Archive for November 26th, 2012

A military honor guard carries Brandon Buttry’s casket from the airplane that brought him home to Shenandoah, Iowa.

After my nephew, Brandon Buttry, was killed in Afghanistan earlier this month, I played a role no one ever anticipates: handling media requests about a loved one’s death.

I’m blogging some advice learned from the experience for any or all of three audiences:

  • Relatives of fallen troops who want to help the family deal with the media. (If my advice is helpful, I hope they will find the post through search or by someone sharing with them when they need it).
  • Journalists (the usual readers of this blog) who may cover military deaths.
  • Military public affairs officers or casualty assistance officers, who assist families of military casualties after the death. (I’m hoping they will find this piece through search or Google alerts or perhaps journalists sharing it with them.)

Some of my advice might fit in other situations where your family is suddenly in the news — death from a disaster or crime, for instance — but I am focusing on military deaths because that was my experience and that is a loss that more than 6,000 U.S.  families have experienced during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I hope you won’t need this advice, but sadly, the carnage in Afghanistan continues. (more…)

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  1. Apologies to email subscribers to my blog, who kind of got spammed Sunday when I was trying to update my blog post about the cheeseburger salutes to my nephew, Brandon Buttry. Brandon was supposed to come home to Fort Lewis, Wash., Friday, but he was killed in Afghanistan Nov. 5. The meal he wanted to celebrate his return with was a cheeseburger, fries and a large Coke. Facing a difficult day on Friday, Brandon’s parents, Don and Pam, asked friends and family to remember Brandon with a cheeseburger, fries and a large Coke. Brandon’s sister, Missy, and I passed the request along on Facebook and more than 100 family, friends and strangers who were touched by Brandon’s story and honored his service joined in the salute, which we continued through the weekend.
    Storify was not updating the version of the first post on my blog. I did the first few updates by cutting and pasting from new posts into the original post, which worked OK, though it sent out new email notices each time to my blog subscribers. That was bad enough, but then Sunday Storify was giving me error messages and telling me to try again, which I did, but it was really posting multiple error messages to my blog. So I’m doing one last update here in a separate post. If you continue the salute this week, post it to my Facebook wall or tweet me (@stevebuttry), and I will share your salutes there, but this is the last group of salutes I will compile on Storify and my blog.
  2. We start with Sonya Sorich, who has saluted Brandon before.
  3. Here’s my cheeseburger tribute to Brandon. I’m wearing my fallen hero race tag from the Soldier Half Marathon.

    Sun, Nov 25 2012 17:42:45
  4. Here’s where we’ve seen that bib before.
  5. Thanks, Sonya Sorich, for running for Brandon! And congrats on finishing the Soldier Half Marathon!

    Sun, Nov 11 2012 07:33:26
  6. Sonya (who had never met anyone from the family before) wrote a column about running that Half-Marathon (outside Fort Benning, where Brandon went to boot camp).
  7. Several others have also saluted Brandon since my last update:
  8. Google “cheeseburger salute” and you will learn that Pfc. Brandon Buttry, nephew of Daniel Buttry and of Steve Buttry, planned to eat a cheeseburger and fries when he came home from Afghanistan. He was killed 10 days before he was due to come home. Friends and family around the country are saluting Brandon with cheeseburgers of their own.

    Sun, Nov 25 2012 19:11:22
  9. Cheeseburger for Brandon with @AlbertYuravich in #Bethany – @stevebuttry
    Sun, Nov 25 2012 17:48:37
  10. Pfc Brandon Buttry was killed in Afghanistan on Nov. 5, 10 days before he was scheduled to head for home. He’d been looking forward to a burger and fries so this weekend, hundreds of us have participated in a cheeseburger salute in his memory. Thanks Steve Buttry for your posts and for your nephew’s sacrifice.

    Sun, Nov 25 2012 21:07:55
  11. Mary Ann Rankin
    Had cheeseburgers, fries and a coke last night for dinner. Didn’t get a picture though. Fast food takes on a new meaning now.

    Mon, Nov 26 2012 02:06:04
  12. And the salutes will continue into this week:
  13. Liz McNamara Wells
    Johnny Wells II and I will be saluting on Tuesday when he is off with some home ground beef burgers on the grill. As close to Iowa as we could get…by grinding it ourselves.

    Sun, Nov 25 2012 19:38:42
  14. Some of the media in and near Brandon’s hometown have taken note of the salute:

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