadron at NAS Cecil Field, Florida. He progressed normally and was considered a good student.
On October 29, 1959, now assigned to VFP-62, Lt Offerman was returning to Cecil Field in a night-section with his flight leader, Lt. Cdr. Tal Baggett. Both pilots were involved in a mid-air collision. Records show Offerman was blown from his aircraft and both pilots parachuted to safety. Lt. Offerman suffered from second and third-degree burns over his face, arms, and thighs. The accident investigation board assigned pilot error factors (details not available).
Tal Baggett had the mid-air [RF-8A Bu No 146853] with Lt. Offerman returning from Gitmo near Orange Park and I was part of the clean-up crew near railroad tracks. That was late 1959 [Oct. 29, 1959] after FDR 37-59 got home in Sept.--John Dwyer
Late 29 October  I was driving south on Jammes Rd. in Westconnet, Florida and observed a flash in the southern sky. Next day I found that the flash was that of a mid-air collision between two F8U-1Ps piloted by Lcdr Tal Baggett and Lt Gary Offerman. They were returning from a "training flight" to Guantanamo Bay and collided during let-down over Doctor's Inlet.
Lcdr Baggett ejected with minor injuries even though the entire cockpit had blown away from the rest of the fuselage. The main fuel cell had exploded on contact and Lt. Offerman's face and arms were severly burned. He managed to eject and both pilots were rescued by fishermen.
Lcdr Baggett was back in the cockpit as soon as his broken ankles healed. Lt Offerman was returned to Group 1 aviator's duty on 6 June 1960. Gary had received physiotherapy for full motion of his hands.
I never observed that he had any problems with the dexterity of his badly scarred hands.
Capt. Phillip (P.J.) Smith USN (ret)
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