November 14, 2022

VIDEO: Young Honors Hoosier Veteran Alvin Forney in Floor Speech

“Corporal Alvin Forney lived this example out in his short life. He seemed destined, no matter his path, to make a difference. And he did,” - Sen. Young.

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-Ind.) spoke on the Senate floor about the life and legacy of Corporal Alvin Forney, a Marine from Indianapolis who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation on September 1, 1965. Young recently met Corporal Forney’s sister, Mary, and learned about Corporal Forney’s story. 


In his remarks, Young praised Forney and all of our veterans for their service and commitment to freedom’s cause.

 

To watch the full floor speech, click here.

 

Senator Young’s full remarks, as prepared for delivery:

 

Panel 2E, row 71. 

 

Not long ago, a young lady visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial during a trip to Washington, DC.

 

She walked along the wall, searching the black granite panels.

 

Then she saw the name right there in front of her.  

 

She stopped and pressed her hand against it…

 

It was panel 2E, row 71: Alvin C. Forney. 

 

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Across our country -- not just on our National Mall but on the boulevards of our state capitals and in the squares of our small towns, there are names of brave Americans etched in memorials, the names of those who never came home.

 

And there are those who did come home, whose names may not be on monuments, but whose example of service and sacrifice for their country is no less inspiring.

 

For two and a half centuries, they have answered the calls, they have protected our freedoms, they have placed their lives in the line of fire oceans away, so their countrymen can live theirs in peace here at home.

 

They are the citizen soldiers who defeated a king’s army, who ended the scourge of slavery, who saved western civilization and liberated concentration camps, who stood down communism and stand vigil against terrorism.

 

They are more than just names though, they are the spirit of this country: strong but merciful, forever guarding our freedoms and devoted to our fellow citizen.

 

Corporal Alvin Forney lived this example out in his short life.

 

He seemed destined, no matter his path, to make a difference.

 

And he did. 

 

Tall, handsome with a bright smile and infectious optimism, he was an ace athlete…a football, track and basketball star at Shortridge and Washington high schools in Indianapolis.

 

A member of a military family, Corporal Forney enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1961 and went west.

 

He graduated from Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, and trained in the mountains near Camp Pendleton, enduring the forced marches and step hikes in the tarantula and rattle snake-filled scrub.

 

San Diego-trained Marines are sometimes, derisively, referred to as “Hollywood Marines” by their Paris Island peers – Tinsel Town is just up the Pacific Coast Highway. 

 

But if Hollywood did ever try to create the ideal Marine, Corporal Forney could be its muse.

 

You can see it in the old photos, the focus, the confident air, the spotless uniform. He looked like a Gentleman Marine, a hero.

 

He wasn’t just courageous, or strong, he was patient and decent, slow to anger, he seldom swore– a rarity, of course, for a Marine.

 

He loved his family and he loved his country. 

 

And when he arrived in Vietnam, in the summer of 1965 as part of the third Marine Expeditionary Force, his chief concern was not for himself.

 

It was for his brother. 

 

Army Sargent William Forney, the Corporal’s older sibling, was departing for Vietnam.

 

“I don’t mind being over here, but I worry about Bill coming over,” Corporal Forney wrote their mother Minnie.

 

William had married shortly before deploying, and Corporal Forney was concerned about his brother’s separation from his new bride.

 

Shortly after that letter arrived, a military car pulled into the driveway, and a telegraph from the Department of Defense came:

 

Corporal Forney had been struck by fragments of a mine during a patrol and killed in action near Da Nang.

 

It was September 1, 1965. He was twenty-two years old.

 

He was awarded the Purple Heart and laid to rest in Indianapolis’ Crown Hill Cemetery, among a president and vice presidents, poets, businessmen and inventors – and not at all out of place.

 

Every September, until the day she died, Corporal Forney’s mother visited his grave.

 

Beneath the words “Beloved Son and Brother,” and after the mention of Vietnam, his headstone reads “the first casualty from Indianapolis.”

 

Which he was.  But simply a statistic, he was not. 

 

It was half a century later that that young lady came to the Wall in search of Corporal Forney’s name.

 

She came because her grandfather asked her to. 

 

Fifty years earlier he had served with Corporal Forney at Naval Air Engineering Station at Lakehurst in New Jersey.

 

And he never forgot him. 

 

He could still see that squared away Marine, he could still hear his soft spoken voice.

 

And he could still remember the day in September 1965 when he walked into headquarters at Lakehurst and saw the secretaries crying, and heard the news: Corporal Forney had been killed in action in Vietnam.

 

And the Corporal’s family too, they never forgot him. 

 

He’s still in their hearts. 

 

His younger siblings and cousins, they still remember the days before he left for Vietnam…how kind, loving and protective he was. The memories of the dinners he treated them to, of his popping his fingers and whistling, his enthusiasm and joy. 

 

In September I met Mary Allen, Corporal Forney’s younger sister on a flight back to Indiana. She shared his story and asked that I remember him.

 

I will.

 

Of course, on Veterans Day, which just passed, we remember all those who wore the uniform, who pledged their lives to freedom’s cause.

 

Yes, because they are owed our grateful devotion, our eternal gratitude, every day -- not one day in November.

 

Beyond that though, to forget them, to take them for granted, would be a form of national self-destruction.

 

Decades pass, generations come and go, and values change. 

 

In many ways that is the natural course of a society in search of a more perfect union.

 

But those who have defended that Union carry with them unbending values essential to a democracy.   

 

Our veterans set an example. 

 

They are a monument to the values at the heart of this experiment in liberty.

 

Service and sacrifice.  

 

Humility and honor.

 

Loyalty to country and love of countryman. 

 

Dedication to others and to causes greater than one’s self. 

 

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Panel 2E, row 71. 

 

When that young woman went to the Wall, in search of Panel 2E, row 71, it was not just because her grandfather had served with Alvin Forney.

 

It was because, as her grandfather said, he set an example all Americans should be proud to follow.

 

Without citizens like Corporal Forney, there is no America.

 

He is not forgotten.  

 

None of our veterans, or the example they set, are. 

 

Nor will they ever be.