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First Name: John

Last Name: Belford

Birthplace: Detroit, MI, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Navy (present)


Middle Name: Arthur

Date of Birth: 16 August 1946

Date of Death: 11 February 1969

Rank or Rate: Seaman

Years Served:
John Arthur Belford

•  Vietnam War (1960 - 1973)


John Arthur Belford
Seaman, U.S. Navy

John Arthur Belford was born on 16 August 1946 in Detroit, MI.

On 11 February 1969, Seaman John Arthur Belford was serving on PBR-40 (Patrol Boat, River), River Division 532, Task Force 116, U.S. Navy Forces in Hau Nghia Province, South Vietnam.

In the evening of 11 February, as part of Operation Keel Haul, three ambushes were set up along the Vam Co Dong River in Hau Nghia Province, Republic of Vietnam utilizing two U.S. Navy river patrol boats (PBR’s) at each location. A roving patrol of two PBR’s was established on the river, remaining in the area of operations. The roving patrol, PBR’s 40 and 123, were proceeding north on the river to rendezvous with tango boats (Armored Troop Carriers), also part of the operation, when they came under heavy rocket and automatic weapons fire from the west bank of the river, about nine miles northwest of Luc Hoa. The enemy ambush area was estimated to be 400 meters long and contained four B-40 rocket positions and 10-12 automatic weapons positions. The lead boat, PBR-123, received one B-40 rocket hit on the forecastle centerline cleat. PBR-40, the cover boat, received two B-40 rounds in the stern sheet area. The cover boat ran aground on the east bank of the river at full speed, ending up 25-30 meters inland of the beach. Initial U.S. casualties were one wounded on the lead boat; one killed, one missing, and two wounded, one of them critically on the cover boat. The critically wounded sailor, subsequently died of wounds and the sailor listed as missing was later found dead. PBR's from one of the ambush sites raced to the scene. With the arrival of the tango boats, 60 troops from Charlie Company, 2/27th Infantry, were inserted for perimeter security for salvage operations. Two alpha boats and two tango boats were needed to pull the PBR off the beach. After successfully freeing the boat, it was towed to Tra Cu. While searching for the missing-in-action sailor, a small enemy arms cache was discovered. One of the three US Naval personnel lost in this incident was SN John Arthur Belford who was killed in action as a result of multi fragmentation wounds from a hostile explosive device.

His body was recovered.


Purple Heart
Combat Action Ribbon
National Defense Service Medal
Vietnam Service Medal with Bronze Star
Vietnam Campaign Medal


The name John A Belford is located on Panel W32 Line 11 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall.


Seaman John Arthur Belford is buried at Davison Cemetery in Davison, Genesee County, MI.


Honoree ID: 3440   Created by: MHOH




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