NEW TRIPOLI, PA, USA
LCPL, H&S CO, 3D BN, 6TH MAR, (RCT-6, I MEF FWD), 2D MAR DIV, CAMP LEJEUNE, NC
WALID, IRAQ 02/05/2007
Lance Cpl. Brandon J. Van Parys, 20, of New Tripoli, Pennsylvania was only 20 days into his first tour of Iraq when he died Feb. 5 in Anbar province. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Lejeune, N.C. Van Parys had trained as a field radio operator but in Iraq he became part of a security detail serving Lieutenant Coloenl Jim McGraft, the battalion commander, in Al Anbar province.
His father, Alan Van Parys, said Van Parys was killed by a rocket-propelled grenade as his unit attempted to secure an area along the Euphrates River that insurgents used as a supply route.
“He’s a hero,” Alan Van Parys told WFMZ-TV. “He gave his life protecting his battalion commander. How can you not be proud of that?”
He said his son had been motivated to join the Marines by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Before Van Parys’ deployment, his father said he told the family, “I’ve done this training, it’s time to put it to use.”
The family said they heard from Van Parys via e-mail 15 hours before his death. Van Parys was a 2005 graduate of Northwestern Lehigh High School. The assistant principal, Kenneth Fisher, described him as a “very good student, a model citizen. He worked hard and challenged himself.”
Van Parys took courses in law enforcement at the Lehigh Career & Technical Institute, a vocational-technical school, Fisher said. He also served as a volunteer firefighter.