On this episode of the Carlsbad People, Purpose, and Impact Podcast, Bret Schanzenbach spoke with Amy Forsythe, former Marine and the current U.S. Navy Public Affairs Officer. They talk about her service as a Combat Correspondent where she had the opportunity to report from combat zones, Camp Pendleton’s new 9/11 memorial, how she is using her gifts as a storyteller to memorialize those who have laid down their lives for this nation, and why so many military members love to live in North County.
The following material has been edited for clarity and brevity.
From a Catholic School to Combat Zones
Amy Forsythe was born and raised in Northern California, where she attended an all-girls Catholic high school. There, she told the nuns that she wanted to join the Marine Corps, instead of immediately going to college. Determined to achieve her goal, she enlisted as a Marine Combat Correspondent, which allowed her to work in public affairs and broadcast in combat zones.
When she was not stationed in a combat zone, Amy was also the emcee and narrator at Marine Corps’ Birthday Balls, promotions, ceremonies, and retirements around the world. Producing and serving at these special events have given her memories that she will treasure forever.
Eventually, Amy was stationed at Camp Pendleton and she soon fell in love with North County. In 2000, after eight years of active duty, she retired, bought a house in Oceanside, and joined the reserves at Camp Pendleton. She began working as a reporter for KOCT, the local Oceanside news network, and enrolled in college classes at California State University San Marcos. During this time, she was able to get involved in the community, as she narrated local parades and became integrated in North County. Her ultimate dream was to become a primetime news reporter. However, on September 9, 2001, that dream changed when she was mobilized to active duty.
“I had to take a leave of absence in order to do this mobilization to Afghanistan. And so, my plans sort of were sidelined… The call to duty and that calling to continue serving, little did I know, [would result in] five combat tours.
I ended up spending two year-long deployments in Iraq, mixed with two other deployments to Afghanistan after 9/11, so it really shaped my trajectory and really changed my goals… It was a goal to work in TV and be a reporter, but the call for duty and serving overseas kind of outweighed my own personal desires and personal goals.
I've had a tremendous opportunity to cover stories in combat operations and large-scale exercises all around the world, and, you know, you just can't get that working for a civilian media agency.”
Eventually, Amy received her undergraduate degree from California State University San Marcos, and her graduate degree from the University of San Diego. She worked in San Diego as a reporter, until her career took her to the island of Guam where she worked for the government for five years. However, North County was home for Amy, so she and her husband returned to the area a year before COVID hit. Now, she works at Camp Pendleton as a civilian Public Affairs Officer for the U.S. Navy.
We Will Never Forget: Camp Pendleton’s Response to 9/11
This year marks 20 years since 9/11. Amy was in Oceanside on 9/11, and she personally witnessed how Camp Pendleton and the surrounding communities responded. The Marines stationed at Camp Pendleton have done continuous rotations for the past 20 years, and Camp Pendleton has suffered more casualties than any other U.S. base, losing over 1,500 heroic men and women.
Through the Camp Pendleton Rotary Club, Camp Pendleton has built a beautiful new memorial. Now, there are marble panels where every service member who was based there and lost their life has their name engraved on one of the panels. Amy has captured these memorials through photography and intends to craft a picture book for those who cannot get on-base to see them. For Amy, this is not merely about memorializing these Marines and Sailors’ heroism and expressing gratitude for their sacrifice, it is also a way so that future generations will never forget their courage.
The surrounding communities are incredibly supportive of those stationed at Camp Pendleton, as well as their families. Those in Carlsbad, Fallbrook, Vista, and Oceanside unite to support the families of those who do not come home.
When Amy returned from her first tour in Afghanistan, she did a story about the support network surrounding Camp Pendleton. She spoke to the owner of Dorothy’s Dry Cleaner, a local dry cleaner.
“He said that he had several sets of uniforms that were left for many months, and he feared that because no one had come to pick them up, that they were of those who had been killed or severely injured in combat… He was hesitant to dispose of them or figure out a way to get them to the family members.
Εveryone was impacted, not just the Marines… Those in the community knew people who had been killed or injured in combat, and then they don't come home.”
Home is Where the Military Sends You: Why America’s Heroes Love North County
One of the most special things about the Carlsbad area is how they embrace the military community as their own. At Camp Pendleton, the Marines are not isolated on the base. They live in the neighborhoods and their kids go to the local schools. The community supports, respects, and takes care of their families when they deploy, so it is no surprise why many choose to settle down in the area when they retire. Many of those in the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce have served in the military. In fact, Bret Schanzenbach’s father served in Vietnam and settled in Carlsbad after his years of military service.
Because there are about 50,000 Marines and Sailors stationed at Camp Pendleton, and they are constantly rotating in and out, Amy is focused on how the community can connect with and benefit service members and their families.
On August 6th, Amy will be presenting at the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce’s First Friday Breakfast where she will be talking with members of the community,
“I think it is important for business owners and local civic leaders in the area to know that America's heroes live here at Camp Pendleton… How they support those warriors that live on-base is so important to their overall readiness.”
It’s vital for the community to recognize the incredible, 75 year-long legacy they are part of. There are many ways that business leaders can build relationships and provide the best services, goods, and opportunities to those proudly serving this nation.
Not only does North County support active-duty Marines and Sailors, it is also home to organizations that help them transition to civilian life, such as VANCE and VetTCAP. Although the area near the military base can be disruptive due to rockets, artillery fire, and helicopters flying overhead during training sessions, it is a small price for North County to pay as they support those who are willing to give the ultimate price to defend our freedom and national security.
You can register here to attend the First Friday Breakfast where Amy will talk further about how business owners can strengthen their relationships with the active-duty military and veteran communities.
Click here to register for the First Friday Breakfast!
Watch Amy Forsythe’s Youtube Channel.
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Did you like what you heard? This show is produced by Imagine Podcasting dba Heard Not Seen Media, Inc. For more, visit Imagine Podcasting at https://www.imaginepodcasting.com/.