Navsource Online: History Page

USS Ford (FFG 54)

This History Provided By Ralph J. Fries,
River Section 535 (9/67 - 6/68)

I just attended a RS-535 mini reunion in IIlinois on 22 August 2009. In attendance were four of the six men on patrol that day and night, 21 June 1968, that the 750 was hit. We talked about the men on PBR-750 and how they died.

Ford was the after .50 gunner. When the boat took a B-40 rocket in the port fuel tank, it blew and started a fire in the coxswain flat where BM1 Delph, the boat captain was killed instantly. Patrol officer, Lt. William Dennis was standing at the entrance to the coxswain flat talking on the radio. He was blown overboard, hitting his head on the canopy railing, and drowned. His body was picked up later on that day. The engineer, EN1 Knott was wounded while either standing on the engine covers, or close by the forward bulkhead of the engine compartment on the starboard side of the boat. I would assume he was on the engine covers manning the M-60 machine gun or Honeywell grenade launcher that was attached to the engine cover splinter shields. GMGSN Barry Johnson was in the forward .50 gun mount and was wounded from the blast of the port fuel tank.

Ford left the after .50 and pushed EN1 Knott into the water, then he pulled GMGSN Johnson from the forward .50 gun mount and put him into water. Ford, I assume, went to the coxswain flat and put the starboard engine throttle full speed ahead and straightened out the rudder to head straight to the beach as the boat was going in circles. After the boat hit the beach, Ford manned his gun until he was out of ammunition. This is when the VC captured him, before the cover boat could arrive on scene. When the cover boat arrived, they picked up Knott and Johnson out of the water.

The survivors stated that during the late evening and night of June 21st, they could hear screams that made their hair stand on end from a man on the land in the under brush, close by where Ford was captured near his boat. They knew that Ford was alive but being tortured most unmercifully. They retrieved Ford's mutilated body on the 25th.

Patrick Ford was not killed by a burst of fire after leaving the boat, he was captured and tortured to death.

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This page created 13 September 2009 and is maintained by Mike Smolinski
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