Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Army Specialist Aaron M. Forbes

Remember Our Heroes

Army Specialist Aaron M. Forbes, 24, of Oak Island, N.C.

Spc Forbes was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 67th Armored Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas; killed Dec. 28 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee during combat operations in Baghdad. -- The father of a 24-year-old soldier killed in an explosion in Iraq said his son joined the military because he had trouble finding other work, but grew into "a heck of a man" who came to love the Army and his service in the Middle East.

Army Spc. Aaron M. Forbes was killed when an improvised explosive device exploded near his Humvee during combat operations. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion of the 67th Armored Regiment, which is part of the 4th Infantry Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team, based at Fort Hood, Texas.

Forbes left for his second tour of duty in Iraq just a day or two before Christmas, said his father, Allan Jokisch of Oak Island.

"You know what Aaron told me when he was on his first tour? He said the civilians over there loved the American soldiers," he said.

"He said, 'Dad, you don't see that side on the news. All you see is the bombings. ... You don't see them coming up and hugging us, shaking our hands. That's why I want to go back, because they love us.' "

Forbes joined the Army in 2002 and married his wife, Brittany, that July 4, shortly after he finished boot camp. A couple of weeks before he left for his second Iraq tour, they finalized his adoption of her 5-year-old son, Alex, from a previous marriage.

"He loved that little boy so much," Jokisch said.

The couple lived at Fort Hood. Forbes' wife learned of her husband's death while spending the holidays with her grandmother in Hilton Head, S.C.

Jokisch said the men had a sometimes distant relationship when Forbes was growing up, which led the son to take his mother's maiden name.

Things began to change when Forbes moved in with his father in 2001, after Forbes' mother died of cancer and his 21-year-old sister died of still unexplained causes within six months of each other, Jokisch said. Another son, 22-year-old Kenny, lives in Sarasota, Fla.

Struggling to find work, Forbes enlisted in the Army, which proved to be a transforming experience for father and son.

"If you knew him before he went in the military, you would have seen a totally different guy -- he matured so much," Jokisch said. "We grew so close after he got in the military. ... In the last four years, whenever we'd get ready to hang up [the phone], we'd always say, 'I love you, man.' "

Those calls came regularly while Forbes was at home, Jokisch said.

"That's the thing I'm going to miss," Jokisch said. "He was my best friend, I swear. My son was a heck of a boy -- a heck of a man."

Army Specialist Aaron M. Forbes was killed in action on 12/28/05.

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