Richard L. Ford
Sergeant, United States Army
RELEASES from the United States Department of Defense
No. 210-07 IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 22, 2007
Media Contact: (703) 697-5131/697-5132
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Sergeant Richard L. Ford, 40, of East Hartford, Connecticut, died February 20, 2007, in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered during combat operations.Ford was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 325th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
For further information in regard to this release
the media can contact the 82nd Airborne Division Public Affairs Office
at (910) 432-0661.
Funeral services have been announced for a soldier from East Hartford who was killed in Iraq.
U.S. Army Sergeant Richard Ford, 40, died last Tuesday as a result of enemy gunfire. Calling hours will be held on Wednesday at St. Andrews Church in Colchester from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Funeral services will be held on Thursday at 10 a.m. at the same church.
Ford will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery
27 February 2007:
Calling hours will be Wednesday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at St. Andrew's Church, 128 Norwich Avenue, Colchester, Connecticut.
The funeral, with full military honors, is planned for Thursday at 10 a.m. at the church while burial will take place on Monday at 2 p.m. in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
The Belmont Funeral Home at 144 S. Main Street in Colchester is handling the arrangements.
Ford, 40, was a seasoned Army Sergeant from East Hartford, Connecticut, who was on his third tour of duty in Iraq when he died February 20, 2007, in Baghdad. According to the military he had been assigned to the elite White Falcons regiment, based in Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
Ford was born in Middletown and raised in Colchester before moving to East Hartford about 10 years ago.
He is the 37th person with ties to Connecticut who died in Iraq and Afghanistan since March 2002.
Ford joined the Army National Guard in 1995 and entered active duty in 2004. He previously served in Iraq from December 2004 to March 2005, and again for a second tour from September 2005 through December 2005. He was a recipient of the Army Medal of Valor, the Bronze Star, and Purple Heart among several other honors.
He leaves an 11-year-old son, Michael D. Patrick of Bridgeport, his father, Mason Ford of Colchester, two brothers, Matthew O'Connor of Lebanon and Mason Ford Jr. of California, and a sister, Vanessa Migliore, of East Hartford.
In lieu of flowers donations may be made to
the Michael D. Patrick Fund c/o Vanessa A. Migliore at 100 Mulcahy Drive,
East Hartford, Connecticut 06118.
Eastern Connecticut grieves 'true hero'
By JULIE A. VARUGHESE
Courtesy of the Norwich Bulletin
Nichelle Rollins said she sometimes wondered if her chest had a mark on it from a class ring U.S. Army Sgt. Richard Ford gave her years ago.
The ring was too large for her fingers, so she wore it around her neck.
But, like a pendulum, the ring would hit her chest every time she bent over.
No marks exist now, yet Rollins recalled the feeling of his ring Thursday at Ford's funeral service at St. Andrew Church.
"He did definitely leave a mark on my heart," said Rollins, who once dated Ford. She and other friends, relatives and military personnel praised Ford's generous and courageous spirit, through laughter and tears.
Ford, who lived in East Hartford but grew up in Colchester, died February 20, 2007, after sustaining injuries during combat in Iraq. It was his third tour of duty in Iraq with the 82nd Airborne Division of Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
Ford, 40, leaves a son, Matthew Patrick, 11; his father, Mason Ford of Colchester; a sister, Vanessa Migliore; and two brothers, Matthew and Mason Jr.
Ford was remembered by his son's grandfather, James Patrick, as someone who would not only drive hundreds of miles to visit his son, but also immediately assume responsibility for household chores.
"He'd come and he'd wash dishes, he'd cook, take the kids shopping. One time I didn't know where he was. He took the dog for a walk, didn't come back for an hour," Patrick said.
Patrick said he considered Ford another one of his sons.
"He was the sixth. Now I have five (sons). I'm going to miss him," Patrick said.
Matthew Patrick's mentor and teacher from the fourth grade, Debra Wright of McKinley School in Bridgeport, recited a poem Patrick wrote. In it, he referred to himself as an oyster and his father as a pearl, because of Ford's bright personality and shining character.
