Fallen Heroes of Operation Iraqi Freedom

Remembering the servicemembers who died in the service of their country.

Army CWO Wesley C. Fortenberry

38, of Woodville, Texas.
Fortenberry died in Baghdad, Iraq when his helicopter was shot down. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas. Died on April 11, 2004.

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"When Wesley was a Private in the 82nd Pathfinder Platoon at Ft. Bragg - his first assignment in the Army - I was his Sergeant. I remember him well, and always will."
Matt Olson of Tucson, AZ

"Turkey Mountain Boys" by Robert Brock was written in memory of Chuck Fortenberry and his co/pilot, Shane Colton, who gave their lives on Easter Sunday, Apr 11, 2004, four days before his birthday, to save the lives of 30 comrades in arms who were under heavy fire, out of ammo, transporting enough fuel to blow Iraq off the map. After raking up around 200 terrorists, a Muslim with a Russian missile shot up into the tail assembly of their helicopter which crashed. Chuck was my nephew and a wonderful husband, son, father and brother. He would have retired in two months. He was my birthday gift from my sister, Pat, and Bro-in-law, Ken, born on my birthday, Apr 15. This book is about one of the men Chuck gave his life to save. "When Connor Flanagan was declared MIA in a war zone, there was never a doubt that his friend and blood-brother, Milo O'Brien, would come to the rescue. Risking life and limb, Milo goes to Iraq to rescue his friend. But when Milo brings Connor home, it quickly becomes apparent that things will never be the same. This book is written to show the turmoil men and women go through who return home without limbs and mind and what their care-takers must endure to help them recooperate.

Milo is faced with the biggest decision of his life: taking the easy route, or digging in and taking care of his friend regardless of the cost.

Turkey Mountain Boys: My Brother's Keeper is a novel about hard work, brotherhood, knee-slapping humor, and the brotherly pathos that carry friends and family through the most difficult of life's changes. Author Robert Brock gives an in-depth look into a man's psyche, while also showing a simpler life that is still available to those who take the time to live it.
(Available on Amazon.com, Walmartbooks.com, Tatepublishing.com)
Family, God and Country was Chuck's motto. Having lived his motto, he enjoys the peace that only Jesus Christ can give, John 16:33."
Robert Brock of Henderson, TX, US

"Bible believing Christians support the military and law enforcement.
He Died So Others Could Live Fight ON! by Sam Gipp
FIGHT ON! Play List by Sam Gipp



Sgt. Allen James Dunckley

Vietnam Vets Route 38 Tribute Ride 7-21-12

Funeral For Four

If anyone would like to do an audio for YouTube, contact me at warneveryone1@gmail.com"
Dave Flang of Groton, NY, USA

"Always and forever in my thoughts and my heart i miss you and mr colton. Rest forever in peace sir....we got em"
Jenn of Kileen texas

"Chuck you are gone but never to be forgotten... I think of you often and wanted to remind your family how much your friendship meant to Andrea and I. I use the knives made by your hands every hunting season and my children have heard all about you. Rest in Peace my friend, If Cynthia and the kids need anything they need only ask."
Steve Johnston of Milledgeville, GA

"Daddy I miss you so much and Love you even more i think of you always, your youngest boy is now 15 and i play the same position as you Daddy, again I Love you Forever and Always, your youngest son Nicholas"
Nicholas Fortenberry of Troy, Texas

"I knew Mr. Fortenberry and served with him at Ft. Hood. I was asssigned to 1/4 AVN Regiment 4 ID in June of 2000. I was Sgt Edgardo Renta-Ortiz, a maintainer of the aircraft he flew. Everyone had a lot of respect for him. I remember seeing the ranger tab on his ABDU's and saying to myself "Wow, this guy is hardcore." During Memorial day his name came to my mind. After he passed and after separating from the Army I ended up returning to Iraq as a civilian. I remember every time I flew into Balad, Iraq from any other FOB to land there, I saw the Hangar with his name on it, "Fortenberry Hall" as we landed. This was a reminder to me of the ultimate sacrifice that soldiers make. It was an honor to have served along side of this hero. May God bless his family and comfort them always."
Eddie Renta-Ortiz of Davenport, IA

