William “Bill” L. Ford, of Shawnee, will be inducted along with 10 others into the Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame at a banquet on October 26, 2019 in Norman. Ford will receive the Major General Doug O. Dollar Public Service Award for his exemplary community and military service.

Ford attended the University of Oklahoma from 1960 to 1964 and was active in the Army Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) program as well as a left fielder on the OU baseball team. He received a Bachelor in Business Administration degree in 1964 and later a Master in Business Administration degree in 1967.

Ford was commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant in the US Army Field Artillery in August 1964 and attended the Field Artillery Officer Basic Course at Fort Sill, Oklahoma before being stationed at Camp Page in the Republic of South Korea. 2nd Lieutenant Ford was the firing platoon leader of the MGR-1 Honest John rocket system attached to the 1st Republic of Korea Army with primary responsibilities to provide field artillery support along the eastern two- thirds of the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea, an immense area, and to train South Korean military personnel in artillery

procedures in his platoon. The Honest John rocket system was a nuclear capable surface-to- surface rocket artillery system and was the most forward deployed tactical nuclear weapon system at that time. Its presence, and the fire missions led by Ford, helped deter aggression from North Korea. While in Korea, 2nd Lieutenant Ford and his men were credited with saving the lives of over 50 villagers in the vicinity of Chuncheon, South Korea from flood waters that ravaged parts of Korea in June 1965.

In 1966, 1st Lieutenant Ford returned to Fort Sill, Oklahoma to serve as a Training, Advising and Counseling (TAC) Officer at the Field Artillery Officer Candidate School (OCS), responsible to oversee instruction, development and evaluation of officer candidates. After his release from active duty, 1st Lieutenant Ford transitioned to the United States Army Reserve (USAR) where he served in the 95th Infantry Division (Training) as a Committee Chief for Advanced Individual Training (AIT) at Fort Polk, Louisiana. Captain Ford was discharged from the USAR in 1971.

Mr. Ford returned to Shawnee to work in the family business at Shawnee Milling Company. In 1979, Bill became the third President of Shawnee Milling Company which grew into one of the leading independent mills in the United States. Shawnee Milling Company employs over two hundred workers and has a significant economic impact across the state.

For over four decades, Ford has invested his time, energy, and resources to advance the interests of Oklahoma business and economic development, education, Veterans, Veteran recognition, the University of Oklahoma Army ROTC program, and the OU Army ROTC alumni association. In 2005, Mr. Ford helped organize a committee to oversee the creation of a Veterans Memorial project to honor fallen service members from Oklahoma. The dedicated work of this committee created Shawnee Veterans Park. This park prominently features 10 black granite panels which list all the fallen from Oklahoma from the Spanish-American War to today, representing over 6,600 names.

As a community leader and philanthropist, Mr. Ford has been on the Board of Directors with ONEOK, the Board of Trustees for the University of Oklahoma Foundation, the Board of Trustees of Oklahoma Baptist University, the Oklahoma State University Division of Agriculture Advisory Board, the Last Frontier Council of the Boy Scouts, and many others. For over 30 years, he has served as Head of the Officer Candidate School Alumni Association and the Executive Committee of the US Field Artillery Association, both at Fort Sill.

He is also one of the “founding fathers” of the University of Oklahoma Army ROTC Alumni Association. A former President of the alumni association and current active board member, the association is credited as the most active in terms of direct involvement with current students as well as scholarships and resources awarded to student- cadets in the OU Army ROTC program. Ford is also a proud member of the OU Letterman’s Club.

Ford credits his youth experience with the Boy Scouts and sports, along with the leadership and camaraderie of his military experience with instilling three guiding principles to his approach to business and community service; Love of Country, Devotion to Duty, and Attention to Detail. The impact Mr. Ford has had on his community and state is exceptional.

The induction banquet will be Oct. 26, 2019 at the Embassy Suites 2501 Conference Dr,, Norman.

For more information, contact: John Greiner 405-842-2706 or 740-4093 Or jtgreiner704@gmail.com.

Persons wanting to obtain a reservation for the banquet may go online to our website, www.okmhf.org, which has the registration link, or info@okmhf.org or 405-405-424-5313. The cutoff date for reservations is Oct. 11.

Watch for stories on other inductees with Shawnee ties in upcoming editions.

Story written by Thomas Brede