Mark Forester was born on May 15, 1981, in Haleyville, Alabama. He served as a Missionary from 2000 to 2002 and then attended the University of Alabama where he received his Bachelor's degree in Finance in 2006. Mark then enlisted in the U.S. Air Force on June 26, 2007, and completed basic training as an Honor Graduate at Lackland AFB, Texas, in August 2007. A1C Forester next attended Combat Control Team training at Lackland AFB (Combat Control Orientation Course); Keesler AFB, Mississippi (Combat Control Operator Course); Fort Benning, Georgia (U.S. Army Airborne School); Fairchild AFB, Washington (U.S. Air Force Basic Survival School); Pope AFB, North Carolina (Combat Control School); Hurlburt Field, Florida (Special Tactics Advanced Skills Training); Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and Yuma Proving Grounds, Arizona (U.S. Army Military Freefall Parachutist School); and Panama City, Florida (U.S. Air Force Combat Divers School) between August 2007 and September 2009. SrA Forester served as a Combat Controller with the 21st Special Tactics Squadron of the 720th Special Tactics Group at Pope AFB from September 2009 until he was killed in action while deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan, on September 29, 2010. He was buried at the Winston Memorial Cemetery in Haleyville, Alabama.
His Silver Star Citation reads:
Senior Airman Mark A. Forester distinguished himself by gallantry in connection with military operations against an armed enemy of the United States in the Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan on 29 September 2010. On that day, while performing duty as a Combat Controller for Special Operations Task Force - South East, Fire Base Tinsley, Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan, Airman Forester demonstrated extreme valor while engaged in combat with a well equipped and tenacious enemy. Airman Forester participated in a deliberate assault against an insurgent safe haven in Jangalak Village, supporting a team of four United States Army Special Forces Soldiers and eight Afghan National Army Soldiers on a patrol to secure possible enemy ambush positions to provide security for a mounted patrol. As the patrol moved into the village, it came under intense enemy machine gun and sniper fire. Airman Forester, without hesitation, exposed himself to enemy fire in order to identify enemy positions and coordinate close air support. As the enemy fire became more accurate, the patrol was forced to bound through an open field in order to secure a defensive position in a compound. As they approached the compound, one of the Afghan Soldiers suffered a fatal gunshot wound from an enemy sniper. Airman Forester was able to quickly maneuver a pair of AH-64s over the enemy positions which enabled the patrol to reach the safety of the compound. Once inside the compound, Airman Forester assisted in its clearing and moved into a position to flank the insurgents. As the team flanked the insurgent position, they again came under effective enemy machine gun and sniper fire. When a United States Army Soldier was fatally injured by the sniper, Airman Forester again exposed himself to the enemy and immediately killed the sniper. Airman Forester then organized a team to retrieve the injured Soldier. Airman Forester led the team back into the enemy’s line of fire in a valiant effort to rescue a fallen comrade when he was fatally wounded by insurgent fire. Airman Forester’s steadfast courage in the face the enemy led to the elimination of twelve insurgents and the capture of multiple weapons and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. By his gallantry and devotion to duty in the dedication of his service to his country, Airman Forester has reflected great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.