Wednesday, November 9, 2005
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Wesley C. Fortenberry
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Wesley C. Fortenberry
38 years old from Woodville, Texas
1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division U.S. Army
April 11, 2004

Kenneth Fortenberry knows the loneliness his son Chuck endured when he was shipped to Iraq for what turned out to be his last mission.

“Our family, me and my three boys together, have 58 years in the military,” Kenneth Fortenberry said. “We’ve all done our turn, we’ve all had to go through what Chuck went through when he left on that plane. Think of a man with three children and a wife who doesn’t know whether he’s coming back. No one knows loneliness like that.”

Kenneth Fortenberry said his son, Wesley Charles Fortenberry, died April 11, 2004 with another AH-64 Apache helicopter crewman, Lawrence S. Colton, when insurgents west of Baghdad shot down their aircraft, which was protecting a fuel convoy headed toward the violence-racked city of Fallujah.

Chuck Fortenberry, a 19½-year Army veteran, would have been 39 when he died just days before his birthday.

Fortenberry, stationed at Fort Hood, is survived by a wife and two sons, then ages 8 and 10, who live near Fort Hood, Texas. Another son, 15, lives in North Carolina.

Kenneth Fortenberry, speaking by telephone from his home in Woodville, 90 miles northeast of Houston, said his son sounded concerned when they spoke for the final time last week.

“He told me he was only flying at night but things had gotten real messy the last two or three days,” Fortenberry said, adding that he learned about his son’s final mission via e-mail. “He was fending (attackers) off and they either got him with a (rocket-propelled grenade) or a ground-to-air missile, and the (Apache) hit the ground and exploded.”

Fortenberry had a variety of duties throughout his career, his father said. He served in the 82nd Airborne, became a Ranger and worked in Alaska before joining a warrant officer program to fly helicopters about 10 years ago.

“He’s got thousands of hours in that (aircraft),” said his father, who was active from 1957 to 1982.

Kenneth Fortenberry - who said he continues to support the Iraq war effort and believes anti-war advocates are undermining the troops - said another Apache circled the crash site to prevent Iraqis from desecrating the crewmen’s remains.

“I’ve been told if it hadn’t been for (Chuck Fortenberry and his crewmate), there would have been a lot more Americans killed,” Kenneth Fortenberry said.

These brave men and women have given their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
The Only Thing Necessary For Evil To Triumph
Is For Good Men To Do Nothing