Saturday, February 24, 2007

Brandon Van Parys laid to rest

Poor driving conditions did not hinder friends and family of Marine Lance Cpl. Brandon J. Van Parys from attending his memorial service at Calvary Baptist Church in Towamencin on Wednesday morning.

Van Parys‚ 20‚ a resident of New Tripoli and former student of Calvary Baptist School‚ died Feb. 5 in the Al Anbar province of Iraq while serving his first tour of duty.

A calling period began at 9:30 a.m.‚ when friends and family had the opportunity to reflect quietly at the flag-covered casket or share stories and memories in front of a display table covered with photographs‚ Van Parys’ uniform‚ medals and certificates.

A handful of war veterans stood in front of the church‚ each holding an American flag‚ while 20 or more Marines gathered to pay their respects. Various other members of the military were also present.

The memorial service began at 11 a.m. with a traditional military processional and opening prayer. A slide presentation followed the prayer‚ showcasing photos of Van Parys as a young boy playing at the beach‚ at various family gatherings‚ graduating from high school and becoming a Marine.

Marine Cpt. Tracy Burke presented the eulogy and described a young man who‚ like many in his situation‚ had showed some anxiety before leaving for Iraq‚ but also showed a “strong determination” to serve his country and to succeed.

Burke explained how Sept. 11 had a strong impact on Van Parys‚ who at the time was 14‚ and how that incident convinced him to join the Marines when he turned 18.

According to Burke‚ Van Parys was killed by a rocket-propelled grenade while his unit was attempting to secure an area along the Euphrates River against insurgents. Van Parys died while protecting his battalion commander.

Burke said this duty in Iraq seemed different from others. Commanders were reporting some progress was being shown and that the men who would serve this term were some of the brightest and best.

Van Parys was assigned to the 3rd Battalion‚ 6th Marine Regiment‚ 2nd Marine Division‚ II Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Lejeune‚ N.C.

“We ask that you pray for the remaining soldiers who are still in Iraq‚” said Burke.

Calvary Baptist Pastor Timothy Jordan gave the message. He used the stories of the death of Jeroboam’s son and of the imprisonment of Paul to illustrate his main points.

Jordan explained that although the people Van Parys left behind are mourning‚ God is rejoicing because one of his children has returned home‚ much like how his family would rejoice if Van Parys had returned from combat.

“Where is Brandon now‚ you may ask? He is absent from his body; he is present with the Lord‚” said Jordan.

Jordan also explained that although the phrase “he’s in a better place” seems empty‚ it is very true.

“God loved him so much and saw Brandon’s love for him‚ that he saved him from future pain and the rough times ahead. He is now with Jesus. He feels no pain‚” said Jordan.

Six fellow Marines folded the flag that draped Van Parys’ casket and presented it to his mother‚ Catherine Hearn of Schwenksville.

Van Parys also was the son of Alan J. Van Parys of New Tripoli.

The casket was carried outside‚ where a 21-gun salute and the playing of “Taps” concluded the service.

From the Reporter

Related Link:
Brandon Van Parys remembered

Related Link:
Brandon J. Van Parys killed by rocket-propelled grenade