U.S. Marine Officer Brandon Ryan Dronet of Erath, Louisiana was just a little kid when I knew him at Henry High School; I had no clue he would grow up to serve our country so well.

Brandon was killed 10 years ago today, on February 17, 2006, when two U.S. Marine helicopters collided while on a training mission in support of the Global War on Terror/Operation Enduring Freedom.

His widow, Summer, shared her "Memories" video of Brandon on Facebook.  I watched the video and thought about the sacrifice that he made for our country, up to and including his life.  Then, seeing his family in the video, it reminded me of the sacrifices that EVERY military family has to make:  trying to live their lives with the threat of their loved one never coming home.  THAT is the sacrifice this family, and countless others, will have to live with for the rest of their lives.

Brandon's final homecoming.  (Photo submitted)

Some of the entries from the guestbook on Brandon's memorial read as follows:

February 26, 2006
Daddy,
You are my hero. May the force be with you. I love you.
Your son,
Cody
August 7, 2009
Words can't explain.........
Always & Forever,
Summer
February 16, 2012
I just want you back.....I need you, the kids need you.
We must always remember that our freedom isn't free: it comes with a price.  Being in the military takes a toll on not just the military member, but on their families, as well.
In a perfect world, there would be no more conflict.  Until then, we have perfect soldiers to keep us safe.
Brandon Ryan Dronet, we salute you, Sir.  We thank you for your service.  We thank you for your love of country.  We thank you for teaching your children that same love.  We thank you for your sacrifice.
Summer, we thank you for your sacrifices as a military wife, mother and, now, widow, and for keeping the memory of Brandon alive.