Brandon Michael Hardy was born on March 8, 1981 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania to Warren and Jill Hardy. He was the oldest of four children. His siblings are sisters, Kristin (Kiki) and Keri, and brother, Chad. Brandon lived in Cochranville from birth until he left for military training after graduating high school. Even while stationed away from Chester County, he always considered Cochranville his home.
From the time Brandon was a little blonde-haired, blue-eyed toddler he loved cowboys. He always had a cowboy hat and cowboy boots. He loved to play outside and from a very young age, loved to be with people and talk to anyone who would listen. His teachers often spoke of his “socializing skills”. Brandon loved to play baseball with his great-grandfather, Robert Myers (a WW II veteran) at the West Fallowfield Community Center playground. “Pappap” tells how Brandon made the rules and changed them as they went along – Brandon always won!
Brandon accepted the Lord as his personal savior at the age of six and is now patrolling the streets of Heaven. He attended Faith Bible Chapel, Cochranville and later, Community Bible Fellowship, Oxford.
He played on the Octorara Little League from age 8-14. He couldn’t wait until he was 12 years old so he could go hunting. Brandon loved to hunt and fish and was an avid Penn State Football fan. He took several fishing trips to visit his uncle John in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. He enjoyed hunting in the mountains of Centre County, Pennsylvania and around his home in Chester County.
Brandon went to the Octorara School District from kindergarten through grade 12 where he graduated on June 11, 1999. Brandon played baseball during his freshman year. He was enrolled in the culinary arts program at Cat-Brandywine Vocational Technical School. He received an award for being the 1999 Outstanding Culinary Arts Co-Op Student. Brandon worked at Country Gardens for his co-op experience where he was a cook starting at 6:00 a.m.
Growing up, he worked at Dutchway Farm Market, Country Gardens Restaurant, Black Rock Christian Retreat Center, and helped a friend from church at his horse stables. Brandon had a strong work ethic and always helped out around the house or gave a helping hand to someone who needed it.
During Desert Storm, Brandon would watch the news coverage and decided then, at the age of 10, that he wanted to serve his country in the military. He never wavered from that decision the rest of his life. On July 6, 1999 he left for the United States Air Force basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. He graduated on August 20, 1999 as a member of the Base Honor Flight. After graduating basic and technical training, he left for his first duty station at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany. Brandon spent two years in Germany and three years at Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane, Washington. He was deployed to the Middle East three times during his five years in the Air Force, including Saudi Arabia, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates. He also had minor deployments to Alaska and Nevada. While stationed in Germany, Brandon was on the rodeo team where he rode bulls. He also played on the baseball team and traveled to England for a tournament. He also played soccer while in the Air Force. Brandon welcomed in the new millennium at the Eiffel Tower in Parris. Brandon felt privileged to be able to a part of the Sword Ceremony to honor Five Star General John P. Jumper.
He reached the rank of staff sergeant in the Air Force and decided he wasn’t doing enough for his country and gave up rank and pay to become a United States Marine. Brandon loved being in the military and served with pride and honor. He was passionate about the freedom of his beloved USA.
Brandon left for Marine Corps boot camp at Parris Island on January 18, 2005. After a serious bout of double viral pneumonia causing him to spend four days at Beaufort Naval Hospital and six weeks in the medical unit on base, he proudly graduated a United States Marine on June 3, 2005. Brandon’s mom, Jill, recalls Brandon showing her a statement in his Marine Corps manual. He said, “This is me mom, this is what I feel.” It said, “I am an American, fighting in the armed forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in her defense.”
After combat training at Camp Geiger, he moved on to Camp Pendleton where he graduated top of the class in the Amphibious Assault Training School. He was crew chief for the amphibious assault vehicles.
On pre-deployment leave in February 2006, Brandon proposed to his girlfriend, Samantha DiGrazio. They met at church and had been friends for several years before they fell in love. He proposed at a Trace Atkins concert at the American Music Theatre in Lancaster. They were to be married in January 2007 upon his return from Iraq.
Brandon graduated boot camp with Derrick Cothran from New Orleans, Louisiana. Brandon and Derrick had become friends and kept in touch after boot camp. Derrick was buried the day Brandon died. Both had been killed in Al Anbar Provinence by an IED.
Brandon was stationed in the Haditha Dam area of Al Anbar. While on patrol in the early morning hours of April 28, 2006, the vehicle in which Brandon was a passenger hit an IED. Brandon was killed in action along with Sgt. Edward G. Davis III, Antioch, IL and Sgt. Lea R. Mills, Brooksville, FL. Cpl. Brandon M. Hardy died fulfilling his greatest passion – serving his country.