"I served with Chuck in the 82nd Pathfinders. I just discovered what happened. He was a terrific guy and a good friend. We will always remember and keep him and his family in our thoughts and prayers"
Bob Graves of Austin, Texas

"To the family of:Wesley C.Fortenberry
I am so sorry for the loss of your love one. My heart cries out for you in your grief and you have my thoughts and prayers. He died a hero defending freedom. May you have the peace and understanding that only comes from God. Prayerfully we will all meet in Heaven one day where we will rest in the arms of Jesus. If you need prayer or need someone to talk to, please call or write my pastor: Rev. John Pearrell 11677 Brown Bridge Rd., Covington, GA 30016. (770)787-1015.
Your friend in Jesus Christ, Polly Ballew Covington,Ga" 1-1-11"

"I was part of a QRF that arrived shortly before you did. I couldn't believe it when I saw you fall. I think back on it often and I want to thank you for protecting those of us on the ground that day."
Dennis of NH

It's an honor to call you my Brother and to have worked in the craft with you. Fluffy and I enjoyed getting together with you and yours to swap stories over a meal. As you know, the knives you and Kenneth made are doing everything I need them to do. Thank you for your service and friendship. We'll continue your work from the Federal end. God's Peace to you and the family, Brother."
Quarterhorse of Texas, U.S.A.

"To the family of Wesley Fortenberry
I was lucky enough to get to know this man during the last weeks of his life while in Babylon. All he talked about was going home, retiring on his land, and raising his children with the most wonderful woman in the world. He appeared to have the perfect life. He loved you guys. Make the most of all you do. He lived life like that and wants that for all of you. Sorry for all you loss."

"Our thoughts and prayers continue for Chuck's family. I was fortunate to have spent a lot of time with Chuck in flight school and also at Ft. Hood and Camp Page, Korea. My room in Korea was just across the hall and it was always a busy place with friends stopping over to play dominoes, drink coffee, listen to George Straight, etc. He was an excellent knife maker, leather craftsman, and could crack a 50' bullwhip down the hallway. You always had to make sure the hallway was clear before stepping out. :)
He was always a straight shooter and had the respect of everyone. You will be truly missed and will always be remembered with the highest regard!"
Joe Sandbakken of Lebanon, PA

"Chuck and I served together in the 82nd Airborne's Pathfinder unit at Fort Bragg in 1984 and 1985. He was a superlative soldier and an even better friend. My deepest condolences to Chuck's family. His memory will be in our hearts forever. We love you Chuck. Godspeed."
Ed Dalbey, U.S. Army (Airborne), ret. of Seattle, WA

"June 3, 2008
To the family of CWO Wesley C. Fortenberry:
Wesley gave the ultimate sacrifice and will be held in the hearts of Americans forever. I cannot and will not let our fallen heroes be forgotten. My deepest sympathy to you. "Some gave all."
Peggy Childers
"Don't Let The Memory Of Them Drift Away"
Peggy Childers of Carson City, NV

"I never met Chuck but I think of him often. Shane was our neighbor, Lance was my little brothers best friend. There will never be a Easter that I do not think of Chuck and Shane, or the sacrifice that they made that day... I was unable to go to the funeral for Chuck but family went. I remember seeing your family at Shanes funeral and I broke down into tears when I saw your sons wearing Daddy's boots. I can not imagine what it is like to have such a great loss but I know by the actions that Chuck and Shane chose to make that they were far beyond the everyday Hero.... they are and were a rare breed the kind that most people are never lucky enough to meet but everyone dreams that they were. Boys you have an AMAZING father and no mater how hard times can get remember that you may not see him but he is and will always be with you smiling upon you from above. I know that you guys will grow up to be like your father full of courage and passion to fight for things that you believe in. He is a hero forever more.
You guys will remain in my prayers as you have for the past almost 5 years
Love to you all"
Caitlin Kibby of Killeen, Tx

