Will Forby was born in 1933 in Onaka, South Dakota. After attending 2 years at South Dakota State College, he enlisted in the Aviation Cadet Program of the U.S. Air Force on February 10, 1954, and was commissioned a 2d Lt and awarded his pilot wings on May 16, 1955. His first assignment was as a supply officer with the 463rd Supply Squadron at Ardmore AFB, Oklahoma, from May 1955 to May 1956, followed by F-86 Sabre Combat Crew Training from May to October 1956. Lt Forby served as an F-86 pilot with the 534th Fighter-Day Squadron of the 83rd Fighter-Day Wing at Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina, from October 1956 to December 1957, and then as an F-100 Super Sabre pilot with the 335th and then the 334th Fighter-Day Squadrons (later redesignated Tactical Fighter Squadrons) of the 4th Fighter-Day Wing (later redesignated Tactical Fighter Wing) at Seymour Johnson from December 1957 to November 1960. His next assignment was as an F-100 pilot with the 77th Tactical Fighter Squadron of the 20th Tactical Fighter Wing at RAF Wethersfield, England, from November 1960 to November 1964, followed by an assignment to the University of Omaha to complete his bachelor's degree from December 1964 to June 1965. Capt Forby served as an F-105 Thunderchief pilot with the 334th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Seymour Johnson AFB from June to August 1965, and then deployed with the squadron to Takhli Royal Thai AFB, Thailand, from August 1965 until he was forced to eject over North Vietnam and was taken as a Prisoner of War on September 20, 1965. After spending 2,703 days in captivity, Col Forby was released during Operation Homecoming on February 12, 1973. He was briefly hospitalized to recover from his injuries at March AFB, California, and then attended Air War College at Maxwell AFB, Alabama, from August 1973 to July 1974, followed by service on the staff of the Air War College from July 1974 to October 1976. Col Forby's final assignment was on the staff of Headquarters Military Airlift Command at Scott AFB, Illinois, from October 1976 until his retirement from the Air Force on January 1, 1985.
His Silver Star Citation reads:
For the period August 1966 to November 1966: This officer distinguished himself by gallantry and intrepidity in action in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force during the above period while a Prisoner of War in North Vietnam. Ignoring international agreements on treatment of prisoners of war, the enemy resorted to mental and physical cruelties to obtain information, confessions, and propaganda materials. This individual resisted their demands by calling upon his deepest inner strengths in a manner which reflected his devotion to duty and great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.