Enid Lake

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 8, 2011

John Henry prepares to spread dirt along the bank of the old river run, which is located at Riverview Day Use Area.

“Big John” Ford marks 30 years at Enid Lake

On June 30 John Henry Ford celebrated 30 years of service for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Enid Lake.

Ford was born March 3, 1957, in Panola County on his father’s property along Hentz Road south of Batesville in the general area of Pope. His parents were Perkins, who was a former employee for the Corps of Engineers at Enid Lake, and Rosa Lee Ford. He still lives on that same property.

Ford attended school at Pope, Patton Lane and South Panola. He and his wife, Barbara, have six children and 10 grandchildren. They attend Springhill Pope Baptist Church.

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On June 30, 1981, as an ambitious young man, Ford began work as a newly hired seasonal laborer for the United States Army Corps of Engineers at Enid Lake.

His starting wage was approximately $5 per hour and his first work assignment included manual labor involved with the tedious task of dewatering the outlet works, which is a maintenance task done to remove the water and allow for inspection of all components associated with this structure.

Over the years Ford’s work at Enid has included many tasks such as cutting grass with a swing blade, painting, general maintenance, operation of a number of hand tools that included: Joe blades, axes, picks, pry bars and grubbing hoes and eventually operation of various types of equipment.

When reviewing Ford’s personnel folder it is evident that he has always been a talented and valued employee and has progressed from a seasonal employee to his present position of Heavy Equipment Operator.

In a recent interview, when asked about the most memorable moments in his career he stated “overall it has been a fun place to work but there are two things that stand out: the good and the bad.”

The good is his favorite, which is pay day. The bad involved an event during the 1983 flood fight, when he went in the river below the Outlet Works doing work to secure the Interstate 55 highway bridge.  Over the 30 years that Ford has worked for the Corps, he has worked in about every position known to man related to the maintenance and operation of a major flood control project and is very knowledgeable in virtually every aspect of the dam’s operation.  

Ford is well known in the surrounding communities and often affectionately called “Big John”, just like the once popular song. In the song “Big John” is “quiet and shy”; this is not our “Big John.”

There is a familiar quote that says, “Don’t talk too much, too loud or too often”, which does not fit Ford either, who is considered by some to be quite boisterous from the tone of his voice but by those who know him best he is a big man with a big heart.

Though Ford is big, standing 6’8” tall and weighing well over 300 pounds, an outstanding characteristic, one that outweighs his size, is his willingness to give anytime there is a need.

Ford seems to always be among the first to give of his time or donate money to assist fellow workers following tragedies involving their families and homes. He has a second job that consists of general “handyman” talents and can often be found doing repairs for fellow workers that include: plumbing services, painting, roof repairs, and masonry work.

A quote that might better fit “Big John” and is the essence of compassion is, “resolve to be tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with those in need and tolerant with the weak and wrong, because most likely sometime in your life you will have been all of these.”

Over the years Ford has unselfishly sacrificed his time to serve the needs of others during the most tragic of times including: deployments to help with clean up efforts after Hurricane Katrina and most recently with the Flood of 2011 in Vicksburg. He has also been involved in work related to numerous tornados and other floods. John Henry Ford has been and continues to be a tremendous asset and friend to his Corps Family. Congratulations and a big thank you to John Henry Ford for his 30 years of service to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Enid Lake and the surrounding communities.