Soldier remembered as 'just a big kid'

A woman looks at the program before a memorial service for Sgt. Brandon Maggart on Wednesday in the Lewis North Chapel at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
A woman looks at the program before a memorial service for Sgt. Brandon Maggart on Wednesday in the Lewis North Chapel at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The Olympian

Family, friends and fellow soldiers paused Wednesday at Joint Base Lewis-McChord to honor a soldier who lived life with laughter, responsibility and courage and then died a hero in Iraq.

Sgt. Brandon E. Maggart, a 24-year-old husband and the father of a 3-year-old son, was killed Aug. 22 while helping protect fellow soldiers from enemy artillery rounds.

Nearly 200 people filled the Lewis North Chapel Wednesday. Hand in hand, his wife Teresa and son Blake led other members of his family, including his parents, into the chapel.

Chaplain Maj. Leo Mora later recalled his recent conversations with Teresa Maggart, who told how she watched her husband turn from an “immature, obnoxious high school grad” and blossom “into a responsible young man who learned how to love his family and who truly loved loving them.”

He always remained “fun loving. … With Brandon, there was never a dull moment,“ she said.

Brandon Maggart died of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit using indirect fire in the southern city of Basra, the Department of Defense said.

He was on his second overseas tour with the 5th Battalion, 5th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, having joined the unit in 2006. The 500-member battalion, nicknamed the Dragonslayers, will return to Lewis-McChord in January.

Statements were read Wednesday from those who served with him and are still in Iraq.

A staff sergeant remembered meeting Maggart for the first time and thinking of him as “the biggest kid I had ever met wearing the rank of an NCO, and now all I can think of is how he was one of the finest soldiers I have ever known and how much I would give to have him back.”

“Brandon was one of those rare people you meet who can singlehandedly raise the morale of the people around him,” the staff sergeant wrote. “He always had a way of making the people around him laugh.”

A specialist who served with him recalled Maggart’s favorite greeting: “What’s up, Girlfriend.”

“Spending the last eight months with him I have learned he was just a big kid. … Even on your worst days, he would do silly things to put a smile on your face,” the specialist wrote in his statement.

In his written comment, Cpt. Lloyd Sporluck, his battery commander, lauded Maggart as “a man of rare moral character” who was devoted to excellence in all things. He noted that Maggart was the man others turned to for advice and leadership.

Another of his commanders in Iraq, Lt. Col. Michael Morrissey, remembered a man who understood service. He summed up Maggart this way in his statement: “Never an unkind word spoken, respected by all, the ambition to be a warrant officer and with a notorious dry wit.

“I believe in my heart that Brandon believed and lived by our Task Force maxim of serving something greater than ourselves.”

Mike Archbold: 253-597-8692 mike.archbold@thenewstribune.com