ARNOLD, OH, US
U.S. Marine Corps
SPC, 545TH MILITARY POLICE CO, 607TH MP BN, 8TH MP BRIGADE, FORT RICHARDSON, AK
09/08/2009, TIKRIT, IRAQ
His friends say he was the kind of person who inspired others to slow down and appreciate life. And that’s what people in Calaveras County did after Marine Lance Corporal Gavin R. Brummund was killed in Afghanistan.
Thousands stood solemnly in tribute along California Highway 4 as the grieving families of Brummund and his young widow returned home after claiming the Marine’s body in Dover, Del. Merchants in the little towns of Angels Camp, Avery, Copperopolis and Murphys closed their shops. Sheriff’s deputies and the California Highway Patrol stopped traffic as the family’s motorcade made its way through the rolling Sierra Nevada foothills.
Brummund, 22, of the community of Arnold, was killed June 10 by a remotely detonated bomb while leading a four-man rifle team back to camp after a night patrol in southern Helmand province, on the Pakistani border. Although he was treated promptly at the blast site and rushed by helicopter to a field hospital, he died of his injuries.
Assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Lejeune, N.C., Brummund served in Iraq from April to October 2008 and was sent to Afghanistan in January, according to a Marine Corps spokesman. He was the first serviceman from Calaveras County to die in combat since the Vietnam War, and his death touched many in the small communities nestled in the Stanislaus National Forest.
“He was a guy who could relate to anybody and saw the good in everyone,” said his wife of 2 and 1/2 years, Michaela. “He was the guy who brought a smile to everyone’s face just by being there. He was a beautiful man with a calm soul.”
His fellow Marines agreed. “He was always a guy who could make you laugh and kept you up when you really needed it,” said Corporal Brandon Beasley, who served with Brummund.
Kevin Gause, stepfather of Michaela Brummund, recounted for those at the memorial service how he had initially tried to shoo the young man away after he met Michaela during the ninth grade at Bret Harte High School in Angels Camp. The pair became sweethearts in 2005 at the beginning of their senior year and married two years later.
“Since I first met Gavin and until now, Gavin has constantly been gaining my respect and love,” Gause said. “Gavin went from that boy that I wanted to chase away to a man, a godly man, who I loved with all my heart.”
Born Feb. 25, 1988, in Van Nuys, Brummund lived in Arnold for 18 years. He was an avid athlete who wrestled and played football in high school and relished floating on the family houseboat. He knew all the back roads in the local forests and navigated his 1977 Jeep Cherokee over them to get to secret fishing spots and swimming holes, according to friends.
In the days after the memorial service, Calaveras County residents have continued to show their support. When Michaela Brummund tried to cancel her husband’s cellphone service after his death and was slapped with a $350 early termination fee, outsiders offered to pay that charge for her. The wireless carrier later relented and waived the fee.
And an outdoor advertising company has placed a large portrait of Brummund on a local billboard and pledged that the image of the young Marine can stay there indefinitely at no charge.