At work when I get a phone call that my cousin Sgt. Brandon S. Hocking was killed in Iraq, just 10 days before he was coming home to be with his family.
Brandon was the oldest of 5 sisters; Brittany, Brianna, Brooke, Brielle, and Grace. He has 2 kids Sebastian (4) and Gwen (3).
Brandon was stationed in Georgia and was supposed to be coming home on April 1, 2011 to pack up his stuff in Georgia and move back to Washington to be stationed out of Joint Base Fort Lewis-McCord in Tacoma, Washington close to all of his family. I am very sad that we didn't get to see Brandon walk off that plane and be home.
My mom got to escort my uncle Kevin, Brandon's father to Dover, Delaware where the troops carried his casket off the B-17 with the flag draped over his casket.
The saddest day of my uncle and my family's life
We had the funeral which couldn't have been anymore beautiful, so many of our family came to spend time with us that hadn't been that close over the years. It always sucks when a death has to bring a family together, but it can be the most beautiful thing.
My mother and I wanted to do something nice for my uncle, so by my house there was a street sign, Brandon St. I had to get that for my uncle. Don't ask me how...
Next day was the funeral...
The shut down all the streets from the church to the cemetery we followed in a line for almost 15 miles with police escort
My hero wears angel wings.
The Freedom riders brought teddy bears for Brandon's 2 children and his 2 step children
The celebration of Brandon's life was great. My cousin Ashley Smith made the most amazing DVD for his life.
We all miss him with all our hearts and will never forget him
Sylena, Grandma, myself
Sylena, Momma, Myself, Cousin Ashley
Tara (Sylena's friend), Sylena, momma, Myself, Ashley
My uncle Kevin, whose son fought for this country and lost his life but will forever be a hero
Dad and Mom
This letter was given to me by the CEO of Burlington Northern Sante Fe Railroad, I couldn't believe my eyes when I opened it and couldn't feel anymore blessed
We have so many people that were touched by Brandon's story an old friend of my uncle and his ex-wife wanted to put together a benefit in honor of Brandon, we had so many people to come to a benefit for a soldier they didn't even know.
We didn't know any of these people there was probably 8 of that were family, the rest came to support
My aunt Vicki, Uncle Kevin, Uncle Jimmy, Mom
Cousin George, he is a ham
Now... another benefit my mom put together in her bar in Bigfork, Montana (near Flathead Lake) the Kalispell roller derby girls came out to help support. We sold hamburgers, hotdogs, chips, and a drink for $5 we raised over $1000 on food alone. Then we did a silent raffle where Toby Keith donated signed cd's, Tony Schumacher donated signed NHRA Drag racing stuff...also took my uncle to see him drag race while wearing my cousin's Bronze Star and Purple Heart with him, Tony drives the ARMY drag racer. Of course! (:
My mom's friend also lost her nephew in the Marines Sgt. Lucas Pyeatt and then Army Sgt. Brandon Hocking
These were some of the things that were donated
Roller Derby Girls
My mom's husband, Tom
My silly uncle Kevin....
Singing a skating song...so funny!!
At the end of the night we ended up raising over 10K for the Fisher House organizaton. You wouldn't believe how many people there have benefitted from the Fisher House, it was very touching to hear their stories. I couldn't keep my eyes dry near the end of the night. I was very proud to spend the time I had with Brandon. He meant a lot to me and it is hard somedays and easy others. He will forever be in my heart. I love you Brandon. You wear angel wings now
Oh, the Sam Adams, he called his dad one day, and asked what a good beer would be my uncle told him "Sam Adams" Brandon only drank Samuel Adams, every time we go to the gravesite we bring a sam adams, lay it down and let it seep into the ground and toast to him.
i love you.