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Army Spc. David H. Ford IV

Died September 16, 2005 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

20, of Ironton, Ohio; assigned to the 4th Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga., killed Sept. 16 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his M1A1 Abrams tank during patrol operations in Baghdad. Also killed was 1st Sgt. Alan N. Gifford.

Army specialist with college ambitions laid to rest

The Associated Press

IRONTON, Ohio — An Ohio soldier who was saving money to study forensic pathology was buried in his hometown Wednesday after he was killed in Iraq.

Friends recalled Army Spec. David Ford, 20, as a proud soldier who always smiled and treated his friends like family. He was killed Sept. 16, six days after his birthday, when a bomb detonated near his tank.

At his funeral, Brig. Gen. John C. Bartley read a statement from Ford’s commander in Iraq.

“When I saw him, I thought to myself, ‘My goodness, this soldier looks so young,’ but as time went by I saw him mature from a boy into a man,” Bartley said, reading from the letter. “Watching him grow amazed me. As first gunner I could see he was nervous, but before I knew it, he was standing before me grinning from ear to ear.”

Ford, whose father was in the military and whose brother also serves in the Army, was proud to be a soldier, relatives said.

“He paid the ultimate sacrifice for his country,” friend John Dawson, a former Marine, said at visitation Tuesday. “I’m here out of respect for him, to honor him.”

Family and friends gathered at a small cemetery after the funeral Wednesday. Bartley dropped to one knee and presented the flag from Ford’s casket to his mother, Violet.

The Rev. Roger Pierce, who had been Ford’s pastor for about 14 years, said Ford had a smile for everyone.

“He was just a good boy and a quiet kid, never had a whole lot to say, you had to pump him to get conversation out of him. I’ll remember him as that grinning little boy,” Pierce said.

Ford graduated from Ironton High School in 2003. The school will honor him before its football game Friday evening.

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