Oregon flags to lower in honor of fallen Bend soldier

Brandon Prescott's name to be added to memorial wall

Bend remembers fallen soldier

BEND, Ore. - Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber ordered Wednesday all flags at public institutions to be flown at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Friday in honor of Specialist Brandon J. Prescott of Bend, one of five soldiers killed last weekend when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb in Afghanistan.

"SPC Prescott enlisted from Oregon and was proudly serving this state and nation," Kitzhaber said. "My thoughts are with his family and his unit during this difficult time. SPC Prescott's death is tragic and he will be missed by many, but we will not forget his legacy of service and sacrifice."

On Tuesday, Prescott's body arrived at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. His family was on hand as his casket was unloaded from the plane.

Prescott, 24, was one of five soldiers on a patrol near Combat Outpost Hutal in the Maiwand District of Kandahar Province when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb, said Fort Bliss spokesman Maj. Joe Buccino.

Bend veterans activist Dick Tobiason, a member of the Central Oregon Military Officers Association of America, told NewsChannel 21 Tuesday the slain soldier's name will be added to the Bend Veterans Peace Memorial.

"The least we can do for them is honor them for their service and sacrifice,"  Tobiason said.

The Vietnam veteran has been instrumental in creating a memorial for all Central Oregon soldiers who died in the line of duty.

"You don't get used to it," Tobiason said. "Veterans hate war more than anybody else.  They know what war really is -- they see it every day, they see comrades fall, see them wounded. They see the impact on the families back home."

The soldiers in Saturday's attack were more than halfway through a nine-month deployment. Buccino told the El Paso Times.

An Army statement Monday identified the five soldiers killed, which also included Spc. Kevin Cardoza of Mercedes, Texas; 1st Lt. Brandon James Landrum of Lawton, Okla.; Spc. Thomas Paige Murach of Meridian, Idaho; and Staff Sgt. Francis Gene Phillips IV of Meridian, N.Y.

They served in the 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division.

Prescott's twin brother, Aaron, tells The Oregonian ( ) the 24-year-old was due to return home in September, but had already signed up for another three years in the Army.

Prescott grew up in Dana Point, Calif., and graduated from Dana Hills High School in 2006. Two years later, their mother, Tracey Prescott, moved the brothers to Bend, where he took classes at Central Oregon Community College. Their father, Joseph Prescott, lives in Montgomery, Texas.

The older twin  told the paper he spoke to Prescott on the phone about four hours before he was killed. The soldier said he loved and missed his family He is survived by his mother, father and three brothers.

"He was a hero and an inspiration for all of us," Aaron Prescott said. "Before he left for Afghanistan, he told us that if he died, he wanted us to be proud of him and hold our heads up, because we know he was doing something he loved."

Tracey Prescott described Prescott as a selfless, humble man who loved his family and the beach. She, Aaron and Jake were flying to Dover, Del., to claim his body.

Service arrangements were to be announced. Officials at Fort Bliss say a memorial service for the five servicemen has been scheduled for May 22 at the post chapel.

Tracey Prescott says she's a "broken woman right now" — "sad and angry, but also very, very proud" of her son.

Prescott was born on July 18th, 1988, in West Covina, Calif. He enlisted in the Army on April 19, 2010 in Portland and attended the 14-week Infantry Training Course at Fort Benning, Georgia.

Prescott's first duty assignment was Fort Bliss, Texas, where he was assigned to 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment as a member of the Reconnaissance Platoon.  

"Shortly after arriving to Fort Bliss, he set himself apart from his peers in the platoon and was assigned as the Assistant Team Leader," the Army's biography stated.

Prescott deployed to Afghanistan on Dec. 12, 2012 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.  

Prescott's awards include the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart, the Army Commendation Medal with Valor, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghan Campaign Medal with a Campaign Star, the NATO Medal, and the Combat Infantryman Badge.

The soldiers were more than halfway through a nine-month deployment, Buccino told the newspaper.

"The toll of this has hit this community hard," Buccino said. "This brings it home."

"Five in one blast is extremely unusual and horrific," Buccino said. "This casts a shadow over the entire community."

Six MPs, all from Ford Bliss, were killed in a July 8, 2012 bomb blast in Afghanistan.

Prescott is the eighth service member with Central Oregon ties killed in military operations related to the war on terror. Others include:

Army Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker, 25, of Madras, killed June 16, 2006 near Baghdad, Iraq

Marine Lance Cpl. Randy L. Newman, 21, of Bend, killed Aug. 20, 2006 in Al Anbar Province, Iraq

Marine Lance Cpl. Dale G. Peterson, 20, of Redmond, killed April, 23, 2007 in Al Anbar province, Iraq

Army Sgt. Zachary W. McBride, 20, of Bend, killed Jan. 9, 2008 in Sinsil, Iraq

Army Pfc. Cody J. Eggleston, 21, of Redmond, died Oct. 24, 2008 in Bethesda, Md., of wounds suffered in Baqubah, Iraq

Army Cpl. Jessica A. Ellis, 24, of Baker City (attended COCC in Bend), killed May 11, 2008 in Baghdad, Iraq

Air Force First Lt. Justin Wilkens, 26, Feb. 2012, in Djibouti, Africa

Just days before his ship was to head for the Middle East in 2009, Navy Air Crewman 2nd Class Aaron L. Clingman, of Bend, died in a helicopter crash near San Diego.

The region also has lost two locals serving as contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan -- Loren "Butch" Hammer, 35, of Redmond, in November 2004 in Afghanistan, and Deborah Klecker, 51, of the Sunriver area, in June 2005 in Iraq.

According to the "Oregon's Most Honorable"Website maintained by the governor's office, Prescott is the 139th Oregon service member who died while serving in Operation Enduring Freedom and the War in Iraq.

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