June 10, 2012 - Command Master Chief Shawn Isbell and Petty Officer Lawrence O'Bryant pose with the ensign and certificate that O'Bryant plans to present to his parents. Photo by Navy Second Class Petty Officer John Dodson
Lawrence O'Bryant (left) and Matthew O'Bryant pose for their high school JROTC photo in Theodore, Ala, 2001. Photo courtesy of Petty Officer Lawrence O'Bryant
| ||CAMP SABALU-HARRISON, Afghanistan (10/31/2012) – For Lawrence and Matthew O'Bryant, the call to serve in the Navy was a family affair. |
They grew up in a rural Alabama town where the ideas of love and service to country were instilled at a young age. Both brothers joined ROTC in high school where Lawrence, the elder by three years, was hard pressed to keep up with his younger brother.
“Things came easily to Matthew. He had a quirky, witty personality which made people naturally drawn to him,” Lawrence said.
Lawrence joined the Navy shortly after high school while Matthew pursued college for a couple years before making the Navy commitment. Both brothers loved each other and the Navy deeply.
Petty Officer Third Class Matthew O'Bryant's promising career in the Navy was cut short while serving in Pakistan. A suicide bomber detonated a truck packed with explosives at the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad, a well-known spot for Westerners, taking the life of Matthew.
Lawrence was devastated, his only brother was gone so young; he was only 22.
Lawrence personally said the benediction at Matthew's funeral, where he referred to his brother as “a hero” and “a patriot”.
The call to serve in a forward deployed position was strong after his brother's death. In a sense, Lawrence wanted to pick up the mission where his brother left off.
The opportunity came with a mission to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan attached to Task Group Trident (TGT).
“Petty Officer O'Bryant has been a huge asset to have on this deployment-,” said TGT Command Master Chief Shawn Isbell. “His can-do spirit and willingness to raise his hand once again and volunteer to go into a warzone after what happened to his brother goes above and beyond the call of duty. He epitomizes the Navy core values of honor, courage, and commitment.”
The TGT command did not want the anniversary of Matthew O'Bryant's death to go un-noted.
In homage to the young Sailor who gave his life for his country, the TGT Commanding Officer, Stanfield Chien, presented Lawrence with an ensign that was flown over Task Group Trident headquarters. The certificate which accompanied the ensign boasts of “...democracy prevailing over terrorist forces that threaten the freedom of the United States.”
Lawrence can rest assured that he is completing his brother's mission and bringing honor to his family and country. He will present his mother and father with the ensign upon returning to the United States.
Courtesy of U.S. Navy
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