State Senator Eileen Daily, D-Deep River, and state Representative Linda Orange, D-Colchester, presented Ford's family with a citation from the General Assembly and a state flag flown Tuesday at half staff that also was enclosed with a letter from the Connecticut State Capitol Police.
Gregory Powell, a Sergeant Major with the Connecticut National Guard in Waterbury, said, "We just can't replace a Richard Ford, as a person and as a soldier."
Betty Turner, who knew Ford as a child, said, "Richard's our true hero. I don't know what else to say. It's just a kid I love. He and my son are the same age."
Ford was raised in Colchester and lived in East Hartford for 10 years. His father, Mason, is a member of the Colchester Hayward Fire Department.
Ford will be buried at 2 p.m. Monday at Arlington
National Cemetery in Virginia.
As pallbearers stretched an American flag above the silver casket of Sergeant Richard L. Ford yesterday, three volleys of gunfire sounded in salute, but they came from another funeral on a busy day in the fields of white stone at Arlington National Cemetery.
Then it was Ford's turn, and seven riflemen cracked off 21 shots. As the first few notes of taps sounded from a bugler standing in a row of bare trees, a tall blond man in the crowd of mourners trembled, his head bent as he wept. A woman beside him stroked his shoulders with a gloved hand.
Brigadier General Bennie E. Williams collected the flag, which had been folded and tucked into a triangle of stars, and handed it to Ford's sister, Vanessa Migliore.
On a day of blue skies and boisterous winds that hinted of spring, Ford became the 314th service member killed in the Iraq war to be buried at Arlington. Ford, of East Hartford, Connecticut, died February 20, 2007, in Baghdad from combat wounds. He was 40 years old and on his third tour of duty in Iraq.
"I really feel like a source of protection in my life is not there, and it's not easy," said Migliore, 41, of East Hartford.
Among what Ford leaves behind: a sister close enough in age and temperament that she considers herself his twin; a reputation for sacrifice and public service since before he joined the National Guard 12 years ago; a smile that could coax just about whatever he wanted from others; and an 11-year-old son, Michael D. Patrick.
Ford was one of four children; he also had two younger half-brothers. He and his sister were 11 months apart.
"We were like twins. We were inseparable. We finished each other's sentences," she said.
Ford joined the Connecticut Army National Guard in 1995. He was placed on active duty in June 2004 and was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 325th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team of the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
Family members said Ford talked about what it was like to be one of the older warriors in his unit, with the younger soldiers kiddingly calling him "Grandpa." But they looked up to him and sought his ear. He called them "Sergeant Son."
"The first thing you would notice about him was his million-dollar smile. That's what I'll miss most," said his aunt, Arlene Ford, 59, of Manchester, Connecticut
Growing up in Colchester, Connecticut, Ford attended Bacon Academy and talked about becoming a police officer. It seemed the right job for someone who liked feeling adrenaline in his veins and serving his community, she said.
Ford also loved sports, especially the Boston Red Sox. (Baseball was one area where the brother's and sister's tastes diverged: She is a Yankees fan.)
When Migliore invited him to join her at a game at Yankee Stadium, Ford gladly accepted, braving Bronx fans by taking his seat near home plate attired in Red Sox gear.
He rooted for the Sox without fear and endured a hail of peanuts from Yankees fans with a smile. When fans chanted "1918!" -- a reference to the longtime curse on his team's World Series hopes -- Ford stood, waving his arms and conducting the crowd as if he were a maestro, Migliore said.
Ford was tight-lipped about what he had seen and done in the war. But he believed in the war's purpose even as he deplored the losses, she said.
"He was, like, 'I really want to go,' " Migliore said. "I have no doubt he died doing what he loved best."
FORD, RICHARD L
Posted: 27 February 2007 Updated: 2 March 2007 Updated: 5 March 2007 Updated: 6 March 2007 Updated: 19 March 2007 Updated: 26 April 2007
Updated: 4 May 2007 Updated: 2 July 2007
Photo Courtesy of Holly, May 2007
Photo Courtesy of Holly, March 2007