Thousands of Northwest Ohio citizens lined the processional route from Toledo Express Airport to Bryan, on Thursday afternoon, to pay their respects to Brandon Kreischer as his processional passed by.
Kreischer, 20, a 2018 graduate of Bryan High School, died in Afghanistan on July 29, as a result of wounds sustained in a combat-related incident in Tarin Kowt, in southern Afghanistan, according to the Department of Defense. Also killed in the incident was 24-year-old Spc. Michael Isaiah Nance of Chicago. Both soldiers were assigned to 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
Kreischer joined the Army in June 2018 and completed Basic Combat Training, Advanced Individual Training and Airborne School at Fort Benning, Georgia, before being assigned to 1-505th PIR as a rifleman.
National media, citing Department of Defense personnel, report that Kreischer was serving his first deployment and had only been in Afghanistan for a few weeks when an Afghan army soldier opened fire inside a military camp in an apparent “green-on-blue” attack. The shooter was wounded and taken into police custody. The incident remains under investigation.
“These young men (Kreischer and Nance) were true All Americans and embodied the qualities of selfless service and courage as they answered our nation’s call to deploy to Afghanistan,” said Col. Arthur Sellers, Commander of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, within hours of the attack that took Kreischer’s life.
“Spc. Nance and Pfc. Kreischer represented the best of America, and served proudly as members of our historic 3rd Brigade and 82nd Airborne Division,” Sellers related to members of his command. “While we mourn the loss of these two exceptional paratroopers, those of us still in the fight will honor their legacy by continuing our mission with the utmost dedication.”
Kreischer’s remains were returned to the United States at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on July 31.
The procession that returned him to Bryan on Thursday was led by local law enforcement and included dozens of members of the Ohio Patriot Guard, motorcyclists with a mission to attend memorial and funeral services of fallen American servicemen.
Along the procession route, citizens paid their respects by lining up along the roadway, many of them saluting the hearse that carried Kreischer as it passed by. Additionally, local fire departments suspended large American flags over the roadway in honor of the fallen soldier.
And, along the roadway hundreds of American flags were placed the day before by veterans organizations and churches. Many of those flags in Bryan were placed by the Bryan High School girls soccer team, which stood by as a team at the Bryan Fire Department as the procession passed.
While the processional came into Bryan late in the afternoon of a work day, most who lined the procession route did so after their workday had ended. In Bryan, at least one employer, Spangler Candy Company, encouraged its second shift to take the time to join in the community salute to Kreischer.
Many who lined the roadway didn’t know Kreischer. They were there paying their respects to this soldier who died in service to the nation half a world away from Bryan and Stryker, where Kreischer last resided, in a military action called Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.
Damon Beltz, who attended Bryan High School with Kreischer put it succinctly. “We’re all here to pay our respects. I just feel that this is what we do as American citizens.”
Damon was one of three who presented an American flag together along West High Street in Bryan as the processional passed. Along with him were Faith Beltz and Morgan Bauer.
“It’s really nice to see everyone come together like this,” said Bauer about the respect presented to Kreischer.
Bauer remembered Kreischer as “just the sweetest guy. He cared about everybody.”
Faith Beltz reflected on what the procession may have meant to Kreischer. “I know… that he’s just watching all this go on. And, I know that it probably makes him feel good that we’ve all come together to remember him and honor him and his service and sacrifice. And, it won’t be forgotten.”
Kreischer is survived by his wife, Grace Aubrey Kreischer, whom he married on Jan. 28, 2019, in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and his unborn son, Callum, expected in December.
At the beginning of the week, the family released a short statement of appreciation to the community to WTOL TV in Toledo. “We would like to thank the entire community for the incredible outpouring of love and support that has been shown for Brandon and for all of us, thus far. This is an extremely difficult time for us as we begin this unfathomable journey of loss. As you can imagine, we are quite overwhelmed and therefore, we would appreciate you respecting our privacy at this time.
“Brandon was a remarkable young man, who believed in his Country and had dreams of becoming a soldier for as long as we can remember. We are grateful that he was able to realize that dream if only for a short while, but we will forever mourn the loss of our courageous American soldier.
“Our hearts go out to the family of his fellow fallen comrade, Spc. Michael Isaiah Nance, for we know that they too, share our pain and grief.”
Visitation took place on Friday, from 3-8 p.m. in the Bryan High School gymnasium, Bryan.
Services will be held today (Saturday, Aug. 10), at 11 a.m. in the Bryan High School gymnasium with Pastor Brock Rohrer officiating. Private interment will follow in Evansport Cemetery with graveside military rites conducted by the United States Army 82nd Airborne Honor Guard.