Sgt. Forend greets Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney in Kuwait
Sergeant First Class (SFC) Gilbert Forend of Vineyard Haven, who is currently serving in Kuwait, does not get many high-profile visitors from Massachusetts. So it was worth a photo recently when he received a visit from Governor Mitt Romney.
The Governor's visit was part of a trip he made the week of May 24 to visit troops in Kuwait and Iraq.
Sergeant Forend is a member of the Third Battalion 126 Aviation Regiment, a Blackhawk helicopter National Guard unit based at Camp Edwards on the Cape, and serves as a fire chief with the unit. When he is not fulfilling his military responsibilities, he works for Bruno's, an Island waste collection business, and serves as the assistant fire chief for Oak Bluffs.
Governor Romney visited with Sergeant First Class Gilbert Forend in Kuwait. Photo courtesy of SFC Gilbert Forend
Mr. Forend, a Vineyard resident since 1980, served in the regular army prior to his service in the National Guard. He has five children between the ages of 14 and 30 - Joshua, Jason, Kelsey, Jessica and Jaime - and two grandchildren, Skylah and Josh Jr., all living on the Vineyard. He is engaged to Barbara Flanders of Tisbury.
Sergeant Forend was deployed to the Middle East on August 8, 2005 and expects to return on Nov. 6. He is looking forward to a two-week leave in July.
In a series of e-mails from his base in Kuwait, Mr. Forend spoke with The Times about his service and the support of those he left behind, including Greg Carroll, the owner of Bruno's, his family, and friends.
"I enjoy my job and the people I work with. I think that is why I have not yet retired. I could anytime I want, but I am still having fun. I can't get into what I am doing over here at this point, but my unit is stationed in Kuwait and they and the unit I support fly missions daily to various locations in Iraq, moving passengers and cargo.
"The people I work with are very upbeat and believe in our mission. The biggest thing the people should know back home is we are doing what we need to do to make the world a safer place and our family and friends that we leave behind are the ones that really need the support. They are our backbone and support system. Their lives are changed for the year and a half that we are away as well as ours.
The kids understand that it is part of my job to be serving in the Middle East right now and are very supportive. I believe we are making a difference in the world and it is unfortunate that the public only gets to see the negative for the most part. I don't like to talk about the politics of war. I am just doing my job that I chose when I put the uniform on.
"I am looking forward to spending time with my kids and family while I am home in July and taking a short motorcycle trip north with my fiancé before I return back to the Middle East. And I would like to thank all the people from the Vineyard that have supported me by sending letters, packages, and e-mails."
Sergeant Forend can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His mailing address is: SFC Gilbert Forend 3/126 ATF, APO AE 09855.