Special forces soldier, Jacksonville native dies during training exercise in North Carolina

Sgt. 1st Class Calvin T. Rockward was training at Fort Bragg when an ‘unexpected medical event’ claimed his life

Sgt. 1st Class Calvin T. Rockward was training at Fort Bragg when an ‘unexpected medical event’ claimed his life

A highly-trained special forces operative died Oct. 27 during a physical fitness training exercise at Fort Bragg in North Carolina.

Sgt. 1st Class Calvin T. Rockward III, 38, suffered “a sudden unexpected medical event during training,” according to the 1st Special Forces Group.

SOCKOR sends their deepest condolences to the family of Sgt. 1st Class Calvin T. Rockward. He was a member of Detachment...

Posted by Special Operations Command Korea on Monday, November 1, 2021

Rockward was assigned to the 1st Battalion 1st Special Forces Airborne Group as a Special Forces Intelligence Sergeant and was described by the division as “a dedicated, accomplished, respected, and loved Special Forces Soldier and teammate who will never be forgotten.”

“It’s been difficult, really difficult. ... It was sudden, shocking to us to hear that,” Calvin’s mother, Brenda Rockward, told News4Jax. “[We’re] taking it a day at a time, just going through the grieving, and it’s hard.”

Rockward’s father, and his namesake, Calvin Rockward Jr., described his late son as an extremely positive person.

“Whenever something was bad, he saw the good in it,” he said. “And he bought out the good in it. ... No matter how bad the situation was, he brought calmness and peace to the situation.”

Rockward’s father said the impact of his son’s death has rippled across the world, everywhere his son served.

“We’ve been getting called calls from around the world from Korea, from Okinawa, Japan, from Washington State, almost everywhere,” he said. “And almost anyone, whether it’s an officer or enlisted that he served with, he had a positive impact.”

That impact and her son’s legacy of service will endure, Rockward’s mother said.

“I think among the family, friends, acquaintances, everybody that came into contact with him, always had good things to say about him,” she said. “He had a really big impact on their lives.”

According to the special forces group, Rockward’s military education was extensive, including:

  • Special Forces Qualification Course
  • Airborne School
  • Pathfinder School
  • Special Forces Intelligence Sergeant Course
  • Special Forces Jumpmaster Course
  • Special Operations Combatives Program
  • Special Forces Advanced Reconnaissance Target Analysis Exploitation Course
  • Several additional operator-maintainer courses

His career also garnered Rockward a litany of decorations and accommodations, including:

  • The Bronze Star Medal
  • The Meritorious Service Medal
  • The Joint Service Commendation Medal
  • The Army Commendation Medal
  • The Joint Service Achievement Medal
  • The Army Achievement Medal
  • The National Defense Service Medal
  • The Afghanistan Campaign Medal
  • The Iraq Campaign Medal
  • The Korean Defense Service Medal
Photo of Sgt. 1st Class Calvin T. Rockward who died on Oct. 27, 2021. (Copyright 2021 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

Rockward was a native of Jacksonville, Florida, and is survived by his wife and daughter.

He began his military career in December 2004 when he enlisted in the U.S. Army as a Special Forces candidate. He was later deployed in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

The Special Operations Command Korea Facebook Page said Rockward “will be remembered as a phenomenal teammate and a devoted husband and father.”

Rockward will be buried at the National Cemetery in Jacksonville on Nov. 18, according to his family.

Calvin Rockward III and his wife, Lee-Anne. (Special to WJXT)
Calvin Rockward III and his wife, Lee-Anne. (Special to WJXT)