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Army 2nd Lt. Todd J. Bryant, 23; Killed by Explosive Device

November 16, 2003|Jose Cardenas | Times Staff Writer

Army 2nd Lt. Todd J. Bryant's determination to serve in the military was so firm that he took basic training between his junior and senior years in high school. He grew up in a family of service members who knew well the realities of military life.

As the 23-year-old prepared to go to Iraq two months ago, his parents, Larry and Linda Bryant, both former Air Force officers, asked him where he would like to be buried if the worst happened. Bryant said he would prefer Arlington National Cemetery.

Bryant, who was killed Oct. 31 when an improvised explosive device detonated as he drove by in Fallujah, is one of six California soldiers to die in Iraq in the last four weeks.

(There was no immediate word on the hometowns of the soldiers who died in Saturday's helicopter crashes in Mosul.)

As he wished, Bryant will be buried Tuesday in Arlington, Va., following a memorial service at Ft. Riley, Kan., where he was a platoon commander with the 1st Battalion, 34th Armor Regiment, 1st Infantry Division.

"Because of all our kids being in the service, we would always ask them, particularly when they would go overseas, what their wishes were," his father said. "He had requested Arlington, and we felt that he deserved that."

Todd, the Bryants' youngest child, was born at Long Beach Naval Hospital. The family settled in Riverside, but Todd attended La Canada High School because his parents worked nearby at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.

He was a member of the high school football and golf teams and played tuba in the band. He did community service as a member of DeMolay, a Masonic youth group, and was a camp counselor for elementary school students on a visit to Wrightwood. At La Canada's senior awards night in 1998, U.S. Military Academy officials announced his acceptance to West Point. "He was a great kid with very high character," said Principal Michael Leininger. "Everything he did, he put 100% into."

Bryant followed his sister, Tiffany, now 26, to West Point. She graduated in 2000, and recently served a nine-month stint in Afghanistan. She is a captain in the Army's 50th Signal Battalion, based at Ft. Bragg, N.C. Bryant graduated from West Point in 2002. Their older brother, Timothy, 32, is a Marine Corps major based in Quantico, Va.

Last year, while visiting Boston, Todd Bryant met Jenifer Reardon, a Boston College student. They were married Aug. 30 at Ft. Riley, 10 days before he was deployed to Iraq.

Bryant's family remembers him for his vivacious personality.

His father said that a private under his son's command had told him that Bryant "was a real leader. He looked out for his troops." And he used humor to keep up the troops' spirits. On arrival in Iraq, the private said, Bryant remarked: "Look at all this sand and no ocean. We'll just have to surf in the sand, guys."

After his death, there was a moment of silence at La Canada High. "I remember saying, 'This wasn't supposed to happen this way,' " Principal Leininger said.



Other Deaths

The Defense Department last week also identified the following American military personnel killed in Iraq and Afghanistan:

Nathan J. Bailey, 46, of Nashville; staff sergeant, Army National Guard. Bailey died Wednesday of a non-hostile gunshot wound in Camp Arifjan, Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 1175th Transportation Company.

Gary L. Collins, 32, of Hardin, Texas; staff sergeant, Army. Collins was riding in a Bradley fighting vehicle when it hit an improvised explosive device Nov. 8 in Fallujah, Iraq. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division.

Kurt R. Frosheiser, 22, of Des Moines; private, Army. Frosheiser was the driver of a vehicle on mounted patrol Nov. 8 when it struck an improvised explosive device in Baghdad. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armored Division.

Cornell W. Gilmore, 45, of Baltimore; command sergeant major, Army. Gilmore was aboard a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter shot down Nov. 7 in Tikrit, Iraq. He was assigned to the Army judge advocate general's office at the Pentagon.

Marlon P. Jackson, 25, of Jersey City, N.J.; specialist, Army. Jackson was killed Tuesday when an improvised explosive device detonated on a road northwest of Baghdad. He was assigned to A Company, 94th Engineer Battalion (Combat, Heavy), 130th Engineer Brigade.

Rayshawn S. Johnson, 20, of Brooklyn, N.Y.; private first class, Army. Johnson was on patrol Nov. 3 when his vehicle hit a land mine in Tikrit, Iraq. He was assigned to the 299th Engineer Battalion, 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized).

Kyran E. Kennedy, 43, of Boston; chief warrant officer, Army. Kennedy was aboard a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter shot down Nov. 7 in Tikrit, Iraq. He was assigned to the 5th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault).

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