Monday, February 26, 2007

Richard L. Ford dies of wounds received in combat operations

EAST HARTFORD, CT -- The Army's elite White Falcons was a regiment built on readiness, able to deploy within 18 hours of notification and parachute in among the enemy.

Sgt. Richard L. Ford, of East Hartford, joined the Fort Bragg, N.C.-based unit in 2004 and was on his third tour of duty in Iraq when he died of combat wounds on Tuesday, the military said.

"Sergeant Ford honorably served with the White Falcons distinctly for the three years," his commander Lt. Col. Richard Kim said in a statement. "Richard possessed all the qualities of a great paratrooper. He contributed immensely to the readiness of the organization will be sorely missed.

Ford was the 37th person with Connecticut ties who has died since March 2002 in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Ford, 40, joined the Army National Guard 1995 and entered active duty in 2004. That's when he was assigned to the White Falcons, the 2nd Battalion, 325th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.

The unit traces its beginning to an infantry regiment activated in 1917 in Georgia that was known as the "All-American Division." Since then, the regiment has played key roles in major U.S. military operations, according to the unit's Web site. The group helped provide security for the October 2005 Iraqi national referendum and two months later Iraq's national parliamentary election.

A decorated soldier, Ford had previously served in Iraq from December 2004 and March 2005. His second tour was 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.

His son, Michael Patrick, of Bridgeport, called Ford his "greatest hero."

"I would like everyone to know that I'm extremely proud of my dad's service to our country," Patrick said in a statement. "I love him deeply and will miss him terribly."

In addition to his son, he is survived by his father Mason Ford, of Colchester, a brother and a sister. Funeral arrangements are incomplete.

From WCVB 5