Hometown community gathers to mourn, honor Navy midshipman David Forney
By HANNAH HIMES | The Frederick News-Post | Published: February 24, 2020
WALKERSVILLE, Md. (Tribune News Service) — More than 100 people gathered at the Glade Valley Athletic Association football field at Heritage Farm Park on Sunday to celebrate the life of Navy Midshipman David Forney.
Forney, 22, was a senior studying political science at the U.S. Naval Academy. He died on Feb. 20.
“I don’t have any magical words. I don’t have anything that I can say that’s going to put a big smile on our face,” Brett Hess, a friend of the family, said while also noting other losses in the Walkersville community in the past few weeks.
Hess told the large crowd that it’s OK for grief to hurt.
“It’s OK to grieve,” he said. “In fact it’s necessary. It’s important that we do that.”
The crowd bowed their heads and prayed while the Walkersville Lions flag and the United States flag flew overhead.
“We rest simply in this hope, that David is sitting alongside you with a gleam in his eyes and that little smile knowing that he’s in the greatest place he could be,” Hess prayed.
By all accounts, Forney was confident, genuine and never forgot where he came from.
The Walkersville native was an offensive lineman on the Navy’s football team.
Several teammates spoke before the crowd on Sunday, including Kyle-Malik Mitchell.
“From the jump, his smile just made everything okay,” Mitchell said.
He said that Forney was the kind of person who always made sure his friends and his teammates were taken care of.
“And today, I can say I feel that again,” Mitchell said. “I feel David’s presence amongst us.”
Forney’s father, Rick Forney, also spoke.
He told stories of a boy who excelled at football, wasn’t afraid of a challenge and was “cool as a cucumber.”
Rick Forney thanked the people who were part of David Forney’s life, including several coaches.
He also recalled the time David Forney ran the flag out during an Army-Navy game.
“What an experience to see your kid doing that,” he said. “He was the most humble kid, the most beautiful kid.”
Rick Forney said he was glad he got the chance to be David’s father.
Chloe Ferguson grew up with Forney.
“He was an awesome guy,” she said. “He had an impact because he reached out to people.”
Ferguson said Forney would talk to people when no one else in the room would.
“I think he just wanted to serve people and serve his country and make the biggest impact he could by being in an organization that helps people,” she said, of Forney’s decision to go to the Naval Academy.
Rick Forney coached Grayson Eyler in baseball and Grayson’s father, Eddie Eyler, said the family is a rock in the community.
“I believe he was a very quiet, strong, intelligent individual,” Eddie Eyler said of David Forney. “If he was anything like his family, he had to be a wonderful, wonderful individual.”
David Forney is survived by his father Rick Forney, his mother Erika Forney and his siblings, Chris Forney, Rebekah Forney and Erik Forney.