The coat of arms for USS FORD has much symbolism in its design. The predominant colors of dark blue and gold are traditionally associated with the Navy; blue to represent the sea and gold to signify excellence.
The various designs on the shield depict the heroic naval career of Second Class Gunner's Mate Patrick Osborne Ford, who gave his life for fellow sailors and country. The colors yellow and scarlet allude to the flag of South Vietnam. The wavy blue band symbolizes the My Tho River, site of the battle in which Petty Officer Ford gave his life to save several of his shipmates aboard Patrol River Boat 750. The Roman numerals 'V' identify the attachment of this vessel to River Squadron Five. The scarlet spearhead issuing from the left, or sinister, side of the shield is indicative of the ambush attack by Viet Cong forces on Patrol River Boat 750. The scarlet color of the central figure depicts the result of the attack where hostile rockets set the craft ablaze.
The scarlet lion's head is symbolic of the courage and self-sacrifice exhibited by Petty Officer Ford. The crossed naval cannons represent his rating as a Gunner's Mate. The inverted laurel signifies the tragic end of the story. The cross below center denotes the posthumous award of the Navy Cross.
Patrick Osborne Ford was born in San Francisco, California, on 2 May 1942. At the age of 15, he moved to Phoenix, Arizona, where he attended Camelback 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 the Naval Station, Adak, Alaska. He reported aboard the destroyer USS 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 Naval Station, Long Beach, California. In 1966, he was transferred to the Naval Support Activity, Danang, Republic of Vietnam, where he was ordered to report aboard the USS GEORGE K. MACKENZIE (DD836). Following completion of his tour aboard MACKENZIE, Ford was subsequently transferred to the USS 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 Naval Amphibious Base, Coronado, California for River Patrol Craft Training. Following completion of training in 1968, GMG2 Ford was directed to report to the Naval Support Activity, 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 21 June 1968, GMG2 Ford was serving as the after 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 and coxswain. 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 aftmachine-gunner's station.,In the face of enemy gunfire and with his clothing on fire, Ford assisted three seriously wounded shipmates into the water. Only after ensuring that all the surviving crew had left the boat did Ford make his way into the water. He was the last man alive to leave what remained of Patrol River Boat 750.
Soon after GMG2 Ford entered the water, he was killed by a burst of enemy machine-gun fire. However, as a result of his fearless devotion to duty, he 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 (FFG 54 )after him.