Operation Iraqi Freedom, Fallen Heroes, Iraq War 03/19/03

Travis J Bradach-Nall

Portland, Oregon

July 2, 2003

Age Military Rank Unit/Location
21 Marines Cpl

Combat Service Support Group 11

Camp Pendleton, California

Iraq.  Bradachnall was killed in an explosion during a mine clearing operation near the city of Karbala.

Travis J Bradach-Nall

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Travis J Bradach-Nall Memorial Service

July 11, 2003

Travis John Bradach-Nall 

BRADACH-NALL , USMC CORPORAL TRAVIS JOHN Written by Travis' cousins, Riley and Danny Bradach. Witty wisecracks, vibrant tattoos, and a priceless smile are just a few of the many things that made Travis Bradach-Nall the unique, caring, and unselfish young man that he was. His supportive nature, kind heart, and warm grin made him a valued part of a large extended family that always adored his sense of humor and risk-taking nature. While Travis may have been taken away from his loved ones prematurely, and no one will ever understand why, the memories created over his 21 years will last a lifetime; no one will ever forget the funny little kid he once was, the proud young man he became, and the respected adult he would one day be. Travis' kind and spontaneous personality earned him the title of 'Favorite' by many of his younger cousins. He could often be seen playing games and laughing with his younger relatives, and was always there to offer a helping hand when they needed him. Family members can clearly recall a little boy with blonde hair and coke-bottle glasses. Everyone remembers the little boy with a runny nose and an appetite for mischief-usually denoted by a set of clenched teeth, his tongue sticking out of the side of his mouth in a Michael Jordan-like fashion. Born and raised in Northeast Portland, Travis enjoyed science fiction and anything that could conjure up laughter as a young boy. These facets of his personality led to his comprehensive knowledge of the entire script and plot for the Ghostbusters movies (especially the first of the two). He was a boy who liked to run around the neighborhood with toy guns and a handkerchief always in his pocket, leading his friends into mock battle scenarios as the self-appointed ''General''. He was always the first one into a spooky dark basement or even an abandoned building and the last one to walk away from a quarrel. While Travis certainly loved to lead and direct others, he was always just as happy to simply be part of the group. As a boy he basked in the company of others, whether it be recording mock newscasts with his little brother Nicklas on a tape deck, or running around aimlessly with one of his many cousins or friends. Travis always appreciated company and attracted it as well. After attending All Saints Catholic School, Travis headed to Grant High School. As he began to mature, Travis began to discover the world of music. While his classroom performance never did his true intellect justice, his abilities as a musician-namely a percussionist and vocalistwere in full bloom during his years at Grant. As a member of the marching band and the chorus, Travis found new ways to express himself and interact with likeminded people. While his primary preference was punk, Travis was open to many different kinds of music. As a drummer, different styles intrigued him. Travis never did anything half way. Since his younger days, he always focused his attention and effort on a few things. He took to these tasks with the goal of mastering the subject at hand. When he was young, it was Ghostbusters. When he was older, it was the United States Marine Corps. When asked, ''Why the Marines,'' Travis always gave the same, straightforward reply; ''Because they're the toughest and the strongest,'' he'd say. Travis never backed down from a challenge and thrived on pushing himself past his limits. Travis became a much more confident young man through his work in the USMC. Each visit home was a happy occasion for him and his family, and with each visit his friends and family could all see the strides he was making. He was proud of his growth as a person and so were those around him. His first visit home was one that the family will not forget; his late grandparents, Francis and Marilyn Bradach, were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary when Travis waltzed in wearing his Marine uniform for the first time at a family gathering. Everyone was very proud of him that day, and that pride did not cease as Travis matured more and more. One of the many things Travis took away from the USMC was a desire to be his own man while serving others. He strove to be unique but always considered the needs of those around him as well. Travis expressed his interests and personality through his tattoos, something his mother, Lynn, became somewhat concerned about, as one might imagine. After getting three large tattoos in less than three years time, she said no more. However, on his next visit home, she noticed a bandage on his back