OKEENE, Okla. (KFOR) – It’s been many decades since Bob Ford flew a Huey Helicopter in Da Nang, but he still remembers those missions in vivid detail. That year of his life changed it forever and paved the way for his many successes.
There were two things that Ford always wanted to do in his life, and serving his country was one of them.
“I always had a burning feeling to serve my country in combat,” said Ford. “I always did, and I wanted to know if I could cut such an experience.”
After graduating from OU, Ford went to flight school and within a year he was flying combat in Vietnam.
“Our missions were very challenging,” said Ford. “We flew day and night, and each one of us flew over 100 hours a month, and we flew an average of two to three missions an hour.”
Ford was up for the challenge in the Huey Helicopter.
“I could best describe as strapping yourself to a corvette that could fly,” said Ford. “It always got us back. You cannot point to a place on that helicopter that I have not taken a hit, not one, and it always got me back. Sometimes with such severe vibration that you couldn’t read the instruments, but it always flew.”
Flying low to the ground through gunfire in adverse weather conditions took tremendous skill and nerve.
“You could not make a mistake for five seconds and miss where you were going or you’d fly into the clutches of the enemy,” said Ford. “I thrived off the adrenaline every day.”
After his year of combat in Vietnam Ford became an instructor pilot, teaching students in their third and fourth years of flight school.
“It was wonderful,” said Ford. “Really and truly, the best year of my life.”
Soon after, Ford was ready to tackle the second thing he wanted to do in life: continue on the family business with the Shawnee Milling Company.
“I was very proud of my granddad starting the flour mill and what he went through to keep it going. I was so proud of that,” said Ford. “I was determined to make a success out of this business out here, and I have.”
But it was the memories of Vietnam that stayed at the forefront of Ford’s mind, and finally, after the encouragement of others, he decided to put those memories to paper.
“I wanted people to know about the men I served with, because every one of those guys were cut like me. Really and truly, they were the best America could offer, and I wanted people to know how honorable that we served,” said Ford. “And another thing, I wanted my kids to know what I did.”
Ford ended up getting his book Black Cat 2-1 published. His adventures in Vietnam and the men he served with, forever memorialized.
“I’m very proud of it,” said Ford. “Very, very proud.”
Ford’s book has had much success, even reaching the number one spot in both Vietnam history and Vietnam biography on Amazon.
The family business, Shawnee Milling Company, is the only flour mill in America that is verified veteran-owned, something Ford said he is proud of.