"Chuck, you will be missed so much. I'am so proud that we're cousins. We lost touch over the years, but I never forgot you and I am so proud of you. You are my hero. Take care of grandpa for us. Love ya."
Melinda Fortenberry Winder, Georgia


"He was the greatest man i've ever known he was my father and nothing can ever change that and everytime that he and i spent just us time together i always remember him saying that no matter what work hard, treat people with respect and above all stand up for what you believe in and what you think is right. its two years later now and im a senior in high school and have just put my papers in for enlistment and i can only hope that the honor that has been bestowed on me and my family by his actions is such that one day i can uphold this honor i love you dad and i know that someday you and i will be together again at the same lake in texas fishing for the same big eight pounder but no matter what you and i are always together in heart your my inspiration and my driving force in all that i do. i love you.




I miss the days that we were MTPs together in B Troop, 3/6 Cav at "The Hump". Those were long days and I quickly grew to admire your work ethic. Although we spent many days ready to choke each other, the end result was aircraft ready for combat and I'll always respect you for your efforts and your iron-clad work ethic. You always put mission first and anyone reading this I'm sure knows that you always made us laugh and kept life in perspective.

I wrote to your family and explained to them how lucky I am to have served with you. Your wife sent me a lovely card in response. You are dearly missed, buddy.

Sleep well, friend.

CW3 Frank Turinsky of Camp Humphreys, Korea

"To the family of Wesley C. Fortenberry. My prayers and thoughts are with you. Wesley C. Fortenberry gave the ultimate sacrifice for his country."
Linda Fortenberry Mears of Carrollton, GA USA

"To the Fortenberry's, One and All;
I'll always remeber you as a great friend. You made my daze at Camp Page good ones. The day I learned of your loss I hurt for you and your children and your dear wife, I know you loved them deeply.
To your family, Thank-you for Chuck, your sacrifice gives us all another day of FREEDOM. You gave all, all give some.
-"The Flying Fickle Finger of Fate""
MAJ Jim (Doc) Arnold of Fort Stewart, GA

"CWO Fortenberry,
I will never forget the day you were taken from us. Like you I was also sent to help the convoy that was under attack. My MP patrol was on the ground attempting to shield the convoy and return fire, but it wasn't until you arrived that I felt as though we had control of the situation. It was then that I watched you go down. We left the convoy to find you. I am so sorry that we couldn't pull you out or help you, it was just too late. We sat next to you well into the night. Some attempted to recover your dog tags, I don't know if they were found but I hope they were returned to your family. I will never be able to express how sorry I am for what happened that day. Thank you for your courage. You were why so many of us survived that day. You and your family will always be in my prayers. To the Fortenberry family and all that knew CWO Wesley Fortenberry, I am so sorry for your loss."
SPC Amy Burns of Maryland

It has taken a long time for me to even address your fate. I avoided ceremonies to honor you and Shane, not because I don't love you guys, just being selfish and not wanting to deal with reality. I miss you and pray for your family daily. I miss you Fluff and seeing you on my Call of Duty screen. Thanks for your help on doing my maps. I love you man. To all who may read this message, I truly wish you could have known Chuck as a woodworker, knife-maker, and more importantly as the great friend he was. If you knew him, you are blessed, if you didn't, you missed a great one. Vernon"
CW2 Schmitz of Fort Rucker, AL


"Mr. Fortenberry,
I never had the chance to meet you but you saved my life. I was one of the guys on the ground that day. Things would have gone a lot different if you hadn't gotten there when you did. You saved my life and the lives oif my friends and comrades, thank you from the bottom of my heart. God bless and keep you and your family."
Ben Sleaford of Geneseo, IL

"I am so sorry to see another friend of mine has fallen in the war in Iraq. I had the honor of serving with Chuck at Ft. Hood, Tx in 1995-1997. He was a great man to work with. One of the best pilots I have had the pleasure and honor to work with.
My deepest sympathies and condolences to your family Chuck. We will all miss you."
Joey White of Gadsden, Alabama, USA

"My Brother,
We always met, greeted, and parted on the square and level...so many travels we made together...There are no words I can speak or write to convey my gratitude for your service, my sorrow at your loss, or my condolences to your loved ones. Know, however, that I will do my part. God bless you."
Tex of Texas

