Navy Veteran Joseph Kievernagel is today's Veteran of the Day.

Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Navy Veteran Joseph Kievernagel, who served on the USS Forrestal during the July 29, 1967, fire.

Joseph Kievernagel enlisted in the Navy while living in Modesto, California in July 1964. After completing basic training at San Diego Naval Center, he attended the yeoman class “A” school. His first assignment was in the weapons department of the administrative office at Naval Air Station Cecil Field, Florida. For his work there, Kievernagel promoted to petty officer second class in October 1966.

With the escalation of conflict in Vietnam, Kievernagel became the petty officer in the administrative department for Attack Squadron 46. He served aboard the USS Forrestal in the Gulf of Tonkin. After docking briefly in the Philippines in mid-July 1967, the USS Forrestal arrived at Yankee Station. Naval aircraft carried out bombing missions in North Vietnam from this coordinate point. On July 29, 1967, as the attack squadron’s aircraft prepared to carry out an air raid when, an explosion rocked the flight deck. The explosion heavily damaged the ship’s lower decks, killing 134 members of the crew. The explosion and ensuing fire destroyed or damaged 61 of the squadron’s planes. The incident was the worst loss of life on a U.S. naval ship since World War II.

As part of the attack squadron’s administrative department, Kievernagel’s unit handled both correspondence to Naval Headquarters and the personal correspondence of those killed in the explosion or during rescue attempts. In September 1967, he received a commendation for his dedication to duty in the aftermath of the tragedy.

Kievernagel later returned to Cecil Field and was put in charge of the administrative office for Attack Squadron 46. He later was transferred to the Naval Reserves in July 1968 and, after two years, was honorably discharged in July 1970. For his service onboard the USS Forrestal, Kievernagel received the Vietnam Service Medal with a bronze star.

Kievernagel joined the Veterans of the Foreign Wars in the 1980s and served as a hospitality chairman for six years. He also helped with the VFW’s Buddy Poppy program, which oversees the creation of memorial poppies by disabled Veterans to provide financial assistance to needy Veterans. Additionally, Kievernagel is an active member of the Knights of Columbus in Sacramento, California, frequently participating in council charity events and serving as a mentor to younger Knights.

Thank you for your service!

Nominate a Veteran for #VeteranOfTheDay

Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.

It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. All it takes is an email to with as much information as you can put together, along with some good photos. Visit our blog post about nominating to learn how to create the best submission.


Writer: Sarah Concepcion

Editor: Claire Pei

Fact checker: Brett Raffish

Graphic artist: Michelle Zischke 

Share this story

Published on Mar. 24, 2020

Estimated reading time is 2.5 min.

Views to date: 152


  1. Mike amstrong March 30, 2020 at 12:33 am

    Thank you for being part of a group of heroic men.

  2. Nancy Shumard March 25, 2020 at 10:19 am

    My uncle Martin Conway was also serving on the Forrestal during the fire. Thank you for your service sir.

  3. Gerald Marenich March 24, 2020 at 9:25 pm

    To Brother Knight Joe Kievernagel, Congratulations on your selection as VOA. You’ve had a very interesting career as a member of the US Navy. Thank you for your service. Jerry Marenich

  4. Jim Steward March 24, 2020 at 2:27 pm

    Joe is a great guy. Even greater in my eyes now. How he became part of my extended family is a great story!

  5. Senior Veterans Care Network March 24, 2020 at 11:41 am

    Thank you for your service Joseph Kievernagel.

Comments are closed.

More Stories

  • Edward Carter Jr. was one of the few African Americans to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions during World War II.

  • Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Spiros “Steve” Pisanos, a Greek national who flew for the British Royal Air Force as an American pilot during World War II.

  • Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Marine Corps Veteran Stephen W. Pless, who served in the Vietnam War and is the only Marine aviator to be awarded a Medal of Honor during the war.