I was only 10 years old on January 27, 1989, but I remember that night like it was yesterday. It was the day my hero, my idol died. I answered the phone, it was my grandmother, and when I called to my mom to get the phone, for some reason I stayed on the other receiver, something I never did, and then the words out of my grandmother’s mouth, “Brian’s dead.” It never really clicked in till I heard a thump from upstairs and I ran up and my mother had just sort of collapsed on the kitchen floor.
My cousin, her nephew, had died tragically along with four other soldiers at the young age of 21. Brian was, along side my father, everything I wanted to be when I was young. I used to dream of joining the Army, and someday making it in to the Airborne. I remember for one of my birthdays, not quite sure which one now, he gave me a gun scope, and it was the best birthday present I had ever gotten. I used to sleep with it. Imagine a kid sleeping in his bed with this scope, made of metal obviously, sharp edges and all.
The day of his funeral, although the saddest day I can remember in my mind, was also the day that solidified the fact that I was going to be in the Army. I remember Taps being played, the rifle’s being shot, the military personnel standing at attention at Brian’s grave, the flag being presented to my Aunt Sheila and my Uncle Lenny. So many memories come rushing back when I think of this, but it seems as each day goes by, they fade more and more. Thats scary. I don’t want them to fade, and thats probably why I’m doing this.
I remember a camping trip the Airborne took to Clayton, on my Uncle’s property. It was the first time I ever drove a vehicle. It was an Army jeep, and I was trying to manouver it through the sand pits, without much success. I remember a man they were calling “by the book John”, running communication lines through the bush up to the house, and I remember a man they were calling “Slade”, and of course I remember Perry. The football games that seemed so rough for a kid, the bath tub full of ice and beer and meat. I remember sometime later, when one man had come home from Somalia and was sitting in my Uncle’s woodshed, and listening to the story’s, and how it was ripping this man apart. There are so many memories that if I continued this would be a book! And although somewhere along the way- after Somalia, after the disbandement, after the way the government, the media and the public treated the Airborne- I lost my dream. Literally not a day goes by that those memories don’t pop-up in my head. Bottom line is, you guy’s are still my hero’s, and I want to thank you for the memories of my youth, whether or not you remember me.
Brian, you are deerly missed and will never be forgotten
Your friend and family,