and knew he didn't live up to his side of the deal. Travis removed the bandage and, to his mother's surprise, the tattoo was a heart with ''MOM'' written across it. Grinning, Travis explained, ''It seemed appropriate since you're always on my back.'' Travis' love for his mother was unconditional. While overseas, he never wanted to be the first to hang up, always saying, ''I love you, mama,'' when the conversation seemed to be drifting towards an end. In his last call home, Travis asked his mother if she'd be his date at the annual Marine Corps Ball in Las Vegas. Travis died serving his country, but his true loyalty was at home with his family. Above all things living were his mother and younger brother. Travis' pride for his family was never a secret. While deployed in the Middle East he wrote home, telling his aunts and uncles to warn boys interested in his female cousins. ''If a tattooed Marine doesn't scare him,'' Travis wrote, ''I don't know what will.'' Travis also regularly requested pictures of his family above any other material good. He always made mention of how much he appreciated pictures. During his service in the United States Marine Corps, Travis began to truly blossom as a writer and his interest in the written language increased as time went on. His letters home dripped with a combination of wit and sarcasm that usually left the lucky recipient in stitches. Travis looked to improve upon his writing when he returned from his tour as a Marine, hoping to join his brother and cousin at Southern Oregon University where he had hoped to study English and eventually become a high school teacher. He was a member of a family who loved him more than words could say, more than newscasters could ever illustrate and more so than this obituary could ever convey. Although our hearts are broken, we will always remember you, Travis, and in your memory we will find the strength to move on. Thank you for being there during the good times-and even the not-so-good times-and being a part of all of our lives. You touched more people than you will ever know. Your family is so proud of the young man you became and forever thankful for everything you are to us. We love you very much and will always miss you. You will be in our thoughts and prayers every day for as long as we shall live, and someday we will certainly meet again. Our memories of you will be cherished forever, and we will always love you, Travis. Travis is survived by his mother, Lynn; his younger brother, Nicklas; his father, Gary; 18 aunts and uncles; more than 20 first cousins; his grandparents, John and Cecil Nall; and many other relatives on both sides of his family that loved him very much. He will truly be missed and his life will never be forgotten. A memorial vigil service will be held Thursday, July 10, at 7 p.m. at All Saints Catholic Church (3847 NE Glisan, Portland). The Funeral Mass will be held Friday, July 11, at 11 a.m. at All Saints. Rite of Committal with full military honors at Willamette National Cemetery will immediately follow the Funeral Mass. Memorial contributions to Doernbecher Children's Hospital or the Raphael House.
Published in The Oregonian on July 10, 2003
Cpl. Travis J. Bradach-Nall, 21, of Portland, Ore., was remembered as a dedicated soldier who volunteered to stay in Iraq for an extra three months because there was more work to be done. Bradach-Nall was killed during a mine-clearing operation July 2 near the south-central city of Karbala. Gov. Ted Kulongoski, himself a former Marine, called Bradach-Nall a "brother-in-arms. Someone the Marines could trust to stand with them and stand his ground." Friends and family remembered Bradach-Nall as a fun-loving, courageous man with a love for music and a sense of adventure. "He was always smiling," uncle Sam Bradach said. "He had that sense of joy in whatever he did." As a boy, Bradach-Nall and his cousins had water fights, made fireworks and pretended to hunt for ghosts, cousin Nicklas Nass said. A 2000 graduate of Grant High School, Bradach-Nall wrestled, played drums and sang in the choir. He had a large collection of tattoos, including one depicting a passage about shedding blood for one''s brothers. "He was just a good kid," said Cpl. Justin Lamb, who served in Bradach-Nall''s platoon. Bradach-Nall was to return to Camp Pendleton in Southern California shortly after major combat operations ended on May 1. He had planned to go to college and learn how to fly a helicopter, Lamb said. But when Bradach-Nall heard more help was needed, he volunteered to stay an extra three months, said family friend Robert Joki.
Published online on Jan. 28, 2005
From The New York Times nytimes.com 07/27/03:

AFTER THE WAR: LOSS; Fighting in Iraq Is Continuing, But at Home, Grief Just Begins
Published: July 27, 2003
PORTLAND, Ore., July 24? His family wanted a ''showboat funeral'' for Cpl. Travis J. Bradach-Nall, a 21-year-old marine who was killed in Iraq clearing mines on July 1. And that meant hiring stretch limousines.

