Tuesday, July 24, 2012

R.I.P. - Staff Sgt. Brandon R. Pepper

DOD Identifies Army Casualty
            The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

            Staff Sgt. Brandon R. Pepper, 31, of York, Pa., died July 21, in Ghazni province, Afghanistan.

            Pepper was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group, Fort Bragg, N.C.

            For more information pertaining to this release, media may contact the Special Operations Command public affairs office at 910-689-6187.


Soldier with York County ties dies in Afghanistan
Daily Record/Sunday News
Updated:   07/24/2012 12:18:13 AM EDT


Staff Sgt. Brandon R. Pepper, 31, of the York area died Saturday in the Ghazni province, Afghanistan.
Staff Sgt. Derek Pepper described his late brother as a person who was great to be around, who lived by the warrior ethos, and who joined the military because he wanted to serve his country.

"He wanted to do something for a better cause," Derek Pepper, 25, said in a phone interview Monday evening.

His brother, Staff Sgt. Brandon Robert Pepper, 31, was killed Saturday, in an insurgent attack while on patrol in Ghazni Province, Afghanistan, according to news releases from the Department of Defense and the U.S. Army Special Operations Command.

Brandon Pepper is the second soldier with York County ties to die in Afghanistan this month. Army Spc. Cameron Stambaugh, a 2010 Spring Grove Area High School graduate, died July 8 when a bomb exploded and killed him and five other U.S. troops, his family said.

Brandon Pepper was from the Baltimore area, but he lived in the York area for a few years, according to family. He was assigned to Company B, 4th Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Bragg, N.C. He was a Special Forces communications sergeant.

This was Brandon Pepper's first deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom-Afghanistan, according to a U.S. Army news release. In 2003, he deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

His mother, Geraldine, said her son gave his life "for our freedom."

Brandon Pepper graduated from Kenwood High School in Maryland in 1999 and enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves in January 2000, according to the news release.

Upon completion of Basic Training and Advanced Individual Training, he was assigned to the 323rd Military Intelligence Battalion, Fort Meade, Md. where he served as an Intelligence Analyst and was deployed in March 2003 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the news release states.

The Department of Defense said Brandon Pepper entered active duty in 2008 and attended Infantry Advanced Individual Training at Fort Benning, Ga. He was then assigned to the 101st Airborne Division as an Infantry Squad Leader, the news release states.

In October 2009, Brandon Pepper graduated from the Special Forces Assessment and Selection Course at Fort Bragg, N.C. He then completed the Special Forces Qualification Course in 2011 and was assigned to 4th Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Fort Bragg as an SF Communications Sergeant (18E), according to the news release.

He received numerous awards for his service. He will be posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with campaign star, NATO medal, and the Combat Infantryman Badge, according to the news release.

Others in his family served in the military.

Derek Pepper said their late grandfathers served in the military. So did their father, John, who retired from the Army as a captain. Derek Pepper also serves in the Army with a Special Forces group.

Brandon Pepper's two other brothers are 34-year-old Nick Pepper and 28-year-old John Robert Pepper. Nick Pepper said his brother was always there when they needed him. He also loved karate and lacrosse, according to his family.

In an email Monday evening, John Robert Pepper said his brother made friends easily and was simply known as "Pepper" to many people he knew. He said his brother never had a problem sharing his views and was a very outgoing person.

"He always tried to have a good time and him not having a smile on his face was a rare occasion," John Robert Pepper said in an email. "...My brother was a unique individual and will be missed greatly by his family and friends."

In addition to his brothers and his parents, the U.S. Army said Brandon Pepper is survived by his spouse.

Awards and decorations for fallen soldier

The awards and decorations for Staff Sgt. Brandon Robert Pepper, 31, include the Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Army Achievement Medal with one oak-leaf cluster, Army Good Conduct Medal, Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal with "M" device, Non-commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon with numeral 2 device, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon with numeral 2 device, Special Forces Tab, Expert Infantryman Badge, Parachutist Badge, and the Driver and Mechanic Badge.

He also will receive numerous awards posthumously.
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