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Lance Cpl. Christopher E. Ford, a scout with Delta Company, 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd LAR Bn., Regimental Combat Team 5, holds a min-American flag and a stainless steel cross that he carries on every patrol for good luck at Camp Korean Village, Iraq, June 7. Ford, 30, from Bronx, N.Y., volunteered to take time away from his normal job, a firefighter with the New York City Fire Department, to be a Marine infantryman fighting on the front lines. Ford can now be found conducting patrols through western Al Anbar province, Iraq.

Photo by Cpl. Ryan Tomlinson

New York fireman serves with distinction

9 Jun 2008 | Cpl. Ryan Tomlinson

During the dark aftermath of the September 11 attacks in New York City, firefighters from around the country were working tirelessly digging through ground zero in search of survivors. Through all of the emotion and terror, one firefighter accepted a challenge to join a team in search for the ones responsible.

Lance Cpl. Christopher E. Ford, a scout with Delta Company, 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd LAR Bn., Regimental Combat Team 5, volunteered to take time away from his normal job, being a firefighter with the New York City Fire Department, to be a Marine infantryman fighting on the front lines.

Ford’s unit, 4th LAR Bn., is a reserve unit attached to 2nd LAR Bn. in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“I joined the Marine Corps because after (Sept. 11), I felt it was my duty to step up and serve my country,” said Ford.

The 30-year-old from Bronx, N.Y., was raised in a military family, his father is a retired colonel in the U.S. Air Force.  He was born in California and moved to many areas around the country until finally settling in Washington, D.C.

Ever since he was a child, Ford wanted to be a firefighter. He landed his first experience with the Occoquan Woodbridge Lorton Volunteer Fire Department in Woodbridge, Va., which started his transition from a goal to a passion.

“I knew I wanted to become a firefighter because I love to help people,” said Ford. “They put their lives on the line to (help people), and I wanted to live my life like that.  The more I did it, the more I fell in love with it.”

With hard work and passion for his duties, Ford moved up to becoming a firefighter in Washington, D.C., where less than two years into his term a tragedy struck the U.S. changing his life forever.

“On (September 13), a group of firefighters and I went (to New York) to help and search for survivors,” said Ford. “I couldn’t imagine what it was like to lose close friends and family members like that.”

He worked hand and hand with firefighters from places ranging from Dallas all the way to Philadelphia. The young firefighter was inspired most by the group that had been there since the beginning, describing them as the best of gentlemen.  He knew in his heart he wanted to serve as a New York City fireman and serve his country by joining the Marine Corps.

“Earning the title of a New York City firefighter was rewarding,” Ford said. “It’s just like the Marine Corps. I’m wearing a title that all the great people that came through before me wore. To be able to wear that same title as them is an honor.”

Now on his first combat tour with Delta Co., Ford has shared stories of the brotherhood in firefighting and the Marine Corps to the service members with the unit.

“I wanted to deploy with Delta because we as a company, had become very close and had done everything together,” said Ford. “I wanted to keep the family together.”

Ford can now be found conducting patrols through western Al Anbar province, Iraq. To find him, one just simply has to follow the line of mini-American flags he has passed out to children and locals. He also carries a stainless steel cross that resembles the cross that stood at ground zero, the former site of the World Trade Center.

“I keep the cross on me for good luck,” said Ford. “It reminds me of the family of firefighters I came from.”

The member of both a force in readiness and New York City’s bravest plans to return to work once his combat tour is over. He wants to attend college and further his knowledge in firefighting and fire rescue.

“It’s been a pleasure to serve with Ford,” said 1st Sgt. Kevin J. Gilligan, 42, company first sergeant, Delta Co., and a firefighter with the Philadelphia Fire Department. “I’m in charge of more than a hundred Marines, and he takes that extra step amongst them. He’s a true asset and I see him excelling.”


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