University of North Carolina
Naval ROTC Alumni Association

Master Chief Ledford Scholarship

The second UNC NROTC Alumni Association endowed Scholarship named in honor of Master Chief Donald R. Ledford, USN (ret.).

Don Ledford enlisted in the Navy in 1957. During his distinguished career, he served on many ships, afloat staffs, and shore commands. His tours of duty included COMSERVLANT Staff in Norfolk, VA; USS Observation Island (EAG 154) homeported in Cape Canaveral, Florida; COMNAVAIRLANT Staff in Norfolk, VA; USS BAYFIELD (APA 33), flagship for COMPHIBRON SEVEN, homeported in Long Beach, CA; COMPHIBRON SEVEN Staff; Commander Amphibious Ready Group, Pacific; COMIBERLANT Staff in Lisbon, Portugal; Administrative Officer, COMDESRON 34 in Charleston, SC; Naples, Italy where he was the Administrative Officer for COMFAIRMED, COMSUBGROUP EIGHT, and CTF67; Assistant Officer in Charge, Personnel Administrative Assistance Team, Atlantic, Norfolk, VA; and his final assignment as the Administrative Officer, NROTC Unit, University of North Carolina.

Among the highlights of his Naval career was being on the bridge of the USS Observation Island (EAG154) when she fired the first Polaris Missile at sea, and participating in Operation Starlite, the first amphibious operation of the Vietnam War.

Don retired in July 1987 after thirty years of continuous active duty.

His awards include the Navy Commendation Medal, Navy Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Vietnam Armed Forces Meritorious Unit Citation (Gallantry Cross), Vietnam Armed Forces Meritorious Unit Citation (Civil Action Color), Vietnam Service Medal (4 Stars), Vietnam Campaign Medal, Navy Unit Commendation, Meritorious Unit Commendation, Good Conduct Medal (7), and the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.

After retiring from the Navy, Don completed Basic Law Enforcement Training and served as a police officer at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill until 1989, then remained active in law enforcement for several years working as a Reserve Deputy for the Chatham County Sheriff's Department.

In 1989, Don returned to the UNC Naval Armory as the Department of Naval Science Administrative Assistant and Department Manager. In 1990, he searched records at the UNC-CH Alumni Center to gather a list of past UNC NROTC commissioned officers, so they could be contacted and encouraged to join the Alumni Association. He served as liaison between the NROTC Unit and the UNC NROTC Alumni Association from its inception in 1990 through 2003. In 1998, Don was elected as a Director of the UNC NROTC Alumni Association and served in that capacity for three years.

Don represented the Professor of Naval Science at various meetings with University officials and was involved with the renovation of the Naval Armory in 2005-2006 when it was re-configured to house the Navy, Army, and Air Force ROTC units.

Don considers the years he spent at the UNC NROTC Unit, while on active duty and as a civilian, as the best years of his Navy and civilian careers, primarily because of his chance to interact with the Midshipmen and Officer Candidates and have a small part in their training. He still keeps in contact with many of the Navy and Marine Corps officers that commissioned through the UNC NROTC unit and has always been proud of their accomplishments.

Don stated that "being awarded the Distinguished Service Award, and having a scholarship award established in my name, by the UNC NROTC Alumni Association, are probably the highest honors I've received. What makes them so special is that they were awarded by UNC NROTC graduates, many of whom commissioned while I was working at the Unit. I can't think of a higher honor."

Don retired from the University in 2003 and is living in the Chapel Hill area with his wife Betty.


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