Patrick O. Ford
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 (FFG-54), after him.
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 James E. Kyes (DD-787) 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 George K. MacKenzie (DD-836). Following completion of his tour aboard MacKenzie, Ford was subsequently transferred to Henderson (DD-785) 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.
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 Cai Be. 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.
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 (FFG-54), after him.