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Midshipman, football standout David Forney remembered as 'gentle giant' at Naval Academy funeral

The U.S. Naval Academy honored the life of Midshipman 1st Class David Forney of Walkersville, Maryland, with a funeral and burial service with military honors on March 3, 2020. Forney died Feb. 20 after being found unresponsive by a fellow midshipman in Bancroft Hall. He is survived by his parents, Erika and Rick, and his three siblings Chris, Rebekah, and Erik.

STACY GODFREY/U.S. NAVY

By SELENE SAN FELICE | The Capital | Published: March 4, 2020

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (Tribune News Service) — When he played for Navy Football, Midshipman David Forney was known as an unstoppable force. At his funeral, he was remembered as a gentle giant.

Forney was honored with a Catholic Mass and buried at the Naval Academy on Tuesday. The 22-year-old was found unresponsive in his dorm room Feb 20. The cause of this death is still being investigated.

A member of the 9th Company and a political science major, Forney would have graduated on May 22 and been commissioned as an ensign and cryptologic warfare officer.

Superintendent Vice Adm. Sean Buck called Forney an extraordinary man who will always be missed.

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“He left his mark on the Naval Academy as an athletic powerhouse, a humble leader in the football brotherhood and a friend of all who knew him,” Buck said.

Forney’s longtime girlfriend, Carlie Petrosky, gave the eulogy during his services at the Naval Academy Chapel, where she revealed the softer parts of the mighty man.

“All he would have to do was look at me and laugh and I couldn’t help but laugh right back at him,” Petrosky said.

Forney was pictured in The Capital several times throughout his Navy football career with tattoos and war paint, but some of Petrosky’s fondest memories are of the boy she met in sixth grade who rocked a Justin Beiber swoop haircut and jorts.

At 6-foot-3, 300-pounds, he was known as one of the biggest, strongest members of the Navy football team. A Walkersville resident and product of Georgetown Prep in Washington, D.C. and the Naval Academy Preparatory School in Rhode Island, Forney was named first-team All-American Athletic Conference.

He was a key figure along the offensive line for three seasons, snatching the starting spot at left guard away from a senior as a sophomore and appearing in 39 career games. Forney was preparing to perform for NFL scouts at the Navy football “Pro Day” on March 26.

“He could pancake you in the field and then ask, ‘How are you?’" the Rev. Francis Foley said in the homily.

For Forney, family always came first and he loved them fiercely, Petrosky said. He is survived by his parents, Rick and Erika Forney, along with younger brothers, Chris and Erik, and sister, Rebekah.

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Petrosky recalled accompanying him to Rebekah’s lacrosse games where he always cheered loudly for her, analyzed the game and offered her advice after the game.

“Wherever David went, he was the big man on campus ... everybody loved him and looked up to him,” Petrosky said. “His family was the same way.”

Forney is the second midshipman to die this year, marking the 12th midshipman death since 2012.

Midshipman Duke Carrillo, a 21-year-old sophomore, collapsed while taking the semesterly physical readiness test on Feb. 8 and was later pronounced dead at Anne Arundel Medical Center. The cause of his death is still pending, according to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore. He was buried at the Naval Academy on Feb. 14.

All midshipmen who die during their time at the academy receive military honors at funeral services and as active duty service members, their families received military benefits, academy officials said.

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©2020 The Capital (Annapolis, Md.)
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Sailors from Naval District Washington’s Ceremonial Guard carry the casket of Midshipman 1st Class David Forney into the U.S. Naval Academy Chapel on March 3, 2020.
STACY GODFREY/U.S. NAVY

Sailors from Naval District Washington’s Ceremonial Guard escort the casket of Midshipman 1st Class David Forney into the U.S. Naval Academy Chapel on March 3, 2020.
US NAVAL ACADEMY PHOTOGRAPHER:

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