Brandon Joseph Van Parys
November 2,1986 to February 5, 2007
US Marine Corps.
As a boy of 16, Brandon Van Parys plastered a red ‘’Semper Fi’’ Marine Corps sticker to his third-floor bedroom window and dreamed of avenging the wound inflicted on America by 9/11 terrorists. Four years later, as a man of 20, he was a full-fledged Marine, honed by months of hard training into one of those steely-eyed warriors you see staring out from recruitment brochures. He looked tough, and he was. But in just three weeks into his first tour in Iraq, a grenade streaked out of nowhere, hit him in the side, ricocheted into the door of a nearby Humvee and exploded.
‘’He wanted to do his part for his country to avenge 9/11,’’ said his stepmother, Tammy Van Parys, The terror attacks ‘’threatened their whole world,’’ she said, framing 9/11 as a shattering and defining moment for Brandon and his peers. ‘’It took what they knew and shook it up.’’ Brandon Van Parys had trained as a field radio operator but in Iraq he became part of a security detail serving Lieutenant Colonel Jim McGraft, the battalion commander, in Al Anbar province. He was a member of the 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force and a 2005 Northwestern Lehigh High School graduate.