Virginia National Guardsman Jonathan Jex-Blake Forde, 26
Jonathan Michael Jex-Blake Forde, 26, a combat engineer with the Virginia National Guard who was training at Fort McCoy, Wis., for his second deployment to Iraq, died Aug. 13 of meningococcal meningitis en route to Rochester, Minn. He was a Vienna resident.
Sgt. Forde mobilized with his unit, the 237th Engineer Company, in West Point, Va., on July 19 and traveled to Fort McCoy, in west-central Wisconsin, where he was preparing for overseas deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Virginia National Guard officials said in a news release.
According to published reports, he became ill early on the day of his death and received treatment at the fort's medical center and at Franciscan Skemp Medical Center in La Crosse, Wis. He died while being flown by helicopter to St. Marys Hospital, one of two Mayo clinics in Rochester.
Sgt. Forde was born in Fairfax County and grew up in Vienna. He graduated from Gonzaga College High School in Washington, where he played varsity lacrosse.
He attended James Madison University and studied at Virginia Commonwealth University in 2001 after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. By 2002, he had joined the Virginia National Guard as a 12B combat engineer.
He trained as a combat engineer at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., in September 2003 and later was promoted to the rank of specialist after displaying his technical knowledge and leadership potential, his family said.
He served in combat in Iraq until 2005 and returned home. He was promoted to sergeant and assigned as a team leader.
Sgt. Forde attended the Warrior Leader Course at Fort Indiantown Gap in Pennsylvania in September 2006 and graduated on the Commandant's List, which is reserved for the top 5 percent of graduates in the course.
He was recalled to duty in Iraq in July and was training at Fort McCoy as a team leader in 1st squad, 2nd platoon of the 237th Engineer Company. After his death, he was posthumously promoted to the rank of staff sergeant.
His decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal and the Global War on Terror Expeditionary Medal and Global War on Terror Service Medal.
Survivors include his mother and stepfather, Kathryn and Taylor Cosby of Vienna; his father and stepmother, Michael and Deborah Forde of Fairfax City; five sisters, Susannah Griffiths and Annabel Olah, both of Reston, Allie Forde of Fairfax City, Carrington Crosby of Charlotte and Erin Plumb of Winston-Salem, N.C.; and his fiancee, Brandy Carter of Vienna.
-- Yvonne Shinhoster Lamb