Friends recall VT soldier killed in Iraq

08/26/09 9:24AM By Charlotte Albright

AP Photo
(HOST) School started this week at St. Johnsbury Academy, but the campus seemed subdued as news travelled about the death of Joey Fortin, class of 2004.  According to military reports, the vehicle he was riding in while on patrol was hit by an improvised explosive device.  His parents and young wife are not yet speaking to the media, but VPR's Charlotte Albright gathered memories of the popular student at his alma mater.

(ALBRIGHT) This track team jogging around the Academy's leafy campus may be too young to remember Joey Fortin, who graduated five years ago. But their coach, science teacher Chip Langmaid, says he made a quiet impression with his positive attitude and helpfulness:

(LANGMAID)  "Just a nice, a very nice young man. It really is a shame."

(ALBRIGHT)  Headmaster Tom Lovett is a close friend of Fortin's parents, and remembers with a smile how the quiet young freshman mustered the courage to play a major role in a school play.  Joey Fortin may not have made a big splash in the yearbook, but Lovett says he was well loved by both his peers and his teachers.

(LOVETT)  "Joey was a good soul. He was a hard worker, worked to improve, supported his classmates and team-mates. I will remember Joey most of all for his character. He was the kind of person that we hope every one of our graduates would be: outstanding everywhere he was, in terms of responsibility, compassion, and honesty."

(ALBRIGHT)  Fortin loved baseball and worked hard at it, even though he spent more time than he wanted on the bench. His coach and math teacher, Peter Wright, says he set a shining example that will keep his memory alive at the Academy. 

(WRIGHT)  "He would do the right thing, he behaved himself, he followed rules, he was very respectful, he liked people, he was willing to help people and I think that was very important and that separates him from some of his classmates that way."

(ALBRIGHT)  Joey Fortin got married just over a year ago to a St J. Academy classmate, Nicquelle Desilets. He leaves behind his parents, Martin and Betsy Fortin, and two older sisters. Funeral arrangements are in progress.  St. Johnsbury Academy will hand out red white and blue ribbons in his honor this Friday, and will also start a memorial fund for the family.

For VPR News, I'm Charlotte Albright

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