Almost four decades after he was shot in the line of duty, the name of Alexandria Sgt. Morty Ford is among the 321 that were added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial this week.
Ford was shot in the chest in 1974 as he responded to an army robbery call in Old Town. He survived, but the lasting consequences of the injury eventually claimed his life.
"I think he absolutely needs to be on there like somebody who was shot and killed in the line of duty," said Ford's niece Lori Davis, who traveled from Ohio to attend ceremonies in D.C. and northern Virginia. She was just 2 years old when Ford was shot.
"I guess superhero is the best way I could describe him as in my world growing up,” she said. “I had such pride in telling people what he did."
Longtime friend and retired Capt. Ken Howard arrived at the shooting just after Ford was hit. Howard rammed the suspects’ car with his own and shot one of the men. He said Ford was determined to return to work once he recovered.
"His injuries were serious enough he could have retired and gone and sat with his feet in the warm sand somewhere, but he loved his job and wanted to come back to work," explained Howard.
Ford worked mostly in the dangerous vice-narcotics unit for another 22 years before retiring, but the blood transfusions he'd received after he was shot gave him hepatitis C, which eventually led to the liver cancer that caused his death in 2011. That's when friends started their campaign to get Ford's name added to the memorial.
Howard, along with former police department spokesman Amy Bertsch and current Alexandria police Sgt. Robyn Nichols, worked to connect the dots between the 1974 shooting and Ford's death.
"Quite honestly, without the help of Sgt. Robyn Nichols and Amy Bertsch from the Alexandria Sheriff's Office, this would not have happened," said Howard.
Ford's name was also just added to the memorial at the Northern Virginia Criminal Justice Academy in Ashburn.
"Ultimately his life was cut short by that injury so he deserved to be on the wall for the service he gave and it make us feel very good," said Alexandria Police Chief Earl Cook.
Ford's relatives agree.
"It's very sad it ended the way it did, but I'm glad he had all those years in between that he was able to still do what he wanted to do," Davis said. "It's very awesome that they've honored him."