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Marine Pfc. Brandon C. Sturdy

Died May 13, 2004 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

19, of Urbandale, Iowa; assigned to 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.; killed May 13 by hostile fire near Fallujah in Anbar province, Iraq.

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Friends, family remember fallen Iowa Marine

Associated Press

URBANDALE, Iowa — Friends and family on Saturday remembered a 19-year-old Marine killed last week in Iraq as having a great sense of humor.

A year before Marine Pfc. Brandon Sturdy of Urbandale died in Iraq, he was writing from boot camp apprehensive letters home to his stepbrother Bob Rivera II.

In the beginning, the 19-year-old Urbandale High School graduate wasn’t sure about the military. In the end, he handed them everything.

“At first, he thought the Corps wasn’t for him,” said Rivera, addressing about 400 friends and family who gathered for his stepbrother’s funeral. “But eventually, he earned the nickname ’See fish swim’ for his outstanding swimming ability.”

Sturdy died May 13 when a homemade bomb blew up near Fallujah, west of Baghdad. In Iraq, he served as a machine gunner in the weapons platoon, Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment. He was the 14th soldier with Iowa ties killed in Iraq.

Rivera, delivering a eulogy, said his stepbrother always tried to make people laugh and described Sturdy as “my hero — our hero.” Sturdy leaves behind a fiancee, Tricia Johnson, of Grimes.

The Rev. Ronald Burchum said Sturdy offered comfort to family and friends. He said Sturdy “is in a place of peace and joy that you and I cannot even begin to comprehend. We know that he served his country and his God.”

Ten fellow Marines carried their comrade’s coffin down the church aisle, saluting him.

Urbandale Middle School Teacher Heidi Zlab remembered Sturdy as an eighth-grader who disliked school but loved life.

“He made everybody laugh. He could turn a situation around like that,” Zlab said, snapping her fingers. “I don’t think he had an enemy.”

Sara Broek, 19, attended elementary and high school with Sturdy, and was his neighbor. She remembers his talent of bringing smiles to classmates.

“He was always trying to be the comical guy,” said Broek, who would welcome Sturdy to her house to play basketball.



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