Sweet Home New Mexico: Remembering fallen hero

Courtesy photo Senior Airman Mark Forester

A few columns back, I mentioned a family friend of ours that was an Air Force combat controller who was killed in Afghanistan while conducting combat operations in September 2010. The country needs to know of its many fallen heroes. Today, you will learn about one.

Senior Airman Mark A. Forester began his grueling pipeline training to become an Air Force combat controller after he earned a degree in finance from the University of Alabama. In the same ceremony where he received his coveted red beret, he was also awarded as the distinguished graduate for his class. At the time of his death, he was assigned to the 21st Special Tactics Unit out of Pope Air Force Base. In May 2010, he arrived in Afghanistan and was assigned to Forward Operating Base Cobra. It was his first, and sadly, his only combat tour. He was about one month away from returning home when he was killed by a sniper’s bullet while trying to rescue a fallen comrade during a firefight. Hours later, on the other side of the world, his parents and one of his brothers received simultaneous knocks on their doors by Air Force members dressed in their finest set of uniform blues to deliver the most terrible news they would ever receive.

Mark believed he was on this Earth to eradicate terrorism. He left this Earth at 29 years old, doing what he believed he was put here to do. I attended Mark’s funeral services. It affected me, and still affects me in ways I find difficult to articulate. As I stood over his casket with tears pouring out of my eyes, his mother grasped my hand. In that moment, I had no idea what to say to her. No words would have been sufficient.

Mark fulfilled his life’s mission in a final act of heroism and bravery. After his death, I came across this quote that stirred deep feelings within me:

“War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.” — John Stuart Mills

Mark was one of those better men. Every active duty or reservist Air Force member on this base is one of those better men or women. I thank you all, and your families who endure in your absences, and could not be more proud to call myself an Air Force wife. To learn more about Senior Airman Mark Forester visit www.markaforester.com.