KIA April 11, 2004
Operation Iraqi Freedom
Assigned to 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas
Army WO3 “Chuck” Fortenberry was killed April 11, 2004 when his AH-64 Apache helicopter was shot down by insurgents just west of Baghdad, Iraq, which was protecting a fuel convoy headed toward the violence-racked city of Fallujah. His co-pilot CW2 Lawrence S. Colton also died in the attack.
Chuck Fortenberry, a 19-year Army veteran, would have turned 39-years-old just 4 days after he was killed. Chuck’s father, Kenneth Fortenberry, knows the loneliness his son Chuck endured when he was shipped to Iraq just a matter of months before he died. “Our family, me and my three boys together, have 58 years in the military,” Kenneth 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 said his son sounded concerned when they spoke for the final time before his death. “He told me he was only flying at night but things had gotten real messy the last 2 or 3 days. 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.”
Chuck had a variety of duties throughout his career. 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 prior to his passing. “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 said. Chuck currently has a physical fitness center named after him and his co-pilot in Fort Rucker, Alabama.
WO3 Fortenberry was 38 years old from Woodville, Texas.
Original portrait was presented October 10, 2015 to his friends and family during a special event hosted by HFVTT’s AFS Charity Trial in Donie, TX.