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USS Ford’s namesake honored

From left, retired U.S. Navy sailors Jerry Patterson, Alan Stephens, Tom Restemayer, Don Dennis and Heinz Hickethier proudly display their Patrol Boat, River, on loan from the Navy, to show people the type of craft on which Patrick O. Ford served in Vietnam. - Courtesy photo
From left, retired U.S. Navy sailors Jerry Patterson, Alan Stephens, Tom Restemayer, Don Dennis and Heinz Hickethier proudly display their Patrol Boat, River, on loan from the Navy, to show people the type of craft on which Patrick O. Ford served in Vietnam.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

EVERETT — When the USS Ford pulled into port at Naval Station Everett Oct. 20, among those who welcomed its return were nearly half a dozen retired sailors commemorating the ship’s namesake.

Patrick O. Ford was a U.S. Navy sailor who was serving as a gunner’s mate second class on a Patrol Boat, River, when he was killed in Vietnam in 1968, after saving the lives of two of his shipmates. He was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross, the highest medal that can be awarded by the U.S. Navy and the second highest award given for valor.

Heinz Hickethier, a retired senior chief quartermaster, is the president of the Gamewardens of Vietnam, Northwest Chapter, and he and some fellow former PBR crew members were at Naval Station Everett, with a PBR on loan from the Navy, to let people know about the man behind the name of the ship.

“Last year, we escorted USS Ford back in,” said Hickethier, who noted that they’ll be displaying the PBR at the Imagine Children’s Museum in Everett on Nov. 11, Veterans Day.

“We’re all black berets here,” he added. “Of those of us who served on PBRs, 50 percent were wounded.”

Jerry Patterson, one of the retired sailors in Hickethier’s group, retired as a seaman due to his war wounds.

By showing off the type of craft that Patrick Ford served on board, Hickethier and his fellow veterans hope to honor the memory of the man who gave his life for his country, before he gave his name to a ship.

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