FARMINGTON, MO, USA U.S. Army SSG, BATTERY B, 3D BATTALION, 320TH FIELD ARTILLERY, FORT CAMPBELL, KY ADWAR, IRAQ 08/31/2006
It seemed an odd question for two friends on their way to the movies. Last December, Mike Deason asked Brad Dush to perform his funeral.
“He said, ‘If anything happens to me in Iraq, would you do my funeral?'” Dush recalled Tuesday. “We hadn’t been talking about it or anything. It just came out of nowhere. I told him I’d be honored, but there was no reason to think about that now. I never thought that day would come.”
But now, the 26-year-old Dush, a Methodist minister, is preparing the funeral service for Deason, an Army staff sergeant killed last week in Iraq. Deason grew up in Desloge. Dush grew up near Park Hills. They are lifelong friends who last saw each other during that holiday trip to the movies.
Deason was killed in Iraq last Thursday as he rode in a convoy. His Humvee was struck by an armor-piercing grenade. He was one week shy of coming home.
Deason was a year older than Dush, two years ahead of him in school. The two became “cousins” when Michael’s dad married Brad’s aunt. Over the years, they became fast friends and Dush can’t remember a time when Michael wasn’t part of his life.
“We traded baseball cards and I remember he was always wanting any Cal Ripken, Jr. I had,” said Dush. “We played sports – especially basketball – and some baseball – and we were both competitive. We listened to a lot of music over the years. Whenever my mom and dad went out of town, I was over at their house in Desloge,”
Sometimes, the two boys took Deason’s King James Bible out of the night stand where he kept it and read through the book of Revelation.
“We were trying to figure it out,” said Dush, with a chuckle. “Like two 11 and 12-year-old boys could figure out that stuff!”
In 1999, Dush decided to go into the ministry. A year later, Deason enlisted in the Army. Dush recalls how they talked years later about how they’d each found their niche in life. Secure in their careers, married with children, they were content. While they hadn’t spent as much time together over the last few years, they did celebrate Christmas together last year. On Christmas Eve, they got together at Brad’s house for a “Double D Christmas.”
“It was the Deasons and the Dushes together,” said Brad. “They came to my church and I gave communion to him. I said a prayer for him in Iraq. I don’t remember what I said, but I remember everybody was crying.”
It was after that visit, Michael asked his friend about his funeral. It’s a request Brad never told anyone about, but Michael’s family must have known he would want his cousin to lead the service.
“I’ve been sitting here thinking about all our times together,” said Dush Tuesday. “He had a crazy, loud laugh. His whole body shook when he laughed. I’ll always remember that. He loved his kids. You never want to think about this young father dying. You never think it would happen to someone you know.”