The Bryan McDonough Military Heroes Foundation was established by by Tom and Renee McDonough (Bryan’s parents) in honor of their son’s service to his country. Bryan laid down his life during Operation Iraqi Freedom on December 2, 2006.
Bryan McDonough was the second of four children; all born within five years to a close knit family. Bryan grew up playing sports in the Roseville area. His favorites were hockey and lacrosse, two physical sports in which he went all out, never backing down. He played on a state championship lacrosse team in 2002, his senior year.
Bryan was usually the littlest guy in his class, on the ice or on the field. What he lacked in size, he made up for in determination, spirit and athletic ability. In hockey he was often a leading scorer on his team and sometimes led in penalty minutes. Outside of organized sports he was the guy that planned the neighborhood pickup football games on a nearby field or boot hockey on the frozen pond behind his Maplewood home. These organizational skills came in handy for putting together spontaneous parties at college in St. Cloud.
When the war started in Iraq in 2003, Bryan watched with interest. Some of the early casualties of the war were soldiers with wives and children. Bryan told his family that the war should be fought by “guys like me, young and single”. He chose to join the Minnesota National Guard in September 2003, knowing that he would be deployed to Iraq. He joined “For my country, my family and me”. He was deployed in October of 2005 and went to Camp Shelby, MS for six months before arriving in Iraq at the end of March 2006.
Bryan served with the 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 136th Infantry, part of the Red Bulls. His Company, Bravo Company, was assigned to Camp Fallujah in the Anbar Province. Bryan wanted to be where the action was and Fallujah was one of those places. Bryan was a Gunner on a Humvee, positioned in the turret with a 50 cal. machine gun. On foot patrol he carried a Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) capable of firing up to 1000 rounds per minute. During his duty Bryan spotted his share of Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) and experienced enemy fire. Bryan was home on leave in October of 2006 and spoke about the danger of IEDs and the increasing number of them his unit was encountering.
Bryan’s last entry on his MySpace site was on December 1, 2006. Bryan’s pride and dedication to his mission is evident in the words he wrote for the world to see on this site: “Right now I’m in Iraq, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. This is definitely not the most glorious place in the world, but there’s no other place I would rather be. Putting everything on the line to defend my country is something I wanted to do and am proud to be here”.
On December 2, 2006, Bryan happened to be the driver of his squad’s brand new Humvee out on routine patrol. He was following a Bradley Fighting Vehicle, a tracked vehicle that most of us would call a “Tank” down a road near their base. The Bradley has a wider track than that of a Humvee and somehow missed the massive IED that Bryan drove over. The blast killed Bryan instantly. Corey Rystad was seated directly behind Bryan and was killed. John Kriesel lost both of his legs. Two others, including Tim Nelson survived the blast.
Bryan might have stood only 5 foot 7 in his boots, but he was a very big man to all that knew him. In his 22 years on earth Bryan made innumerable friends. Thousands showed to say goodbye to him on a rainy December day. He is missed by everyone who ever met him