"Rest easy sweet soldier. Thank you for your dedication to our country."
C. Lybarger of Shelby, OH

"Thank you for saving my husband & the father of our 3 children, Sgt. Douglas A. Dye that Easter Sunday. He was one of the 25 guys in the convoy you came to save."
Johnna Dye of Van Wert, Ohio

"I went through flight school with Chuck. He was a great man and devoted friend, always there if you needed someone to talk to or just hang out. He will always live on in my memories."
Robin of Dallas, TX

"I didn`t know Chuck, but my son is a good friend of his DaD`s, how sad, my heart goes out to the family, he must have been a great guy, but for the grace of God there goes my son. My deepest sympathies to the family, I`m sure he is greatly missed."
Loretta Mitchell of Grove Oklahoma

"We are saddened by the loss of a fine man.A devoted husband and loving father.I lived in Korea in 1995 with my husband and got to know Chuck. He always had the highest integrity. He was decent and kind. He loved to play dominoes,cook and make bullwhips and other leather crafts. In a photo he stands just slightly behind his Judo class comprised of fellow pilots. They were all dressed in Judo ghi's.
Just like him to stand apart from the crowd yet always be a friend when needed.

He was so much more than a soldier.
A truly rare human being I am proud to have known. Our hearts go especialy to his children. May you all be blessed with strength and courage to see them and your family through this tragic loss.I have a special memory of Chuck. He helped me announce to my husband I was pregnant with our first and only child. He was truly a character with character and a great spirit as well!
Wife of CW3 Aaron W. Cowan/Korea 1994/6"
Kari Lin Cowan of Fort Rucker AL

"To the family of Wes and the 1/227...I was very saddened to hear the news! Wes and I went to flight school together, and I hadn't seen him for a few years. He is a good man, and a tremendous loss to you and this country! My thoughts and prayers go out to you!"
CW3 Greg C. of Fort Campbell, KY

"This message is to the parents of CWO Fortenberry. Your son died in the line of duty, and he died protecting my brother. My brother, Spec. Adam Boyce of the 706th Transportation unit, was in the ground battle that your son was shot down in. I have been trying for some time now to get in contact with you or at least get an address from you so that I and my family, can show thier appreciation. If you get this, please send me a note to aronjennboyce@yahoo.com
Any information would be greatly appreciated."
Aron Boyce of Mansfield, Ohio

"Warrant Officer Fortenberry, goodbye soldier and thank you. You are my hero."
Bill of Houston, Texas

"To Uncle Kenneth and Aunt Pat,Shawn,Aaron and Cynthia and boys, my heart breaks for you.I am so glad Chuck and I got back in touch before he left.He never changed.I am so proud to say he was my cousin.He is now with daddy,grandma and grandpa they are watching over us.Chuck told me he would watch out for Derek and I know he is in heaven doing what he said he would,he is watching over Derek in Baghdad.I wish there was something I could do to make you feel better,but I know only time will help.The whole country knows now what kind of hero Chuck really is.God Bless You and Your Family,we Love you"
Robyn Fortenberry Oliver of Karnes City,Texas

Words can't express what you mean to everyone who knows you. God Bless You and know that I will always remember you! You are a hero and you DID make a difference. Because of you, my life, and the life of others through me has been brighter. I'll get the first one when we meet again..."
Brian Stehle of U.S.A.

"The Woodville High School Class of 1983 remembers Chuck with great fondness. Our hearts are heavy with his family for the loss of an honorable man who served his country and made his hometown proud."
WHS 1983 of Woodville Tx

"Thank you Wesley Fortenberry for honoring our country and our family name. I am sure we are only distant kin but your picture look so much like my nephew that you would think we were very closely related. He is also an Army helicopter pilot as was his father and cousin. Two more female cousins have been accepted to flight school and will soon be flying helicopters. So my family deeply relates to you and your family. We will be praying for God to give them strength and take care of them in your absence. Until we meet in the sky. HOORAH!"
Randall Fortenberry of Oregon

"Thank you for your courage and sacrifice, you exemplify the best of America. Flying Tigers!"
Mike "G Man" Gregorio of Cincinnati, OH

"Chuck, Thank you for being a wonderful friend and setting an example which I will attempt to follow. You fill me with so much pride and obligation to our country. I will miss you and know your family are in great hands. WE WON'T LET YOU DOWN!

