Hometown Hero - Mike Ford
LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - A Westlake man is spending his last week volunteering as a tour guide on board the USS Orleck Museum Plans are to move the museum to a Florida. Ford served on board the Orleck briefly in the 1980s. He joined the Navy in July 1977 and a few years later found himself in war games off the coast of Washington State. He was transferred off his ship, the USS McKean, to the Orleck.
"39 years ago next week, I came on board the Orleck, March 6 in San Diego harbor, to go out for war games," Ford told me in an interview on the ship's main deck. "Both ships were supposed to be a part of the war games. My chief got mad at me and sent me with 10 other guys to come to the Orleck."
When the Orleck came to Lake Charles, Ford was a natural to give tours to the public.
“Mine would take two hours. Because I didn’t just show you the ship, I told you about the ship. I also would show you things. Where’s the best hiding spot? I’ve actually been marked overboard on my ship because they couldn’t find me all day long.”
Since the Orleck museum could never find a permanent dock, plans are being made move the ship to a Jacksonville, Florida naval museum..
“It’s going to a better place. It’s going to be better kept up. Its days here are numbered. I didn’t want to see if end up like the McKean. The McKean is at the bottom of the Adriatic sea right now.”
Sunday, March 1, is the last day for tours on the Orleck.
Jacksonville officials will visit the Orleck next week to go over the proposal to move the ship to a new home in Florida. The ship is expected to be towed to Port Arthur for dry dock repairs on March 23.
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