Marietta soldier dies in Afghanistan
by Marietta Daily Journal Staff and Associated Press Wire
December 19, 2013 04:07 PM | 13495 views | 1 1 comments | 36 36 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Omar Forde
Omar Forde
MARIETTA — A former Kennesaw Mountain High School football player was one of six U.S. Army soldiers who died in Afghanistan following a helicopter crash Tuesday.

Sgt. 1st class Omar W. Forde, 28, who graduated from Kennesaw Mountain in 2004, is remembered for being a team player and a role model for his fellow teammates, said former football coach Scott Jones.

Forde was a member of the 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, the 1st Infantry Division, and was stationed in Fort Riley, Kan., before his death.

Forde was killed along with five other soldiers in Now Bahar, which is in Zabul Province, southern Afghanistan, while they were on a NATO mission with the International Security Assistance Force, according to the Associated Press.

Marietta roots

Forde was from Marietta, and played cornerback on his high school football team.

Jones, who now serves as the football coach at North Paulding High School in Dallas, said Forde was a leader on the school’s team.

“He had a lot of class on and off the field,” Jones said.

An email circulated to local members of the Honorary Commanders Association, a Chamber of Commerce organization that honors military service, notified members of his death Wednesday afternoon.

No funeral arrangements have been announced.

Forde is married and has two children who live on base at Fort Riley in Kansas, according to the HCA email notice. His wife is also from Cobb County, having graduated from Kennesaw Mountain in 2005.

His mother, Metzi, lives in west Cobb.

She was traveling today to claim her son’s body, according to the HCA email notice.

Five servicemen were killed alongside Forde on Tuesday: Chief Warrant Officer Randy L. Billings, 34, of Heavener, Okla.; Chief Warrant Officer Joshua B. Silverman, 35, of Scottsdale, Ariz.; Sgt. Peter C. Bohler, 29, of Willow Spring, N.C.; Staff Sgt. Jesse L. Williams, 30, of Elkhart, Ind.; and Spc. Terry K. D. Gordon, 22, of Shubuta, Miss.

The crash

According to a report from the Associated Press, the six U.S. service members were killed Tuesday when a helicopter crashed in southern Afghanistan, U.S. and NATO officials confirmed to the Associated Press.

One person on board the Black Hawk UH-60 was injured and survived, two U.S. defense officials said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record. The aircraft was an Army helicopter from an Army unit.

A statement issued by the NATO international military coalition said the crash was under investigation and there was no insurgent activity in the area at the time of the crash.

In Washington, an official originally said the helicopter had experienced engine failure before the crash, but later said it was unclear whether that was the case. According to initial reports, the troops had mechanical problems, came under fire after the crash and it was unclear whether any of the casualties were the result of enemy fire.

This year, 109 members of the U.S. military have died in Afghanistan, out of a total of 139 members of the coalition.

The death toll has dropped significantly since the coalition handed over responsibility for security to Afghan forces last summer and coalition troops are now training and assisting.

By comparison, 394 foreign troops died last year, including 297 Americans.

Others from Cobb have died in Afghanistan

Forde is not the first Cobb County man to die while serving in Afghanistan.

Army 1st Lt. Jonathan Walsh, 28, of Kennesaw died April 22, 2012 in Ghazni Province, Afghanistan, when he and another soldier were hit by an improvised explosive device. He left behind a wife and a young son.

On June 1, 2010, 22-year-old Army Ranger Spc. Jonathan Penney of Marietta was killed by enemy fire in Afghanistan.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel reflected on the six soldiers during a Pentagon press conference Thursday.

“The loss of six U.S. troops in a helicopter crash on Tuesday is a heartbreaking reminder of the sacrifices” the men and women serving in Afghanistan continue to make, he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Comments-icon Post a Comment
mechanical problems
December 20, 2013
I am heartbroken for the families of these men who were killed. And what bothers me is, could it have been avoided? The fact that "mechanical problems" were mentioned makes my blood run cold. This is what happened in the Carter administration. Men dying in helicopters because of mechanical problems. I do not trust the Obama bunch to take care of our military and think we should bring the men in Afghanistan home. Now.
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