Jackson County Marine Dies in Fallujah

By: Lauren Zakalik Email
By: Lauren Zakalik Email

A brother. A son. A jokester. A guardian.

Lance Corporal Brent Beeler was all of those.

"He lived to protect me," his sister Andrea Beeler, 19, says. "He was like a second dad more than a brother."

Beeler died Thursday of a gunshot wound to the chest as he exited his humvee in Fallujah. Friday night his friends and family gathered at the Beeler home in Napoleon Township. They talked of his humor, his loyalty, his drive and his desire to be in the armed services.

"He loved being a marine. He's been wanting to be a marine since he was little," Andrea Beeler says.

And a marine he was, but for such a short time. He'd only been in Iraq since Oct. 1-- just two months away from home. He was in the same company as Lance Corporal Troy Nealy, the marine from Eaton Rapids who died in October. Beeler was the among those marines who drove Nealy to the hospital after he was injured.

As a student at Napoleon High School, Beeler was a football player and congeniality king, recalls co-principal and football coach Scott Ashe.

"He always had a smile on his face, no matter what," Ashe says. "He always talked about protecting and serving."

There are signs of Beeler everywhere, from the yellow ribbon outside his home to his picture on the wall to his sister's USMC sweatshirt. Those will be reminders to his family of Beeler's dedication and love.

"I don't think he got to do everything he wanted, but he died doing the thing he loved most," Andrea says.

Beeler's mother Rhonda had just spoken with him Sunday-- words she didn't know would be her last to her 22-year-old son. But sister Andrea has words for his fellow marines:

"Be strong, keep you heads up and come home."

Funeral services have not yet been set.

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