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Forsyth native receives naval promotion
Capt. Mark E. Weber, a Forsyth native, is in charge of four U.S. Navy ships. - photo by Submitted
The naval career of one Forsyth County native is moving full speed ahead.

Although his rank hasn’t changed, Capt. Mark E. Weber was recently promoted to commander of Amphibious Squadron Eleven during a ceremony at Changi Naval Base, Singapore.

Weber is currently at sea and in charge of four ships deployed out of Sasebo, Japan: the USS Essex, USS Denver, USS Harpers Ferry and USS Tortuga.

Reached by phone Friday morning, Weber said things are going well.

“We operate with southeast Asian countries here to build partnerships,” he said. “We exercise with the Navy and Marine Corps and a big concentration is on humanitarian disaster relief type operations. That helps to build that interoperability with the other navies and the other forces.”

He said that in times of crisis, such as a natural disaster, the different government agencies work together.

For example, Weber was on board a ship last fall that went to Indonesia to assist earthquake victims.

“You always get a lot of satisfaction of course when you can help people out, and it’s quite a bit of work, but you have to do a lot of engagement with the local government,” he said.

“You want the citizens to see that their government is helping, so we basically assist the host nation as well as their military forces to provide relief and aid to their population. It’s certainly something you can feel good about.”

Weber joined the Navy after graduating in 1979 from Forsyth County High School.

Two years later he became the first sailor from Forsyth County to be appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy.

He graduated from the academy in 1985 and has gone on to earn two master’s degrees.

Weber’s wife, Itura, is also from Forsyth County and a former classmate. Although they didn’t date during high school, he said they married seven years after graduation.

He explained that he spends about 60 percent of the year away from her and their children.

“The burden rests on her shoulders quite a bit, but she’s been supportive as well,” he said. “We really couldn’t do what we do without the support of our families, and I know it’s difficult.”

Weber said his wife and children, 17-year-old Audress and 16-year-old Grey, live in Sasebo, Japan. He said the children have adjusted to the military life and moving every two or three years.

“I’ve been in the service now 27 years and they’ve been real troopers,” he said. “They’ve always done well in school and they adapt well every time we move. But as they got older, it’s hard. It’s hard leaving friends behind.”

Ask Evans or Norma Weber, the captain’s parents, and they’ll tell you they are proud of their son and list his accomplishments, including being a captain on the high school football team, valedictorian of his FCHS graduating class and his appointment to the academy.

“He’s been an outstanding young man and done well at just about everything he’s ever done,” Evans Weber said. “We’ve been real proud of him.”

The elder Weber said they plan to visit their son and his family in about 18 months in Japan and attend his change of command ceremony.

Evans and Norma Weber still live in Forsyth County, as does Itura Weber’s brother, Wyatt Willingham, who owns the Dairy Queen in downtown Cumming.

Mark Weber’s military decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal and Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.