It took seven to carry them all: Uncle John, Uncle James, Uncle Joel, Uncle Sam, Uncle Mike, Aunt Katie, Aunt Molly, Aunt Laurie, Aunt Sally and her husband, Uncle Frank -- 18 aunts and uncles in all.

Then there were the cousins, dozens of them, including Jack, Christopher and Riley, who as boys traveled with Travis in a pack of four. There was Bobby, the baby sitter, and James, Travis's close friend from Grant High School, who set off a tall pile of fireworks last week -- ''a 21, two-liter-bomb salute,'' he called it -- to say goodbye to Travis with 30 of his friends.

At the head of the procession, of course, was Corporal Bradach-Nall's mother, Lynn Bradach, 51, and his younger brother, Nick Nall, 19, the two people at the center of this wide circle of sadness, a close-knit clan of more than 100 relatives and friends in Portland rippling now with the grief of one marine's death.

Corporal Bradach-Nall's mother and brother were among those most relieved that he had made it through the war itself -- all 37 marines in his unit, Second Platoon, Charlie Company, came out alive, surviving a harrowing ambush near Nasiriya in southern Iraq in late March.

And they are the two who perhaps wish most desperately that Corporal Bradach-Nall had not volunteered to stay on for an extra three months, instead of returning safely with the others on June 21.

President Bush declared the major combat officially over on May 1, but more than 100 service members have died since then, either in continued fighting, accidents, ambushes or on reconstruction tasks, according to the Department of Defense. For the families of the 148,000 members of armed services still in Iraq, the volatile situation can feel something like being forced into a game of Russian roulette.

''I would be sick, I was sick,'' Ms. Bradach said, describing how she felt when her son told her that he and a few close friends from his platoon had decided to stay. ''But he truly told me he would be all right. And I truly would say: 'I have to believe you, I have got to believe you.' I know he loved Nick and I so much.''

Ms. Bradach, who was divorced and reared her two sons alone, was racked with worry. ''I was always worried,'' she said. ''When he went rafting I worried, when he did anything I worried. But this, I was like, 'Oh my God.' ''

Still, she had allowed herself to hope, and to make tentative plans: a trip to Las Vegas this summer for an overdue birthday celebration for Travis, who turned 21 in February. It was a request he first made when he was 12.

Ms. Bradach's voice mail greeting still says, ''Hi, give the cellphone a try -- especially you, Travis!''

And since her son was killed, she has received four letters he sent from Iraq, including one that arrived the day of his funeral, and a package containing a rug he had bought for her. But she has not had the strength to open any of them, she said.

The whole family had hoped Travis would be home this summer for the annual Bradach family camping trip to Cape Lookout on the Oregon coast, or at least join them for another family dinner at the Spaghetti Factory. And in the fall, or perhaps next year, he was supposed to join his cousin and brother at Southern Oregon University to study English.

Instead, every member of the family is doing something to pay tribute to Travis, the rebellious, drum-playing, comical, heavily tattooed marine who loved the sound of explosions even when he was a boy, his family and friends said.

Virtually everyone, even the relatives who hated all his tattoos, is planning to get some kind of memorial tattoo: a gold star for his mother. ''Ghostbusters'' for Nick and the male cousins, because for years Travis pretended to be a ''Ghostbuster'' after he saw the movie. Drumsticks for Aunt Katie, and a dagger for Uncle James, like the one Travis had across his arm.

And all of them, already devastated by the death last March of Corporal Bradach-Nall's maternal grandparents in a car fire that the police here ruled a double suicide, are coping in different ways.

Ms. Bradach, the second of 10 children, is jogging a lot, which she said helped her deal with the feeling ''that my heart was ripped out.'' She is also contemplating running a marathon and planning to take as much political action as she can fit into her schedule, she said.

She was always a liberal Democrat, she said, and had signed various petitions circulating in Portland against the war, even as she found herself in the awkward position of trying to support the military, her son's employer.

Now she plans to join the international campaign to ban land mines and do whatever she can to get a Democrat elected president in 2004, she said.

