Born in Marietta to Metzi Forde, who moved to Georgia from Jamaica, Forde attended Dowell Elementary, Pine Mountain Middle and Kennesaw Mountain High School.
It was at KMHS where he met his future wife, Megan Forde, and fell in love. The couple held hands as they sat next to each other at graduation in 2004, surrounded by friends and family who were shocked to hear of his death last week.
Forde grew up in the Wyckford neighborhood in west Cobb, and neighbors had lined the street with American flags in memory of Forde on Tuesday.
Jon Barker, who now lives in Acworth, grew up in the neighborhood with Forde, and said Forde was constantly making jokes.
Forde was a talented football player, and one of the only places he didn’t crack jokes was on the football field, Barker said.
The two played on the Kennesaw Mountain High School football team, where Forde played cornerback.
Upon graduation, Forde was offered a number of scholarships to play football at the collegiate level, and was planning on playing for Morehead State in Kentucky, Barker said.
At the very last minute, he decided to join the military, as Forde believed he could make more of a difference fighting for his country, Barker said.
Forde was constantly surrounded by a big group of friends, and was known as the instigator of jokes. He poked fun at his teammates, and always had a grin on his face, friends say.
“He’s got a very contagious smile and it always lights up the room and makes you smile as well. He’s got that laugh that only one person could have that keeps you laughing along with him,” said David Watson, Forde’s longtime friend.
Watson met Forde when he was 15, and the two spent most every Friday night on opposite sides of a football field, as they both played cornerback for Kennesaw Mountain.
Omar Forde lived by the mentality that friends and family were always put first, Megan Forde said. The two were married in 2006, two years before his first deployment.
Ford was deployed to Iraq twice, the first time in 2008, and the second time in 2010, Megan Forde said. He left for Afghanistan in July 2013, and was expected to come home in April, she added.
Regardless of where he was in the world, Forde kept in constant communication with his wife, and later, two sons.
Forde had two children; Ayden, 5, and Debery, 18 months.
The family talked on the phone at least twice a day, Megan Forde said, just as she woke up, and right before she went to bed.
The family moved around, and lived in a number of different states, including California, Georgia and Kansas, Watson said.
No matter where they lived, Megan Forde said, Forde remained a die-hard Atlanta Falcons fan, and enjoyed spending weekends lounging around the house with his family, watching football and barbecuing.
Forde loved eating spmi spicy Jamaican food, and Megan Forde has memories of the two eating it together.
“We were all about our family,” she said.
The family owns a house in Junction City, Kan., where Megan Forde takes care of her sons, she said.
Friends remembered Omar Forde on Facebook last week.
Ryan Cradic, a friend of Forde’s, posted, “He was the best of us without a doubt. I never saw him question himself or hesitate to move forward. He had more confidence in his self and the people he kept close than anyone I’ve ever met. Having him call me his friend and his soldier was an honor. I’ll miss you Forde, we all will.”
Forde kept much of his military life private from his friends and family, they said, as Forde was involved in many classified assignments.
Forde was an electronic warfare specialist at the time of his death, Megan said, although she did not know the details of his work in Afghanistan.
He was a member of the 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, the 1st Infantry Division and was stationed in Fort Riley, Kan., before his death.
Forde died alongside 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.
A funeral is expected to be in Cobb County later this week, although details are still being arranged, family said. Details will be posted to mdjonline.com when they are finalized.
In lieu of flowers, the Forde family is asking people to make donations to the Wounded Warrior Project. A Paypal account has been started for his children, and other offers of help can be forwarded to Megan Forde at firstname.lastname@example.org.