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Gone but not forgotten: Rest in Peace Senior Airman Mark Forester

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Kris Levasseur
  • 43rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
One of the most difficult things about being a member of the U.S. Armed Forces is being face-to-face with the fact that we are here to go to war and possibly never set foot on U.S. soil again; something we are reminded of every time one of our brothers-in-arms does not return from the battlefield.

Senior Airman Mark Forester, 29, of Tuscaloosa, Ala., was killed in action while conducting combat operations with his Special Forces team in Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan, Sept. 29. He was an Air Force Special Operations Command combat controller assigned to the 21st Special Tactics Squadron here.

"When one of your own falls to enemy fire, it hits everyone in the family like a gut check," said Chief Master Sgt. Ty Foster, Air Force Special Operations Command Public Affairs. "Make no mistake, the special tactics Airmen of Air Force Special Operations Command are family.

"Most of the time, these quiet professionals spend their days readying for war - honing their bodies and minds for their next deployment," he added. "But when one of their brothers is wounded or killed in action, they rally en masse to serve their brother's family and render honor to their fallen. That's what happened last week when the special operations community lost one of their own."

A memorial service for Airman Forester was held Oct. 8 as a way for the men and women at Pope to say farewell to him and celebrate his life.

"Mark believed with all his heart in serving his God, his country and his family," said Maj. Edmund Loughran, the 21st STS acting commander. "The unit mourns his loss, but we could not be more proud of his devotion to defending what he believed in most."

More than 80 members of the 21st STS and other servicemembers attended Airman Forester's funeral in Alabama on Oct. 7, to offer their condolences to his family. One member in particular, Staff Sgt. Robert Bonello, had been Airman Forester's roommate, teammate and best friend for the past two years.

"Mark was more than my friend, he was my family, my brother," said Sergeant Bonello. "I thank God every day for the time Mark and I had together. He made me the man I am today."

Sergeant Bonello added that Mark was the finest combat controller, Airman and person he was privileged to know and it reflected in everyone he who knew him.

"The support we saw in Mark's hometown for his funeral was unlike anything I have ever seen for one person," he added. "The entire town lined the streets to honor Mark and welcome him home. It was an amazing tribute to the kind of person he truly was."