PFC Joel K Brattain
November 27, 1982 ~ March 13, 2004
"GO BIG or GO HOME"
A Loving Son, Brother, Husband,
Friend and Soldier
1st Battalion, 504th Infantry Regiment
82nd Airborne Division
Fort Bragg, North Carolina
will never be forgotten.
Their Sacrifice will live on forever in the hearts
of all who cherish FREEDOM!"
your Thoughts/Read the Memories
Holy Sepulcher Cemetery
7845 Santiago Canyon Rd
Orange CA 532-6551
Courtesy of Mapquest
send a card to the family
Joel K. Brattain, 21, killed a week ago, put his heart into everything he did,
says his new wife.
YORBA LINDA – Joel K. Brattain lived by the motto "Go big or go home". Everything he did was with great passion.
At age 5, he was meticulous when it came to coloring within the lines.
At 12, he fell in love with fishing and ventured out every day to either Irvine or Owens Lake.
At 17, he found his soul mate working alongside him at the Dairy Queen and married her on the sands of Laguna Beach three years later.
And at 21, Brattain went to Iraq to fight and sacrifice his young life for his country.
The private first class was killed March 13 when an explosive device struck the military vehicle in which he was patrolling Baghdad with two Army sergeants.
Brattain, from a tight-knit, blended family, leaves behind a wife, six brothers and sisters, two sets of parents, and a Siberian husky named Hailey.
His tour in Iraq was supposed to end by early April. Brattain's bride, Andrea, 21, bought her plane ticket to Fort Bragg, N.C., where he was stationed, the night before he was killed. With the ticket came a new outfit. She bought capri jeans, a yellow tank top and a pink shirt she planned on wearing when they reunited at the airport.
"He put his heart and soul into everything he was doing and he wouldn't stop until he was the best at it," Andrea Brattain said Friday, wearing the gray Army T-shirt he donned during boot-camp workouts. "When he started talking about the military I wanted him to take the safe route and just stay with me, but he felt he had to do it for us."
Brattain graduated in 2001 from Anaheim's Esperanza High School. An avid snowboarder, he and Andrea then moved to Lake Tahoe, where he hoped to become an instructor. The couple lived in a small rented house for a year, she worked at a gift shop, and instead of the slopes, Brattain chose to work at Domino's making pizza.
They played "Zelda" and "Splinter Cell" on their PlayStation and went hiking. Brattain would get up early to snowboard before work.
But Brattain wanted to secure a better future with his wife; he sought direction, stability and purpose, and found it when he enlisted in the Army on April 20, 2003.
He went to boot camp and was then assigned to the 1st Battalion, 504th Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division. He left his wife in Fort Bragg when he shipped out to Iraq Jan. 11.
"He really just wanted to do something he believed in," said brother Kris Brattain, 27. "He wanted to make an impact and when duty called he went."
Beverly Schultz remembers Brattain from when he was a 3-year-old playing in her home day-care center. The Anaheim woman spent two years caring for him.
"I can still see his face right now, that cute adorable face and dark hair," she said. "It breaks my heart, but I feel privileged that I knew him."
Brattain's father Gary struggled for words to describe what his son meant to him and his family. What was clear in his voice was pride.
"I would trade everything in the world to have him back," he said. "He was a good son, a loving husband and he had a big heart."
When asked about Brattain, friends and family described him as good-natured, low- maintenance, big-hearted and giving.
But most of all, everyone talks about how he loved his wife. And how the two were best friends, lucky to have found one another.
"His whole life was her," said Kris Brattain. "He loved her more than anything, and the last year of his life is the happiest that he had ever been because he married the woman he loved."
For Andrea, she thinks about their wedding day, standing shoeless in the sand.
She thinks about waiting up until 1 a.m. the night he died for his phone call, which came almost every day.
And she remembers shining his boots each evening so the time he would have spent on that, the two could share together.
"I'm so thankful for what we had," she said. "I'd do it all over again and even experience this pain because I love him with all my heart and always will."
BREA, Calif. - Pfc. Joel K. Brattain was excited last October after being assigned to the Army's 504th Infantry Parachute Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division.
A former snowboarder, the 21-year-old Orange County native gave every task his all and was proud to be serving with the famously tough Army unit in Iraq.
"Joel's motto was 'go big or go home,'" said his father, Gary Brattain, 51, who runs a construction and consulting companies in Orange County's Brea.
Brattain died Saturday after an explosive struck his military vehicle in Baghdad, the Department of Defense said. Also killed were Sgt. Daniel J. Londono, 22, of Boston, and Staff Sgt. Clint D. Ferrin, 31, of Picayune, Miss. All three were assigned to Fort Bragg, N.C.
