ORANGE, CA, USA U.S. Army SPC, COMPANY B, 1ST BATTALION, 8TH INFANTRY, 3 BCT, FORT CARSON, CO MOSUL, IRAQ 01/28/2008
Brandon Meyer was a wide-smiling pastor’s son with a sarcastic sense of humor and a fondness for practical jokes.And when he first spoke by telephone with the woman who later became his wife — a friend had set them up — Meyer listed three of his favorite things: horses, surfing and the color baby blue. On their first date, she gave him a stuffed horse wearing a baby blue outfit with a shirt reading, “Surf’s up.”
“He just sat there with a stupid, goofy grin on his face and said, ‘That’s the first time someone’s actually listened to what I like,’ ” said Caitlin Meyer, 20, of Orange.
The next day, he took Caitlin to the beach to teach her to surf. She didn’t wear a wetsuit even though it was February.”She’s nuts,” said one of his friends approvingly. “You have to go out with her.”
It soon budded into a romance, with him driving her to the beach for an early morning sunrise, regaling her with roses and chocolate. She taught him line dancing and gushed to friends about the slightly sheltered all-American boy she was falling in love with, taken with his goofball humor and strong convictions.
His family called him a faithful Lutheran and a patriot who believed in the war in Iraq.
He and Caitlin decided to join the military together and were married in a civil ceremony in November 2006, before they went off to basic training — to ensure that the Army would station them together. Though she was later discharged because of her asthma, they had hoped to be sent to Italy after he got back from Iraq.
Meyer grew up in St. Louis and attended high school in the Texas Panhandle town of Canyon, where his family still lives. He ventured west to study biology at Concordia University in Irvine. But it was the ocean that beckoned him, transforming Meyer, a varsity baseball player, into a shaggy-haired surfer.
A towering 6 feet 4, with size 13 shoes, he was nearly as tall as his father, Terry, a Lutheran pastor. They shared a special bond and a sense of humor, Brandon’s mother, Genia, said. He and his father used to poke fun at their height by pretending to knock their heads on the ceiling when they walked down the stairs, hitting it with a resounding thump for effect. Meyer would scare friends and family with masks, imitate voices from TV and movies, and plant fake plastic bugs to elicit screams. He also loved teasing his younger sister Desiree, now 18.
For Thanksgiving last year, his family visited him at Ft. Carson, Colo., before he shipped out for the Middle East.
“That was my moment knowing he was not that little boy anymore and he was a man,” his mother said. “He knew in life what he wanted to do and that was to go be in arms with his brothers.” After he left, “I just cried like it was the last time I was going to see him, not knowing it actually was,” she said.
Meyer would feel proud knowing he died serving his country, his wife said. “He wanted people to know what’s going on over there is real,” she said. A week before his death, she asked Meyer what he wanted for his funeral in case something happened. He wanted to be buried in his uniform by the beach, he said, with full military honors and “Amazing Grace” playing in the background. Caitlin will bury him with the stuffed horse she gave him on their first date.