|Return to Thomas's profile | Return to the list|
Soldier remembered for his love of life
Some are remembered for the way they lived. Others for the way they died. Brandon Thomas will be remembered in both ways.
The 27-year-old adventurer was killed by a suicide car bomber May 7 in Iraq, where he had traveled to take a job with an American security company after learning he would not immediately be deployed there as a National Guardsman.
To longtime friend Randy Larsen, it was a sacrifice worthy of the words of Jesus Christ.
"A greater love has no man than this -- that he lay down his life for his friends," Larsen said Tuesday, quoting from the Book of John as he stood before his friend's flag-covered casket and hundreds of mourners packed into a Draper church.
Capt. Eric Eliason, chaplain for the National Guard unit to which Thomas belonged, expanded on that theme at a graveside service later in the day at the Utah State Veteran's Cemetery in Bluffdale.
"For soldiers and contractors in Iraq," the young chaplain said, the scripture Larsen quoted is "not some abstract platitude, but the gritty reality of their lives."
And yet it was not the gritty reality of Thomas' final moments in this world that were the focus of Tuesday's remembrances.
Rather, the life of the stunt-skiing, motorcycle-riding, perpetually laughing man was revealed in stories that began, "I remember this one time . . .. "
. . . sneaking into a Park City nightclub via a restroom stall.
. . . fighting with a half-dozen cowboys in a Western dance club.
. . . skiing with friends he called family, laughing with family he knew as friends.
The stories shared by Thomas' loved ones were told and met with alternating moments of laughter and tears. But also with expressions of pride.
For although they consider him a hero for the way he died, to them he was already one for the way he lived.