Gerald R. Ford, Lieutenant Commander, United States Naval Reserve, All-American Football Star, attorney, Congressman, Minority Leader, Vice President, and 38th President of the United States was a patriot.
Ford was also most proud of his service in the Naval Reserve during World War II and his continued service in the Reserves until his discharge on 28 June 1963. Few know of Ford’s service in the Pacific in World War II aboard the aircraft carrier Monterey.
Ford’s duties were that of a navigator and gunnery officer. Lt. Cmdr. Ford saw a tremendous amount of combat aboard the U.S.S. Monterey. Ford and his ship survived an epic typhoon, which hit Admiral Halsey’s Third Fleet on 18-19 December 1944. The Third Fleet lost 800 men and three destroyers during this violent storm at sea. We could have lost Ford, too.
He was almost swept overboard on one occasion and later during this typhoon a fire broke out on the Monterey below deck. Ford rushed into the fire and is credited with saving the lives of a number of his fellow sailors. He received a number of decorations and battle stars for his service aboard the Monterey. What happened to the Monterey after the fire? She limped into port and was declared unfit for service.
Sitting in former President Ford’s office I noted he had a display of office seals behind his desk. The House of Representatives Seal, Vice Presidential Seal, and his Presidential Seal. Mounted in the center of those seals, behind glass casing, were the Distinguished Service Medals of each Branch of the Service. The President told me those medals were awarded to him by the Joint Chiefs of Staff on his last day in office (19 Jan 77) as our 38th President.
Most readers won’t remember that Gerald R. Ford was the first President of the United States to remember Pearl Harbor at the memorial aboard the USS Arizona. He was a sailor’s sailor. Patriotism and service were hallmarks of this humble man from Michigan.
This brings us to the honor of having a class of aircraft carriers of the United States Navy named in his memory. The USS Gerald R. Ford cost over $ 13 billion dollars when it was christened on 9 November 2013 and at commissioning on 22 July 2017. Her home port is Norfolk, Va.
Regretfully, the carrier is way over its initial $12.9 billion dollar initial budget estimate. She is 1100 feet long, weighs 100,000 tons fully loaded and is 250 feet tall with 25 decks. She has 2600 sailors aboard ship and she carries 75 aircraft. She is the world’s largest aircraft carrier and won’t go to sea on deployment to around 2022.
What is all the fuss about with the USS Ford? Well, it relates to massive cost overruns, the failure of high tech catapults which launch the aircraft, and troublesome elevators that lift the aircraft out of the hanger and onto the flight deck. Seems the Navy and its ship builders are spending much time working out and trouble shooting the new technologies and the Commander in Chief has blasted, to put it politely, naval officials for the cost overruns.
Right behind the Ford, and being built now is the John F. Kennedy, named after PT -109 Commander and former President of the United States John F. Kennedy. Gerald R. Ford was a patriot, his service in the Navy and Naval Reserve was remarkable as was his service to his country as a Congressman, Vice President, and President. The sailors who crew this mighty carrier deserve better than to have technological glitches keep them tied up along the docks while the manufactures tries to work out bugs on new technology aboard her.
Let’s honor this former Navy hero and President — Gerald R. Ford — with a carrier that sets out to sea on schedule to defend our nation and keep the sea lanes open.
- Lieutenant Commander Gerald R. Ford d: Naval History and Heritage Command
- USS Gerald Ford: Wikipedia