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Frigate Ford says farewell

Nov. 1, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
Sailors lower the national ensign on the fantail of the frigate Ford for the last time after the ship's decommissioning ceremony Thursday at Naval Station Everett, Wash.
Sailors lower the national ensign on the fantail of the frigate Ford for the last time after the ship's decommissioning ceremony Thursday at Naval Station Everett, Wash. (MC1 Nathan Lockwood / Navy)
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Thach ceremony online

The decommissioning ceremony for the frigate Thach is scheduled for 10 a.m. local time (1 p.m. Eastern) in San Diego. Click here for the Navy’s live broadcast.

The first of seven frigates scheduled for decommissioning this fiscal year left service Thursday, when crew members, plankowners and other members of the frigate Ford’s family honored their ship in a ceremony in Everett, Wash.

“It’s emotional being here today,” Patricia Ivey, niece of Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Patrick Ford, after whom the ship is named, in a Navy news release. “Our uncle was a hero, and he would be proud of what the crew and his ship has provided to the Navy.”

Ford earned the Navy Cross posthumously for his June 21, 1968, actions aboard Patrol River Boat 750 near Cai Be, Vietnam. Two Viet Cong-launched rockets hit his boat, setting it on fire; he returned fire from the out-of-control vessel during the blaze and helped three severely injured crew members off the boat before finally entering the water himself, according to his award citation. Shortly after, he was killed by enemy machine-gun fire.

“Long after the last sailor leaves her brow and her ensign is hauled down, Ford will continue to live,” retired Capt. David Matawitz, a former Ford skipper, said at the ceremony. “A part of her is always alive in our hearts, and I’d like to think that a part of the U.S. is always alive in her hull.”

Ford entered service in 1985. The ship deployed in support of the early stages of Operation Enduring Freedom and conducted multiple counterpiracy and counternarcotics missions.

“The one thing I will miss most about my time on the Ford were the memories I built with my shipmates,” said Personnel Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Jordan Esquivel. “We are one big family, which is why we worked so well together.”

It’s one of seven frigates set for decommissioning this fiscal year, according to a fleetwide message released in July. All seven are designated for sale to foreign militaries. The frigate Thach, commissioned in 1984, was scheduled to have its decommissioning ceremony Friday morning in San Diego.

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