Norvell Gardiner Ward
Rear Admiral, United States Navy
Navy rear admiral Norvell G. Ward, who served as a chief of naval
forces in the Vietnam War during a period of escalating U.S. involvement,
died July 19 in a special care unit of a retirement community in Atlantic
Beach in Florida. He had congestive heart failure. He was 92.
Ward graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy
in 1935 and became a much-honored submariner during World War II. He received
the Navy Cross, the highest decoration for valor after the Medal of Honor,
as commanding officer of the submarine Guardfish, for sinking eight
Japanese ships on one patrol.
An expert in strategic planning and war gaming, Ward was promoted to Rear Admiral in 1963.
Two years later, he arrived in Saigon, Vietnam, as chief of the Naval Advisory Group under the U.S. Military Assistance Command, and soon after became commander of naval forces in Vietnam.
He oversaw the launch of river patrol boats and played a major role in implementing Operation Market Time, which tried to stop the North Vietnamese from smuggling arms along the coast.
Capable, efficient and utterly unflamboyant,
Ward did not emerge as one of the vibrant personalities of the war.
He turned down opportunities for promotion to Vice Admiral as a gesture
to his wife, Elizabeth, who had bouts of cancer and from whom he endured
long separations while on assignment.
He weathered confrontations between the Pentagon
and residents over continued use of the island of Culebra as a Navy target
He served as Executive officer on the submarine
Gato before taking command of the submarine Guardfish in May 1943. From
June 14 to July 31 of that year, he patrolled enemy-controlled waters,
engaging in six ''well planned and executed'' torpedo attacks that sunk
eight enemy ships totaling more than 38,000 tons, according to his Navy
Rear Admiral Norvell G. Ward, Chief of the Naval Advisory Group and the
first Commander Naval Forces, Vietnam, discusses with his staff
Communist seaborne infiltration into the Ca Mau Peninsula at the southern
tip of South Vietnam
Posted: 19 October 2005