Sunday, October 28, 2007

Army Master Sgt. Thomas L. Bruner

Remember Our Heroes

Army Master Sgt. Thomas L. Bruner, 50, of Owensboro, Ky.

MSgt Bruner was assigned to the Headquarters, 2nd Brigade, 100th Division, U.S. Army Reserve, Owensboro, Ky.; died Oct. 28, 2007 in Kabul, Afghanistan, from a non-combat-related illness.

Master Sgt. Thomas Bruner liked Christmas so much that he even decorated the inside of the garage, but he was looking forward to the holiday especially this year, because it meant coming home from Afghanistan to celebrate with his family.

"He had reindeer, he had lights, a snowman, a sled," said Bruner's wife, Jane Bruner. "We've always had big Christmases."

But Bruner, who was in his second deployment to Afghanistan with the Army Reserve, died Sunday in Kabul of what is believed to have been a heart attack. He was 50.

"He wanted to go, and I said, 'There's no way I'm going to stop you from doing what you want to do,'" Jane Bruner told the Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer on Tuesday. "He was just a soldier doing his job and he loved it."

Bruner had a big family, and people remembered how much he loved it.

"It was all the time family, family, family everywhere he went," recalls his brother, Robert Bruner. "Family was first to him."

Even fellow soldiers recall the tales of family that Thomas Bruner would tell.

"I felt like I knew the whole family before I even got here," said retired Command Sgt. Maj. Durward Thomas, who spent years alongside Bruner in the Army Reserve and visited the family Tuesday night. "I knew all the names, but not the faces."

Funeral arrangements were incomplete, but a service was expected to be held later this week.

Bruner was on active duty from 1975 to 1979, followed by 26 years in the Army Reserve beginning in 1981.

"He knew his guys," said Patrick Rowe, training coordinator at the Owensboro Army Reserve Center. Bruner knew his men's attitudes, where they stood in their careers, their abilities and what they could handle. "You could ask him anything about anybody."

Brian Sandefur, one of Bruner's two stepsons, said he was never treated like anything but Bruner's own son.

"He was always there," Sandefur said. "He was a good father, husband and friend."

For Jane Bruner, it's a big change after 27 years of marriage.

"He spoiled me rotten. He would do anything for me," Jane said. "He was my everything ... my life."

Army Master Sgt. Thomas L. Bruner died on 10/28/07.

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