Sgt. Brandon James Thomas transitioned from our physical world to spirituality on May 7, 2005. Brandon was killed in Baghdad while on a protective detail mission, serving the war effort in the war on terrorism as a Department of Defense contractor. Al-Qaida claimed responsibility for the car bomb that took his life. Brandon is our fallen hero.

Everyone who knew him loved him and will miss him dearly. He was full of life and lived every moment with pure excitement. He was never one to do anything halfway, always putting his heart and soul into everything he did. He was an extreme skier and relished being the first among his peers to go flying off a cliff face. Many would say that he was fearless. Yet if he experienced trepidation at all, he had an innate ability to face it head-on and overcome it, seemingly accepting danger in a matter-of-fact, defiant sort of way. He would often say he had no fear of death, for he was strong in his Christian faith and knew that death was just the beginning of an eternal life, a life that no fate or enemy could ever defeat.

It was this lack of fear and faith, along with the horror of 9-11, that compelled him to delay his desire to follow his parents and brother into a law enforcement career and pursue service in the Utah National Guard, and to earn the distinction of wearing the Green Beret. Upon graduation from Special Forces training at Fort Bragg, and learning that his unit would not soon be deployed to "Operation Iraqi Freedom," and with an intense desire to serve his country in the war effort, he put himself in harms way by hiring on with a Department of Defense contractor in Iraq. This would be his Waterloo.

Upon arriving in Iraq he promptly exhibited the special qualities that exemplified a born leader. It wasn't just his fearlessness that made him a good leader and warrior; it was his attention to detail, his knack as a quick study, and especially his compassion, empathy and humility toward others. He had a unique way of making those around him feel at ease with his affable manner and sense of humor.

It has been said by his fellow compatriots that he was a rising star and was well suited for the tasks for which he he was trained. He was a natural. Of his assignment in Iraq he would say that he was thriving there and was proud to be a part of something greater than one's self. Coming from a family with a long history of public service, he would adopt the Special Forces motto, "De Oppresso Liber"....freedom to the oppressed.... as his own personal creed.

He loved the mountains and was an avid outdoorsman, golfer, fisherman and motorcyclist, and had taught skiing at Deer Valley Resort for several years prior to pursuing his military training. He also had a gift for, and was a quick study of, foreign languages, speaking Spanish and Indonesian. But all these were secondary to his love for Jesus, devotion to family and love of country.

Brandon was a member of the 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Utah Army National Guard. His ultimate goal in civilian life was to pursue a Criminal Justice degree and a career in law enforcement. He will be sorely missed. God bless him and keep him until we meet again.
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