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Minnesota National Guard
Minnesota Fallen Heroes Calendar To Feature Hugo Family's Own

Proceeds Benefit Bryan McDonough Military Heroes Foundation

HUGO - When Bryan McDonough's Humvee struck an improvised explosive device (IED) on December 2, 2006 while Bryan was serving in Iraq, not even his proud parents, Tom and Renee, both residents of Hugo, could have imagined that his story would just begin despite the fact the explosion tragically took his life

"We wanted to keep our son alive," said Tom McDonough

And so he and his wife started the Bryan McDonough Military Heroes Foundation Since 2007, the nonprofit organization has hosted three annual Bryan T McDonough American Heroes Golf Classic tournaments at the Oak Glen Golf Course in Stillwater, raising as much as $39,000 one year, according to McDonough

"We try to fill the needs the military can't fill for returning veterans and families of the fallen," said McDonough

In these past three years, the organization has assisted a veteran with a severe head injury in getting a golf cart to increase his mobility and independence; purchasing an ATV so that a soldier who lost his foot in Iraq could still go hunting up north; helping a veteran make signifi cant improvements to his home to make it more energy efficient, thereby saving his family money on heating and cooling bills; and purchasing a hand-pedaled bicycle for a soldier who lost both legs in an explosion in Sadr City - he had been a long-distance runner before his deployment

"We're trying to get a little freedom back for these soldiers," said McDonough

Bryan's Story

As the second of four children in the family, Bryan's dad said that he was a "normal, active kid growing up" From playing hockey to lacrosse, McDonough was an organizer and a leader

"He was a free spirit," said his father

And with that mentality, after graduating in 2002 from Roseville High School, Bryan attended St Cloud Technical College, but was troubled shortly after the war in Iraq began in 2003

"When the first casualties were coming in, he decided that the guys who were fighting shouldn't be fighting in the war," said McDonough

"The first casualties seemed to be people with families"

Particularly, Bryan was troubled by the families who were losing their mothers and fathers

"He felt obligated to go"

Bryan joined the Minnesota National Guard in September 2003, and then he was deployed to Iraq in March 2006, serving with the 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 136th Infantry, a part of the Red Bulls

McDonough said that on a return home in October 2006, Bryan confided that as a gunner in Humvees, "he had a fear of IED's"

On the day he died, Bryan took one of the newly- delivered Humvees (and more structurally secure prototypes) for its first drive, trading places with the usual driver

"Ironically, the gunner survived," said McDonough

Since That Fateful Day

According to McDonough, on that same day, Cory Rystad also lost his life, and John Kriesel was severely wounded, losing both legs and recovering eventually over a span of time

McDonough said that the Bryan McDonough Military Heroes Foundation's first real work was in "stepping up with a lot of other people" in assisting the families and Kriesel in his recovery

From there, as they say, the rest is history, and Bryan does indeed live on

McDonough said that he is still comforted every time he sees a Celtic cross magnet on a vehicle; inscribed on that cross is this message: "In memory of Bryan McDonough"

"I'm comforted that it's three years later and I still see them on cars," said McDonough

But Bryan will also be featured in a new calendar featuring twelve of Minnesota's fallen soldiers At $10 each, supporters can visit the Web site (http://militaryheroesfoundationorg) and purchase the calendars there The calendar itself also includes a message from Governor Tim Pawlenty, and is scheduled to be available for purchase early this month

Ironically, Jennifer Turcotte of Maple Grove, whose husband, Nicholas, was killed two days after Bryan and is buried next to him at Fort Snelling Cemetery, came up with the project along with fellow military family members Patricia Boyd and Richard Geis

"Our foundation funded the project and the proceeds of the sale of the calendars will go to the Bryan McDonough Military Heroes Foundation," said McDonough "Those funds will be used in accordance with the mission of our foundation except the focus will be on providing for the needs of [Minnesota] Gold Star Families"

Beyond the calendar, the next big event planned is the 4th Annual Bryan T Mc-Donough American Heroes Golf Classic, which is slated for August 13, 2010

The Bryan McDonough Military Heroes Foundation is an all volunteer 501(c)(3) organization
Visit wwwmilitaryheroesfoundationorg for more information

Jeffrey Ayer "¢ The Citizen
9 Dec 2009
Article source: The Citizen: Your Community Newspaper • Hugo, Centerville & Lino Lakes

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