INTERVIEW FROM IRAQ

Maj. Ronald E. Ford

45, Tupelo

engineer

40th Infantry Division, Camp McCain, Miss.

“Tell my family I’ll be home soon and I love them.”

Hed: Soldier works every day to help rebuild Iraq

Read-in: The Army major says he’ll be home soon.

By Leesha Faulkner

Daily Journal

BAGHDAD, Iraq – Maj. Ronald E. Ford of Tupelo says being without his family has been the biggest adjustment in his life in Iraq’s war zone.

Ford will return home soon, he said, although he can’t say exactly when. He’s the son of Murl and Holly Ford of Tupelo. He and his wife, Lisa, have two daughters, Mallory and Morgan.

Helping ease the adjustment overseas has been the developing friendships with other soldiers away from their families, Ford said by telephone Tuesday. The U.S. military periodically makes interviews available with local media, and Tuesday was such an opportunity for the Daily Journal with Ford.

During the interview, Ford talked about life in Iraq.

On a typical day at Camp Liberty in Abu Ghraib, there’s not much time to do anything but work, eat and sleep. U.S. Army base Camp Liberty is about a 15-minute drive by Humvee to downtown Baghdad. The installation is five kilometers from Baghdad International Airport.

“Every morning we get to work at 7 a.m. and the biggest thing we do is gather up nationals that come on the base complex through the entry control point,” he said.

These Iraqi nationals get up early and hurry down to the point to avoid becoming targets of snipers and bombers who want to stymie rebuilding efforts, Ford explained.

Most of the civilians work on rebuilding roads that were destroyed during the war or on other construction projects on and off the base.

Many of the Iraqis Ford deals with often have the same hopes and dreams as he does. “At lunch we sit down and drink tea – and we have to talk through an interpreter – but the same things come up,” he observed.

After work ends about 4 p.m., all the nationals want to leave together – there’s safety from attack in numbers.

“They don’t want to be the only car on the road,” Ford noted.

Once the Iraqis have returned home, the soldiers’ work continues. For instance, Ford is a liaison between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the 1st Armored Calvary and the 4th Infantry Division. “You could work 24 hours a day and seven days a week, if you wanted to,” he said.

But there’s time for dinner and then a brisk workout at the base gym. That’s one of the things Ford said he’s improved – his physical fitness routine.

“You go to the gym, bed and you do it again,” he said. “You get a rhythm.”

Contact Daily Journal county-courts reporter Leesha Faulkner at 678-1590 or leesha.faulkner@djournal.com.