Brattain, who had grown up in Brea and Yorba Linda, joined the Army in March 2003 after graduating from Esperanza High School in Anaheim and moving to Lake Tahoe to focus on snowboarding, his father said.
He enlisted as way to give something back to his country, his family said. In January, he deployed to Iraq to support troops already there and was scheduled to return in April.
"He loved this country and he believed in what we were doing," said his brother Kris Brattain, 27, of Yorba Linda. "I'm the older brother but he'll be my hero for the rest of life."
A memorial service is scheduled for Wednesday in Orange, his father said. He leaves behind his parents, six siblings and a wife - his high school sweetheart.
"Everybody is just heartbroken," his father said. "This is more than we can take."
Flags in Sacramento
will be flown at half-staff to honor Brattain.
Issues Statement on Death
of Santa Ana Soldier
Governor Schwarzenegger today issued the following statement on the death of Pfc. Joel K. Brattain, of Santa Ana, CA:
"Joel was an honorable soldier who died while protecting the freedom of others. Maria and I send our thoughts and prayers to his family and friends. He will be sorely missed."
Pfc. Brattain, 21, and two other soldiers died on March 13, in Baghdad, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device struck their military vehicle. All three soldiers were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 504th Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C. The incident is under investigation.
In honor of Pfc. Brattain, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.
PHOTO: Flag at half-staff at Holy Sepulcher- the day of Joel's funeral
Pfc. Joel K. Brattain, 21; Killed in Roadside Blast
By Hector Becerra, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
March 21, 2004
Joel Brattain wasn't sure what he wanted to do when he graduated from Esperanza High School in Yorba Linda three years ago.
College wasn't for him, his brother said. But he had an outdoors streak, and between delivering pizza and working at his mother's graphics company, he would head for the ski slopes and the beckoning wilderness. "He loved fishing. He was a very good snowboarder. He loved camping and hiking," said his 27-year-old brother, Kris. "He did everything full-bore or nothing."
Joel Brattain moved to Lake Tahoe for about a year and a half with his girlfriend. "He was still trying to figure out what he wanted to do," his brother said.
Last March, Joel Brattain joined the Army and became a paratrooper. Last fall, he married his high school sweetheart, Andrea Del Campo, on the sand in Laguna Beach. In January, he shipped off to Iraq. "It was a maturing process," his brother said. "He had gone off adventuring and this and that, and it was time for him to mature. He was becoming a man."
On March 13, Army Pfc. Joel K. Brattain, 21, and two other soldiers were killed in Baghdad when their vehicle was struck by the blast of a roadside explosive. The three were with the 1st Battalion, 504th Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division at Ft. Bragg, N.C.
Kris Brattain said his brother's decision to join the Army probably was driven both by pragmatism and patriotism. "First and foremost, he loved Andrea. He really wanted to provide for her," he said.
But also, "9/11 touched him like it touched everybody," he said, pointing out that his brother had graduated months before the terrorist attacks. "When you become 18 and you're out of school, I think your eyes open to the world, and you ask yourself, 'What am I going to do with my life?' "
Whatever doubts Joel Brattain had about what he wanted to do in life, he knew "he wanted to make an impact," his brother said. "He loved this country and he believed in what he did."
Being a paratrooper was a logical step for someone who loved adventure and the outdoors, his brother said. "He wasn't going to be a computer technician," Kris Brattain said. "He was a paratrooper. He had his wings and he loved it."
He said he would miss a brother who tagged along with him for much of his life. "He was my little brother, and we were close our whole lives," Kris Brattain said. "He didn't let things get to him, because you come to find out life is short. He lived life to the fullest."
In addition to his wife and brother, Brattain is survived by his father, Gary; his mother, Elaine Clark; and a 9-year-old half brother, Brandon Clark.
Joel Brattain will be buried with full military honors Wednesday at Holy Sepulcher Cemetery in Orange.
|Another Chaplain's Call,
Another Hurt That Won't Go Away
Dana Parsons-Los Angeles Times
March 28, 2004
She remembers it so clearly. She was 8 and ran to answer the knock on the door. She'd been making lemonade; her mother was scrubbing the kitchen floor. As a Navy brat, seeing a military man at the door — even one with little crosses on his uniform — didn't startle her.
