Soldier from Cleburne is killed in Afghanistan

04/01/2011 12:10 AM

10/09/2011 11:15 AM

Editor's note: The report was originally published in the Star-Telegram on April 1, 2011.

A Cleburne native on his third combat tour since he joined the Army in 2003 was killed Tuesday in eastern Afghanistan, one of six airborne troopers from the same battalion to die that day.

Staff Sgt. Bryan A. Burgess, 29, a 1999 Cleburne High School graduate, and Pfc. Dustin J. Feldhaus, 20, of Glendale, Ariz., died in an exchange of gunfire with the enemy, according to the Defense Department.

Both served in Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry in the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Ky.

Also Tuesday, four other men in the same battalion -- Sgt. 1st Class Ofren Arrechaga, 28, of Hialeah, Fla.; Staff Sgt. Frank E. Adamski III, 26, of Moosup, Conn.; Spc. Jameson L. Lindskog, 23, of Pleasanton, Calif.; and Pvt. Jeremy P. Faulkner, 23, of Griffin, Ga.-- were killed by gunfire "while conducting an ongoing operation in one of Afghanistan's most volatile provinces," according to the 101st Airborne.

The fighting was in the Kunar province bordering Pakistan. The operation there involves U.S. and Afghan troops.

Sgt. Burgess' mother and stepfather, Linda and Randy Pearce, could not be reached for comment Thursday.

But friends of the family in Cleburne were left sickened by the news that casualty officers brought this week.

The members of Granbury Street Church of Christ heard the news at Wednesday night services. Sgt. Burgess grew up in that church and had been a regular in the youth group.

"Everyone was in shock," said Cleburne Mayor Justin Hewlett, a church member. "He was a great young man, very vibrant and outgoing."

Hewlett said that he had not seen Sgt. Burgess in some time but that he heard from his son about him.

"I was talking to my son, who is in the Special Forces at Fort Bragg," Hewlett said. "Bryan had contacted him several months ago about what it would take to get into the Special Forces."

Sgt. Burgess' mother told Lisa Magers, the community services director for the Cleburne school district, that he was nearly done with his tour. He had also served two tours in Iraq and had less than a month to go in Afghanistan.

His wife, Tiffany Burgess, and children, Makya and Zander Burgess, talked to him last weekend, his mother told Magers.

"When he was about to leave on his third tour, he bought a map of Afghanistan and showed the children where he was going," Pearce told Magers. "There were camels all over the map, and when he would call, he would tell them that he had been busy with his troop chasing the camels. He said they would spit at the camels and the camels would spit back.

"I thought he was serious. But it wasn't camels he was talking about. It was his way of talking to the children about the fighting. He told us that Afghanistan was rougher than it was in Iraq."

Sgt. Burgess' decorations and awards included the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge and the Good Conduct Medal.

Chris Vaughn, 817-390-7547

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