Sunday, April 10, 2011

Army Pvt. Brandon T. Pickering

Remember Our Heroes

Army Pvt. Brandon T. Pickering, 21, of Fort Thomas, Ky.

Pvt Pickering was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Polk, La.; died April 10, 2011 in Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany, of wounds sustained April 8 in Wardak province, Afghanistan, when enemy forces attacked his unit with small-arms fire and a rocket-propelled grenade.

Ky. high school honors fallen graduate
The Cincinnati Enquirer

FORT THOMAS, Ky. — Highlands High School students observed a moment of silence April 14 for a graduate who died after being wounded in action in Afghanistan.

The Defense Department said April 13 that Army Pvt. Brandon T. Pickering, 21, died April 10 in Germany of wounds suffered April 8 in Afghanistan.

Pickering and his unit were in Wardak province when enemy forces attacked his unit with small arms fire and a rocket propelled grenade, according to the Defense Department.

Pickering was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Polk, La.

After being wounded, he was flown to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany, where he died.

Pickering was a 2008 graduate of Highlands High School, said Brian Robinson, the principal of the Fort Thomas school.

Robinson said the school would like to work with the family to see how they want to honor Brandon’s memory and his service to the country.

“As a school, we join the Fort Thomas community and the family in mourning of his loss,” Robinson said.

Robinson was an assistant principal while Pickering was a student there and became principal a year after Pickering graduated.

Based on his contacts with teachers who taught Pickering, Robinson said, Pickering was unassuming student with a big heart, a good sense of humor and dedication to helping others.

“The courage and strength that Brandon demonstrated in volunteering to serve his country as an Army infantryman are qualities all can learn from and admire,” school officials said in a news release.

Flags at the school were lowered to half staff and will remain there until Pickering’s funeral.

Family, friends, schoolmates remember Pickering
By Mike Rutledge
The Cincinnati Enquirer

FORT THOMAS, Ky. — Army Pvt. Brandon T. Pickering certainly was a hero to his community and his country, but he also should be remembered as joyful, caring and fun to be around — even goofy sometimes — speakers said April 16 during an event remembering the fallen soldier.

Laughter sometimes interrupted tears and sobs, just as daylight made its way through drizzle and lit the Highlands Middle School gymnasium from windows near its high ceilings.

Former Highlands High School student Stephanie Orleck told a large crowd occupying the gym’s bleachers Pickering was one of the funniest, most free-spirited people she knew: Even on bad days, “I was always able to turn to Brandon to bring out a smile on my face,” Orleck said.

Another former classmate of the 2008 Highlands graduate said, “If you heard laughing in class, you knew it was Brandon.”

The 21-year-old Army infantryman died April 10 in Germany from wounds he suffered in Afghanistan’s Wardak province. Enemy forces had attacked his unit.

A poignant moment happened during the ceremony when Pastor Charles Russell of New Hope Christian Center in Newport asked the crowd to lift white candles for Brandon.

“This is for you, Brandon,” Rev. Russell said, as hundreds of gleaming flames further brightened the gym. “We love you; we thank you; we give you this day.”

“He’s touched people, literally, all over the world,” Highlands High School Principal Brian Robinson told the crowd.

“I’ve known him since he was born,” said a cousin, Jenny Warr. “I’m very proud — very proud.”

She asked people to “keep us in your prayers — may God be with us. ... We appreciate the support.”

Another cousin, Jerry Helton, agreed Pickering had a marvelous sense of humor, but: “He also had the brave, firm side.”

The crowd milled past numerous photos of Pickering during happy times — his senior portraits, and fun spent with friends and family. Other photographs showed him as a teenager goofing around in a Ninja costume, and later enjoying recreation with his military unit overseas.

“Our friend. Our hero. You will always be in our hearts,” one sign with the photos read.

During most of the two-hour-plus event, a CD of peaceful instrumental music with ocean waves in the background played over the loudspeakers.

The Rev. Russell advised those in deep pain: “Right now don’t lean to your own understanding. ... Let God begin to operate in your life.”

Many who gathered were comforted to hear reports that came from his Army colleagues that the young man who could make a joke out of nearly any sad moment, and who hated to see people cry, was in notably good spirits during his final month.

The gathering was held in the middle school gym because the high school was festooned for prom. Just outside the middle school, with the American and Kentucky flags lowered to half staff, the blue-and-white Highlands flag below them.

Army Pvt. Brandon T. Pickering was killed in action on 4/10/11.

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