But when she summoned her mother, who fell apart at the sight of the chaplain, young Elaine Roach began to realize that her life had taken a very bad turn. Her father, Navy pilot Harold Roach, had gone down in the South China Sea on his way to a place called Vietnam. Her sobbing mother told her not to worry, that she'd take care of her. The young girl's sense of emptiness and loss began taking hold that October day in 1964, and she never felt 100% whole again.
It wasn't until she was 29, Roach says today, that she told another soul that she felt responsible for years for her father's death because the last time she saw him they had argued about her not being allowed to get something at an art shop.
This is all by way of preface, to tell you that a child's pain from losing a parent can take a long time to subside. Talking about her father's death as she was growing up wasn't taboo around the house, it just wasn't done. And to the outside world that Elaine knew, just the mention of Vietnam left lots of people cold.
Young Elaine Roach is now 48, married and the owner of an indoor sign company in Anaheim. Life was rolling along until a year ago, when she got a phone call from Joel, her 20-year-old son from a previous marriage and her first-born. He told his mom, out of the blue, that he wanted to join the Army.
She tried to talk him out of it, not hesitating to invoke the memory of the grandfather he never knew and her own fears. Joel would have none of it. He was moved by the plight of the Iraqi people and "wanted to do something meaningful" with his life. Why should others go to war and not him, he asked his mother. Addressing her objections head-on, he said, "Is it just because I'm your son?" You bet it is, she said.
Roach comforted herself by being analytical. Maybe he wouldn't be sent into combat. Even if he were, lightning couldn't possibly strike her twice.
However, in mid-January of this year, after he'd been home for Christmas, Joel phoned his mother again and told her was being shipped to Iraq. "It was my worst nightmare," she says. "My biggest fear."
He got there in mid-January. On March 13, Joel Brattain and two others were killed when a roadside mine blew up their Army vehicle. Last week, the 21-year-old Esperanza High School graduate was buried.
And once again, Roach must walk a familiar, if desolate, path.
"Don't I have a credit balance?" she asks, as we talk in her Yorba Linda home. It's said without a trace of self-pity; coming across as more of a rhetorical question whose answer she knows only too well.
"I know there's nothing I could have done, and I had to let him live his own life and make his own choices — and I hate it," she says. "I hate that I can't be with him anymore."
She rejoices that she and Joel had a tight bond and had put the spats of his teenage-years behind them.
She reads from something he wrote to her in his favorite children's book, which he gave her on his 18th birthday. In it, he thanks her for guidance and looks forward to her presence in his adult life.
Throughout the hour or so we talk, Roach is neither angry nor morose. She's in the grip of pain, wanting to accelerate the grieving period but knowing she can't. "Joel knows I have to hurt," she says.
"He understands that, but he doesn't want me to stay there. He wants me to move on. The hurt will never go away, the loss — and I speak from experience, there's a hole that'll always be there. But he would want me to have a fulfilling life. He wants everyone who knew him not to wallow."
So, she says, she won't.
She doesn't disparage the military that cost her the two most important people in her life, content to say only that she's still working through some unresolved questions.
"I used to always say growing up that, because of my dad, I learned to live life to its fullest, because you never know if you'll be there the next day," she says. "But this is life-changing, absolutely. Because death is real. I thought my dad had impacted my life more than anybody possibly could, but now I'd say it's Joel. Or, maybe it's the combination."
She considers her son's death heroic, just as her father's. But, of course, she would have given anything if, two weeks ago, another chaplain hadn't come to her home — this time looking for Joel's young wife, who was living with Roach, her husband and 9-year-old son, Brandon.
Roach met the chaplain in the frontyard and begged him to tell her if her son were dead or alive. He couldn't, obliged by protocol to wait until Joel's wife came home to give her the news first. And so Roach waited, trying to convince herself that nearly 40 years later, the fates couldn't possibly so cruel as to send another messenger of sorrow to her front door.
"I had forgotten," she says, softly, "that
they might come."
remember and honor
served and died
SGT Daniel J.
When the 21 gun salute
The pieces of shattered lives
Written by Tammy Barnes 3/18/04
Harold Roach- USN
Joel is next to his mom Elaine,
to the far left, wearing his grandpa's cap and drinking from the can
Sons and Daughters In Touch
WASHINGTON, D.C.- 1992
Department of Defense- Press Release
The symbolism of the Flag Folding
to Joel's Family
Coming Soon- More Photographs
A friend of the family
Conctact the Webmistress
Paratroopers jump out of a C-130 airplane near Al Asad Air Base in Iraq. The Soldiers are assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division. They were taking part in Operation All-American Lightning, a joint U.S. Air Force and Army show of force capabilities exercise.