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Retired Army pilot to host film at Oklahoma History Center

January 8, 2019

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Retired Army helicopter pilot and Northwest Oklahoman Bob Ford flew more than 1,000 missions in Vietnam, and now in partnership with Oklahoma History Center, he will help continue to tell the stories of service and sacrifice made by so many in the war.

Oklahoma History Center, in Oklahoma City, is presenting a Smithsonian Channel film, “Helicopter Missions: Vietnam Firefight,” and Ford, who left the service as a captain, will be there to moderate the experience.

The showing will be at the history center and is covered by the cost of admission, the Enid News & Eagle reported .

The Smithsonian film centers on the story of two helicopter pilots who rescued 100 South Vietnamese troops surrounded from all sides by Northern forces. The helicopters were unarmed, but the pilots chose to evacuate the men anyway.

It was rough ground, overgrown and covered in bamboo shoots 40 feet high, impossible to land on. Hovering just above the fray, they cleared their own landing zones, cutting down bamboo stalks in their way using their helicopters’ blades.

Despite the risks, the pilots made five return trips to the area to extract all the men they could.

Ford wrote a book in 2014 titled “Black Cat 2-1,” chronicling his own experiences in the war. He might not be featured in this film, but as another helicopter pilot, he flew over the same jungles and faced the same dangers.

Ford grew up in Shawnee, attended the University of Oklahoma and joined the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program there. He joined the Army in 1966.

The former UH-1 Huey pilot spoke with the Enid News & Eagle about the book and his motivations for writing it, shortly after it was published.

“I did not write the book to make money,” Ford told the News & Eagle in a 2014 interview. “I wrote the book to tell people what Army helicopter pilots did in Vietnam, and that we served with honor.

“We are all volunteers and we served with honor, every one of us. We never had anything in mind, except volunteering to serve our country,” Ford said. “Nobody knows anything good that came out of Vietnam, and this is something that was good. Because we did good every day, by serving the guys on the ground.”

In addition to the film, Oklahoma History Center also has a featured Vietnam War exhibit, “Welcome Home: Oklahomans and the War in Vietnam,” which opened November 2017 and will remain open until November 2019.

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Information from: Enid News & Eagle, http://www.enidnews.com

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