Sunday, November 15, 2009

UPDATE: Halsey’s Typhoon II -- Integrity

By Bill Doughty
For former chief petty officer (retired lieutenant commander) Archie DeRyckere, the leadership lessons of Typhoon Cobra -- “Halsey’s Typhoon” -- are personal and last a lifetime.
We linked DeRyckere’s website, Typhoon Cobra 1944 on our last blog post. He sent the following email to Navy Reads:
That is interesting.
The heroism by Captain Plage and his
ship should be interesting to patriots.
I have been earnestly attempting to have Captain Plage awarded the Medal of honor for his performance as he definitely saved the life of myself and 54 others.
President Gerald R. Ford supported my efforts, to no avail. President (then-Lt.j.g.) Ford saved the USS Monterey(CVL 26) in typhoon cobra.The ship was being consumed by a fire on its hangar deck from stem to stern and Captain Ingersoll had been ordered by Admiral Halsey to "abandon ship".
The captain said "to seventy foot waves. I have a better idea; Jerry go down to the hangar deck and put the fires out."
President Ford collected the dead and injured and proceeded to fight fires for five-and-one-half hours, put all fires out and the ship continued to fight to victory in Tokyo Bay.
President Ford was one of our finest athletic Presidents, a legend on ski slopes and one of our most professionally proficient Presidents. He never, to my knowledge, received a medal for saving the USS Monterey.
LCDR Archie G. DeRyckere, USN (Ret.)
Lt.j.g. Jerry Ford playing basketball
on USS Monterey, June 1944.
Faced with Halsey’s directive to abandon USS Monterey (CVL 29), Captain Ingersoll said, “No. We can fix this.” Authors Drury and Clavin write, “Now, with a nod from his skipper, Ford donned a gas mask and led a fire brigade below. Aircraft gas tanks exploded as hose handlers slid across the burning hangar deck. Into this furnace Ford took his men, his first order of business to carry out the unconscious survivors.
“Hours later, he and his team emerged burned and exhausted, but they had put out the fire,” Drury and Clavin write.

Thirty years later, Vice President Gerald Ford became the 38th president of the United States after President Nixon resigned in the wake of the Watergate scandal, leaving the nation in a storm of turmoil.
The authors of Halsey’s Typhoon report that Ford thought about Typhoon Cobra on the morning of Nixon’s resignation.
USS Monterey in Typhoon Cobra
“I remembered that fire at the height of the typhoon,” Ford wrote, “and I considered it a marvelous metaphor for the ship of state.”
More leadership lessons in the wake of a storm: just contrast how Nixon’s character as a leader is remembered with how Ford’s integrity as a leader was demonstrated when our nation needed healing.
On Saturday, Nov. 14 Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding and the Navy marked the keel-laying of the Navy’s state-of-the-art aircraft carrier: the Gerald R. Ford.
President Ford’s daughter, Susan Ford Bales, the ship's sponsor, attended the event, as did son Michael Ford.
Both said their father learned of the naming before his death nearly three years ago.
Former President Ford, himself, said, when he learned of the honor, "It is a source of indescribable pride and humility to know that an aircraft carrier bearing my name may be permanently associated with the valor and patriotism of the men and women of the United States Navy."
The new carrier, scheduled for delivery to the Navy in 2015, will be the first in the Ford-class series, all designed to bring improved warfighting capability in support of the Navy’s Maritime Strategy.
Susan Ford Bales, said on Nov. 14, “Much has been written about Dad and his integrity. For him the question was always straightforward: What was best for the American people? Period. As the history books have begun to explain, Americans have come to admire his integrity...”
Lt. Jerry Ford, second from right, front row, with USS Monterey team.
To learn more about the shipmates bound together by Typhoon Cobra, visit Archie DeRyckere’s website,

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