Sunday, August 12, 2007

Bradley Marshall laid to rest

Friends and family gathered Friday morning in Little Rock for Army Sgt. Bradley Marshall’s funeral, during which they remembered not only a passionate and dedicated soldier, but the boy who, after a visit to the orthodontist, gamely sported a T-shirt that declared: “Braces make better lovers.”

They recalled the mischievous teenager who, while on a renovation job with his dad, once rode a trash bin through McCain Mall after hours, setting off alarms. And they spoke of the husband who reassured his wife in regular phone calls and e-mails from Iraq: “Hey baby, I love you. I miss you. I can’t wait to be home.”

Marshall, a 37-year-old paratrooper, was killed by indirect mortar fire July 31 while on foot at Forward Operating Base Kalsu, Iraq. A second paratrooper also died in the attack. Eleven others were injured.

Marshall served in the Army from 1990 to 1994, then re-enlisted in 2006. He was assigned to Bravo Battery, 377 th Parachute Field Artillery Regiment, 4 th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25 th Infantry Division. He deployed to Iraq in October.

“Brad was the love of my life,” his wife of 17 years, Gina Marshall, said in a statement, read aloud at the service by the family’s longtime minister Willard A. Zeiser. In her statement, Gina Marshall recalled the way her husband always told her she was beautiful and the plans they had for after he left the military.

“He was my life, and I will be forever broken,” she wrote.

As the service opened, family members were presented with the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and several other honors specific to the war in Iraq.

Several friends then shared their memories of the fun-loving, athletic Marshall, shedding tears as they described a steadfast and dependable man who made sure things got done — cutting the grass at his church, remodeling a home for his former high school coach, chores around the house, vacations with his family — in his own quiet way.

A childhood friend who identified himself only as “John” broke down while describing the extent of Marshall’s loyalty. “When I started my insurance career eight years ago, he was the only one of my friends to actually buy a policy from me,” John said, laughing through tears.

Moments later, the crowd of hundreds laughed as a former coach recalled the time Marshall’s more scholarly sister, Kim Mayo, wrote a high school essay for him. Marshall didn’t bother to rewrite it in his own handwriting before turning it in, prompting this note from his teacher: “Brad, I know you didn’t write this, but at least I could read it.”

Another friend read a statement from Marshall’s son, Wesley, who described how his dad stopped by his bedroom each night to say, “I love you.” Marshall’s other son, Tanner, put together a slide-show presentation — hundreds of pictures of his dad at home and in Iraq — which opened and closed the service.

Zeiser of Bingham Road Baptist Church shared a verse from the Book of John to describe Marshall: “No one has greater love than this, than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

He added: “Brad Marshall laid down his life for his friends. Brad Marshall is my hero.”

Fromt the Democrat-Gazette

Related Link:
Bradley W. Marshall dies 'of wounds suffered from enemy indirect fire'