Your article on Sgt. Ken Ford, the American serviceman killed in the terrorist bombing in West Berlin (PEOPLE, April 28), dispensed with all the facts and figures and instead underlined the human aspect that statistics cannot show. This young man, randomly murdered and callously robbed of a future he had every right to, will leave behind a grieving family who are also victims of terrorism, statistically uncounted, but victims nevertheless.
I was moved by your story on Sgt. Ken Ford. His family should be proud to have raised such a fine young man. He was the kind of man I want my son to grow up to be.
Your story on Ken Ford was a major turning point in my life. I often wondered if, in time of war, I would enlist. I am 21, as was Ken. My country, through your story, proved its loyalty to each and every American citizen. In answer to the question "Would I enlist?" Yes!
Showing a photo of Sergeant Ford lying in his coffin lowers my opinion of PEOPLE. I don't know who should receive more criticism, the photographer for taking such a grotesque picture or the editor for allowing it to be printed.
Gates Mills, Ohio
Could you explain who decides how to spell Gaddafi? It seems that every newspaper, magazine and TV news show has its own spelling.
Garden Grove, Calif.
The Libyan leader's names are Arabic and transliteration is nearly impossible. The spelling is purely phonetic, which leads to many deviations. We are aware of at least seven variations, but the preferred spelling for Time Inc. publications is Muammar Gaddafi.—ED.
My son was discharged from the Marines one week before Sergeant Ford was killed. There was extensive local coverage and interviews with his mother, Mrs. Beecham. She came across as a really classy lady at all times. Had the circumstances been reversed, I'm sure I would not have shown the control she did. My sympathy and admiration go out to her.
Keego Harbor, Mich.
I'm delighted with your article on Tom Brokaw. It's way past time for him to get the recognition he deserves. Until about a year ago, my loyalty was to Dan Rather, but at my dad's suggestion, I gave Brokaw a try. It didn't take him long to win me over—not only with his class and professionalism but with a real warmth and down-to-earth style that's grown on me, and that Rather and Peter Jennings seem to lack. Brokaw's appeal to me is on another level as well; if on the (slim) chance anything happens between him and Meredith, let it be known that he can be my "lead story" anytime he wants!
The story on Carol Doda was extremely depressing. She is the epitome of what the women's movement has been against for 20-odd years. Instead of increasing her breasts, why didn't she increase her brain power to earn a living? Now, a has-been with no other marketable skills (and uncomfortable breasts), she is looking into legitimate obscene phone calls for profit. How utterly sad.
Regarding the "urine, stool, semen" joke attributed to me backstage at Comic Relief—I never told that joke. I have heard that joke, and it may have been told that night at my table, but not by me. There are no such things as dirty jokes, just good jokes or bad jokes. The joke in question is tasteless, not particularly funny and one I certainly wouldn't repeat at a public gathering.
We regret the error. It was Harry Anderson who told the joke and who says, "It's my joke, and I've always been proud to tell it."—ED.
What a lovely, heartwarming article on Phil Niekro. Having been a Yankee fan since the age of 3, giving up Phil was like losing a family member. Why should he be forced into retirement when he continues to prove himself? Steinbrenner not only gave up a man of integrity but a man of great fortitude with a genuine love for the game. Let's hope brother Joe can follow in this Hall of Famer's footsteps!
Port Crane, N.Y.
Can't sleep! Near tears! Sparsely furnished! $2,600 heirloom ring! Maybe this 19-year-old should look around for a new "father" manager. Tell me, where did all the big bucks go? I just can't seem to find any sympathy for her when in the very same issue we read about Sergeant Ford. He also signed a contract (to serve his country). He worked hard to become the best he could and to fulfill his obligation. He didn't make $7,500 or even $359 a week. Can her tears over steamed broccoli ever compare to the tears of his mother? Good luck to ABC, and I surely hope that her attempt at bankruptcy fizzles like her acting career.
Picks & Pans
In November I will give birth to my first child, a child I pray will never know that his grandfather was part of that "dirt-poor" gang of toughs portrayed in At Close Range. I haven't seen the movie yet, but I hope the story does not portray any of the Johnston gang as heroes. They were not. Their cruelty extended to almost everyone they came in contact with. As long as I live I will be haunted with the fear that one day my child's grandfather might again invade our lives.
Name and City Withheld
Sgt. Ken Ford