NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) -- He would be pleased.
That's the word from former First Daughter Susan Ford Bales, days before the Navy names the nation's next aircraft carrier after her father, former President Gerald R. Ford.
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"Well, he never expected it to be named after him, but he would be extremely grateful, and enjoying it, and shaking every hand that he possibly could that's going to be there on Saturday," she said. "So he would be ecstatic."
Ford's White House staff assistant said the ex-president, in his dying days, was pleased to learn that the ship would be named after him, specifically because of his much earlier-in-life naval service.
"In summary, what the president said was, 'In my life, I have received many honors, but none was greater than to wear the uniform of lieutenant commander of the United States Navy,'" said Greg Willard, who serves now as the co-chairman of the USS Gerald R. Ford Commissioning Committee.
Ford sailor and Grand Rapids Michigan native Jason Pastrick is proud to serve on the ship, named for his hometown's most famous native son.
"It was absolutely a dream come true, not only coming to the first-in-its-class aircraft carrier, but the one whose namesake was from my hometown," said Pastrick. "It was incredible."
As for a not-so-incredible Government Accountability Office report this week of another major cost over-run for the ship, Bales was at a loss to explain how her fiscally conservative father would react to that news.
"You know, it's hard to say what he'd say about all this," she said. "I think you look at the history, the first of the class is always over budget, and takes longer. It is what is. You can't change it."
President Trump, who earlier had been critical of the Ford and said that it was so sophisticated that it requires "Einstein to operate," will preside over Saturday's commissioning ceremony as the keynote speaker.