Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Braden Long remembered

The war in Iraq came home to Sherman this week with the news of Army Spec. Braden Long’s death in that country on Saturday.

According to a military press release, Spc. Long died in Baghdad, of injuries sustained when his Humvee came under grenade attack. He was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kansas. Braden’s mother, Melanie Thrasher, said her son wanted to be in the military since grade school and reported for basic training just a month after graduating from Sherman High School in 2005.

“He knew he wanted to be in the military so he went to talk with all of the branches. He came home and said he had picked the Army. He wanted to be in the Cavalry,” Thrasher said Tuesday, which would have been the day of Braden’s 20th birthday.

She said she didn’t get to speak to her son much after he left for Iraq.

“He called once when he was at the airport leaving, some group allowed them to use phones and call home,” Thrasher said.

A couple of weeks later, she got an e-mail from him saying he was doing well but that he didn’t get much time to call home.

“I just asked ‘Are you OK? Are you getting (enough) to eat?’” his mother remembered.

Her son assured her the Army was feeding him and that he was doing fine.

Then in May, she said, she heard from him again and the two discussed him sending her some photos that someone else had taken of him in Iraq. He said he had received and liked the care package she sent him for Easter.

“I found some camouflage eggs and filled them with jelly beans because he liked those. And I stuffed in his favorite Creme Savers and his favorite thing used to be pickles so I put a big jar of those in there,” she said.

He loved the pickles so much she was planning to send more.

“I bought a bunch and was waiting to find out if he was coming home (before I) sent them,” she said.

She was still waiting to hear back from Braden after an e-mail she sent him about his plans for his upcoming leave, when two strangers arrived at her door late Saturday night.

Her husband answered the knock.

“He said you need to come out here,” Thrasher recalled.

She said she didn’t understand, at first, why the uniformed military men were there. There was no instant recognition that one of her sons was in serious trouble.

Thrasher’s oldest son, Billy Long, is also in the military stationed in Germany.

“I hadn’t thought about it. I didn’t know that they actually came to the door to tell you,” she said.

She said she and Braden never really talked about the fact that he might not come home from Iraq.

“I just thought he was going over there to help people.”

Helping people was a part of Braden’s job his mother said he would have liked.

“He liked everyone and everyone liked him. He was caring and loving and had a good sense of humor. He always had some goofy, smart remark.”

He honed those skills of getting along with people through jobs in high school in the SHS office and at Cinemark in Sherman.

“He was just an average kid. He went to school and he went to work, but he really wanted to be in the military,” his mother said.

He liked being in the military so much that it inspired his brother Billy to join. Thrasher said she had to call Billy and tell him about his brother’s death in Iraq.

“He was all upset, just freaking out,” the mother said of the reaction from her son at the devastating news. She said the two brothers will be reunited shortly because Billy is planning to go to accompany his brother home.

From the Herald Democrat

Related Link:
Braden J. Long dies 'of injuries sustained when his vehicle came under grenade attack'