Lieutenant Colonel James Clifford Ford III graduated from the Virginia Military Institute and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant on 17 December 1999. He reported to The Basic School in January 2000 and upon graduation in June 2000 he reported to the Naval Air Training Command, Pensacola, Florida. While awaiting flight training he was assigned to Temporary Duty at NASA Houston where he worked on the Space Shuttle Cockpit Upgrade. In November 2000, he reported back for flight training in Corpus Christi, Texas and Milton, Florida. In December 2001, he was promoted to First Lieutenant and in March 2002 he was designated a Naval Aviator.
In April 2002, First Lieutenant Ford reported to HMM(T)-164 at Camp Pendleton, California to receive his initial training in the CH-46E. In August 2002, he joined HMM-268 and deployed to Kuwait and Iraq from February to August 2003 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). While deployed he flew numerous Combat Missions in Iraq to include CASEVAC, troop and VIP transport. He was promoted to Captain in July 2004 and deployed again to Iraq from August 2004 to March 2005 in support of OIF II flying dedicated CASEVAC in support of I Marine Expeditionary Force.
In August 2005, Captain Ford reported to MAG-39 and was assigned to the Operations Department. He served as a Rotary Wing Frag Officer. While at MAG-39 he completed the EWTGPAC TACP Course. In December 2005, Captain Ford reported to 1st Battalion, 5th Marines as a Forward Air Controller. He deployed to Okinawa as part of the 31st MEU from July 2006 to January 2007.
In March 2007, he reported to HMM-364 where he served as the Future Operations Officer and Operations Officer. In October 2007, he graduated from the MAWTS-1 Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course 1-08 and deployed to Iraq for OIF 08.1 from March to October 2008.
In March 2009, he reported to MATSS Miramar where he served as the Operations Officer and CH-46E Flight Leadership Standardization Evaluator Model Manager. He was promoted to Major in July 2010 and transferred to HMM-163(Rein) as part of the 13th MEU. He deployed to the PACOM and CENTCOM AORs from February to September 2011 and served as the DOSS and Operations Officer.
From January to April 2012, Major Ford underwent MV-22B transition training and then transferred to the newly formed VMM-363 where he served as the Operations Officer until July 2013.
In August 2013, he transferred to VMM-262 in Okinawa where he served as the DOSS and Detachment One OIC. He flew in the West PACOM AOR supporting numerous international exercises, Humanitarian Assistance Disaster Relief in the Philippines for Operation Damayan and providing POTUS support.
In August 2014, he transferred to I MEF on Camp Pendleton and served as the G-3 Aviation Planner and Deputy Air Officer. He planned and executed multiple MEF and MEB level live and constructive exercises to include the first MEF level exercise in over a decade.
From September to November 2016, he underwent MV-22B refresher training at VMMT-204. In November 2016, he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and checked into VMM-364 where he served as the Executive Officer until April 2017.
In April 2017, he transferred to 1st Marine Regiment to stand up the Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Central Command 17.2 serving as the Executive Officer and deploying to CENTCOM from July 2017 to March 2018.
Lieutenant Colonel Ford served as the MAG-16 Executive Officer from July 2018 to March 2019.
Lieutenant Colonel Ford was born in San Diego, California and raised in Virginia Beach, Virginia. His personal decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, Air Strike Medal with Numeral 16 and Single Mission, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (with one star), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and Polish Army Medal (Bronze).