Monterey

 

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CVL-24

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CVL-26

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CVL-27

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CVL-28

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CVL-29

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CVL-30

 

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Ford and USS Monterey (CVL-26)

Ford received a commision as ensign in the US Naval Reserve on 13 April 1942 and ultimately served 47 months on active duty during World War II. His background as a coach and trainer made him a good candidate for instructor in the Navy's V-5 (aviation cadet) program.

On 20 April, he reported for active duty to the V-5 instructor school at Annapolis, Maryland. After one month of training, he went to Navy Preflight School in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where he was one of 83 instructors and taught elementary seamanship, ordnance, gunnery, first aid, and military drill. In addition, he coached in all nine sports that were offered, but mostly in swimming, boxing and football. During the one year he was at the Preflight School, he was promoted to Lieutenant Junior Grade on 2 June 1942 and to Lieutenant on 1 March 1943.

Ford Navy
Ford Mog Mog
Ford flight Deck
Lt. Cmdr. Gerald Ford Gerald Ford on Mog Mog Gerald Ford on Monterey
Applying for sea duty, Ford was sent in May 1943 to the pre-commissioning detachment for a new light aircraft carrier, USS Monterey (CVL-26) at New York Shipbuilding Corporation, Camden, New Jersey. From the ship's commissioning on 17 June 1943 until the end of December 1944, Ford served as the assistant navigator, athletic officer, and anti-aircraft battery officer on board Monterey. While he was on board, Monterey participated in many actions in the Pacific with the Third and Fifth Fleets during the fall of 1943 and in 1944. In 1943, the carrier helped secure Makin Island in the Gilberts, and participated in carrier strikes against Kavieng, New Ireland in 1943. During the spring of 1944, Monterey supported landings at Kwajalein and Eniwetok and participated in carrier strikes in the Marianas, Western Carolines, and northern New Guinea, as well as in the Battle of Philippine Sea. After overhaul, from September to November 1944, aircraft from Monterey launched strikes against Wake Island, participated in strikes in the Philippines and Ryukus, and supported the landings at Leyte and Mindoro.

Although the ship was not damaged by the Japanese forces, Monterey was one of several ships damaged by the typhoon, which hit Admiral Halsey's Third Fleet on 18-19 December 1944. The Third Fleet lost three destroyers and over 800 men during the typhoon. Monterey was damaged by a fire which was started by several of the ship's aircarft tearing loose from their cables and colliding during the storm. During the storm, Ford narrowly missed being a casualty himself. As Ford headed for his battle station on the bridge of the ship in the early morning of 18 December, the ship rolled twenty-five degrees which caused Ford to lose his footing and slide toward the edge of the deck. The two inch steel ridge around the edge of the carrier slowed him enough so he could roll and twist into the catwalk below the deck. As he later stated, "I was lucky; I could have easily gone overboard."

After the fire, Monterey was declared unfit for service and the crippled carrier reached Ulithi on 21 December before preceding across the Pacific to Bremerton, Washington, where it underwent repairs. On Christmas Eve 1944 at Ulithi, Ford was detached from the ship and sent to the Navy Pre-Flight School, St. Mary's College, California, where he was assigned to the Athletic Department until April 1945. One of his duties was to coach football. From the end of April 1945 to January 1946, he was on the staff of the Naval Reserve Training Command, Naval Air Station, Glenview, Illinois, as the Staff Physical and Military Training Officer. On 3 October 1945, he was promoted to Lieutenant Commander. In January 1946, he was sent to the Separation Center, Great Lakes, Illinois, to be outprocessed. He was released from active duty under honorable conditions on 23 February 1946. On 28 June 1963, the Secretary of the Navy accepted Ford's resignation from the Naval Reserve. Returning to Grand Rapids after the war, Ford resumed law practice.

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