FF 1058 (DE 1058)
The USS Meyerkord is named for
LT Harold Dale Meyerkord
Lieutenant Meyerkord was born in St. Louis, Missouri, on 9 October 1937, graduated from Riverview Garden High School in 1955 and received a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from the University of Missouri. He received his commission on 10 June 1960 after completing Officer Candidate School. He served in the USS LOS ANGELES (CA-135) and the USS DUNCAN (DD-874) prior to 13 July 1964, when he brought his expertise, diplomacy, tact, leadership and dedication to the aid of South Vietnam's struggle for freedom. As Senior Naval Advisor to the 23rd River Assault Group of the South Vietnamese Navy, he was involved in more than thirty combat operations in which he was under fire. Appropriately, his radio code name was "Hornblower", the legendary hero of C.S. Forester's novels. His dedication to his men - Vietnamese and American - became renowned throughout the River Assault Group.
Lieutenant Meyerkord assumed co-leadership with the Vietnamese Commander of a miniature fleet of shallow draft patrol craft to protect three of the thirteen districts which form the vast delta region of the Mekong River. This waterborne domain had largely been regulated by feudal war lords and river pirates. The Viet Cong had brought terror including kidnapping and murder of local anti-Red leaders in their attempt to control this "rice bowl". Here, waterways substituted for roads, lacing the jungles so very familiar to the enemy. Threats of ambush and instant death were ever present as the River Assault Group probed into insurgent territory.
Lieutenant Meyerkord made many low-level aerial flights in the face of Viet Cong fire to gain vital intelligence data. These achievements brought him the posthumous award of the Air Medal. But he was even more daring in action with his River Assault Group. In one action, when the enemy blocked his fleet, he set up a shore command post from whch he directed artillery fire and air strikes to save the day. In another action, he took over from the wounded Vietnamese Commander. Though wounded himself and facing heavy fire, he continued the fight until victory was assured. In the best traditions of "Hornblower", his daring leadership continued through more than 30 operations. He was twice awarded the Purple Heart for wounds received in action. He lived up to his stated philosophy: "In order to conduct successful operations in this region, it is imperative that American advisors have an aggressive, but not reckless attitude. An advisor that is overly cautious and places needless stumbling blocks in an operation is a handicap."
Lieutenant Meyerkord was killed 16 March 1965 while his craft was in the van leading his River Assault Group into insurgent territory. His boat was caught in the first fusilade from a Viet Cong ambush. He steadfastly returned the enemy's fire at point-blank range until mortally wounded. His extraordinary heroism was recognized by the posthumous award of the Navy Cross.
Lieutenant Meyerkord is survived by his wife, daughter, mother and father,
all of St. Louis, Missouri.
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