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Bombing Victim Planned Visit Home; Mother Feared For His Safety

April 7, 1986

DETROIT (AP) _ A U.S. serviceman killed in the weekend bombing of a Berlin nightclub was scheduled to visit his soldier brother and return home this week to see his family for the first time in 2 1/2 years, his mother says.

U.S. Army Sgt. Kenneth T. Ford, 21, of Detroit was killed in the explosion at the La Belle discotheque early Saturday. A Turkish woman also died.

Ford had not been home since he began serving a tour of duty in September 1983 as a member of the 4th Battalion of the Berlin Brigade, said his mother, Alice Beecham.

″He was supposed to come home the second week of April,″ Mrs. Beecham said Sunday night. ″I ask ... ‘Why?’ because I know everything’s in the Lord’s hands and He doesn’t make a mistake. But (Ford) was the only American killed. That’s what puzzled me.″ Last weekend, Ford was scheduled to visit his brother, Robin Beecham, a U.S. Army private stationed in Frankfurt, West Germany, Mrs. Beecham said.

At least 204 others, including 64 Americans, were injured, said Steve Stromvall, a U.S. military spokesman in Berlin.

Mrs. Beecham said she had feared for her son’s safety after recent terrorist attacks in Europe.

″I got very concerned about him, but he had his mind made up and he was doing what he wanted to do,″ she said. ″People are starting to get killed gradually. An explosion on a plane, a bombing over there, an explosion ... I just don’t know when it’s going to end.

″I just wish they’d get all the Americans and come home. They’re doing a lot of talking and there isn’t anything happening to protect them.″

Ford was a 1982 graduate of Cooley High School in Detroit and joined the Army in September 1982. Mrs. Beecham described her son as a very religious man who made friends easily.

″He was a happy person,″ she said. ″He would read and play music, basically. He also liked to play basketball and baseball and played with kids around the neighborhood.″

″He was a young man who was very ambitious,″ added the Rev. Floyd Moore, pastor of the Mount Baptist Church, which the family attended. ″He wanted to excel in everything.″

Robin Beecham will accompany his brother’s body home to Detroit for burial, the family said.

West Berlin police have said they suspect leftist or foreign terrorists in the bombing.

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