''I don't ever do anything that would hurt the Marines,'' she said. ''However, I want everything to come out about why decisions were made. And I don't want to hear, 'Well, you know what, it's over now, the decision was made.' You know what? If you make a wrong decision, you have to pay for that. I want to make sure that changes are made or people are held accountable for what happened.''

As she spoke, she often pointed to what the family calls ''the board,'' three giant collages plastered with photographs of Corporal Bradach-Nall, from when he was a toddler wearing Coke-bottle glasses -- before he had the operation for his lazy eye -- to his last days as a marine. He was killed by an explosion in a minesweeping operation near Karbala, in south-central Iraqi.

Corporal Bradach-Nall was estranged from his father, Gary Nall, who did not attend the funeral, the relatives said. But while Travis was in Iraq, he told several of his fellow marines that he planned to try to see his father when he returned home.

A few of them called Mr. Nall after Travis was killed to pass on that message, said Mr. Nall's father, John Nall, who lives with his son near Portland and said his son was away this week and that he had no idea how to reach him.

''He was hit awfully hard,'' the elder Mr. Nall said. ''It hit us all pretty hard.''

Katie Bradach -- Aunt Katie -- who often joined her sister and two nephews on their family vacations, is spending as much time as she can with her sister, at the house in northeast Portland. She is, as her sister said, one of the main ''baby sitters'' who come to the house to make sure Ms. Bradach is not alone.

''He wrote me a letter,'' Katie Bradach, 36, said, crying. ''He said, 'Make sure to take care of Mom. Make sure she doesn't go crazy.' That's what I'm supposed to be doing, making sure she doesn't go crazy. Every day, I figure that's what I'm doing for him.''

John F. Bradach Sr. -- Uncle John, 52 -- reads the Bible -- ''sometimes it gives me insight and sometimes it doesn't,'' he said -- and watches the sun go down.

James Bradach -- Uncle James, 44 -- recently returned from a seven-day trek around Mount Hood with his three dogs.

Christopher Bradach, a cousin born a few months after Travis, is working on a Travis memorial videotape, overlaying old home movies with his cousin's voice and the ''Ghostbusters'' soundtrack.

Riley and Danny Bradach, two other cousins, wrote a long obituary, which was published in The Portland Oregonian shortly after Corporal Bradach-Nall was killed.

''Everyone was talking about him as this gung-ho marine,'' said Riley Bradach, 22, who along with about 10 other relatives and friends drifted in and out of his cousin's house last Sunday, typical for a Sunday. ''We wanted to put a face on him. He wasn't just a marine.''

The obituary read: ''Travis died serving his country. But his true loyalty was at home with his family. Above all things living were his mother and younger brother. Travis's pride for his family was never a secret.

''While deployed in the Middle East, he wrote home, telling his aunts and uncles to warn boys interested in his female cousins. 'If a tattooed marine doesn't scare him,' Travis wrote, 'I don't know what will.' ''

Photos: Lynn Bradach and her son, Nick Nall, are at the center of a close-knit clan grieving at the death of Cpl. Travis J. Bradach-Nall. (Alan S. Weiner for The New York Times)(pg. 1); Cpl. Travis J. Bradach-Nall, shown in a two-year-old family photograph, was killed in Iraq after he decided to stay for three extra months.; The family members of Cpl. Travis J. Bradach-Nall who had tattoos in his honor for the movie that he loved, ''Ghostbusters,'' are, from left, his cousins, Christopher, Danny and Riley Bradach, and his brother, Nick Nall. (Alan S. Weiner for The New York Times)(pg. 12)

AP News

Travis J. Bradach-Nall had been scheduled to leave Iraq shortly after major combat ended on May 1. He planned to go to college and learn to fly a helicopter. But when he heard more help was needed, he volunteered to stay three more months. The platoon wasn't surprised by his decision, said Cpl. Jose Hernandez. "He would always step in and take his spot." Bradach-Nall, of Portland, died July 2 in an explosion during a mine-clearing operation.

The adventurous young soldier played drums, loved punk rock and drove his mother up the wall with a series of tattoos.

Lynn Bradach finally laid down the law to her firstborn: No more tattoos. Bradach recalls the dust-up when her boy showed up with a new gauze bandage. She refused to look but eventually relented.

The tattoo was a heart with a single word: "Mom."


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