DEFIANCE, Ohio — The body of a local young man who was killed in action was brought home to the United States on Wednesday morning, according to the 82nd Airborne Division.
The U.S. Department of Defense confirmed Tuesday the deaths of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Freedom's Sentinel in Afghanistan.
One of them was Pfc. Brandon Kreischer, 20, of Stryker, Ohio, and the other was Spc. Michael Isaiah Nance, 24, of Chicago, according to the U.S. government.
U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) released this statement in Kreischer's memory:
“Private First Class Brandon J. Kreischer made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and we are grateful to him and his family for their service. Connie and I join the community in prayers of peace and comfort for his family and friends.”
Governor Mike DeWine also shared his condolences and declared which flags should be flown at half-staff in honor of Kreischer:
"In honor of the life and service of PFC Brandon J. Kreischer of Stryker, Ohio, flags will be flown at half staff upon all public buildings and grounds in Williams County, the Ohio Statehouse, and the Rhodes and Riffe buildings today through sunset on the day of his funeral. Fran and I extend our sympathy to his family and friends."
Bryan Mayor Carrie Schlade also said the city of Bryan lowered its flags to half-staff from noon until sunset on Wednesday to honor Kreischer's memory.
The city asked residents and businesses to lower their flags as well.
The Afghan military said this was an insider attack and the two were shot by an Afghan soldier. The attacker is wounded and in custody.
The Afghan military issued a statement condemning the attacks, while the Taliban is praising the attacker.
Kreischer's senior yearbook quote answers the question, "Who Am I?" with what fighting and dying for his country means to him:
"Throughout my life, I have had one huge goal. That one was to enlist in the Army as an infantryman, and I achieved that goal on April 25, 2017. It was without a doubt the proudest day of my life....I am very proud to be an American. I believe that whatever cause America believes in, I have an obligation to believe in, because I am a patriot. If I die in the combat zone for America, I do not call it a tragedy, I call it a glory."
According to the Defiance County Sheriff's Office, Kreischer went to Bryan High School and served the Army as an airborne infantry member and a paratrooper.
Kreischer was stationed in Fort Bragg, NC, and deployed to Afghanistan less than a month ago.
His awards and decorations include the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terror Service Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge and the Basic Parachutist Badge, according to the 82nd Airborne Division.
Senator Rob Portman released this statement regarding Kreischer's death:
"Jane and I send our deepest condolences to the family and friends of of Pfc. Brandon Kreischer, who gave the ultimate sacrifice while serving his country. He was a true patriot and we are praying for his loved ones and fellow soldiers."
The Defiance County Sheriff's Office created this memorial post on Facebook after learning the news:
"Sheriff Douglas Engel and staff would like to take a moment to honor the life and sacrifice of Brandon Kreischer of Bryan, Ohio. Brandon, while serving his country in the United States Army was killed in action," the sheriff's post reads. "To his family, our prayers are with you during this incredibly difficult time."
The Pioneer Police Department also shared a post honoring Kreischer with this photo, saying:
HONORING THEIR SACRIFICE:
While normally reserved to honor our fellow LEOs who make the ultimate sacrifice, I have ordered all officers to don mourning bands out of respect and in honor of PFC Brandon Kreischer and SPC Michael Isaiah Nance until their internment.
While this tragic incident isn't about me in anyway, with 16 years of service in the Army personally and my son who is currently stationed in Afghanistan, this hits close to home and my heart is breaking for both families.
It's terrible times such as this that we're reminded that freedom isn't free.
Please keep both families in your thoughts and prayers.
God Speed Young Men... Hoorah...
Kreischer is survived by his wife Grace in Fayetteville, NC.
Grace was the inspiration behind local organization "Inspired by Grace" started by her godmother Jan.
The organization released this statement following Kreischer's death:
He's being remembered by his fitness family too, with tributes from Iron Faith in Defiance.
"He was an inspiration to everyone who knew him. We thought of Brandon as our own son," the post reads.
"He was very inspirational. He was upbeat he was such a go-getter, he loved working out," said Annette Bowers, co-owner of the gym.
"He made an impact on us and we want people to know what he meant to us and the gym," added Allan Street, who co-owns the gym with Bowers.
Kreischer did the majority of his training for the military at Iron Faith. When gym members learned of his death, they were shocked.
The owners said he was deployed less than a month ago.
"Right away, I got teary-eyed, I had a pit in my stomach, and I felt nauseous and I said, 'Oh, my gosh! What happened?" Bowers said.
The DOD is investigating the incident that claimed the lives of both Kreischer and Nance, but has yet to release details.
Meanwhile, many are flooding social media for the young soldier and finding different ways of honoring him.
"It hit me hard, I mean, instantly because he was just such a great kid, you know?" Street said.
At Iron Faith, Kreischer's name now adorns the walls. The gym owners also plan to forever memorialize him with a plaque, dedicate a strongman competition in his name, and begin a monetary collection for his wife and family. They say it's just a small token to show their appreciation for his service and sacrifice.
This makes 14 U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan in 2019. More than 14,000 troops are currently deployed there.