On Sgt. Emerson Brand, Gold Star Mother Speaking

Just wanted to let you know why you did not know Sgt. Brand, though you knew many in Caddo Mills.

Sgt. Brand grew up everywhere.

It always moved me to tears, as I watched many of our dead coming home to the towns they grew up in, so often I cried, and wondered, should such a journey ever be our boys to make, what town could or would he come home to. What's more, who would notice, he had left this world.

We had moved far too many times . . . .

Then, finally, in 2001, we returned to Okalahoma, Tulsa area; since 2002, this farmhouse outside of Claremore became home.

Emerson loved this little town, this farm house, this open range country.

That was part of the reason that sealed his draw to the 1st Cav. at Ft. Hood. That, added to, he knew their history; he also knew their destined future--Iraq.

So early in 2006, he requested a transfer to the 2nd BCT of the 1st Cav.; in late spring of that year, he left his post in Arlington, TOG (The Old Guard), where he had proudly served since being ordered to it, shortly after returning from a year in Iraq, summer of 2004.

Two weeks after E arrived in Texas, he and one of his new comrade's and buddies, headed to Sgt. Ryan Green's mother's place, not far from Fate, Texas. (Sgt. Green was also mortally wounded in the 15 March hit; he died, just three days later.)

That night, while the boys were out, in Fate E met Debra Welsh of Caddo Mills.

It was a love at first sight deal. The rest, history. Fast and full. Cut short, the morning of 15 March 2007.

Before E left, he had made Caddo Mills his home. Caddo, he often told Debra, reminded him of Claremore--his other "home."

He and Deb planned to marry when he came back from Iraq. But on the weekends, he left Killeen, and headed to Caddo. Stayed there, leaving to head back to work, in the wee hours of the morning.

Caddo became the hometown he never had. He, Deb and the kids went to the Friday night football games. Knew and rooted for the local football hero.

He so loved that little town, his last moments there, before heading back to Ft. Hood, then on to war, he cried, got down on the ground, and kissed the ground of "home": Caddo's soil.

Thus, when it came time to decide just where we would lay our boy to rest, I wanted it to be where he wanted most to come home to. Debra and the kids still needed him to come home. Though this soldier had served in Arlington National Cemetery, I wanted him to be "home."

Considering all, it became clear, Caddo Mills was the only right choice for us to lay him to rest. (Now, Caddo too, will soon be our home.)

Ironically, in the near forty years of business in which the Rentfrow Funeral Home--the only Caddo Mills Funeral home--has been in business, Sgt. Brand's funeral was their first Military funeral, for one KIA.

Deb said, she had some of the locals come to her in tears and tell her, Sgt. Brand finally gave Caddo Mills a hometown hero.

I told her, Caddo Mills finally gave Sgt. Brand a hometown--the hometown he'd always yearned to have.

Our thanks to all of you, who made that so.

D.L. Brand, Gold Star Mother, since the morning of 15 March 2007.