MT. CARBON, WV (WOAY) – Former Private First Class (Pfc.) Billy Keith Ford got the recognition he deserves 54 years later.
A bridge dedication ceremony was held for Ford on Saturday, June 25, 2022. It was held across Armstrong Creek in Mt. Carbon, not far from where he was born in the small town of Boomer, WV.
In his life, Private Ford served in the U.S Army during the Vietnam War. He earned a Purple Heart, the Presidential Unit Citation, and the Army Conduct Medal for his time and dedication to serving the country, as well as several other awards. He was killed in battle on April 28, 1968.
The bridge naming now seems to mark his symbolic return home.
“I thought people would be asking that, and I said why not,” fellow Vietnam Veteran and friend of Ford,’ Bill Lively says. “He went to the United States Army like we did, we all fought in Vietnam together. He was on the field when he got killed and he died for the United States of America, for Route 61, West Virginia.”
Senator Stephen Baldwin, as a sponsor of the bridge dedication, was a major part of Saturday’s event.
He gave a special remark about Private Ford’s contribution to his country and his community before unveiling the new sign along the bridge. Private Ford’s family and friends were also in attendance at the ceremony, along with members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and local residents.
Private Ford, along with all of the Vietnam Veterans, underwent a great duty that Senator Baldwin says is something that needs to be acknowledged, whether through the naming of a bridge or otherwise.
“It’s just important to remember,” Baldwin says. “Billy has not been with us for decades now and yet he served admirably, received a Purple Heart as a result of that service, and so I think it’s important to remember that service.”
Private Ford’s bridge naming ceremony was a project that had been in the works for a couple of years. It was able to happen Saturday as it was the Senate Concurrent #1 this year to honor a Purple Heart recipient from the area.