This weekend, while undergoing carrier qualifications in the Sea of Japan, we had a wire break after a Super Hornet (the Navy's best, newest jet) landed.... The aircraft went overboard, taking the two pilots with it (they were promptly rescued). The snapped wire whipped around the flight deck, hitting multiple people, including a young airman who lost a leg (at the knee) as a result. Another stricken airman lost much of his nose. The "vets" and "old-timers" say this happens all the time in carrier aviation, the most dangerous military evolution there is after warfighting itself. They (understandably perhaps) seemed unshaken by what happened. In fact, our leading petty officer (LPO, the leading E-6 in the workcenter) in my new workcenter saw fit to deliever a tirade about certain problems in the workcenter while all this was happening (which struck me as petty and dangerous in itself, because he was talking over the 1MC (the ship's speaker system) and those of us who serve in repair lockers (the ship's volunteer firefighters and damage control specialists) could not hear what was being announced, or whether or not we were going to "General Quarters" (a variation of Battle Stations) I wanted to share what happened afterwards though, because it so "touched" me. The flight deck is very, very dangerous. You've got 18,19 year old guys in charge of the careful and thorough examination and care of multi-million dollar aircraft by other 18-19 year olds. You can't help but admire the guts and hard work of these fellows and gals, who often work in an environment that is already difficult but made even more so by extremely hot temperatures (like in the Gulf or in the Western Pacific). I respect these folks even more than I did before, especially after witnessing what happened after the accident. There were these young "kids" who were in tears, others who were in shock, and a few who looked like they wanted to jump off the boat. A big, burly E-5 with bloods stains on his arms, floatcoat and face paced around, sobbing and whimpering. It was one of his airman who lost his leg on the flight deck, and another one of his airman who found that leg a few feet away. A good deal of chiefs (E-7 and above) were mustering in the adjacent hangar bay and afterwards, joined two of the chaplains in comforting these people. We give the chiefs onboard a lot of grief because too many of them have ceded their rightful power and influence to the officers, but this day they shined. There is this invisible "barrier" between chiefs and "blueshirts" (E-6 and below) in the Navy, often a source of friction because they sometimes oversegregate themselves from those they're responsible for. It dropped for a few minutes as these longtime veterans helped calm and steady the nerves of disturbed airmen. They didn't tell those who were crying to "buck up", they allowed them their time to get over a near-death experience (and having to watch as some of their friends were horribly injured by the snapped wire) and encouraged them to let it out so they could get over it. They got involved when they could have shrugged and walked away. Blood, sweat, grease and tears soiled their uniforms, as they carried a few injured airmen to the battle dressing station (a triage site) whose injuries had escaped notice. For those witnessing this as we stood in ranks in the hangar bay, it was a moment we won't soon forget.