Local News

Fallen Clayton Marine saluted, remembered as friend

Posted June 25, 2011 6:47 p.m. EDT
Updated June 26, 2011 9:34 a.m. EDT

— Hundreds lined up outside a Johnston County church Saturday morning in salute to show support for the family and friends of a Marine who died after being blasted by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan earlier in June.

Sgt. Mark Bradley, 25, of Clayton, received a Purple Heart after being seriously injured by an improvised explosive device earlier this month. His lung collapsed, his kidney and liver failed, he underwent heart surgery, and doctors had to amputate both legs before Bradley died 13 days later.

He leaves behind a mother and wife.

In a tearful tribute, Bradley's platoon sergeant, Staff Sgt. Brendon Wittwer, said goodbye to his friend during the funeral service.

"Go in peace now, brother. You have been a great friend," he said. "I will cherish all the memories I have of you, and I will look forward to the time we meet again."

He recounted stories of how Bradley had dreamed of becoming a Marine Corps sniper since he was a kid.

Wittwer remembered sitting by Bradley's side after his injury, telling him, "You keep on fighting, buddy, because you're not just my hero. You're everyone's hero, and we need you."

Bradley, who was originally from Cuba, New York, will be buried with full military honors in St. Petersburg, Fla., at a later date.

David and Melissa Manross were part of the group that saluted outside the church Saturday.

"I felt really good just coming out here and saying thank you for helping us," David Manross said. 

"Our soldiers mean a lot," Melissa Manross said. "They're out there defending us, protecting our country."