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Black Hawk Down: Cañon City man creates living tribute to soldiers who lost lives in Somalia

UH-60A Black Hawk helicopter piloted by DARPA's Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS) program for the first time, Feb. 5, 2022. (DARPA/Released).

Many people instantly recognize the movie title ‘Black Hawk Down.’

The film follows a brave band of U.S. Special Forces soldiers as they attempt to bring aid to the devastated Somali population. It was one of the top movies of 2001, but what many people may not know is that it’s based on a true story — a story that Cañon City resident, Ed Ricord, lived first-hand.

Ricord began his service in the Army in 1979 and — for 30 of his 34 years of service — served as either a Special Forces Combat Medic or paramedic. He served his country faithfully until 2013 and witnessed the chaos of Somalia first-hand.

He served in Somalia during several different deployments but became part of the 10th Mountain Division’s Task Force 2-14 in July 1993.

On Sept. 25 of that year, a Black Hawk Helicopter with the call sign Courage 53 was shot down by enemy fire in the capital city of Mogadishu. Ricord and many other men of Task Force 2-14 were ordered to conduct a search and recovery both for any survivors and the helicopter’s remains.

Ricord, as always, was tasked with supporting the men of his unit and beyond with medical care and spent hours darting between rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire to do his job.

A week later, Oct. 3, 1993, the Battle of Mogadishu occurred and Ricord was found in the middle of the action yet again.

With bullets peppering every street corner, Ricord was responsible for getting wounded men back to a semi-safe environment and dressing time-sensitive wounds. It was a hellish and chaotic time — one that has been burned into Ricord’s memory forever.

Many men lost their lives during the Battle of Mogadishu and, as time went on, Ricord identified the injustice their memory suffered as they were forgotten by the masses — their sacrifice faded along with their tombstones. To remedy this, he started working on a special project.

“My wife asked me, ‘What are you going to do about it?’ and I thought about it for a little bit and I said, ‘I’m going to build a bike,” he said. “A living tribute and memorial to these guys.”

A motorcycle enthusiast and aficionado, Ricord started putting feelers out into the biking community for just the right bike to be rebuilt.

“I did a lot of praying and said, ‘I want to find this, I need to find it, not for me, for them,'” he said. “I know I’m part of them, but [it’s] for them.”

The perfect specimen came up for sale at the Harley Shop in Grand Junction in 2021. It was a burgundy 1993 Harley Davidson Electric Glide Ultra Classic with plenty of surface area to refinish and, as it was commissioned in 1993, was particularly suiting.

It took a year to completely overhaul both the bike’s exterior and mechanics, but the result has been everything Ricord has ever dreamed of for the project. Numerous local shops were used to embroider, emboss, and detail the newly overhauled bike and Ricord was instrumental in the rebuilding.

The end result is an immaculately redone military-themed Harley Davidson with a unique peppering of U.S. insignias, Task Force 2-14 details, and numerous other memorial-like attributes.

The bike is lovingly called ‘Forgotten Bastards,’ in remembrance of the brave men that fought before, during, and after the Battle of Mogadishu and six names are embroidered on the bike’s seat: each done in memory of the men that died in or around the battle.

In addition to building the bike, Ricord and his wife, Laura, are on a mission to find the gold-star families who belong to five members of Task Force 2-14 who died in 1993. The six names are embroidered on the bike’s seat along with their dates death. One family has since been located, and Ricord and Laura will be traveling to Mobile, Alabama soon so that family can appreciate the bike dedicated to their loved one.

Ricord seeks help finding the Gold Star families of service members killed, including:

* Pvt. David Conner, buried in Melrose Abbey Memorial Park, Anaheim, Calif.

* Pfc. Matthew Keith Anderson, buried in Charlton, Iowa.

* Sgt. Eugene Williams, Chicago, Illinois.

* Sgt. Ferdinand C. Richardson, buried in Garden Grove, California.

* Pfc. James Henry Martin, Jr., buried in Fairview Heights, Illinois.

The bike also boasts four signatures from surviving members of Task Force 2-14 and Ricord hopes to locate more members in the near future.

The bike was officially rolled out March 3, and Ricord hopes to obtain more signatures of surviving Task Force 2-14 service members before donating the motorcycle to the 10th Moutain Division Museum at Fort Drum, New York in October.

If anyone has information on any of the five names above or knows of a living Task Force 2-14 service member, contact Ricord at [email protected].

The tribute bike will be on display from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday at Home Depot.


(c) 2023 Daily Record

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