Thursday, October 15, 2009

Army Pfc. Brandon M. Styer

Remember Our Heroes

Army Pfc. Brandon M. Styer, 19, of Lancaster, Pa.

Pfc. Styer was assigned to the 569th Mobility Augmentation Company, 4th Engineer Battalion, Fort Carson, Colo.; died Oct. 15, 2009 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his vehicle with an IED. Also killed were Spc. Jesus O. Flores Jr., Spc. Daniel C. Lawson and Staff Sgt. Glen H. Stivison Jr.

Public Opinion -- Pfc. Brandon M. "B-Sty" Styer, son of Jill M. Myers of Fayetteville, was among four U.S. soldiers who died recently from wounds suffered in an attack while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.

Styer, 19, was assigned to the 569th Mobility Augmentation Company, 4th Engineer Battalion, Fort Carson, Colo. He died on Oct. 15 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, Defense reported.

Styer and the three other soldiers were wounded "when enemy forces attacked their vehicle with an improvised explosive device," according to Defense. The other soldiers were Staff Sgt. Glen H. Stivison Jr., 34, Blairsville; Spec. Jesus O. Flores Jr., 28, La Mirada, Calif.; and Spec. Daniel C. Lawson, 33, Deerfield Beach Fla.

Styer served in the military as a combat engineer. He and the three men who died with him reportedly "patrolled routes to find and destroy bombs, like the one that took their lives," according to a writer for the Denver Post.

Chuck Plunkett of the Denver Post wrote that the incident happened "less than two weeks after eight Fort Carson soldiers died in a fierce gun battle near the border with Pakistan in remote mountains."

Styer was a 2008 graduate of Conestoga Valley High School, Lancaster. He enlisted in the Army during his senior year.

In addition to his mother, and stepfather, Scott A. Myers, his twin sister, Alyssa M. Styer, is a resident of Fayetteville. His own place of residence was Lancaster.

During his time in school, Styer played a number of sports. He competed as a wrestler and served on the school baseball team. According to his obituary, "he immensely loved both these sports."

His obituary also described him as an avid animal lover.

His friends are paying their condolences through various discussion groups and online social sites, such as MySpace. One post reads: "R.I.P. Brandon Styer. you will deff be missed brother it was an honor serving with you overseas. I LOVE YOU MAN. and i will miss u god bless. Mood:torn apart"

His sister, Alyssa posted a video clip in memory of her brother at It features Tim McGraw singing "If You're Reading This."

At the Patriot Guard Riders' Web site, a string of condolences appear, including this one from Carrie Young of Lititz: "From the bottom of my heart I am so sorry. Prayers going out to the family and friends of PFC Brandon Styer. I cannot express my debt owed for his service and sacrifice. He is a hero who will live on in our hearts forever. May you find peace in your memories. God bless you! -- Proud daughter of a US Marine."

Lancaster online -- Nineteen-year-old Brandon Styer died alongside his Army buddies in the hard countryside of Afghanistan.

Styer was buried this weekend in the softer land of Lancaster.

Loved ones surrounded him here, too.

Hundreds gathered for his "Life Celebration" funeral service Saturday morning at First United Methodist Church, 29 E. Walnut St.

Styer's American flag-draped casket was wheeled up the aisle and placed in the front of the pews.

Photos of Styer and his loved ones shingled several memory boards in the vestibule.

So many people filed into the sanctuary that some were directed to an upstairs auditorium to watch the ceremony via live video feed.

Mourners included family, friends and numerous classmates from Conestoga Valley High School, from which Styer graduated last year.

A poem was read. A duet was sung, along with "Amazing Grace."

Emotions ran high. Some loved ones cried and dabbed away tears as they remembered the energetic young man known for his flashing eyes and perennial grin.

These are "hard days" indeed, said the Rev. David T. Ryan in his eulogy.

"You are filled with all kinds of emotions." Sorrow. A sense of love. "Anger at those in faraway countries. We don't know their names, we don't know their faces."

And yet, Ryan said, it was oppressed strangers that this "true American hero" was trying to help.

That gesture counted, said Ryan, who added that Styer is still not alone.

"Brandon is seeing God face to face. Those eyes, now closed to us... are shining brightly in God's presence."

Styer, a Lancaster native, was the son of Jill M., wife of Scott A. Myers, Fayetteville, and Terry D. and Diane K. Styer, Lancaster, and the stepson of Dr. John A. Hall, Lancaster.

He is also survived by his twin sister, Alyssa M. Styer, of Fayettville, and sisters Angela, wife of Gabriel Bauza, Lancaster, and Tracy, wife of Rick Bowling, Willow Street.

His maternal grandmother, aunt, four nieces and a nephew also survive.

Pfc. Brandon M. "B-Sty" Styer enlisted in the military when he was still in high school, trained at Fort Carson, Colo., and went on to defuse roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan.

One of the devices exploded Oct. 15 as he was patrolling in a vehicle in Kandahar Province, southern Afghanistan.

Styer and three other men in the 569th Mobility Augmentation Company, 4th Engineer Battalion, were killed. Overall, according to the Denver Post, at least 28 Fort Carson trainees have died in Afghanistan.

Ryan asked the congregation to remember that other families are also grieving.

But Ryan, who knew Styer since childhood and kept in touch with him on Facebook, urged people to focus as well on joy.

Ryan is pastor of Hopeland United Methodist Church, and formerly led Leola United Methodist Church, where Styer worshipped.

Ryan recalled how young Styer tapped his considerable "personal charisma" to wiggle out of boyhood scrapes.

"Brandon was not perfect," Ryan continued. "None of us are. Brandon went through his own tough times."

Nevertheless, Ryan said, "he loved life."

Styer's enthusiasms included family, friends, animals and the blue Mazda RX-8 he'd recently restored. The Washington Redskins. The Phillies.

Styer also loved God, said Ryan, who read aloud the confirmation statement that Styer composed six years ago:

" 'I believe that God is very amazing. I also think that he will be even more amazing than I can imagine when I meet Him in Heaven some day.'

"I knew from conversations with Brandon that he still honored his faith," Ryan added, "that he was proud of who he was and what he was doing."

Brig. Gen. Jeffrey J. Snow, seconded that idea.

Some say this generation is spoiled, said the commander of the Army's 20th Support Group. "You and I know this is not true."

Soldiers such as Styer are proof, Snow said.

The Lancaster recruit was "a friend to everyone in the platoon," Snow said.

"He was a gifted young man" who could have done anything he wanted, Snow added, but "he had the courage of fortitude. He chose to serve his country. ... He dedicated his life to the protection of others."

Snow, holding his hat in his hand, stepped down from the microphone and walked solemnly to his seat.

Styer was interred with full military honors at Conestoga Memorial Park.

A low rumble announced the approach of the motorcycles at the head of the funeral procession.

A sizable group gathered in the cemetery as a powerful wind whistled through yellow maple leaves.

Seven rifles sounded a three-volley salute fired by Pennsylvania National Guard troops from the 328th Brigade Support Battalion, Lancaster.

Sgt. 1st Class Mark Carper, of the 28th Division Band, Holidaysburg, played taps.

Army Pfc. Brandon M. Styer was killed in action on 10/15/09.

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