Friday, October 02, 2009

Army Pfc. Brandon A. Owens

Remember Our Heroes

Army Pfc. Brandon A. Owens, 21, of Memphis, Tenn.

Pfc. Owens was assigned to the 118th Military Police Company, 503rd Military Police Battalion, 16th Military Police Brigade, XVIII Airborne Corps, Fort Bragg, N.C.; died Oct. 2, 2009 in Wardak province, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when enemy forces attacked his unit using small-arms fire. Also killed was Sgt. Aaron M. Smith.

MEMPHIS, TN - Private First Class Brandon Owens returned home to Memphis for the last time on Saturday, October 10th, 2009.

The sight of his flag-draped casket was too overwhelming for many of those who knew and loved the 21-year-old soldier. Their heartwrenching sobs echoed through the National Guard hanger at Memphis International Airport where Owens' body was delivered on a cold and rainy morning

It's been an emotional week for Owens' family since they learned about his death.

He was killed in the Wardak Province of Afghanistan on Friday, October 2nd, when an Afghan police officer opened fire on Private Owens and another soldier. According to published reports, the Afghan officer, on a joint patrol with U.S. soldiers, used a grenade and his AK-47 to carry out the fatal assault. The Army is still investigating the incident.

Back in Memphis at Private Owens' old high school, Wooddale, friends and former classmates held a candle light vigil Friday night to remember him.

"Brandon used to make us laugh all the time," one young lady told Owens' parents, Lynda and Eric. "He had a joke every day."

Coach Ken Ehrett described a young man who was talented on and off the football field. Brandon, he says, was the star fullback and ran the first play of every game.

"Brandon was not as big as everyone else," says Coach Ehrett, "but he was twice as tough as everyone else. He was just a great kid. And the one thing that I'll always remember about Brandon was his smile. He had a great smile, a big heart and was just a pleasure to be around."

His coaches presented Brandon's parents with his jersey, number 81, nicely framed.

"He was a great kid and we loved him," said one of the coaches. "And we're o.k....we're o.k. We know he's where he needs to be. For a young man to go and fight, that let's us know he was fighting for us."

The next day, when the plane touched down at the airport and Brandon's casket was removed, everyone except his mother broke down. Lynda Owens was the strong one out there. She's been strong all week.

On Monday, she shared her memories of Brandon with, including the details of the last phone call she received from him. It was about a week before he died. Brandon, shot once already in battle in September, was having doubts.

"He had called," says his mother, "and was kind of frightened. He wanted to come home. At the same time, he knew he had something to do and he wasn't afraid to do it."

Lynda proudly showed off Brandon's red and black basketball jacket from his senior year. She pointed at a cool, blue Mustang in the driveway and talked about how her son had fixed up the car and turned it into a real showpiece

And while holding a picture of him at a dance with his high school sweetheart, April, Lynda talked about her son's desire to marry the young woman, who she described as "delightful". Brandon and April became engaged before he deployed to Afghanistan. They planned to marry in April of next year. Lynda says Brandon had big dreams of a long, happy life with her, but God, she says with certainty, had another plan for her child.

"He wanted to be a father," says Owens, "and a husband. God saw fit to do something else for him. And I think he's better with God than here with us. So, he did his part."

News video:

Army Pfc. Brandon A. Owens was killed in action on 10/02/09.

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