Ford grew up in suburban Chicago and, from an early age, showed interest in airplanes. With five dollars he saved up from his allowance he hitchhiked to a nearby airfield one Saturday and negotiated a 15 minute trip in the air. He formed friendships with some of the pilots and washed planes in exchange for flight time.
He volunteered for flight training through the Army Air Corps during World War II and was sent to Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi for basic training. In 1944 he was transferred to Tuskegee Army Air Field in Tuskegee for his cadet course and pilot training on an AT-6. He completed his advanced training on a B-25 bomber for missions in the Pacific theater, but was not deployed before the end of World War II.
Ford remained with the U. S. Air Force and served in Panama, Thailand and the Pentagon. He was stationed at NATO headquarters in Belgium when he retired with the rank of full Colonel and the distinction of the Legion of Merit.
As a volunteer at the Southern Museum of Flight, Ford spoke to countless young visitors about his experiences and helped design a Tuskegee Airmen exhibit. He was also a member of the Birmingham Aero Club and helped recruit aviators for the Civil Air Patrol.
Ford died at home in hospice care after being treated for a mild heart attack. He was survived by his wife, Barbara, three children and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery.
- "Tuskegee Airman calls city home" (June 2005) Alabaster newsletter. Vol. 17, No. 6
- Megginson, Chris (February 27, 2009) "Local Tuskegee Airman passes away." Shelby County Reporter