Patrick O. Ford

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Patrick O. Ford
Navycross.jpg
Navy Cross Medal
Born (1942-05-02)May 2, 1942
San Francisco, California
Died June 21, 1968(1968-06-21) (aged 26)
Cái Bè, South Vietnam
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service 1965 - 1968
Rank GMG2
Unit Task Force 116
Battles/wars Vietnam War 
Awards Navy Cross

Patrick Osborne Ford (May 2, 1942 – June 21, 1968) was a United States Navy sailor serving on a PBR patrol boat who was killed in Vietnam after he saved the lives of two of his shipmates. The US Navy posthumously awarded him the Navy Cross and later named a frigate, USS Ford, after him.

Ford was born in San Francisco, California, on May 2, 1942. At the age of 15, he moved to Phoenix, Arizona, where he attended Camelback High School and North High School.

Shortly after graduation, Ford enlisted in the Navy. He completed basic training at the Naval Training Center, San Diego, California, and received orders to report to NS Adak, Alaska. He reported aboard the destroyer USS James E. Kyes where he served as a Gunner's Mate until the end of his enlistment in 1963.

GMG2 Ford reenlisted in 1965 and served at the NS Long Beach, California. In 1966, he was transferred to the NSA Danang, Republic of Vietnam, where he was ordered to report aboard USS George K. MacKenzie. Following completion of his tour aboard MacKenzie, Ford was subsequently transferred to USS Henderson where he remained until the end of his second enlistment in 1967.

Later that year Ford reenlisted for the second time at the Naval Receiving Station, San Francisco, California. He was ordered to the NAB Coronado, California for River Patrol Craft Training. Following completion of training in 1968, GMG2 Ford was directed to report to the NSA Saigon, Republic of Vietnam. He was assigned to Task Force 116, River Squadron 5, River Section 535 in 1968.

Riverine Patrol Boat, aft machine gun is at left

For the next five months, he served as a patrol river boat sailor, monitoring the traffic of the many rivers and coastal waterways of the area. On June 21, 1968, GMG2 Ford was serving as the aft machine-gunner aboard Patrol River Boat 750 as part of a two-boat patrol operating in the upper My Tho River near the town of Cái Bè. The boats were maneuvering down the river when they spotted a sampan fleeing into a nearby canal. The two patrol boats gave chase and captured the sampan one hundred meters further up the canal. As the patrol boat returned to the river with the captured sampan in tow, it was ambushed by a Viet Cong patrol that unleashed an overwhelming barrage of heavy machine-gunfire and rockets.

USS Ford (FFG-54)

Two explosive B-40 rockets struck Ford's boat, immediately killing the patrol leader, William E. Dennis, and Boatswain's Mate First Class Scott C. Delph. Within seconds, the boat was ablaze and out of control, heading directly for the Viet Cong positions. Even as the boat was hit by four additional rockets, and after suffering serious injuries, Ford tenaciously maintained a steady volume of return fire from his aft machine-gunner's station. In the face of enemy gunfire and with his clothing on fire, Ford assisted three seriously wounded shipmates into the water. Ford told the last of the men to swim to the rescue boat while he maintained cover fire. He was the last man seen alive on what remained of Patrol River Boat 750.

GMG2 Ford did not make it off the boat and despite search efforts was not found until the next morning on the beach of the river. However, his actions saved the lives of two of his shipmates. In recognition of his bravery, the US Navy posthumously awarded GMG2 Ford the Navy Cross and later named a frigate, USS Ford, after him.

Navy Cross Citation[edit]

Navycross.jpg

The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the NAVY CROSS posthumously to:

Gunner's Mate Second Class Patrick Osborne Ford (NSN: 5347843)
UNITED STATES NAVY

for extraordinary heroism on 21 June 1968 while serving with friendly forces engaged in armed conflict against the communist insurgent (Viet Cong) forces in the Republic of Vietnam. Petty Officer Ford was serving as a machine gunner on River Patrol Boat SEVEN HUNDRED-FIFTY (PBR-750), River Section 535, River Squadron FIVE, Task Force 116 (TF-116), which was ambushed during a combat patrol by a Viet Cong force using rockets and heavy machine guns. The enemy rocket fire disabled his craft and started a fire on board, causing the PBR to go out of control and head for the shore line directly in front of the enemy firing positions. Although seriously wounded, Petty Officer Ford returned a continuous volume of fire into the Viet Cong positions. Realizing that his boat was out of control, and in the face of point-blank hostile fire, he assisted three of his more seriously wounded shipmates from the PBR into the water. Only after insuring that all the surviving crew members had left the boat did Petty Officer Ford give any thought to his own safety. He was the last man to leave the boat. As a result of his heroic actions and fearless devotion to duty, Petty Officer Ford saved the lives of two of his shipmates, gallantly sacrificing his own in doing so. His extraordinary heroism under fire was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
General Orders: Authority: Navy Department Board of Decorations and Medals
Action Date: 21-Jun-68
Service: Navy
Rank: Gunner's Mate Second Class
Company: River Patrol Boat 750 (P-BR-750)
Battalion: River Section 535
Regiment: River Squadron 5
Division: Task Force 116 (TF-116)[1]

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