Town honors ‘American hero’
Brett Tribble’s parents presented with a Bronze Star and Purple Heart
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DANBURY – With its streets lined with 5,000 American flags, Danbury said farewell Monday to a 20-year-old soldier proclaimed to be “our true American hero” by a sign above the two main thoroughfares.
Army Pfc. Brett Tribble died June 3 from injuries he sustained the day before when a homemade bomb struck the Humvee he was riding in near Ar Ramadi, Iraq. He had been in Iraq for less than a week.
He was posthumously promoted to the rank of specialist.
It seemed as if half of the Brazoria County town of 1,611 crowded into the Community Baptist Church for the funeral while the other half lined the mile-long route from the church to the town’s cemetery. Many stood at attention or held their hands over their hearts as the long procession, led by a hearse and 160 motorcycle riders, passed by.
The route was lined with U.S. flags of various sizes donated, collected and put up by an impromptu group since news of Tribble’s death was released last week.
“That’s the way Danbury folks are,” said the Rev. David Smith, pastor of the church. “This is a very close-knit community and a very patriotic one.”
Smith recalled Tribble as a child running up and down the halls of the church. Tribble spent his youngest years in Danbury, then moved to Angleton and was living in Clute when he joined the Army in January 2005.
“He is and always will be my American hero,” said his father, Alan Tribble, of Angleton, as he delivered a tear-filled eulogy.
His son telephoned a few days before he was wounded, saying, “I’m just soldiering, Dad,” the elder Tribble said.
“Brett wanted to make a difference and I think he did,” he said. “I’m kind of selfish. I’m going to miss that smile.”
He asked the standing-room-only crowd in the sanctuary and those in a nearby meeting room to remember his son’s fellow soldiers in their prayers.
“They have to stay there and do what they have to do,” Alan Tribble said.
“Brett was born to be a soldier,” said Sgt. Paul Powell, who had been his recruiter. “He was looking for something to do with his life.
“I saw something special in that young man, something you don’t always see,” Powell said. “He wanted to have a purpose in his life.”
“He was a special soldier,” Gen. P.K. Keen said at the graveside service, “one that all commanders would want in their units.”
Keen presented Tribble’s parents with several commendations, including a Purple Heart for being wounded and a Bronze Star for valor.
Army riflemen fired three volleys in a salute as a large crowd sweltered in the sun. Two members of an honor guard slowly and carefully folded the flag that had covered his casket. One put three shell casings from the gun salute into the folds of the flag, announcing that one stood for duty, another for honor and the third for country.
Keen knelt and presented the flag to Tribble’s mother, Tracy Tribble of Lake Jackson. He presented another to the soldier’s father and stepmother, Janet Tribble.
Plenty of other flags waved in Danbury Monday.
Carolyn Garrett, who helped round up the flags, said the idea materialized last week as local folks started donating flags and money to buy more in honor of the first local soldier killed in Iraq. “It’s just something we wanted to do,” she said.
Medium-sized flags on metal poles were placed every few yards and smaller ones on sticks were put between them.
An Angleton Volunteer Fire Department snorkel truck held a huge American flag above the street leading to the cemetery.
Garrett and several other women wearing pants printed with the American flag held a banner that said, “God bless America,” beside Spur 28 as the hearse and honor guard of motorcyclists turned off Texas 35 and headed toward Danbury on the way to the church.
The motorcyclists were from a group called Patriot Guard Riders, which often accompanies funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq.
“I’m doing this to honor Pfc. Tribble, but also to thank God that my own son came back alive,” said motorcyclist Kate Held.
She said her son, William Held, was wounded in Iraq but recovered.
“Tragedy tends to bring us together,” the Rev. Smith told the crowd. He also told mourners that no man could have any greater love than to lay down his life for his friends.
Go here to read the Patriot Guard’s forum concerning this funeral.
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