Just before being shipped off to his second tour in Iraq, the 20-year-old Marine announced the news that would make any father proud. Brandon C. Dewey was ready to become a police officer just like his dad. In the meantime, the young soldier would gain experience as a military police officer.
But Mark Dewey's hopes for his son shattered Friday when three Marines in polished dress uniforms knocked on the door to his Chandler home.
His son was dead — killed when a car full of explosives blew up at the checkpoint he was guarding in Haqlaniyah, Iraq.
"I wasn't prepared for that. Although I knew what it was about, I didn't believe it," said Dewey, who had to make similar house calls during his 25-year police
career in the San Francisco Bay area.
"I think it's harder as the days go by to know he'll never be with me again. I won't be able to see him grow up into the family man he wanted to be," he said.
He remembered Brandon as "your typical 20-year-old guy" who was into his friends, video games, science fiction movies and girls.
Brandon enlisted into the Marines after high school in 2003, but it was something he talked about as a kid in Boy Scouts.
"I was extremely proud when he graduated from boot camp," said Dewey, who also has a daughter in the Navy. "He went in an immature, typical kid and came out a very squared-away man. It was a pretty amazing transformation."
In his first tour of duty in Iraq, from June 2004 to January 2005, he was part of the push in Fallujah.
It was also his first car bombing.
Dewey remembered the 2 a.m. phone call he then received while driving from California to Arizona.
"He was shouting, 'Dad, I'm OK. I got hurt, but I'm OK. If the Marines come, just know that I'm OK,' " Dewey said.
In that attack, Brandon had been guarding a post when two cars drove up and exploded. He received a Purple Heart for his injuries.
His son's body is expected to arrive in Sacramento on Thursday and will be escorted by a motorcade of Dewey's former police comrades.
A funeral is set for Monday in Tracy, Calif. The family has created a memorial Web site at http://brandondewey.remembering-you.org.