|17127 FORREST, JOHN FRANKLIN
20 June 1927 - 27 May 1997
Died in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Interred in Evergreen Cemetery, Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Aged 69 years.
JOHN "JACK" FRANKLIN FORREST was born in Mexia, TX, the second son of Robert E. and Gertrude Klug Forrest. His ancestor was the great Confederate general, Nathan Bedford Forrest. His father was severely injured as an Army Air Corps pilot in WWI, and his brother Robert fought in the Battle of the Bulge in WWII and survived capture by the Germans.
Jack left Mexia when he was a young boy. The oil business led his father to move the family to Houston; Saginaw, MI; and Olney, IL. At Olney High School, Jack was a superb scholar and athlete, joining the National Honor Society and playing varsity basketball and football. A fine swimmer, he worked summers as a lifeguard. Jack was president of his senior class and the Debate Club, and voted "Most Popular." He had no trouble entering West Point during the closing days of WWII.
As a cadet, Jack played B-Squad football and fought on the A-1 boxing team. His roommates were Sam Coursen, Joe Toomey Murray Williams, Collier Ross, and Jim Scholtz. In his Third Class year, at the "Hop" dance party, Jack met Patricia Smith of Long Beach, Long Island, NY. Both Jack and Pat came with other dates, but Jack had seen Pat earlier and arranged for two friends to cut in on him, freeing him to cut in on Pat several times. Jack asked Pat out the following Saturday, but Pat's mother advised her not to go. She went anyway. Though he was tall and she was short, he from a small Texas town and she from the New York City area, his extraction English German Protestant and her's Greek-Irish Catholic, Jack and Pat clicked. In July 1949 they wed - a marriage that lasted 48 years until Jack's death - and produced ten children. The newlyweds proceeded to Ft. Riley and Ft. Benning, where Jack attended the Infantry Basic Course, before being sent to the Korean War.
Jack led a platoon of the 5th Cavalry Regiment, lst Cavalry Division through the darkest days in Korea. After fighting in the desperate Battle of the Pusan Perimeter, his command was the first to enter North Korea and the North Korean capital. He earned the Combat Infancyman Badge, two Purple Hearts, and two Silver Stars. Two of his West Point roommates, Sam Coursen and Joe Toomey, were killed in action in Korea.
From Jack Forrest's Silver Star citations: "Courageously gathering his six remaining men, he briefed them on his plan of surprise action to rout the enemy group. . . he led them yelling and shouting into the enemy's midst. This ruse... completely baffled and surprised the enemy into believing their main position had fallen..." Although wounded in the leg during the early part of the action, LT Forrest refused to be evacuated and, displaying fearless leadership, moved from position to position, in the face of heavy enemy fire, to encourage and reorganize his men. Although suffering from intense pain from his wound, he directed a skillful defense of his position and led a successful counter-attack..."
Upon his return from Korea, Jack was assigned to Ft. Jackson, Germany; Ft. Leavenworth; and the University of-Wisconsin-Madison, where he earned a master's degree in journalism. He completed the Infantry Advanced Course; Ranger, Airborne, and other schools; was assigned to the Pentagon; and graduated from the Army War College. He also served two tours in Viet Nam.
In Viet Nam, Jack commanded the 3-187th Infantry Battalion, 101st Airborne Division. He earned a second Combat Infantryman Badge, a third Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, four Bronze Stars for Valor, and four Air Medals for Valor. In the bitter Tet Offensive of 1968, GEN Westmoreland awarded Jack's unit the Valorous Unit Award and Meritorious Unit Citation. Jack was a soldier's soldier, who cared for his men while accomplishing his mission.
After Viet Nam, Jack was assigned to the 2d Armored Division, Ft. Hood, as Commander of 1st Brigade and Support Command, then Chief of Staff. Some of his later assignments included Commanding General of the 4th Infantry Division, Ft. Carson; Commander of First Army, Ft. Meade; and DCINC, U.S. Army Europe, Heidelberg. The Forrests moved over 30 times in all - with eight sons and two daughters! Despite many separations, Pat and the children loved the Army and supported every assignment. When Jack was in Viet Nam, Pat once drove herself to the hospital to give birth. Some of the children attended half-a-dozen high schools, and yet there was always excitement about meeting new friends and Dad's next assignment.
Jack and Pat retired to Colorado Springs, CO, in 1983, and Jack plunged into civic affairs there. He was the first Executive Director of the U.S. Space Foundation and was elected to the City Council. At age 69, following a series of strokes, Jack passed away. Hundreds attended his ecumenical Christian funeral. Jack's sons and West Point classmate Bill Moore spoke. Local TV stations covered the services, and the newspaper eulogized him on its editorial page. In a lovely ceremony, the Forrest Fitness Center at Ft. Carson was dedicated in 1998.
For all his strength and courage, Jack was actually a peace-loving man. He never, ever lied or cursed, was a gentleman without fail (even to those with whom he disagreed), and was generous to total strangers. He was an intellectual who would read, write, or speak eruditely about a huge range of subjects, a visionary with a steady stream of ideas and projects, and a hard worker, yet he also was a joke-telling home body and devoted family man who was kind to his cats, even though he really preferred dogs.
Jack Forrest rests beneath a simple, military-issue headstone, beside a U.S. Army private in Colorado Springs' Evergreen Cemetery. Jack is survived by his wife Patricia; his children - Scott, John Jr., Robert, Diana, MAJ Michael, William, 2LT Patrick, James, Thomas, Mary; five grandchildren; and many, many others who love him.
2LT Patrick L. Forest, USAR