My sister Gail (Brandon's mom) was watching Oma (my wife's 93 year old grandmother living with us at the time). It was about 11:20am in Lincoln City and Adele and I were just leaving the hotel room to go have a bite to eat. As we were leaving I glanced at the TV which was on CNN. They had a story on about Operation Iraqi Freedom, which where Brandon was. He was stationed in Kwait and when the operation began, his unit headed into Southern Iraq. As Adele and I were leaving I felt a huge wave of darkness come over me, I was light headed and almost passed out. I had to sit down, gather my senses before we could leave. I was MCing The Four Tops concert at Chinook Winds that evening. All went well. The weekend ended and Adele and I came home that Sunday. When Adele gave my sister a ride home she pulled up in front of the house and there was a military vehicle in their driveway. An officer and a chaplain had just informed Leon (Brandon's father) that their son, my nephew had been killed in Southern Iraq in a tragic convoy crash. My sister and Adele lost it and called me at home to let me know. It was at that moment our lives changed forever. That moment on was a whirlwind of investigations, reporters, funeral planning, condolences and waiting for the army to get him out of hostile territory and sent to Dover Air Force Base for preparation to return home. Brandon was Oregon's first Iraqi Freedom war casualty. So sad for those who followed as well. What I never really told anyone was that moment at the beach when I felt faint and almost passed out was exactly the moment Brandon Scott Tobler lost his life in Southern Iraq. We calculated the time change and realized that we must have had a connection because when he died, I felt like a piece of me died with him. It's been 16 years already and it still seems like yesterday. Brandon would be 36 years old this May 17th. What kind of man would he have been? We may never know, but I already do. I was proud of him then and I am proud of him now. RIP my nephew and we will be together again. You are my HERO!!!
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