THE HINDENBURG DISASTER
(May 6, 1937 – Lakehurst Naval Air Station, New Jersey)
Charles E. Rosendahl
(Commander, NAS Lakehurst)
The Official Story
CHARLES E. ROSENDAHL
(Commander at NAS Lakehurst,
during the Hindenburg Disaster)
Charles Emery Rosendahl (May 15, 1892 – May 17, 1977) was a highly decorated vice admiral in the United States Navy, and an advocate of lighter-than-air flight.
Biography (Move to airships)
On June 11, 1934, he assumed command at NAS Lakehurst, and was promoted to commander on February 1, 1935. Rosendahl served as an official observer on the German airship Hindenburg, on transatlantic flights between Frankfurt and Rio de Janeiro in August and September 1936. He was in command at Lakehurst on the night of May 6, 1937, and witnessed the destruction of the Hindenburg, leading fire fighting and rescue efforts. He later testified at the Department of Commerce inquiry into the accident and stated:
When I saw the first blaze I knew the ship was doomed and I also thought that there would immediately be an explosion which would flatten every building at the field and kill everybody looking on. I thought it was curtains for all of us.
On August 6, 1938, he was relieved of command of NAS Lakehurst, and on August 31, he reported to Pearl Harbor to serve as executive officer of the light cruiser Milwaukee (CL-5).