Brixey eulogy includes letter from war

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 17, 2006

FERRIDAY &8212; Lance Cpl. Billy &8220;B.J.&8221; Brixey left a lot of family and friends behind when he died last week.

And though it&8217;s small consolation, they learned at his funeral Friday that he left them something to remember him by.

The Rev. Randy Coleman devoted part of his eulogy to reading an e-mail he received from the 21-year-old Marine shortly before he was killed while on duty in Afghanistan.

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&8220;Tell the church that I said thanks for the prayers and I will keep you up on what happens,&8221; the e-mail read. &8220;Things are going well; I&8217;m doing good.&8221;

Coleman read Brixey&8217;s account of an ambush his unit survived with no casualties.

&8220;I thank God no one was hurt,&8221; Coleman read. &8220;I think he was there with me and my brothers-in-arms.&8221;

Brixey, who had been in the country less than a month, hadn&8217;t lost his sense of humor, adding a postscript that brought laughs from the overflowing Westside Baptist Church.

&8220;Take it easy on Grandpa, he&8217;s already lost too much hair.&8221;

Coleman distributed copies of the email for loved ones to keep.

&8220;We are not saying goodbye to B.J,&8221; the Rev. Randy Coleman said. &8220;We&8217;re just saying farewell to B.J. until we meet him on the other side.&8221;

Brixey had served four years in the 1st Battalion 3rd Marine Regiment at Kaneohe Bay as a mechanic. He was riding in a convoy when his truck hit a roadside bomb.

He died in Germany from injuries suffered in the explosion.

Mourners at Friday&8217;s service vowed to remember him.

&8220;There are no ex-Marines, only former Marines,&8221; Marine Corps League aide de camp Mary Draughn said in eulogy. &8220;And when a Marine passes on, his accomplishments will be remembered.&8221;

Students and teachers from Vidalia High School, from which Brixey graduated in 2002, and two members of the Jr. R.O.T.C. program at Ferriday High School attended.

A half-dozen motorcycle riders from the Louisiana chapter of the Combat Veterans Association arrived to pay their respects.

Vietnam veteran Ned Beatty said his group remembers how they were treated when they returned home, &8220;so we want to do what we can to honor the younger generation.&8221;

The mourners, dozens of whom had waited outside in the cold and rain, saluted and cried as the Marine honor guard carried Brixey&8217;s flag-draped casket to hearse.

As the procession made its way to Rogers Cemetery in Clayton for the burial, cars lined U.S. 84 as people got out to salute and wave flags in the rain.

The 3rd Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment from Baton Rouge fired three volleys of seven guns in salute and family members cried as a bugle sounded Taps.

Maj. Jason Smith presented Brixey&8217;s father and stepmother with the flag.

&8220;Go rest, young man, you&8217;ve earned the right,&8221; Coleman said. &8220;Go rest in Heaven. The ones you leave behind will miss you.&8221;