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Captain Robert Ford

Robert Ford of Lincoln was the public affairs officer for the 167th Cavalry during its deployment to Bosnia-Herzegovina from February through September 2003 to assist in peacekeeping operations.
Source: All objects were loaned by Robert Ford



The single most important item on the uniform is the U.S. Flag. I can't overstate how much credibility the wearing of the U.S. Flag provided. Although there were soldiers from many nations in the area, the local population felt they could trust the U.S. soldier the most. Previous history and wars still influence the public's perception of other nations. However, Bosnia has no history with the U.S., so there isn't any previous history to "hold against us." Once I was meeting with a Bosnian businessman and he pointed to my uniform flag and said (through my interpreter), "The day I saw this flag on my streets was the happiest and saddest day of my life. I was sad because I knew we were going to be occupied by a foreign nation, but I also knew that the civil war was now going to be over."



The black boots are my issued Bosnia boots.

This style of cold weather boot was distributed to troops going to Bosnia and later was nicknamed the "Bosnia Boot."


This flag was given to me by the university athletic office
when we went to Kuwait in 2001. It flew over my tent the entire time we were deployed. The dust storms really ripped it apart and we tried to make it a "swallow's tail" cut in hopes that we could get it to last longer. That helped, and when we deployed to Bosnia, it went with me again and flew outside my door on the base. I took it to Afghanistan in 2005 and carried it in my backpack for my year tour.
[Note: The 1-167th Cavalry was sent to Kuwait in May 2001 for a six-month deployment to support post-Desert Storm operations in the area.]

 

Like every rotation of soldiers before us, we were asked to conduct a "weapons harvest" to collect illegal weapons under an amnesty program. After many rotations, the message of "turn in your guns for a safer Bosnia" was worn out. People who still had the guns needed a better reason to do it. I worked with the local Bosnian media to develop a raffle. Working with the local police, we set up collection points in each of the major cities in our area. The local radio and television stations publicized the location and gave away daily prizes. The governments of the local cities donated money and we purchased a brand new Volkswagen Polo. It would cost the average Bosnian almost three years of income to afford the car. The event also required tremendous cooperation between all three previous warring factions. Media stations owned by Serbs, Croats, and Bosnians all worked together to convince Serb, Croat, and Bosnian government officials to donate the money. After30 days we collected hundreds of machine guns and rifles, thousands of hand grenades, and hundreds of thousands of rounds of ammunition. We took all the weapons to the town squares and destroyed them on TV and gave away the car. It was a huge success.

 (text of video) (download Quicktime to view?)

Bosnian television ad for the "Harvest Reward" program.



Staff Sergeant Jeff Murphy compiled this yearbook for his unit.

 
       
Ford was the public affairs officer for the unit and befriended a Bosnian photojournalist, who took these large prints.

    
Members of the 1-167th cavalry while deployed in Bosnia.

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  Cpt. Robert Ford

  Maj. Martin Neal

  Cpt. Cindy Mefford

  Lt. Col. Tom Brewer

  Spc. Andrew Rodriguez

  Msgt. Martin Coleman

  Spc. Jenny (Beck) Bos

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  Chaplain Brian Kane

  Maj. Jim Oliver

  Col. George Skuodas

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Last updated 28 October 2008  

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