Sunday, September 23, 2007

Brandon T. Thorsen dies 'of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident '

A former Chiefland High School football player and a 2005 graduate was killed last week while serving in the U.S. Army in Iraq.

Brandon Thorsen, 22, died Friday from a combat-related gunshot wound while serving in the Infantry in Baghdad. He was the son of Donald and Susan Thorsen.
Friends and teachers at Chiefland High School paused to remember him Monday after hearing the news that has rocked the community.

He was a super all-around guy who was loved by teachers and his classmates at Chiefland High.

He had an almost magical ability of making people feel better about the world.

“He knew how to make people laugh,” said math teacher Dennis Webber. “He had a great sense of humor. After talking with him, you always felt better. He was very positive and upbeat.”

Front office secretary Melanie Allen fondly recalls Thorsen sheepishly coming through the front door a few minutes late.

“He was a charmer, but always respectful,” she said. “He had no attitude.”

While Thorsen could cut up with the best of them, he knew when to separate work and play.

“When it was time to work, he got serious.” Webber said. “He had his eye set on the military. That was his desire and he carried that out.”

Webber said that someone told him Thorsen was in town a month ago on military leave.

“I didn’t see him then, but we kept in touch,” he said. “He wrote me a letter when he first got in. He wrote ‘I’ll be all right. Keep me in your prayers.’ “

CHS guidance department secretary Lois Gore said Thorsen had the look and swagger of the perfect soldier.

“If you could pick a soldier to be on your team, it would be him,” Gore said. “I believe he was on the four-year plan. When he got out he wanted a job with the Fish and Game Commission. He loved to hunt and fish.”

It was believed Thorsen had dangerous duty in Iraq, searching buildings for insurgents.

“He was the kind of guy you didn’t worry about,” Allen said. “You thought he would make it. You believed he would do his duty, come home and get on with his life.”

Those plans included marriage to his fiance Chana Gilbert, who he dated since high school. The two were engaged.

“They went perfect together,” Gore said.

Webber was an assistant football coach in Thorsen’s senior year in 2004-05. Thorsen was a defensive lineman and special teams player on the Indian varsity team.

“He was a motor, very energetic,” Webber said.

Gore and Allen said that Thorsen was very proud to be picked by his classmates to the Homecoming Court his senior year.

From the Cedar Key Beacon