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Hangar Door Nightmare
by Ltjg. Mark Rowbottom

Our plane captains (PCs) were working a normal night shift and were preparing for an aircraft move. They had successfully moved a plane into the hangar and had finished securing the aircraft. After that, two PCs were directed to close the bay doors. It was around 1915. Two PCs were closing one door each, and a third was closing two doors at the same time. Closing two doors at once wasn't unusual, and a third class actually taught that procedure. It would prove to be a big mistake.

While closing both doors, the young PC's right hand was on one of the door activators, while the left hand was on the other door's activator. The doors were being closed simultaneously. I asked the PC to tell the rest of the story:

Suddenly, my right hand slipped off the door activator, while the other door still was moving. The door that I was operating with my left hand caught up with the other door and then stopped. I heard a crushing noise as the doors smashed my right hand. I immediately released the button being pressed by my left hand and felt a sharp pain run through my arm. For a moment, I thought I had cut off my hand. The overwhelming fear of not having a hand kept me from looking at it. I asked someone to open the door for me.

One of my shipmates, who was helping me open the doors, heard me scream and ran toward me. She asked if I was alright, but the expression on my face said otherwise. She knew I was hurt, and I asked her to open the door.

My shipmate reversed the door and turned around when I let out a moan. She screamed, "Oh my GOD," when she looked at my hand. At the time, I did not want to look at it, but the pain and throbbing made me do so. When I did look at my hand, I saw a huge gash starting at the middle of my index finger and finishing at the bottom of my thumb, exposing my bone. I felt like vomiting.

A PO2 began first aid and calmed me. Another Sailor called an ambulance, and I was rushed to the hospital. I ended up with 18 stitches and a phobia of bay doors. The doctor who attended me said that I was very lucky I hadn't cut any nerves or tendons.

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