CW2 Ralph Aguirre of Ft. Hood, TX

"Freedoom isn't free.
You paid the price for me.
I never met you, but we are linked
Someone of Troy, Texas

"To Wesley's Family:
There is no way to describe the sorrow we feel for your loss. May God help you through this time and Wesley always looks over you."
Dan and Meg Manninen of San Antonio, Texas

"Chuck, If I would've known that handshake in the Box was to be our last, I would've held it a little longer and we would've laughed a little harder. Godspeed you to his side, brother. And may His strength and comfort be with your family always.

CW3 Gary Rubianes of Ft Hood, Texas

Please KNOW so many people share your sadness, and we are remembering your family in your loss and your deep grief. Your HERO, Wesley, will be remembered by name. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. God Bless you. Pat & Sandi Breckenridge from Montana "

"To my cousin,
You came from a very strong family, of which I am proud to be a part of. Watch over my Marine son and be by his side. You made you family proud.

Semper Fi"
Nancy Polk McNally of Woodville, TX

"Rest in Peace Brave Soldier. You are flying with the Angels now.."
The Taylors USMC of NC

"To Wesley's Family:

On behalf of the Blanco-Caldas family, we send our sincerest condolences to you. We share the same loss...the same pain. Our prayers are with you and we thank you for his bravery and sacrifice.

From the family of Capt. Ernesto M. Blanco-Caldas, KIA Iraq 12/28/2003"
Gloria Caldas (his mom) of San Antonio, TX

"Low Flight"

Dedicated to Wesley C. Fortenberry

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth,

And Hovered out of Ground Effect on Semi-Ridgid Blades.

Earthward I've Auto'ed, and met the Rising Brush of Non-Paved Terrain;

And done a thousand things you would never care to.

Skidded and Dropped and Flared Low in the Heat Soaked Roar.

Confined there, I've chased the Earthbound Traffic

And Lost the race due to Insignificant Headwinds.

Forward and up a Little in Ground Effect,

I've Topped the Admirals hedge with drooping turns,

Where never SkyHawk nor even Tomcat Flew.

Shaking and Pulling Collective, I've Lumberd

The Low untresspassed Halls of Victor Airways;

Put out my Hand, and Touched a Tree.

Today Wesley you Fly with Angels. Thank you for your dedication and Sacrifice. Godspeed Chief..."
Dennis B. Dray Maj (R) of Tucson, AZ

Thank you for fighting for me and other Americans to protect our freedom. This world is in a dangerous time and your courage and honor did much to preserve a peaceful future. Your actions were heroic and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You are a great American and we will never forget you."
mark reif of winchester, VA

"Thank you Wesley Fortenberry, you will not be forgotten. Your bravery goes beyond words. I want to express my deepest gratitude for your sacrifice. To the family and friends, my prayers and deep condolences in your loss. May God strengthen you from knowing that fellow Americans and people around the world care about you and grieve with you in your loss. God bless you all. A very appreciative fellow American,"
Leo Titus of Grayslake, Illinios

"To the family and friends of Chief Warrant Officer Wesley Fortenberry:
May God's grace be with you during your time of grief. Please know that our thoughts and prayers are with you and we feel your loss and share in your sorrow. Bless Wesley for the sacrifice he has made to make a better life for the rest of us."
The Ford Family of Wells, Nevada

"To the family and friends of Chief Warrant Officer Wesley Fortenberry:
I am saddened by the loss of your loved one. He will always be remembered as a hero for fighting for freedom. I hope that this website will be a source of comfort and encouragement for you during this difficult time, and in the future as you recall the memories of Wesley, who continues to live on in your heart."
Tim Rivera of Powder Springs, Georgia

Honor them by remembering... Freedom - is their gift to us But his soul goes marching on