How Brian Downard met Clay Walker before he went home… (and how you can help fulfill his other dying wish)September 15th, 2010 by MOTHAX
Triple hankey warning on this one.
RIP Corporal Downard, you’ve earned your rest, and we mean to help you find it where you want.
[Update to that, like I said on my facebook account, Clay Walker is a class act. At the bottom you will see what he had to say.]
Brian Downard was 23 years old, a father, a country music fan, and a corporal of Marines. He joined the Marine Corps in July of 2005, and would do two deployments to two different scenic locales. The first was to Iraq, where he served from November of ’06 to April of the following year. While in Iraq, Brian suffered a concussion from an IED strike while patrolling. Undeterred, Brian stayed in the Marines and deployed to Burma in 2008 when Marines and sailors with the Essex Amphibious Readiness Group provided humanitarian assistance operations to aid the cyclone-stricken country. He would eventually leave the service just last July, after four honorable years of service.
One month after separation, he discovered that he had testicular cancer, and a very aggressive strain at that. The cancer spread quickly to his muscles and fatty tissues, and Brian suffered so greatly with the pain that they put him on morphine. He was released from the VA to enjoy his last days with the love from his mom and his 7-year-old son Jesse.
In the past month, Brian’s health was fading rather rapidly. He had two final wishes: he wanted to meet his favorite musician, country music star Clay Walker, and he wanted to be buried next to his grandparents in the Washington Park East cemetery in Indianapolis.
A woman at the VA contacted The American Legion to see if there was anyway we could arrange a meet-up with Clay Walker at his Ft. Wayne concert. We, in turn, contacted Legion-friend and country star Michael Peterson who immediately put us in contact with Clay Walker’s agent who pulled out all the stops.
And so, last Saturday, on the ninth anniversary of the attacks that would later send Brian to war, Brian got to meet his favorite country artist. The entire family went with him to the concert, and they weren’t in the nose-bleed section. Clay and his agent immediately brought the family up to the front, and the two men finally met.
Talking on the phone to Brenda, Brian’s mom, was difficult for me. I make no apologies for being a sensitive guy, and hearing about this meeting just tore a huge hole in me. Clay embraced Brian, and spoke with the family at length. Then, he asked Brian what his favorite song was. In his final days, Brian’s mental faculties were slipping gears occasionally; he had to truly think his words before he spoke them. But not this time, “Then What” answered Brian immediately, “my favorite song is ‘Then What.’” Brian was taken up on stage to hear his favorite song sung to him.
Well I got a good friend who’s got a good life
He’s got two pretty children and a real nice wife
But he never seems quite satisfied
I said I know what’s on your mind
But you better think about it before you cross that line
The grass ain’t always greener on the other side
To read what happened next, and links to how you can help, PLEASE go over to Burn Pit here.
As Mr. Wolf over at BlackFive says: Get your hankies, and your wallets, NOW!
Rest in Peace, Corporal Downard. Thank you.