Here’s a shot that’s long been one of Murdoc’s favorites, since long before I moved to live in Ford’s old Congressional district:
Crewmen of the USS Monterey play basketball in the carrier’s forward elevator. On the left, jumping for the ball, is Ens. Gerald R. Ford, future president of the United States. June 1944. Photo by Victor Jorgenson.
This shot is from the excellent book Steichen at War, which Murdoc bought for himself when it was published in 1987 and remains one of his favorites.
Another pic and more below.
Ship’s gunnery officers, 24 October 1943. Lieutenant Gerald R. Ford, Jr., USNR, is second from right in the front row. He was the 38th President of the United States (1974-77). Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives (photo # 80-G-366872).
The Monterey (CVL-26) was an Independence-class light carrier launched in 1943.
Ford was the athletic director and an anti-aircraft gunnery division officer aboard the ship and later became assistant navigator. He was nearly swept overboard by the December 1944 typhoon (‘Typhoon Cobra’), and when the ship was laid up for repairs after the storm he was reassigned to duty ashore.
According to Wikipedia:
For his naval service, Gerald Ford earned the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with nine engagement stars for operations in the Gilbert Islands, Bismarck Archipelago, Marshall Islands, Asiatic and Pacific carrier raids, Hollandia, Marianas, Western Carolines, Western New Guinea, and the Leyte Operation. He also received the Philippine Liberation Medal with two bronze stars for Leyte and Mindoro, as well as the American Campaign and World War II Victory Medals.
Though his service in the Navy and afterward is commendable and he governed the nation through a very tough time, I still don’t believe that the lead ship in the next class of aircraft carriers should be named for him. I wouldn’t have a problem with a USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier, to be sure, just not the name of the class itself. There are a lot of great traditional names out there going unused, but I have little doubt that politics will win out as usual.
The sad thing is that there will be those who will have a lesser respect for the man because of a bad decision regarding the name of a ship.