Bruno’s Memorial Service- Kandahar, Afghanistan- Sept 21, 2008

In Loving Memory of Bruno – Short Lived…Deeply Loved…Never Forgotten

Guys,

This post is for my friend Bruno. He died in Afghanistan nine years ago this week.

Bruno- A Soldier Gone, But Not Forgotten

I lived your death in my dreams a thousand times.

In the memories we made you are forever young and smiling.

I haven’t stopped crying since you went away,

I ask God time and time why couldn’t you stay.

Your death opened my eyes: what a soldier is, to sacrifice.

We were soldiers, traveling far to fight in foreign lands,

Soldiers fight, not for flags, or for causes but for each other,

You paid the ultimate price.

Now that you’re gone how can I forget?

Because Bruno you were the greatest soldier that I ever met.

Prologue

KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, AFGHANISTAN- September 21, 2008

The memorial service was not a funeral. The body of the friend was not here. It was a memorial service to say goodbye to a friend. The team gathered to honor their fallen comrade. The teammates knelt in front of the helmet, boots, weapon, and picture of their friends. They all openly wept.

The team was more than just a team of combat advisors, and they were a fighting unit. Over the last eight months, they had become a closely knit family, best friends, and brothers. They would and did lay down their lives for one another.

The “heart and soul” of the team had been the one who had died. The men gathered to give a solemn salute and final good-bye as their brother-in-arms was returned home. The memorial service was held just before the body was to be flown back to the U.S.

The coffin was draped in the American flag. It was carried the final few feet onto an Air Force plane bound home to America. The Chaplain said, “Today we remember our friend, comrade and a fellow American. We the sacrifice he made for us, our country, and our freedom.” In the end, heartbroken service members hugged, cried and comforted each other.

Spotting the teammates among the mourners was easy. They were struck with grief. The physical, mental and emotional loss of their friend had taken a heavy toll. They were hunched over, fidgeting and crying.  Their physical bodies were in the chapel, but their minds were still on the desert floor 60 kilometers away, where their friend had died. It was a place none of them would ever truly ever leave.

The remains of the fallen hero were flown from Kandahar in Afghanistan to New Castle Air National Guard Base in Delaware. In Delaware, his family was waiting to escort him home.