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Guardsman killed in Iraq heads home to final honor
Two Utah National Guard representatives will be sent to Dover Air Force Base to escort home the body of Brandon Thomas, the slain Guardsman's mother said Monday. Thomas, who was in Iraq working as a civilian security contractor, was killed Saturday when his convoy was attacked by a suicide bomber in central Baghdad.
His stepfather, Brian Young, said Monday that the Utah National Guard has gone out of its way to ensure Thomas and his family are treated no different simply because he was not wearing a military uniform at the time of his death.
"There is a family there at the Draper headquarters, and they call themselves the Utah National Guard," Young said.
"It goes beyond loyalty. It's incredibly deep. He is their own, and they are going to do whatever they can to take care of him."
Details for the return of Thomas' body for interment near his Utah home had not been completed, though Young said he was trying to sort out plans for a Special Forces memorial to coincide with his stepson's funeral.
Thomas had completed Special Forces training and was hoping to be deployed to Iraq. He took a job with a North Carolina-based security service when he learned that his unit was not soon going to be activated for service in the Middle East.
The company, CTU Security Services, provides security for private contractors, including Halliburton and Fox News Group, according to company Director Don Feeney.
A three-car convoy was en route to meet clients in Baghdad when it came under attack.
Thomas, Todd Venette, of Arkansas, and at least 20 Iraqi civilians were killed in the explosion, which erupted from a vehicle filled with explosives that approached the convoy on a crowded street.
Six other CTU employees were injured, Feeney said.
Thomas' mother, Carol Thomas Young, said she has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support -- some that has come by way of total strangers.
On Monday, American flags, placed by community members in her son's honor, surrounded her Murray home and lined her street.
"It was a treasure, just truly awesome," she said. "It has been just an incredible outpouring of love and condolences and we're just amazed."