On November 8, 2004, Marine Lance Corporal Branden Ramey was killed near Fallujah, Iraq, just six weeks into his deployment. The Belvidere native was 22 years old when he died as part of “Operation Iraqi Freedom.” It’s been 14 years since Ramey’s death, and his absence is still difficult for his family.
“So the pain of losing Branden, I wouldn’t say that it gets easier, but I’d say that hole that’s in your heart, that space and gap that’s missing, you learn to live with it,” said Branden’s brother, Bryce Trevino.
Ramey was a 2001 graduate of Belvidere High School. Soon after graduation he enlisted in the Marine Corp Reserve. When his unit was activated in 2004, he was given the choice of joining his fellow Marines in Iraq, or remaining stateside. For Branden, the choice was clear.
“He was more than willing to go over and serve his country, do what he signed up to do,” said Trevino. “There was no hesitation. No fear. He was ready to go.”
Bryce Trevino remembers the last time he saw his brother, when his unit departed for Iraq.
“Seeing him in formation with the rest of the Marines that were on that tarmac gave us a sense of pride in him and as a family I think it brought us closer together to really have faith that what he was doing was for his country.”
Ramey’s family honors the sacrifice he made and the man that he was, not just on Memorial Day, but year round through philanthropy. There are three scholarships given annually in Branden’s honor to students at his alma mater. To date, over $60,000.00 in scholarships have been awarded to Belvidere graduates.
“Branden initially joined the Marine Corp Reserve to help pay for school,” added Trevino. “He was going to become a school teacher in Belvidere and teach history.”
Trevino’s wish this Memorial Day: for all those who have given the ultimate sacrifice to be payed proper homage.
“Anybody that’s given their life for this country, it’s a debt that cannot be repaid. There’s nothing in this world that will ever bring them back, but there’s also nothing in this world that can ever repay them for what they’ve done for their country.”